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The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Irwin Mitchell is a top 25 UK firm, maintains a network of 11 offices across the country and has acquired several small firms in the last few years to increase its market share. The firm has also recently refreshed its brand in an effort to stress its credentials as a commercial law firm. The firm is a market leader in personal injury and clinical negligence work and also offers a range of commercial services.
The star performers
Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Court of Protection; Debt recovery; Education: individuals; Family; Personal injury: claimant; Transport; Travel: personal injury.
Recovered £12m in settlement for a claimant who suffered cerebral palsy at birth following a failure in monitoring by midwifery staff; acted on the £54m refinancing of the Encon Group; assisted HSBC with Augean’s £15m refinancing; advised Shawbrook in relation to the provision of receivable finance facilities to metals trading and recycling specialist FJ Church for £7.5m; instructed by more than 100,000 claimants following exposure to toxic waste in the Ivory Coast in August 2006.
Aviva; AXA; BNP Paribas; Barclays; Capita; Countrywide Residential Settings; Golfberg Kohn; Henry Boot Developments; Leeds Building Society; The Ministry of Defence.
Irwin Mitchell stands out as an ‘innovative and forward-thinking’ firm which guarantees its trainees ‘high-quality work’ and ‘good exposure to clients’. It is at the ‘forefront of medical law practice’ and offers ‘excellent training’ with a ‘unique structure’ that provides the ‘option to stream your contract to work solely in either personal legal services or business legal services’. There are mixed opinions on this, with some worried that ‘by dividing the firm in two it ensures that trainees who are unsure of which area they want to practice in are entrenched in one stream’. That said, most praise the training as ‘exceeding expectations’ for the ‘high level of responsibility’ provided and the ‘involvement in all levels of cases’. This is combined with ‘strong guidance and mentoring’ as well as great ‘exposure to clients’. Some grumble about the ‘lack of secondments and overseas opportunities’, but trainees report highlights such as ‘obtaining a really good settlement for a severely injured client at a joint settlement meeting’ and ‘being nominated for Hero of the Month after working on a £520m deal’. The ‘small teams mean there are great opportunities to take on quality work’ and there is a ‘friendly and inclusive feeling to the firm’. There have been some complaints about a North/South divide as the ‘trainees at regional offices are not as well remunerated and the different offices can feel segregated’. On the plus side, there is a ‘good work/life balance’, which means ‘less late evenings’ and trainees are ‘not expected to give up social activities outside of work’. Keep Irwin Mitchell among your picks if you are looking for a ‘national firm’ with a ‘pioneering approach’ that provides a ‘real opportunity to learn’.
A day in the life of...
Heidi Hughes first-year trainee, Irwin Mitchell
Departments to date: Serious injury, public law, MLPR
University:University of St Andrews
Degree:MA Philosophy 2(1)
8.30am: I arrive at my desk and check my emails before starting the day. I highlight any urgent tasks on my to do list which need to be done this morning.
9.00am: I am on the new queries rota for today and I pick up two enquiries. I research the medical complictions of the matters and the conditions involved before ringing the potential clients. I make sure that I take full and complete notes from the calls and advise the clients that we will discuss the merits of their cases at the case review meeting with the other fee-earners and my supervisor.
10.00am: I attend a meeting with a client, alongside my supervisor, to take their witness statement. It is a delay in diagnosis case, and the client is extremely distressed about their prognosis. Cross-referencing with the medical records, I take down all the details and the client’s experience in their own words. It is important that we take time to get this right and to give the client enough time and space to relive some difficult memories.
12.00pm: I then dictate the attendance note; it is helpful to do this as soon as possible so that all matters discussed are fresh in my mind. This should be back from the dictation service tomorrow.
12.45pm: We have received some medical records from a client, and I draft instructions to MLR who collate records and put them in suitable order for our purposes.
1.00pm: I am involved in the IMCF (Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation) and this lunch time we are having a cake sale for our charity of the year. I am on the rota to man the cake sale for half an hour, selling lots of yummy cake and also eating one… or two.
1.45pm: An offer has come in from the defendants on one of the cases. I take the note for a call to the client advising them of the risks associated with accepting or rejecting the Part 36 offer. I draft a letter to the client to be checked by my supervisor, reflecting the advice given.
2.45pm: I receive an email from a partner asking me to urgently research the nature of ‘gross negligence manslaughter’. I use various online databases to put together a memo for them, enclosing my findings and considering next steps in relation to the case.
3.45pm: I receive a phone call from a client who tells me that they are really pleased with the witness statement I drafted because it truly reflects the impact that numerous operations have had on their life, and their family as a whole. It is incredibly rewarding to know that your written work is going some way to giving people a voice in the system and to show that you have listened to them well.
4.00pm: I am asked to draft a letter of instruction to a medical expert to ask them to advise on a causation/breach of duty case. I study the medical records and make notes so that I can accurately give the background for the case to the medical expert.
5.00pm: I receive an email asking me to organise a social for the future trainees joining IM this year. I email the current trainees asking for their availability and ideas about what sort of event to hold.
5.30pm: I take a few minutes to speak with my supervisor about the tasks undertaken today, and ask if there is anything urgent that needs my attention tomorrow.
5.45pm: I gather my bag and head off out to an event that a local chambers is hosting for IM fee-earners; a chance to socialise and make important contacts.
About the firm
Address:Riverside East, 2 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8DT
Telephone: 0370 1500 100
Other offices: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
Who we are: Irwin Mitchell is unique, both in its culture and its approach to law. Nationally acclaimed, with strong international capabilities, Irwin Mitchell is one of a few law firms to provide a diverse range of legal services to businesses and private individuals. It has a strong customer service culture and a high level of client retention. In 2012, Irwin Mitchell became one of the first companies to be approved as an alternative business structure (ABS). It has since acquired six firms to drive further growth, with the latest being Mayfair-based wealth services provider Berkeley Law in November 2014.
What we do: The firm remains one of the UK’s leading personal injury and medical negligence practices, as well as providing a comprehensive range of private client services, including family, wills and public law. The firm has the largest Court of Protection practice in the UK. In recent years, it has significantly expanded its corporate, commercial litigation and real estate services and aims to become a leading provider of business legal services.
What we are looking for: The firm is looking for ambitious and well-motivated individuals who have a real commitment to the law and who can demonstrate a positive approach to their work. Irwin Mitchell recruits law and non-law graduates and views social ability as important as academic achievement.
What you'll do:Our contracts are streamed so that you’ll undertake a training-based contract within either the personal legal services or business legal services division. Trainees will have three training seats and a qualification seat, allowing you to gain practical experience in diverse areas of law, while maximising retention opportunities.
Perks: 24.5 days’ holiday, pension, professional subscriptions, health plan, death in service and critical illness cover.
Sponsorship:We offer GDL and LPC funding for successful applicants who are yet to complete their studies when offered a training contract, plus a maintenance grant of £4,500.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2018: 50
Applications received pa: 2,500+
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: £25,000 (regional), £36,000 (London)
Second year: £27,000 (regional), £38,000 (London)
Newly qualified: Dependent on stream and office you qualify into.
Total partners: 205
Apply to:Nicola Stanley (graduate manager).
When to Apply:By 24 July 2016.