Survey Results - Trainee feedback on BDB Pitmans LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on BDB Pitmans LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Seats/jobs available in specialist areas of law that interest me’, ‘I was recommended the firm by someone who had worked there’, ‘I wanted to do a range of seats and was interested in their family and charity work’, ‘culture and work/life balance’, ‘the work/life balance and breadth of work available’, ‘the firm puts an emphasis on a good work/life balance and has very good diversity and inclusion policies’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The work/life balance’, ‘the culture’, ‘the people are very friendly’, ‘the work/life balance is very good, as is the hybrid working policy’, ‘the diversity and inclusion policies and the transparency’, ‘the quality of the work and the level of client contact afforded to trainees’, ‘the client exposure’, ‘less chargeable hours than other firms’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The remuneration’, ‘the salary compared with other firms (due to change soon though)’, ‘sometimes there is not enough work to do so I have been bored’, ‘the firm doesn’t seem to have a clear strategy in place’, ‘internal communication isn’t always the greatest’, ‘the hybrid working policy varies from department to department so it depends which team you’re working in’

Best moment? ‘In an important client meeting the partner asked me to speak to the clients directly about the work I had done on the case and the findings I had made. I felt valued and I liked the responsibility given’, ‘going on site visits to a high-net-worth client’, ‘being given my own matters to run and seeing them through to completion’

Worst moment? ‘Completing a task for a very difficult and unapproachable supervisor’, ‘making an error during a completion day in my first seat’, ‘a large, complex matter in my litigation seat’, ‘my first seat being in another office. You apply for a London training contract but can be put in another location for a seat which sometimes works against your personal circumstances’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on BDB Pitmans LLP

Recruits chose BDB Pitmans because it ‘seemed to really care about the wellbeing of the trainees, and offered a wide range of seat options’. The firm offers training contracts in London and Reading, and trainees can expect to do ‘most of their seats’ in the chosen location (meaning that it is possible they will do one or more seats in another office). BDB Pitmans ‘offers more than the average City firm’, with many trainees joining because of their interest in areas such as charity or family law. Respondents really appreciate the ‘emphasis on work/life balance’, as well as the commitment to diversity and inclusion. Trainees are given ‘high-quality work, lots of responsibility and client contact’, and appreciate having plenty of involvement in substantive work. ‘Friendly colleagues’ and a ‘good hybrid working policy (trainees are expected to be in the office two to three days a week, with flexibility)’ makes for an attractive training package. Having said that, some recruits mentioned the application of the firm’s agile working arrangements is ‘inconsistent – some departments have their own policy, which is very different to the firm’s overall policy’. Trainees complained about the salary, although it was mentioned once or twice that ‘this is due to change soon’. Others grumbled that ‘communication on internal matters is fairly poor’. On the plus side, best moments included ‘working on an acquisition from start to finish’ and ‘participating in client meetings with counsel’. ‘Completing a task for a very difficult and unapproachable supervisor’ and ‘making an error during a completion day in my first seat’ were low points. Thankfully, pro bono opportunities are good and available: ‘I have had access to pro bono opportunities straight from the word go’, said one respondent, ‘it’s a key focus of the firm’. To experience a wide range of seats in a firm with a great work/life balance, where diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords, consider BDB Pitmans.

A day in the life of... Lore Millward, trainee (since September 2020), BDB Pitmans LLP

Departments to date: Litigation; Pensions

9.00am: I finish my coffee and settle in at my desk – I have spent most of my training contract working from home. I am attending a trustee meeting at 10.00am so I spend 30 minutes reading through the papers to get an overview of what will be discussed.

9.30am: My supervisor calls me to discuss some work he has for me to complete. One of my main tasks as a trainee is to produce deeds of appointment/removal of trustees and deeds of amendments to rules that govern the scheme. My supervisor needs me to draft a deed of appointment for a new trustee and draft an advisory note on securities over assets.

10.00am: I dial into Zoom for the trustee meeting. I am there to observe and note anything of interest to be able to update the partner afterwards. The trustees discussed the steps required to produce a valuation of a pension scheme and the factors that need to be considered. Before starting my pensions seat, I didn’t know anything about my own pension let alone pensions law, so meetings like this are a great opportunity to learn about this area.

11.45am: The trustee meeting has concluded so I begin to check the information I have available to set up a new client matter.

As we have all been working remotely since we started our training contracts the trainee WhatsApp group is a good source of support and how to guides! I send a message to the other trainees to ask for a good contact to open a matter as this isn’t something I have done before.

12.00pm: I complete the information needed to open a new matter on our system and draft a client care and an ‘appointment of legal advisors’ letter to send out to the client.

1.00pm: Time for some lunch.

1.30pm: I return to my desk and draft a deed to appoint a new trustee to a pension scheme. To do this I have to locate various documents from the scheme to confirm existing trustee details and confirm the rules that govern the appointment of trustees. Once drafted, I send to my supervisor for approval.

2.30pm: My supervisor has requested some research and a note on security over employer assets for an existing pension scheme. This is a requirement to protect members of the scheme from loss in the event of insolvency.

