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Work 020 7831 9222
Fax 020 7831 9607

Address: 20 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LT




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘It had enough support and trainee infrastructure while still feeling personal’; ‘amazing at both private client and M&A’; ‘great relationships with overseas law firms’; ‘the firm is very close knit and works collectively as a team’; ‘its work advising on a wide range of private equity deals’; ‘the training is renowned across the City’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Very good mix of high-end work’; ‘sense of community’; ‘everybody is lovely and wants you to learn’; ‘working with very intelligent people’; ‘getting trained well’; ‘partners are happy to invite you along to the pub and there is no hierarchy’; ‘lots of good-quality work’; ‘good work, good people, good culture’; ‘the strong team feeling and culture’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Not very diverse’; ‘still slightly old fashioned and hierarchical in some respects’; ‘trainees are not allowed to work from home’; ‘lack of secondment opportunities as a trainee’; ‘Magic Circle hours without the associated pay’; ‘seminar sandwiches’; ‘people can be slow to give feedback’; ‘the hours can be gruelling and aren’t necessarily shared out evenly’
Best moment? 
 '‘Education and training sessions at the beginning of the seat’; ‘completing a hotel management agreement from start to finish with minimal supervision’; ‘being emailed by a partner thanking me for all of my hard work on a transaction’; ‘looking after an entire matter on my own’; ‘when a partner sends your work to a client with no amendments’
Worst moment?
 '‘Consistent long hours’; ‘unrealistic deadlines and pressures being put on you’; ‘one poor supervisor’; ‘when you are twiddling your thumbs for an afternoon and a large piece of work gets put on your desk at 6pm’; ‘working weekends in the M&A department’; ‘litigation administrative tasks’; ‘the odd late Friday night’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

The caterpillar (Alice in Wonderland) – fairly eccentric due to the private client department, but honestly isn’t that serious and is always up for some fun

The verdict

The firm

Macfarlanes is an independent UK law firm. Its size ensures high-value work but without compromising on the quality of its people. Macfarlanes excels in M&A, private client and private equity, with much of the work international in scope thanks to a client base comprised of both domestic and overseas-based individuals and entities. 

The star performers

Agriculture and estates; Acquisition finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial contracts; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Dispute resolution; Employers and senior executives; Equity capital markets; EU and competition; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Human resources; Investment grade debt and syndicated loans; International arbitration; Investment fund formation and management; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Real estate

The deals

Advising The Walt Disney Company on its prospective $52.4bn acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox; advised E2V Technologies on the merger control aspects of its £620m acquisition of Teledyne Technologies; instructed by the incoming management team of Burger King on the tax structure of the company’s equity incentive arrangements following Bridgepoint’s acquisition of the master franchise of Burger King UK; advised ITGL on a matter running for over eight years relating to previously untested provisions of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984; provided the UK law advice for NASDAQ-listed company Cimpress on its $1.04bn refinancing with a syndicate of banks including JP Morgan

The clients

Chiltern International Group; Derwent London; Flynn Pharma; Freightliner Group; Hayfin Capital Management; Pilgrim Pride; Regal Entertainment Group; Regional REIT; Supermarket Income REIT; Xafinity

The verdict

The combination of ‘first-rate M&A and an amazing private client department’ sets Macfarlanes apart. ‘The quality of the training is second to none’ said one trainee, and this sentiment was echoed throughout the responses, with the ‘regular training sessions more thorough, involved and invested’ than at some comparable firms. Work highlights include ‘my first M&A completion’ and ‘working on a very high-profile public takeover’. Recruits were collectively attracted to the size of the firm, which is ‘big enough to be well resourced but small enough to still feel personal’ and so ‘you very quickly get to know the team around you’. Said teams are filled with ‘intelligent people’ who are more than willing to ‘share their quality and wealth of knowledge to better the practice’. The firm is clearly invested in its trainees’ long-term development as it has been awarded a Lex 100 Winner medal for confidence of being kept on. Another Lex 100 Winner medal is awarded for the vacation scheme. The small intake was praised: ‘having fewer trainees means that we have more responsibility on deals and more client contact’ and thanks to the lean teams, recruits ‘even get to do associate-level work’. The flip side of such responsibility is that ‘the hours can be gruelling, especially in transactional seats’, although thankfully ‘days in lieu are fairly common after a big deal signs’. There is a perceived ‘lack of diversity at the firm’ and it can feel ‘stuffy’ and ‘a bit traditional at times’, but efforts are being made to change this. If you want to work at a firm which is ‘renowned across the City for its training’ and fosters a ‘culture of mutual respect’, where responsibility is plentiful and high-quality work the norm, apply to Macfarlanes.

