Survey Results - Trainee feedback on CMS

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on CMS

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘International reach plus nice office and salary’, ‘secondment opportunities and innovation’, ‘the location. I wanted to be in either Sheffield or Manchester and the One North training contract gave me this opportunity’, ‘the culture of inclusiveness’, ‘excellent reputation’, ‘international presence and large corporate practice’, ‘the IP team is a market leader’, ‘the commercial, ambitious, innovative and integrated approach from the firm as a whole’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people – everyone is approachable and super friendly’, ‘it has many international offices’, ‘reputation’, ‘the inclusive and collaborative culture’, ‘the range of work’, ‘trainees are trusted with a great amount of responsibility’, ‘the variety of work on offer for trainees to get involved with’, ‘the location of the offices’, ‘most of the people I’ve spoken to and/or worked with have been friendly and willing to help when needed’, ‘the new Sheffield office is really nice!’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lots of trainees have been disappointed with seats and this has impacted job outcomes’, ‘the pay in London’, ‘Covid has impacted international secondments’, ‘I would like more social events’, ‘the coffee in the London office’, ‘probably flexible working – it is hard as a trainee to learn when no one is in around you’, ‘written-off time and business development tasks do not count towards your utilisation target’, ‘the laptops are dated now’

Best moment? ‘Taking part in a large-scale transaction and attending client meetings with some of the firm’s biggest clients’, ‘good appraisal and feedback’, ‘client secondment’, ‘managing a client matter of my own for several months’, ‘when I received a magnum bottle of champagne from a client’, ‘being able to work from different regional offices and meeting clients’, ‘attending a high-profile court case’, ‘a client specifically mentioning and thanking me’

Worst moment? ‘Not getting the seat I had hoped for’, ‘making embarrassing mistakes having not asked enough questions to avoid doing so’, ‘stress at 10pm when we realised security hadn’t been registered, the day before the deadline expired’, ‘the impact of the pandemic on training’, ‘working with a certain partner’, ‘staying up late to finish an assignment without context’, ‘working all-nighters’, ‘making a mistake and my supervisor making me feel bad about it’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on CMS

‘Future-facing’ CMS has ‘international reach’ and offers a ‘range of seat opportunities in offices across the UK’. The global firm ‘does groundbreaking work’, yet has a ‘culture of inclusiveness’ and places an ‘emphasis on the well-being of its employees’. Colleagues are ‘friendly and approachable, even at partner level!’ and will ‘provide support and feedback where needed’. What’s more, supervisors ‘seem genuinely interested in developing trainees and encourage us to get involved in social and business development events’. Recruits appreciate ‘the opportunity to get to know many different sectors’, thanks to the breadth of work on offer. ‘The complexity of the work and the quality of the clients’ also impresses. Some of the things which annoyed trainees are that CMS can feel ‘very London centric’, despite the fact that the firm has offices in cities across the UK. There is also a perceived ‘lack of diversity’ in trainee intakes and, in some departments, ‘there isn’t enough supervision or supervisor contact’. Thankfully, there is a ‘genuine (for the most part) encouragement to have a work/life balance’. Best moments include a ‘site visit to a landmark London building not yet open to the public’, ‘being trusted to handle my own file in my first seat’ and ‘attending the Court of Appeal’. In contrast, worst moments were ‘covering annual leave matters without having these supervised/handed over correctly’ and ‘working until midnight on a piece of work which turned out to not be urgent’. What’s more, trainees do not enjoy ‘when the (Edinburgh office) kitchen runs out of croissants’! To train at a firm which ‘although its international, you’re not just a cog in a machine’, consider CMS.

