Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Brabners LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I worked at Brabners in various roles before training and knew that, when deciding the next steps in my career, the culture here would suit me best’, ‘it fitted with my values’, ‘for its excellent reputation and also being able to work with and learn from highly reputable individuals who are experts in their fields’, ‘there’s a terrific balance between the quality of work offered to trainees and the culture of the firm’, ‘the culture: Brabners aims to deliver high standards whilst supporting the staff’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The culture and openness, in relation to both the work and social side of my role’, ‘work/life balance, family feel, community, good values’, ‘I love the opportunity to learn and be surrounded by hardworking individuals who love what they do. There is also the opportunity to work with colleagues from other offices, either on an individual basis or as a team on different projects’, ‘there is a great culture at Brabners and everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘As an older trainee (35+), I feel that the training programme is very much geared towards those who have recently graduated’, ‘the pay could be better’, ‘the central services (like HR) are sometimes slow to respond’, ‘seat availability’

Best moment? ‘Attending Employment Tribunal hearings and being trusted to be there on my own representing the instructing solicitor and give instructions if needed’, ‘attending The Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards with all the leaders of my firm’, ‘working on a high-profile case’, ‘having one-to-one feedback with the partner after finishing a piece of work’, ‘attending a Public Inquiry report final publication in London’

Worst moment? ‘Sometimes there is a slump in work, and you have to go around asking for work to be allocated to you’, ‘having to take part in the additional, non-chargeable work that all trainees at the firm are required to do’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Brabners LLP

Brabners has ‘created an environment where staff can thrive collaboratively whilst pushing the business forward’. The Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds-based firm has ‘a full-service offering, with a corporate centre’, and a ‘strong northern personality and ethos’. Trainees love the positive work/life balance, the ‘open culture’, made possible by ‘approachable supervisors and partners and no sense of hierarchy’. The Manchester office in particular is good for this: ‘it is set out in a way that everything is open plan and it fosters a feeling that everyone is approachable’. The ‘energy put into trainees’ does not go unnoticed, and recruits love the ‘autonomy surrounding our own work. We are encouraged to take on responsibility and contribute where possible, working alongside fee earners to actively progress matters’. Little wonder the firm is a ten-time Future Lawyers Winner this year, with categories such as quality of work, client contact and sustainability among the haul. Recruits were impressed with ‘the firm’s goals on sustainability, and the actions it is taking towards the UK’s aim to achieve net zero by 2050’. One of the not-so-good things about Brabners is that there is a ‘lot of focus on the figures; sometimes this becomes quite intense, particularly to those who have little control over billing’. Another way in which the firm could improve is by providing ‘more information around seat moves and qualification’, which at the moment is ‘quite last minute’.  When asked for their work highlights, trainees mentioned ‘being involved in a pro bono judicial review case on a serious criminal case which was in the public eye’ and ‘starting my seat in corporate and being able to learn a brand-new area of law’. On the contrary, recruits did not enjoy ‘complications arising during an important client meeting with all supervisors uncontactable’ nor ‘quiet periods with not much work’. For ‘the opportunity to learn and be surrounded by hardworking individuals who love what they do’ in a ‘growing firm with a close-knit feel’, consider Brabners.

A day in the life of... Jessica Graham, third-seat trainee, Brabners LLP

Jessica Graham, Brabners LLP

Departments to date: Litigation and contentious probate; Private client; Corporate

University: Lancaster University BPP Manchester

Degree: LLB Law – First Class; LLM LPC – Distinction

One ‘struggle’ I faced as a trainee solicitor was developing a routine and sticking to it. I have found the key to be organisation! Therefore my ‘day in the life’ does not start with the morning, but instead the evening before.

8.00pm: I prepare my lunch for the following day, lay out my gym clothes and pack my gym bag so that I can dash away in the morning.

6.30am: I like to spend my mornings in the gym. This is my time and I really feel that it prepares me for a good day. Once I have finished at the gym, I get myself ready for the day and travel to the office. Having a ‘dress for your day’ policy at Brabners is fantastic. It allows me to dress up if I have meetings (like today) or dress down for the day/comfortably if I do not have any meetings.

8.45am: I arrive at the office, make myself breakfast and grab a coffee. During this time my colleagues are also arriving at the office, so it is lovely to catch up with them. I then log onto my laptop and check any emails that may have come in overnight or over the weekend. Using my ‘to do list’ planner, I then plan out what I need to do that day including noting any internal or client meetings I have. This allows me to remain organised and prioritise my workload. I action any urgent emails accordingly.

