Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Burges Salmon LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Bristol location alongside a good salary and work/life balance’, ‘I had exposure to the firm as part of my placement year and liked the culture, as well as the lawyers I had come into contact with’, ‘it did not seem corporate or stuffy, people genuinely showed an interest in you and getting to know you’, ‘the firm’s values, ethos and how it positions itself in terms of environmental impact and diversity were really important to me’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Social culture and quality of work’, ‘the people – Burges Salmon appears to hire quite carefully and everyone is really personable’, ‘Burges Salmon has a very collegiate culture and the contribution of all staff is appreciated, particularly by the leadership. Colleagues are social and humourful whilst carrying out work with real professionalism’, ‘the firm’s culture is really special – everyone is friendly, approachable, kind and supportive. It’s a great place to work’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Trainee tasks can sometimes be menial’, ‘the office is still a little quiet following Covid – it would be great to see more colleagues back in the office’, ‘the offices on the atrium side can be a bit dark’, ‘the hours are getting worse’, ‘the hours can be inconsistent/unpredictable, but frankly that’s just part of the job’, ‘sometimes the People team seem slightly out of touch with what doing a training contract is actually like!’

Best moment? ‘Attending a renewable energy conference in London – the firm paid for the ticket and it was a great opportunity to listen and network with industry experts’, ‘being given responsibility to manage a small client matter which involved chairing a client call and liaising with colleagues across the firm to pull work together’, ‘getting client exposure, in particular attending a client meeting’

Worst moment? ‘A couple of late nights’, ‘when I heard we all had to WFH full time again. I really enjoy the mix’, ‘administrative tasks – no one is above them but you do feel slightly wasted’, ‘putting on a bit of weight from eating at the on-site restaurant too often’, ‘working long and stressful hours in the corporate team and everything being a rush, it feels as if you can’t produce your best work in that environment’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon boasts a ‘brilliant culture, brilliant people, great work/life balance, great work and a great location’. The ever-popular Bristol firm was an obvious choice for trainees who wanted high-quality commercial work and an impressive salary, without having to move to London. Burges Salmon has scooped up a colossal nine Future Lawyers Winners medals this year, with quality of work, confidence of being kept on, salary and approachability of supervisors among the haul. Training is described as ‘more focused on preparing you for your future job than menial tasks’, and fee earners appear to ‘have more time to answer questions and provide feedback, without compromising on quality of work’. There is also ‘more respect for boundaries and work/life balance’, as well as ‘more respect for you as an individual, rather than as just a trainee taking on copious amounts of work’. Everyone is ‘so friendly’, ‘regardless of role or seniority’ and ‘there is a genuine sense of collaboration and working towards a common goal’. When asked to pick out the worst thing about Burges Salmon, responses varied but included ‘the bonus scheme’, ‘the benefits (outside of remuneration)’, and the ‘big differences between departments, making you feel like you are starting over every four months’. ‘A 70-hour week on very busy deals’ and ‘some long days in disputes’ were singled out as worst moments. On the plus side, trainees enjoyed standout moments such as a ‘Masked Singer social event for a charity initiative’, ‘seeing a very busy energy matter through to completion – it was a real adrenaline rush!’, and ‘producing some really good work in the corporate tax team’. For ‘interesting, high-quality work and a welcoming, collaborative culture’, take a closer look at Burges Salmon.

A day in the life of... Tabitha Gould, first-year trainee, Burges Salmon LLP

Departments to date: Real estate, planning and compulsory purchase, dispute resolution

University: University of Edinburgh University of Law

Degree: Social Anthropology MA 2(1); GDL (Distinction) and LPC with MSc in Law and Business (Distinction)

8.20am: I leave my house in the lovely area of Southville and take the scenic walk along the river for half an hour which leaves me feeling energised for the rest of the day.

8.50am: I head straight to our canteen and to the DIY toast station; I normally bump into another toast regular and we have a chat.

9.10am: I look at my to-do list and check to see whether any new jobs have come in to my inbox overnight, then catch up with my supervisor.

9.30am: I head to our department’s weekly catch up meeting. This is a great opportunity to see what jobs everyone is working on, and I can volunteer to help out with any of the tasks.