 A day in the life of...

gina giglioli

Gina Giglioli trainee, Macfarlanes LLP 

Departments to date:  Corporate and M&A

University:St. Mary’s College, Durham University 
Degree:Law, 2(1) 

9.00am:  I arrive in the office and head straight to the corporate and M&A monitoring meeting which is held fortnightly with the practice area. It’s a forum for partners, associates and trainees to talk about any new or interesting work that has come in and it is incredibly useful when you start your seat to get some visibility over the work the group is doing. I return to my desk and catch up on emails that have come in, write up my to-do list for the day (a very important task because as a corporate and M&A trainee you are often in charge of liaising with lots of different people across practice areas and the day can run away with you!) and have a brief read of the news.

10.00am:  I have a catch up meeting with an associate regarding a deal, on which we’re acting for the sellers, that is completing next week. We go over the completion checklist to make sure we’re on top of everything that needs to be done. There are a number of documents that need to be updated to reflect recent changes to the deal. I make the amendments then circulate the documents to the buyer’s solicitors to be agreed, and send an email to our client with some follow-up questions.

1.00pm:  I attend a lunchtime training session with all the corporate and M&A trainees. This is part of a foundational mergers and acquisitions training programme set up by our team’s professional support lawyer, who uses the session to explain the basic structure of a typical private equity deal. I find these sessions invaluable as they help me to understand the wider context of my day to day work.

2.00pm:  An associate asks me to draft some ancillary documents for our client’s refinancing. These documents include board minutes, investor consents and redemption letters. This is one of my favourite tasks as a corporate and M&A trainee as it is an opportunity to show your knowledge, attention to detail and is a real skill which takes time to hone. I also put through any amendments to the core documents and give all the documents to the associate to review. I then take some Companies House forms down to the company secretarial team to be filed.

4.00pm:  No day is complete without a short coffee break with another trainee in ‘The Kitchen’, the firm’s café. I like to take a short walk to help focus my attention when I go back to my desk. I make follow-up calls to commercial, employment and real estate specialists who have been helping with a legal due diligence report for a client who is looking to purchase part of another company. Once I’ve updated the report with their comments I send any requests for more information to the seller’s solicitors and review any new documents uploaded into the data room.

6.30pm:  Another deal I am working on is completing next week, so I prepare an email with signing instructions for our client to send with execution versions of the documents my senior colleagues have been negotiating for the past few weeks. This needs to follow a specific formula so all the documents are entered into correctly. After checking that there is nothing else urgent to be done, I leave the office at 8pm.

About the firm

Address:20 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LT

Telephone: 020 7831 9222

Fax:020 7831 9607



Senior partner:  Charles Martin

Managing partner:  Julian Howard

Who we are: Macfarlanes is a distinctive London-based law firm, focused on its clients and on delivering excellence in the international legal market. The driving force behind the firm is an absolute commitment to delivering the right advice in the right way to our clients.

What we do: The firm is known for the quality of its work, not just in dealing with the full range of corporate and commercial matters, but in advising our clients on their private affairs as well.

What we are looking for: We look for a rare combination of character, drive and intellectual curiosity, along with strong interpersonal skills, an ambitious and commercial approach, drive, motivation and resilience.

What you'll do:A combination of hands-on experience with real responsibility and challenge with a first-class education programme and the support you would expect from a leading firm.

Perks: Flexible benefits package including life assurance, pension scheme, private healthcare, in addition to a discretionary performance-related bonus scheme, subsidised restaurant, season ticket loan and gym membership.

Sponsorship:LPC and CPE/GDL course fees, maintenance allowance for LPC students (£7,000) and GDL students (£7,000 in London, Guildford and Oxford, and £6,250 elsewhere).


Facts and figures

Total partners: 85

Other fee-earners: 723

Total trainees: 59

Turnover in 2017: £201.56m Profits per equity partner: £1.74m

Trainee places available for 2021: 30

Applications received pa: 800 

Percentage interviewed: 15% 


First year: £44,000

Second year: £49,000

Newly qualified: £80,000

 Application process

Apply to:Catherine Morgan-Guest, graduate recruitment manager.

How: Online application.

When to apply:By 31 July 2019 for 2021 contracts.

What's involved:Case study, group exercise and presentation, interview and written exercise.

 Vacation schemes

Spring:8-18 April 2019 (apply by 31 January 2019).

Summer:24 June-5 July 2019 and 8-19 July 2019 (apply by 31 January 2019).

First Year Insight Day: 2 April 2019 (apply by 28 February 2019).

Legal Developments by:
Macfarlanes LLP

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

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