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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.
The lowdown (in their own words...)
dickinson-dees-llp Dees LLP has a highly respected corporate transactional offering in the North East, complemented by a national reputation. It opened its new Leeds office in 2012. The firm offers expertise across the board from corporate and commercial to agriculture and pensions.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Charities; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Corporate tax; EU and competition; Education; Employment; Energy; Environment; Insolvency and corporate recovery; PFI; Personal injury: defendant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Social housing; Sport; TMT; Transport.
Advising Vivimed Labs on its acquisition of Uquifa from Yule Catto for $55m; advising the University of York on establishing a joint venture with City of York Council; advised Augean on the High Court challenge to its planning permission to take low-level radioactive waste at its hazardous landfill site; handling a £1.6bn multi-jurisdictional reorganisation of a chemical company; acting for Grainger on its £285m acquisition of a 50% interest in two joint venture LLPs.
Barclays Bank; EDF Energy Renewables; Gap; Gateshead College; Gentoo Group; Go-Ahead Group; Heineken UK; IBM; JEREMIE fund; NCFE; National Australia Bank Group; Nissan; Procter & Gamble; South Tyneside College; University of Durham.
'The quality of training contract on offer, its reputation, and its location in the North East' are three key reasons that dickinson-dees-llp Dees was one current trainee's first-choice firm. Those wanting to avoid London but wanting 'a high-quality training experience' should take a serious look at Dickie Dees, regarded as one of the 'most prestigious' firms in the North East. The firm boasts top-ranking banking and finance, commercial property and charities departments to name a few and offers 'very varied' work and 'excellent' training with a 'large variety of seats'. You will get some access to the high-profile clients and the work/life balance is 'good'. Current trainees have gone on secondment to Northern Rock, 'presented a lecture to a class of students at the University of York', managed files alone and worked on complex banking deals. And it will be a relief to know that there is always plenty of support available if needed. Some trainees say that the pay is lower than at some competitors and be prepared to do your fair share of bundling. Communication could also be improved but trainees comment that it is changing. Ultimately dickinson-dees-llp Dees has a reputation for 'excellent commercial work' and you will be given plenty of responsibility and great training. For those looking to put down roots in the North, it really takes some beating.
A day in the life of...
Craig Lightfoot trainee, dickinson-dees-llp Dees LLP
Departments to date: Pensions, corporate
University: Durham University
8.25am: I arrive into the office and check for any emails or voicemails that have came in overnight. I like to arrive early when the office is quiet and get ready for the day ahead. My current seat is in corporate and I share an office with my supervisor who is an associate in the team. An email has arrived from a client who is wanting to transfer some of their subsidiary businesses into LLPs, a form of quasi-company. I'm not familiar with setting up LLPs so I print off a practice note which I think could be useful. The client has asked for this to be done as soon as possible so my supervisor and I need to get to work.
9.15am: My supervisor and I sit down and we discuss the email. Essentially, the client wishes to set up the LLPs for tax reasons and we agree to meet him later this afternoon. My supervisor asks me to do some research into what documentation we need to do to set up the LLPs.
10.30am: I finish some work on a confidentiality agreement for another member of the team. We are acting for the seller in an acquisition and we want the agreement to protect our client's interests during the disclosure process. This is when our client will hand over a lot of confidential information to the buyer and so it is important that there are safeguards in place in case the deal doesn't complete. I am also going to be involved in the disclosure stage of this deal in a few weeks' time. It's good to be involved in as many stages in a deal as you can as I've found that the more exposure you have, the quicker you learn.
11.30am: After finishing annotating the confidentiality agreement, I discuss my suggested changes with the solicitor in charge of the deal. He agrees with them and so I ask my secretary to make my annotated amendments to the document. I draft an email to the client and will attach the amended document later. I've found that I've had a lot of client contact in my current seat - it's always nice to be trusted to liaise with clients directly.
12.30pm: I head out of the office to a café on the Quayside for lunch with some other trainees. There are an array of restaurants and cafés nearby to choose from. There can be busy periods when its not possible to take a full lunch break but most of the time, you can.
1.15pm: I arrive back at my desk and quickly check my inbox. My secretary rings through to tell me that a car is waiting outside to take us to the client's office. It is about 30 minutes away and so the journey gives me and my supervisor an opportunity to discuss what we're going to do. He asks me to take notes during the meeting.
2.45pm: We arrive at the client's offices and meet the FD of the company. He explains that they have been advised to set up the LLPs by their accountants. As I take notes, my supervisor explains that I will be handling the relevant documentation. The client tells us that he doesn't mind what the LLPs are called as they won't be used as trading names.
3.00pm: We arrive back at the office and get to work on drafting the documentation. I need to draft various resolutions and member agreements to set up the LLPs, as well as arranging the necessary forms to be filed at Companies House. This is a typical trainee task but it does mean that I get to choose the LLPs' names. After imaginatively thinking of some names, I check with Companies House that they aren't already in use. Thankfully, they aren't and I draft the relevant forms. I email them to the client and ask him to arrange for them to be signed and returned to me.
6.25pm I make a quick 'to-do' list for tomorrow and head home on the train. It's been a busy day but nonetheless an enjoyable one!
About the firm
Address: St Ann's Wharf, 112 Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3DX
Telephone: 0191 270 9046
Fax: 0191 279 9716
Senior partner: John Marshall
Managing partner: Jonathan Blair
Other offices: Newcastle, Leeds, London, Tees Valley
Who we are: The largest firm in the North East, dickinson-dees-llp Dees enjoys an excellent reputation not only as the region's heavyweight but also one of the country's leading commercial law firms.
What we do: The firm is organised into four main departments: company and commercial, litigation, commercial property and wealth management and provides co-ordinated advice on a broad range of issues.
What we are looking for: We are looking for intellectually able, motivated and enthusiastic graduates from any discipline who have good communication skills.
What you'll do: Trainees spend six months in four different seats gaining experience across a wide range of disciplines. Trainees sit with their supervisors and have the opportunity to take responsibility and to gain varied 'hands-on' experience within a supportive and well structured framework.
Perks: Flexible benefits scheme which includes employee discount scheme, season ticket loan, pension, life assurance.
Sponsorship: GDL/LPC fees paid, maintenance grant provided.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2015: Up to 15
Applications received pa: 850-950
Percentage interviewed: 50% tested, 25% interviewed
First year: £20,000
Second year: £21,000
Newly qualified: £35,000
(from Legal Business magazine)
Turnover in 2011: 45.5m (-7% from 2010) Profits per equity partner: £223,000 (-9%)
Total partners: 60
Other fee-earners: 286
Total trainees: 28
Apply to: Joanne Smallwood, graduate recruitment adviser.
How: Online application process.
When to Apply: Work placement weeks deadline 31 January 2013, training contracts 31 July 2013.
Spring: April 2013 (apply by 31 January 2013.)
Summer: June, July, August 2013 (apply by July 2013).