Big in the Middle East (where it has five offices) and expanding in the English regions (specifically in Manchester, Birmingham and Exeter), Trowers & Hamlins is a slightly quirky firm whose twin specialities are, rather contrastingly, local government work and international M&A. It’s a mix that seems to be working, with London-headquartered Trowers performing respectably financially over recent years and scoring solidly in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19.
The firm hasn’t released 2018 financials, but last year revenue was up 12% to £97 million while profit per equity partner rose marginally to £312,000. Perhaps most interesting of all has been the growth in lawyer headcount, which has seen a sharp 22% increase, meaning the firm now has over 400 solicitors.
Trowers’ biggest strength is its culture. A trainee paints a picture of what it’s like: “Everyone is extremely helpful and offers to help out whenever they have capacity. Everyone on my floor checks in with each other before leaving to lend a hand so no one is in too late.” Similarly, the firm has a good reputation for partner approachability. The best supervisors are “a source of constant support in both work and general life matters” and hierarchies are minimal. Beware, though, of a few “no-goes” — especially in some of the transactional departments, which seem “to have a completely different culture altogether”.
Why most of Trowers’ lawyers are so nice can be attributed to all sorts of factors, but the good work/life balance surely must play a significant part in morale. The firm’s lawyers put in a daily average of less than ten hours, arriving in the office on average at 8:42am and leaving at 6:42pm. Admittedly, those times are lowered by the firm’s regional offices. London lawyers usually work a bit longer (although they do tend to start later). Apparently, “everywhere but corporate is a good work/life balance (for a City law firm)”.
Outside the capital and life is really pretty good. “The combination of living in Exeter but working for first-rate clients both in London and in the south west on highly stimulating matters cannot be matched,” reports one rookie. Needless to say, pay is significantly higher in London than outside (see below), with the newly qualified solicitor rate across the firm ranging from £40,000 to £62,000.
Trowers’ international secondments are another draw for prospective new recruits. Over a third of trainees do one, with all given the option to spend time abroad if they wish. In almost all cases the destinations are either Abu Dhabi, Bahrain or Dubai. Apparently the experience is a highly recommended addition to the training in London, where trainees receive “a large amount of seminars, tutorial training sessions, one-on-one training” and are “given a great deal of genuine responsibility”, including “managing our own caseloads and good client contact”.
And finally, perks. Freebies include free breakfast before 8:30am (a real favourite with the firm’s youngsters), discounts on hotels, gym membership and Eurostar travel, and gratis Haribos. The offices are mostly nice, with the new Manchester gaff said to rival the London office (which upstages neighbour Slaughter and May with its glass-fronted split level reception) for style, however Birmingham “could do with an update”. Meanwhile, the social life is apparently pretty buzzy. “You will always find someone to have a drink with,” one trainee tells us.