9.30am: I have a weekly catch-up with a private client partner to discuss matters I am working on, my capacity and any assistance I may require. During this meeting, the partner asked me to attend a client meeting in the afternoon to take instructions for their wills, letter of wishes and lasting powers of attorney. The partner gives me all the information I require — for example, a background and file numbers so I can review the files. During this time, I review the client files and — using the precedents we use for wills, letter of wishes and lasting powers of attorney — I prepare a question sheet to ensure that I obtain all the required information from the clients during the meeting.

11.00am: I have a meeting with the other trainees to organise the end of month staff social. As a trainee solicitor, we are all encouraged to get involved wherever possible and maintain strong relationships with colleagues outside of the office. I love having this responsibility — Brabners gives us a budget and we have complete freedom to plan an enjoyable event for everyone to enjoy.

11.30am: I return an existing client’s phone call to be informed that his wife is extremely poorly and expected to pass away within the next few days. The client is therefore requesting that we explain what their wills (previously drafted by us) provide. I explain to the client that I am now required to locate his file and review the documents, which will then enable me to provide a summary of his and his wife’s current position. The client thanks me and I explain that I am sorry to hear what he is going through and ask him to contact me if he needs anything in the meantime. I review the file containing the client’s documents and prepare a summary which I ask a member of the private client team to review and talk through with me before I return the client’s call.

1.00pm: I eat my lunch with several other colleagues in one of our social spaces before we head out for a walk to get some fresh air ahead of a productive afternoon.

2.00pm: I attend the client meeting with the private client partner. There were four clients in total and the partner led the first client interview while I took notes. The partner then allowed me to conduct the final three interviews. One of the many things I love about Brabners is the exposure and level of responsibility you are provided with from day one. The interviews allowed me to build on my confidence and interviewing skills and really understand the clients in order to produce the best drafts of their documents possible. I took all the required information from the clients that would enable us to draft their wills, letters of wishes and lasting powers of attorney.

4.00pm: I return to the office and complete a file note for the client meeting, asking the partner some questions I had following the meeting. I then begin to draft the documents ready for the partner to check before we see the client again to sign.

5.00pm: Towards the end of the day, I like to ensure that I have completed my time recording and completed my trainee solicitor diary for the day (as required by the SRA). As a second-year trainee, now that I have ‘found my feet’ I am actively looking to getting involved with Brabners’ internal action and affinity groups, which focus on LGBTQ+, gender diversity, physical and mental health, BAME and social mobility issues. As a purpose-led independent law firm and certified B Corp, Brabners aims to create a fair and more equal society through the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion among our people, clients and the communities in which we live and work.

About the firm

Brabners is a purpose-led independent law firm and certified B Corp with over 200 years of history.

Firmly anchored in the North with a national influence and international client base, Brabners has offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Lancashire. The firm has over 490 employees with nationally recognised experts across its full range of legal services, including corporate, commercial, property, employment and pensions, litigation, sports, social housing, charity, family and private client law. Its broad client base includes multinationals, large businesses, SMEs, public sector bodies, charities and a wide range of commercial, corporate and professional businesses, as well as business owners, entrepreneurs and individuals.

With so many ways to enter the legal profession, choosing the right route is key. Just as important is choosing the right firm and Brabners holds no less than ten Legal 500 Future Lawyers awards — more than any other law firm — for approachability, client contact, inclusiveness, job satisfaction, legal technology, quality of work, social life, sustainability, work from home and work/life balance.

Brabners also holds multiple ‘A’ and ‘A*’ ratings from Legal Cheek based on a survey of over 2,000 legal trainees and junior associates, including for training, quality of work, peer support, partner approachability, work/life balance, legal technology, perks, offices, work from home and eco-friendliness.

The UK’s largest law firm to achieve B Corp status, Brabners is recognised as a ‘World Class Company to Work For’ and (at the time of writing) a ‘Top 5 Best Large Company to Work For in the UK’ by Best Companies. It has also won various awards in 2023 for its sustainability and community initiatives, including for ‘Excellence in ESG’ at the British Legal Awards, ‘Best ESG Campaign’ at the Yorkshire Legal Awards, ‘Sustainability Initiative of the Year’ at The Lawyer Awards and ‘CSR Champions of the Year’ at the Manchester Legal Awards.

