RPC training contract vacation scheme student commercial awareness

RPC

The Legal Cheek View

From advising Meta on the launch of its independent Oversight Board to being appointed as exclusive legal services provider for Premiership Rugby powerhouse Saracens, there’s plenty of variety at RPC.

The firm combines law with a consulting side-line, running the spin-off RPC Consulting brand which became known as RPC Tyche in 2020, and a joint venture with software company Marriott Sinclair that emulates the Big Four accountancy firms’ multi-disciplinary approach. RPC has since successfully sold the tech business in March 2022 and launched RPC Tectonic, its legal accelerator programme for tech start-ups working on ESG solutions.

Beneath all of this are traditional foundations. RPC has a longstanding reputation in its core practice areas of insurance, commercial, corporate and litigation which dates back well over a century. The firm is particularly close to the insurance, retail, tech and media industries, with major clients including many of those sectors’ main players.

The firm also has an original approach to social media and marketing. Not only does the firm allow its trainees to post public messages from uncensored collective Twitter and Instagram accounts — @LifeInALawFirm — that are as likely to feature jokey posts about late night bundling as on-message graduate recruitment tweets, but RPC also counts the award-winning alt-pop artist, Maya Yenn, amongst the ranks of its marketing team.

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The internal set-up of RPC’s “beautiful” glass and steel office can feel more tech company than law firm at times. Simply put, it is a “scenic location and lots of glass” with the “impressive” London office looking over the Tower of London and St Katherine’s Docks. Both the London and Bristol offices have recently been refurbished, which has also gone down well. And these offices encourage collegiality. One insider reports: “The open plan office and mixed pods mean you sit with anyone from paralegals to partners (including the managing partner) and questions are positively encouraged.” 

It’s no coincidence that RPC has scored consistently strongly for partner approachability in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. “There’s no hierarchy or delegation through associates. Partners will call you directly and ask for your thoughts which is a great learning opportunity”, one rookie tells us, whilst another gushes that the “best part of being at the firm is the people and their approachability”. 

In recent times, the firm ditched its all-equity partnership structure, making the partnership more flexible and somewhat boosting profit per equity partner (PEP). This explains RPC’s explosive 50% PEP rise from £424,000 to £634,000 last year that has dipped this year to £571,000. Revenue, however, is up 10%, climbing to £149.4 million. A striking metaphor for the firm’s growth over the past decade is the Bristol office’s tenfold growth in headcount by its tenth anniversary this year. The firm also has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as access to other international clients via its TerraLex network.

Trainees are known to be a “close-knit bunch” who insiders tell us help to foster a “supportive and understanding environment”. “Very collaborative and very friendly peer group. They’re genuine friends who I can go to for support, share tips and insights into the work” says one. Another explains how “the relatively small intake size means that I have had a very supportive intake on which to lean on through my training contract”.

And the relatively small London trainee intake of 15 gives the TC experience a personal touch, which doesn’t seem to have been changed by the addition of four Bristol training contracts a few years ago. One trainee says the quality of training and support can be “very seat dependent” however “my personal experience has been of lots of variety, real responsibility, and a readiness to provide feedback”. 

Another describes their experience like this: “I have been given tasks to develop different skills I will need as a solicitor, including a variety of interesting tasks like making without prejudice phone calls, drafting pleadings and running a few of my own matters. I have received close supervision to make sure I’m doing things properly and have received really useful feedback to explain why some pieces of work should be done differently or how they can be improved. There is also an extensive training programme with internal and external trainers relating to different skills which has been really useful”. On top of all this, there are always opportunities to learn more through observing senior lawyers, attending court, attending training sessions and webinars and contributing to articles amongst other things.

Rookies are also known to get experience on cases that are “very high-profile and front-page news”. That said, there is also your fair share of grunt work to be done. “Some of the work is incredibly stimulating, but as a trainee there are a fair amount of trainee-typical tasks,” one insider told Legal Cheek.

