The Legal 500

Irwin Mitchell

Work 0870 1500 100
Fax 020 7404 0208

See the latest survey results from the 2012/13 edition of The Lex 100 - a student guide designed to show what working in a law firm is really like. For more information on the methodology of this survey please click here.

1. Survey results
2. The Lex 100 verdict
3. A Day in the life of
4. About the Firm
5. Facts & figures

For more information on this firm please click here

Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 ''The firm's growth over the last decade'; 'current expansion to new legal markets'; 'interest in clinical negligence'; 'fantastic reputation'; 'good work/life balance'; 'emphasis on client care'; 'location'; 'strong London practice'; 'ethos'; 'good career prospects'; 'good reputation for training'
How does your training compare with peers' at other firms? 
 ''No secondment opportunities available'; 'lack of flexibility at the time of allocating seats'; 'given a lot of responsibility'; 'you are treated like a fee earner from day one'; 'you always do work that you feel is contributing to the team and making a difference'; 'good client exposure'; 'pay is less'; 'less stressful'
Best thing about the firm? 
 ''Work/life balance'; 'quality of work'; 'my colleagues'; 'there are solicitors and other legal professionals working here who are amazing at what they do and very happy to share their knowledge'; 'training'; 'variety of work'; 'quality of clients'; 'reputation in personal injury'; 'the room for growth and development'; 'relaxed atmosphere'
Worst thing about the firm? 
 ''Salaries and career progression are not representative of a firm this size'; 'no canteen or microwave!'; 'being given no choice over my future specialism'; 'disorganisation'; 'limiting training contract'; 'hyper-specialisation of the teams'
Best moment? 
 ''A negotiation to settle a substantial PI claim'; 'leading a client meeting in my first seat'; 'doing press on a case'; 'going to court with counsel to represent a client on behalf of a welfare issue'; 'appearing alone before a master at the Royal Courts of Justice in order to have an application approved'; 'working on a multi-million transaction to help it complete'; 'settling my first case'
Worst moment?
 ''Advising a client that the medico legal report we commissioned to one expert was not supportive of their claim'; 'providing the oral explanation of our CFA agreements for the first time'; 'organising thousands of documents for disclosure'; 'being moved to a new office and having to commute'; 'dealing with nefarious claims handling companies''

 The Verdict

The firm

Irwin Mitchell now has offices in Birmingham, Leeds, London, Bristol, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. It also has an office in Glasgow and two offices in Spain. The firm is divided into specialist groups: business; personal injury; insurance; private client and investment management. It is particularly well known for its leading personal injury and clinical negligence work, and has been successful in a number of high-profile multi-party cases, as well as achieving substantial awards for individuals. The firm also offers a wide range of commercial services.  

The star performers

Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Crime; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Health and safety; IP/IT; Local government; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Product liability: claimant; Professional negligence: claimant; Property litigation; Transport.

The deals

Acted for two defendants in the first cross-jurisdiction prosecution of insider dealing by the FSA; advised OCS Group UK Limited on its £8m disposal of a product distribution business to Bunzl plc; advised the family of a critically ill patient regarding a dispute over whether to end treatment; acted for Encon on its management buyout from Wolseley; acted for Henry Boot in a joint venture with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust; advised the trustees of the Dyson Group Pension Fund on a reconstruction.

The clients

AES Seal; Age UK; Aviva; Begbies Traynor; Capita; Newham Training and Education; HSBC; Liverpool Victoria; Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets; Mortgages plc; PL Polyurethane Products; Sheffield Hallam University; Sheffield Wednesday FC.

The winners

Legal Business Awards 2012

Winner Lawyer of the year - Michael Napier QC. 

The Verdict

Irwin Mitchell has impressed its current trainees with its growth over the last decade as well as its 'fantastic' reputation. Well respected for its top-tier personal injury and clinical negligence practices, expect 'good quality' work and to interact with 'experienced people at partner and associate level'. The fact that the firm is 'unpretentious' and has a 'relaxed attitude' means that everyone is 'approachable' and there is always someone available to answer your questions. Expect to be given 'a lot of responsibility' and to be 'treated like a fee-earner from day one, helping out on million pound cases'. Current trainees feel that they 'always do work that they feel is contributing to the team and making a difference'. Recent experiences have included 'assisting in a million-pound settlement negotiation at a round-table meeting in London', 'a negotiation to settle a substantial PI claim' and 'appearing alone before a master at the Royal Courts of Justice in order to have an application approved'. Some feel that the training can, at times, be a bit 'limited' and a canteen would be very much appreciated. Other trainees feel that the remuneration package could also be improved. However, if you are looking for an 'ambitious' firm with a great ethos and where you will get the opportunity to do 'real legal work', then Irwin Mitchell is a strong contender.

 A day in the life of...