Life as a trainee… Amelia Mah, CMS

Amelia Mah, CMS

Departments to date: Commercial litigation and arbitration; corporate mergers and acquisitions (NatWest client secondment); insurance and reinsurance litigation

University: University of Dundee

Degree: Dual-Qualifying Scots & English Law LLB; Diploma in Professional Legal Practice

My time at CMS has been incredibly varied which keeps the work interesting and supports continuous learning. My contentious seats at CMS have involved drafting witness statements, attending consultations, high-profile court hearings and mediations. On my client secondment to the NatWest Group, I was involved in multibillion-pound transactions while learning more about the relationship between law firms and clients. Besides the exciting work of CMS, there are many initiatives and committees that you can get involved in – whether it’s a hobby, religion or sport, there’s something for everyone. I am currently involved in diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility initiatives across the firm as I am passionate about access to the legal profession. CMS has an innovative and collaborative culture that supports you during your training contract personally and professionally; I have really enjoyed my training contract so far!

About the firm

The firm: CMS is a future facing firm. Whether stakeholders are big or small, they always have the firm’s full attention and expertise. In a world of ever-accelerating change where technology is increasingly important, our clear, business-focused advice helps clients of every size to face the future with confidence.

CMS is a full service law firm combining top quality sector expertise with international scale. We embrace technology and are committed to new ideas that challenge conventional ways of doing things.

CMS puts the interests of clients at the heart of everything we do across 80 offices in 40+ countries in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. With more than 1,100+ partners and 5,000+ lawyers, CMS works in cross-border teams to deliver top quality, practical advice. The firm is recognised for its sector excellence and focus in consumer products; energy; financial institutions; hotels and leisure; infrastructure and projects; life sciences and healthcare; real estate; and technology, media and telecommunications.

When it comes to what we’re looking for, keen intellect is vital, but we are looking for much more than academic qualifications. Whether applicants are law students, non-law students or career changers, there are several qualities we look for in our future employees. These include personal effectiveness, professional communication, drive for achievement, having a future facing outlook, leading self and others, ability to build relationships and commercial awareness.

The main route to a training contract at CMS is by successfully completing the CMS Academy programme. Our two-year training contracts feature four six-month seats or national, international or client secondments. CMS also offers early insight to the firm through our First Steps programme, apprenticeships, widening participation work experience and scholarship opportunities, and the newly launched Business Development & Marketing Graduate Programme.

The clients: Please see website https://cms.law/en/gbr/global-reach/europe/united-kingdom.

The deals: Please see website https://cms.law/en/gbr/news-information?type=deal.

Senior partner: Penelope Warne

Managing partner: Stephen Millar

Other offices: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Reading, Sheffield, Bristol, London, Liverpool

Who we are: With 80 offices in 40+ countries and 5,000+ lawyers worldwide, CMS combines deep local market understanding with a global overview, giving us the ability see what’s coming and to shape it. In a world of ever-accelerating change where technology is increasingly important in the deployment of global strategies, our clear, business-focused advice helps clients of every size to face the future with confidence.

What we do: We’re immersed in our clients’ worlds. Their interests and priorities are at the heart of what we do. Our lawyers are genuine experts in their fields, with a grasp of detail that’s second to none. Our next-generation mindset is woven into all we do. It means we can anticipate the likely challenges, accelerate our pace and create the space to develop innovative solutions. We’re diverse, supportive and inclusive, embracing our corporate social responsibility and creating a culture in which every one of our people can maximise their potential and thrive.

What we’re looking for: When it comes to what we’re looking for, keen intellect is vital, but we are looking for much more than academic qualifications. Whether applicants are law students, non-law students or career changers, there are several qualities we look for in our future employees. These include personal effectiveness, professional communication, drive for achievement, having a future facing outlook, leading self and others, ability to build relationships and commercial awareness.

What you’ll do: The main route to a training contract at CMS is by successfully completing the CMS Academy programme. Our two-year training contracts feature four six-month seats or national, international or client secondments. CMS also offers early insight to the firm through our First Steps programme, apprenticeships, widening participation work experience and scholarship opportunities, and the newly launched Business Development & Marketing Graduate Programme.

Perks: 25 days’ flexible holiday allowance; pension scheme; interest-free season ticket loan; eye tests and dental insurance; private medical insurance; corporate gym membership and subsidy; cycle to work scheme; membership fees to professional organisations; study assistance; employee referral scheme.

Sponsorship: Sponsorship may be available for your GDL and LPC/SQE for England, Wales and Northern Ireland qualifying trainees and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland.

Diversity and inclusion