Simmons & Simmons

The Legal Cheek View

It has been another good year for Simmons & Simmons. Profit per equity partner (PEP) and revenue have both risen for a second consecutive year; the former up 8% to £686,000 and the latter by 12% to £354 million. The firm’s finance, healthcare and technology practices have apparently had particularly good years. The boost in growth has come despite the investment involved in opening a new Dublin office in the spring of this year.

Simmons puts in a solid performance in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19. With trainee retention rates bouncing back strongly from a difficult patch a few years ago, the junior end of the firm seems like a happy ship again. Indeed, with an A* for peer supportiveness this year, it’s positively bouncing! As one rookie puts it: “The people I work with are a pleasure to have as colleagues. They are very supportive; being both able and willing to listen.”

At partner level the vibe is a bit more formal but similarly friendly. “The firm doesn’t like to be known as ‘nice’ but it really is,” one insider admits. Doubtless that improved PEP has boosted the mood. Be warned though that even the most human of partners can lose their approachability when “under the cosh to get something done”.

The training remains very good. “I’ve had a lot of responsibility and feel like my training has been incredibly comprehensive throughout,” one rookie reports. And the work is also decent. One trainee sums it up like this: “Honestly a really good standard of work. Lots of “cutting edge” *groan* research, drafting, running calls, corresponding with counsel. Senior people seek your input and involve you in meetings. Good stuff, no complaints.” But hours can vary wildly. “At times, it’s past midnight every night for months. At times, it’s 6pm most nights for months,” we are told.

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Another report from the front line describes an average day in a busy period as nine til nine and in a quiet period nine til seven, with a further report suggesting that time in the office decreases as the week goes on: “If you put in a shift Monday to Wednesday and don’t try to make evening plans, on Thursday you can probably leave at a reasonable time and on Friday I’ve even been told to leave as soon as it went past six.”

Despite the recent newly qualified (NQ) pay rise to £71,000, there remain gripes about remuneration, which some see as “not comparable to the firms it competes with”. But the mood is a bit brighter in the Simmons Bristol office following an NQ pay boost that takes salaries to the £50k mark. There’s also considerable frustration about a perceived lack of perks. What is on offer – a gym subsidy of £400 per year, two private GP visits per year, season ticket loans and new joiner interest free loans for trainees – are felt to be “pretty standard”.

The good news is that international secondment opportunities are on the up, with approaching 20% of trainees doing one this year. Simmons’ extensive overseas office network affords some great placements, with Hong Kong the most common destination. Still it’s felt that a few more global jollies could be included in the training process. Client secondments have also rises this year, with around a quarter of trainees getting to experience one. Destinations include RBS, Goldman Sachs and Schroders.

Meanwhile, back at Simmons HQ, located right in the heart of the action in Moorgate, there’s a fancy refurb going on. “The consensus is that the news spaces are “bright” which I guess is an improvement?” one trainee tell us. Over in Bristol the firm is gearing up to move to the new Aurora building in early 2019.

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
A
Quality of work
A*
Peer support
A
Partner approach-ability
C
Work/life balance
B
Tech
B
Perks
B
Office
C
Canteen
B
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Money

First year trainee salary £42,000
Second year trainee salary £47,000
Newly qualified salary £71,000
Profit per equity partner £686,000
GDL grant £7,000
LPC grant £7,500

The above figures are for London. Trainees in Bristol get £37,000 in their first year and £38,000 in the second. Bristol newly qualified pay is £50,000. The firm covers the cost of future trainees’ Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) fees, plus provides a grant of £7,000 for the GDL and £7,500 for the LPC.

Hours

Average arrival time 09:11
Average leave time 19:42
Annual target hours 1,435
Annual leave 25 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Secondments

Chances of secondment abroad 16%
Chances of client secondment 24%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

General Info

Training contracts 25
Latest trainee retention rate 83%
Offices 21
Countries 15
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

UK female associates 61%
UK female partners 17%
UK BME associates Undisclosed
UK BME partners Undisclosed