3.30pm: I am a mentor for a BPP student; she has been on a virtual vac scheme so we had a zoom call to discuss how this went and criteria to consider when selecting a firm to apply to/accept an offer from.

4.00pm: The Association of Pension Lawyers are running a conference and series of online webinars. A partner has asked me to attend training on liability insurance and take notes to feed back to the rest of the team.

5.00pm: I continue to draft a note for a client on security over employer assets to send to my supervisor for approval.

6.00pm: I log off for the evening – next week I am heading back into the office and will hopefully have a chance to meet up with some other trainees for a post-work/pre-train drink.

About the firm

The firm: BDB Pitmans was established in 2018 following a merger between legacy firms Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) and Pitmans Law. The firm brings together over 300 years of legal expertise across four locations – Cambridge, London, Reading and Southampton.

The clients: Highways England; Transport for London; Harwood Capital; Peel Holdings; Jones Lang LaSalle; Westcoast; Smurfit Kappa UK Limited; Novacyt; Sourcebio International Plc; Transport for Greater Manchester; Tenpin Limited; Harrods Limited; The Healthcare Management Trust; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden Foundation; Kurt Geiger Limited; Tony’s Chocolonely; Sipsmith Gin.

The deals: Advised on AIM admission of health-tech provider Trellus Health Plc, culminating in gross proceeds during the fundraising of £28.5m; advised British heritage brand Fred Perry on a new flagship store on the ground floor of Bruntwood Works’ iconic Afflecks building in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, negotiating the lease documentation and advising on satisfying the detailed planning requirements at the site and on terminating Fred Perry’s existing tenancy in Police Street, Manchester; acted for the successful claimants in Craddock and another v Secretary of State for Transport [2021] UKUT 0002 (LC), concerning a disputed blight notice relating to Phase 2a of the HS2 project; successfully advised leading provider of construction intelligence solutions Thinkproject on its acquisition of mobile data capture and data processing systems firm Digital Field Solutions Limited; working with East Suffolk Council on its delivery of the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project to deliver significant flood defence structures in the area around the Port of Lowestoft to protect the town of Lowestoft from future tidal surges; acted for Bath and North East Somerset Council in developing Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), England’s first charging CAZ outside of London; acted on the £12.5m sale of Oxfordshire-based The Garden Trading Company Limited to the Joules Group plc; successfully advised long-standing client Ten Entertainment Group plc (TEG) on a new £14m secured term loan from The Royal Bank of Scotland under the government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, as well as amendments to its existing £25m revolving credit facility, to assure sufficient funding to ensure that the business can successfully restart its operations after the Covid-19 pandemic; advised on the successful admission of Verici Dx plc, an immuno-diagnostics development company primarily focused on kidney transplantation, to trading on the London Stock Exchange AIM market; advised SourceBio International Plc on its successful admission to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of just over £120m, as well as a placing as part of the IPO to raise £35m from institutional investors; advised existing client finnCap on the successful admission of the entire issued share capital of Fonix Mobile PLC to trading on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market; advised Novacyt UK Holdings, an international specialist in clinical diagnostics, on its £12m acquisition of IT-IS International, a diagnostic instrument development and manufacturing company.

Senior partner: John Hutchinson

Managing partner: Andrew Smith

Other offices: Cambridge, Reading, Southampton

Who we are: Based at offices in London, Cambridge, Reading and Southampton, BDB Pitmans approaches every case with the bigger picture in mind.

At BDB Pitmans, our ‘BUILDING BETTER’ approach is about helping to shape what’s important to people and society. We work constructively with our colleagues and clients and explain things clearly in a friendly and approachable way.

Above all, our focus is on doing things right and doing them well, so we build longstanding and mutually beneficial client relationships based on trust and genuine partnership.

You could be managing an established charity; getting an exciting construction project or technology initiative up and running; or taking care of your family’s financial security for years to come. Wherever your business objectives or life goals take you, we’re happy to work on complex (and sometimes unusual) challenges, as well as those more everyday legal matters.

What we do: The firm’s main practice groups are: charities, corporate and commercial, employment, family and matrimonial, infrastructure, litigation, pensions, private wealth, public law, real estate, and restructuring and insolvency. Our clients range from individuals, to public sector bodies, charities and large corporations.

What we’re looking for: At BDB Pitmans, we don’t look for one particular type of trainee. We believe individual differences bring great strengths to our firm. There are, however, some traits our trainees all have in common. They are confident, enthusiastic, commercially-minded, can search for (and find) innovative solutions to problems, and demonstrate a real passion for learning.

What you’ll do: Trainees take part in four six-month seats over the course of two years. Our trainees receive extensive legal and interpersonal skills training in addition to the Professional Skills Course (PSC) to ensure their expertise and career skills are constantly developing.

Perks: A minimum of 25 days’ annual leave per year; biennial medical; bonus scheme; company pension; CSR day; employee assistance programme; enhanced maternity and adoption pay; flexible working; life assurance; income protection; interest-free season ticket loan; private medical insurance.

Sponsorship: To support your legal studies we provide sponsorship for both the GDL, LPC and SQE. This includes payment of full fees for courses which are yet to be completed.

Diversity and inclusion