Travers Smith’s stellar growth over the last decade has been one of corporate law’s success stories. In this period the firm’s revenue and profits have jumped by around 50%, while profit per equity partner (PEP) has surged to over the £1 million mark. But its burgeoning finances were curtailed somewhat this year due in part to the pandemic, with the firm recording an uncharacteristic 20% slump in PEP to approximately £1 million. Revenues were down too — 1% to £160.9 million.
These muted results come amid what the firm described as a period of “significant investment” — one of the effects of which was to enable it to continue operating effectively during the lockdown. One insider reports: “Our technology team are outstanding! The firm had already run some tests in case we needed to work from home and have been going through a process to upgrade our systems over the past year to make working from home easier anyway. They are very responsive and an enormous shout out to the training team who very quickly moved online, with video and Skype training sessions, and send out daily (very helpful) tech tips!”
Nestled among the streets of Farringdon and just a stone’s throw from the famous Smithfield meat market, the firm’s City HQ continues to impress thanks to a major overhaul in 2018. Trendy artwork, break-out spaces and an expanded café area are among the features trumpeted by our spies. This, coupled with its tie-less “business casual” clothing policy (when lawyers are not meeting with clients, of course), brings an air of relaxed professionalism to the corridors of Travers.
The firm continues to be a happy place to work — and the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2020–21 shows that the cheerful mood continues to permeate the lower ranks of the firm. Last summer’s pay rises — taking base rates for year two trainees and newly qualified lawyers to £52,000 and £85,000, respectively — may also have played a part in this. And unlike several of its City rivals, Travers opted against cutting rookie remuneration in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The “friendly” senior lawyers who are said to be always on hand to answer questions, coupled with the regular Zoom chats with supervisors during lockdown, go some way to explaining the firm’s consistently high scores for partner approachability. This is further supported by the firm’s cross-generational set-up that sees rooms shared by one partner, one associate and one trainee. “This really helps you develop a good relationship with your superiors,” one source explains. Bonds are further deepened through regular social events, including visits to the Globe to see Shakespeare and ‘decathlon day outs’.
Travers also scores top marks for its training, which is among the best in the City. One trainee describes it like this: “I feel like lots of firms talk about early responsibility but that can be a bit pointless if you don’t know what you’re doing. Instead, during my TC I’ve felt that both associates and partners have gone out of their way to train me so I actually understand my work.”
Speaking of work, “all trainees have their fair share of slightly mundane trainee tasks,” one rookie explains, “but I’ve also had the opportunity to work directly with partners, drafting agreements and running my own small-scale transactions.” Another has this to say: “The work is highly varied and stimulating — you are challenged on a daily basis. Certain departments offer more responsibility to trainees than others but generally, a lot of trust is put into trainees to undertake complex, challenging and valuable tasks.”
The hours are definitely at the more reasonable end for such a profitable firm, with an average leave time of around 7:30pm. Although “the hours can be long”, one source points to the firm’s “no face time culture” and how working late only occurs “when absolutely necessary”.
As with some other smaller City firms that put an emphasis on quality of training, Travers likes to keep its newbies close during their TCs. It tends to reserve secondments for associates, who regularly spend time with its ‘best friend’ law firms in other countries and UK and international clients. But each year a handful of trainees do a stint in Travers’ Paris office, while a few also spend time with major clients, such as Hermes Investment Management and private equity firm Apax.
Travers’ perks include access to a private box at the Albert Hall, an “incredible” in-house physio, free music lessons, and a £30 Deliveroo allowance for anyone working after 7pm. Intriguingly, one spy also reveals that trainees are presented with a briefcase at their first firm Christmas party. Looking further ahead, rookies who stick around get to enjoy a six-week paid sabbatical at five years post qualification.