10.00am: Back at my desk I get started on my main task of the day. Today’s task is drafting some wording for a development consent order (DCO). A DCO is a type of planning permission granted by the Secretary of State. Clarity in drafting and attention to detail are the key skills required on this task. I review previously granted DCOs as examples of good drafting and then draft my own wording before sending to the partner for approval.

11.30am: Time for a quick coffee break – my supervisor and I head down to our canteen with our keep cups (as we have gone disposable coffee cup free!).

11.45am: One of the senior associates asks if I have time to complete a research task for him that day. He would like help finding out how and when privately owned road bridges can be publicly adopted by highways authorities for a call he has at 4.00pm. I make a start on the research straight away just in case something more urgent comes up later on, and send over my findings before lunch.

1.00pm: I’ve arranged to have lunch in the canteen with a number of the other first-year trainees. Our canteen puts on a real feast each day, and the salad bar always has an amazing variety at a great price. After lunch we go for a walk along the river to get some fresh air and stretch our legs.

2.00pm: I make a start on a presentation which I am due to give at the department’s monthly ‘Hot Topics’ lunchtime session. I am presenting on a recent case which discusses the Environmental Information Regulations and whether energy companies are considered to be public authorities. The outcome of this case is of particular significance to our clients as we work with a lot of energy providers and so we need to keep up to date with the law in this area.

3.30pm: I head over to the partner’s office to discuss my DCO drafting from this morning. On the whole she is happy with my drafting, but has suggested some small amendments. I make the changes she has requested and send the final version to her to sign off.

4.00pm: The senior associate who requested the bridge research asks if I would like to pop along to his meeting with our disputes colleague. I agree as it would be good to understand how my research fits into the bigger picture.

4.45pm: I spend the last bit of my afternoon updating my Unity trainee records. These records are a log of the work I have completed as part of my training contract and will need to be submitted to and approved by the SRA before I can qualify.

5.30pm: I create my to-do list for tomorrow, and shut down my computer. As today is a Monday I change into my running gear to run home; if it was a Thursday or Friday I would probably be heading to the downstairs wine bar instead!

About the firm

The firm: Burges Salmon is the independent UK law firm which delivers the best mix of advice, service and value. It maintains a collaborative and cohesive culture which underpins the quality of its work and its client service. It hires, trains and retains the best people to work together to serve clients and provide them with the best possible experience.

The clients: Babcock International Group; FirstGroup; The John Lewis Partnership; The Financial Services Compensation Scheme; HSBC Bank plc; Virgin; Costain Group; The Crown Commercial Service; Highways England.

The deals: Advised Leonardo Electronic Group Pension Scheme’s trustees on a £160m buy-in with financial services specialist Just Group; advised the majority shareholders of market-leading UK timber producer BSW Timber on its sale to private equity firm Endless; in a landmark private note offering,  advised US Bank National Association as collateral agent for the secured parties to the leisure travel company Carnival Corporation & plc; advised Gresham House DevCo Limited and Noriker Power Ltd on the disposal of two 50-megawatt battery-only projects to Gresham House Energy Storage Fund plc; advised Atlas Hotels and L+R Hotels on the acquisition of Holiday Inn’s Edinburgh City West Hotel.

Senior partner: Chris Seaton

Managing partner: Roger Bull

Other offices: Edinburgh, London

Who we are: We’re an independent UK law firm with an enviable range of national and international clients. Joining our award-winning training programme, you’ll enjoy exposure to our high-profile client list and friendly, collaborative culture as you gain quality experience across a broad range of legal practices.

What we do: Our core expertise includes banking, corporate, commercial, dispute resolution, employment, projects, private client and real estate. Our clients range from large national and international organisations and entrepreneurial businesses to public sector bodies and private individuals.

What we’re looking for in a trainee: There is no ‘standard’ Burges Salmon trainee. However, the one thing all our people have in common is their ambition and drive to deliver top-quality work. We look for a minimum 2(1) degree in any discipline alongside excellent communication and analytical skills.

What you’ll do: As well as the professional skills course we provide a range of in-house training and through the job training across a six-seat programme with an allocated qualified lawyer supervisor.

Perks: Pension, life assurance, private health insurance, firm-wide bonus scheme, discounted local gym membership, sports and social club, corporate responsibility programme.

Sponsorship: All GDL and LPC fees plus £7,000 maintenance grant for each course.

Diversity and inclusion