The Brabners Foundation — our independent grant-making charity — supports our mission to make the difference for our clients, people and communities.

We provide aspiring solicitors with all the support they expect from a leading law firm, along with the benefit of close mentoring from partners.

Joining us also provides the opportunity to get involved with the programmes that set our award-winning culture apart, including diversity, sustainability and charitable giving.

The clients: Arnold Clarke, AXA,, Beaverbrook’s the Jewellers, Bridgestone Tyres, Coutts and Co., England & Wales Cricket Board, Lawn Tennis Association, Liverpool Football Club, Manchester Airport, Panasonic Manufacturing, Peel Ports, Primark, Sale Sharks, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, The Very Group.

The deals: Our nationally recognised litigation specialists, led by The Legal 500 ‘Hall of Fame’ Paul Lunt, robustly defended Coleen Rooney in the libel case brought against her by Rebekah Vardy – #wagathachristie, and the team also released an award-winning podcast series Rooney v Vardy: The Breakdown (available on Spotify) and are set to feature in Disney+’s upcoming six-part documentary Coleen Rooney: The Real Wagatha Story; our award-winning real estate group acted on behalf of Oldham Council to kick-start its £550m regeneration strategy as part of Brabners’ latest large-scale procurement project – the detailed legal dialogue was concluded in just seven months, a remarkable turnaround for such a complex and competitive process, which can typically take between 12 and 24 months to complete; we were appointed in 2023 by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation in respect of all its legal needs, including specific charity law advice, such as reviewing agreements between the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from both a charity law and governance perspective, ensuring the Foundation can demonstrate its independence and the fulfilment of the trustees’ duties, as well as commercial aspects, bringing together specialists from across our departments; a long-standing client, we have recently supported Beaverbrooks on their programme of new stores, as well as the upsizing and upgrading of existing stores to provide a more immersive shopping experience, including the growth of their Davygate store, the surrendering of that lease, and the taking of a ten-year lease of the original demise and adjoining vacant property to create a single super store – this project has aided with the creation of an ‘upmarket jewellery quarter’ in York city centre; our commercial and intellectual property teams have also provided advice and assistance in connection with the filing and prosecution of two new trade marks for the business, ESSENCE BY BEAVERBROOKS.

Managing partner: Nik White

Other offices: Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire and Leeds

Who we are: The firm carries out a wide range of specialist legal services in a number of core sectors including real estate, business services, healthcare, media, technology, retail, sport and charity.

What we do: We provide a full-service legal offering with a focus on helping our clients to achieve their goals.

Our independence gives us the freedom to shape our own definition of success — one fit for the modern world and not driven by financial metrics alone.

As a purpose-led, values-driven organisation, we strongly believe that business can bring about positive change. Our open, inclusive culture leads to great outcomes for our clients.

What we’re looking for: Graduates and those undertaking any route to qualification including the GDL, LPC or SQE who can demonstrate our values — showing that they care, can stand together as a team, are ambitious and do what’s right.

We look for something different in our trainees.

While we want people who are driven and have the tenacity to succeed, we also want those who wish to be part of something much bigger. Those who are eager to learn, innovate and seek out responsibility.

In return, we will devote our time and focus to ensure that each and every one of our trainees has the opportunity to realise their full potential.

We strongly believe that trainees should experience a wide range of disciplines before making the decision to specialise. Our vast client base means that our trainees have the chance to experience different sectors and specialisms, deal directly with clients and assist our partners on complex cases.

Join us to kickstart your career in law.

What you’ll do: We provide aspiring solicitors with all the support they expect from a leading law firm, along with the benefit of close mentoring from partners. Our trainees have many opportunities to experience different specialisms of law by seat rotation, experiencing four seats over a two-year period, dealing directly with clients and assisting on complex transactions with close partner support. Our trainees also have the opportunity to be involved in our action and affinity groups, which focus on LGBTQ+, gender diversity, physical and mental health, BAME and social mobility issues. The aim of our groups is to create a fair and more equal society through the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion among our people, clients and the communities within which we live and work.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday, travel loan, fresh fruit delivered to the office, charity and social events, payroll giving, colleague recognition, smart agile working practices, buy and sell holidays, pension scheme, subsidised discounts in retail stores, cycle to work and Medicash.

Sponsorship: Funding support is available.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

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Percentage of female associates: 69%

Percentage of female partners: 34%

Percentage of BAME associates: 13%

Percentage of BAME partners: 5%