Traditionally, most of RPC’s secondments are with clients, and that still remains the case, with lawyers from the firm spending time at the likes of Google, Meta, Coca Cola, Channel 4 and various global insurance companies such as AXIS Capital — just to name a few. 

Some rookies are known to be so in love with their work that they can lose control of their work/life balance: “My work-life balance is pretty good. My main problem is that I am offered (with rarely an obligation to pick up) interesting work that I don’t want to turn down, which has led to me having a bit too much work! My supervisors are really keen to protect my work/life balance though and are helping me to manage my capacity”.

On the whole though, work/life balance is reasonable; an average start time of around 9am and average finish time of around 7pm equates to a ten-hour day. Note, however, some variations between departments. “For the most part, my work-life balance has been as expected, with an average start time of 9am and finish time of 7pm. During busier periods I have had to work some later nights and weekends, but in my experience this is not the norm and is not expected unless absolutely necessary. There is no face-time culture at the firm”, summarises one. Trainees also have complete flexibility about whether they want to work from home.

Perks are fairly run-of-the-mill for a City law firm, with staff able to take advantage of a private healthcare programme, a mortgage advisor, HelloSelf membership and weekly classes including Yoga. There’s also apparently great coffee machines, good biscuit choice, fresh fruit on Tuesdays as well as bring your dog to work day (a trend that certain dog-loving City firms seem to be latching onto)! In line with recent pay rises seen across City law firms, RPC has upped NQ salaries in London to £85,000 for those qualifying into the commercial group, and £80,000 for those qualifying into insurance. Bristol qualifiers can expect £56,000 a year. And you can be pretty sure you will make the grade for NQ after getting your TC – the firm had a 100% retention rate for its most recent cohort!

Deadlines

Virtual Insight Event - Bristol

8 March 2023
Applications open 01/09/2022
Applications close 03/03/2023

Virtual First Year Workshop

29 March 2023
Applications open 01/09/2022
Applications close 24/03/2023

London Summer Schemes 2023

19 - 30 June, 3 - 14 July 2023
Applications open 01/10/2022
Applications close 15/01/2023

2025 Training Contract - London

To commence in September 2025
Applications open 01/10/2022
Applications close 25/06/2023

2025 Training Contract - Bristol

To commence in September 2025
Applications open 01/10/2022
Applications close 26/03/2023

2023 Paralegal Apprenticeship

Applications open 01/09/2022
Applications close 19/02/2023

Apprenticeship Insight Day

17 January 2023
Applications open 01/09/2022
Applications close 10/01/2023

Insider Scorecard

A*
Training
A
Quality of work
A*
Peer support
A*
Partner approach-ability
B
Work/life balance
C
Legal tech
B
Perks
A
Office
B
WFH
A
Eco-friendliness

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Money

First year trainee salary £44,000
Second year trainee salary £48,000
Newly qualified salary £85,000
Profit per equity partner £571,000
GDL grant £8,000
LPC grant £8,000

The above figures are for London. NQs in the firm’s insurance team in London receive £80,000. In RPC’s Bristol office, first year trainees earn £37,000, rising to £38,000 in their second year, and newly qualified solicitors receive £56,000. Students completing the GDL or LPC outside of London are awarded £7,000. Please note that RPC is currently moving over to the PGDL and SQE 1&2 (which will replace the GDL and LPC).

Hours

Average start work time 09:00
Average finish time 19:25
Annual target hours No targets
Annual leave 25 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Secondments

Chances of secondment abroad 20%
Chances of client secondment 35%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK. Please note that due to COVID-19 secondment probabilities are lower than in usual years.

General Info

Training contracts 19
Latest trainee retention rate 100%
Offices 4
Countries 3
Minimum A-level requirement No minimum
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

RPC offers 15 training contracts in its London office and four in its Bristol office.

Diversity

UK female associates 61%
UK female partners 30%
UK BME associates 14%
UK BME partners 6%

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words