Joanne Witherington

Joanne Witherington first-year trainee solicitor, Irwin Mitchell 
Departments to date:  Serious injury, medical law and patients' rights
University: University of Sheffield 
Degree: Law and Criminology, 2(1) 

8.30am:  I arrive in the office and check my diary, email and voicemail, and plan my day. I start catching up with one of the secretaries about a conference last week, when I notice a memo on my desk from my supervisor, Jenny. She reminds me about our appointment later today. I am currently working in the medical law and patients' rights team. Jenny asks that I prepare for the meeting as I will be interviewing the client. I will also need to take a detailed note.

8.45am:  I prepare for my meeting by reading the initial client form. I research medical terms I am unfamiliar with and think about the key elements of a clinical negligence claim. It becomes clear that I need additional information from the client and I plan which questions to ask.

9.30am:  I go along to our twice-weekly Star Chamber meeting. This is where we discuss new client enquiries and decide whether or not to accept a case. We have nine new enquiries and I have already spoken with three of the callers. I read out the information I have and a senior member of the team decides if we can assist. After an hour, we decide to accept four cases, turn down another four and get some further information about one.

10.30am:  I draft letters to the callers we cannot assist and review my diary again.

11.00am:  Reviewing emails. I see an email from a colleague reminding everyone about a charity dinner on Friday night. I also spot emails from some of the trainees about going out for drinks tomorrow.

12.30pm:  I meet up with my fellow trainees and take lunch. We talk about some of the cases we are working on and our next seats. I explain that I'll be in the Court of Protection team next and it dawns on me that I will be moving in just three weeks.

1.30pm:  The appointment I had is cancelled as the client is unwell. I decide to take this opportunity to clear some outstanding work. I begin working on an application to the Legal Services Commission seeking funding in a new case. I just get started when I get a call from a witness asking that we move our telephone appointment later in the week to this afternoon. I explain that I will gather my papers and call back in a few minutes. Fortunately, I had already prepared for the meeting. I talk to the witness, who is a client's wife. I take a detailed witness statement about the client's current situation and the care and support provided by his wife.

3.30pm:  I spend the rest of the day preparing for an inquest. I call the client to check that he knows the plan for the day. I call the barrister who will be representing the client and go through recent developments. I brush up on my knowledge of inquests and gather together the paperwork I need. I make sure I have enough copies of the press release I drafted yesterday in case any media show up. The barrister tells me today that he is not allowed to speak to the press so I'm pleased to have the release.

6.00pm:  I put on my out of office, change my voicemail and head home for the day. On the way back, I think about tomorrow and plan what to say if the media show up.

About the firm

Address: Riverside East, 2 Millsands,, Sheffield S3 8DT

Telephone: 0870 1500 100



Group chief executive: John Pickering

Group chairman: Glyn Barker


Other offices: Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. 

Who we are:  Founded in 1912, the firm has grown from strength to strength. Nationally acclaimed, with strong international capabilities, Irwin Mitchell is one of a few law firms to provide a diverse range of legal services. One of the largest law firms in the UK, Irwin Mitchell provides a wide range of legal services to over 200,000 clients a year, with litigation its particular strength.

What we do: Personal legal services - encompassing all our private client and legal services focused on individual consumers. Business legal services - providing a full range of corporate and commercial legal services to businesses, institutions and organisations.

What we are looking for: We are looking for ambitious and well-motivated individuals who have a real commitment to law and who can demonstrate a positive approach to their work/life balance. We recruit law and non-law graduates and social ability is as important to us as academic achievement. Irwin Mitchell believes trainees to be an investment for the future; therefore our retention rate is excellent.

What you'll do:  Trainees will have three training seats and a qualification seat. This allows trainees to gain practical experience in diverse and innovative areas of law whilst maximising retention opportunities. We always discuss trainee seat preferences and try to meet these wherever possible, in line with business needs.

Perks: 24.5 days' holiday, pension scheme, professional subscriptions, Westfield health plan, and death in service and critical illness cover.

Sponsorship: GDL and LPC funding, if you have not started or completed your studies when offered a training contract, plus a maintenance grant of £4,500.


 Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2015: circa 40.

Applications received pa: 2,000-2,500. 

Percentage interviewed: 20%. 


First year: £22,450 (outside London).

Second year: £24,650 (outside London).

Newly qualified: Dependant on the office and stream you qualify into.

 The money

(from Legal Business magazine)

£171.8m (+9% from 2010) Profits per equity partner: £511,000 (-5%)

Total partners: 177

Other fee-earners: 900+

Total trainees: 88

Application process

Apply to: Helen Cannon.

How: Online application.  

When to Apply: By 31 July 2013.  

Visit graduate recruitment site


Diversity information


 Vacation schemes

Summer:  June and July (apply by 1 February 2013) 

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