Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Kingsley Napley LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Good reputation and interesting work’, ‘worked as a paralegal here previously’, ‘learning opportunities and support for those just starting in their careers are second to none’, ‘the culture of the firm and most importantly the people’, ‘the culture and the practice areas aligned with my interests’, ‘firm culture and expertise’, ‘affable culture with a work/life balance’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Diversity’, ‘your work as a junior fee earner is valued’, ‘work is relevant to current events in society’, ‘KN has worked hard for its reputation and culture, which shows’, ‘the brand-new office makes me want to come to work every day’, ‘everyone is friendly’, ‘work/life balance is good’, ‘quality of work’, ‘no expectation to stay late when you don’t need to’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of international work’, ‘transparency about pay grades’, ‘remuneration is on the low side’, ‘the qualification process is quite burdensome and some of the requirements seem unnecessary for NQ level’, ‘the office is far too cold!’, ‘some departments can be quite cliquey’, ‘returning to the office after the lockdown was slow, and the office environment and atmosphere has changed’

Best moment? ‘The positive feedback’, ‘client interaction’, ‘client meetings’, ‘working on a high-profile sex discrimination case’, ‘the responsibility I’m trusted with in the team despite only being a trainee for four months so far’, ‘leading a client interview for a witness statement’, ‘being given work that an associate would do’, ‘being invited to a partner’s house for a department dinner’

Worst moment? ‘The first few days when you are being overwhelmed with information about the firm’, ‘a long bout of bundling!’, ‘moving into a new area and adjusting to learning everything again from scratch!’, ‘the occasional long hours’, ‘realising I had made a mistake!’, ‘there isn’t as much structure to the training contract as I thought there would be’, ‘meetings with my first supervisor’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Kingsley Napley LLP

Known for its strength in criminal litigation, Kingsley Napley has a ‘reputation for attracting excellent work’. Respondents rave about the ‘approachable solicitors (at all levels, whether junior associates or partners)’ who ‘want you to learn and have the best possible experience’. Trainees love that ‘you are encouraged to take responsibility on cases, whilst also being offered a good level of supervision’. Recruits also benefit from ‘choosing seats far in advance and knowing what departments [they] will be in before starting’. There is a ‘good work/life balance’ at Kingsley Napley; ‘you don’t have to work ridiculous hours to make a good impression, the quality of work is what makes you shine’. Thanks to the small cohort, trainees all know each other and have a better social life as a result. As one recruit put it: ‘you’re not just a number at Kingsley Napley, there is a genuine focus on your development and giving you the training that you want’. The firm has also been endorsed for its ‘very strong commitment’ to diversity and inclusion. There is a variety of practice areas on offer, which ‘you don’t frequently find all together in one firm’, as well as an opportunity to experience ‘interesting, high-profile, City-type work’. But in terms of salary, some recruits feel that ‘the level of remuneration is on the low side’ compared to ‘other similar-sized London firms’. Moreover, the qualification process is described as ‘burdensome’. For a ‘supportive culture’ in a firm where ‘even where the calibre of work is extremely high, everyone is friendly, non-hierarchical and ‘normal”, and ‘you can be yourself no matter who you are talking to’, consider Kingsley Napley.

A day in the life of... Sinead Banful, first-year trainee, Kingsley Napley LLP

Departments to date: Real estate; Private client

University: University of Warwick BPP Law School

Degree: Politics 2(1); GDL, LLM and LPC

8.30am: A few weeks ago I assisted with preparing a lasting power of attorney for some clients. I started a little earlier today as the practice area leader invited me along to a meeting to meet the clients in person. I really enjoy meeting clients and getting to know who is on the other side of the emails.

9.10am: The client meeting was quite short and straightforward, and the clients were lovely so it’s really nice to get to know them a bit better. Throughout this seat I have met so many clients face to face; I didn’t realise that even at a trainee level I would get this much exposure. I head back to the office to get the wills and powers of attorney finalised and also write up an attendance note of the client meeting. The private client team is split between general private client (wills and succession planning) and Court of Protection work; most of the team from both sides are in today so it’s going to be a busy day! With KN’s new agile working policy, we have to spend 40-60% of our working week in the office; I aim to come into the office between Tuesday and Thursday as this is when the majority of the team are in. Our new office is amazing – each of the practice areas and business support teams sit within a ‘neighbourhood’ but there are lots of different collaborative work spaces we can use and Lennie’s, the café, is one of the highlights. All this makes the commute much easier.

9.45am: As it is a Wednesday, the majority of the Court of Protection team are in the office; I have a big meeting coming up in the next hour so I review my task list and look at any admin that I can get done in the morning. I usually use the morning to deal with calls or chase the court for any updates. I also spend some time calling a few clients to give them updates on their matters.

10.15am: I am assisting a senior associate with a matter concerning a young person who we act for in a Court of Protection case. The meeting today is quite important so the client’s family will be coming into the office. The structure of the meeting is to have different parties present to the client’s family. I am required to take an attendance note of all of the presentations. The meetings are scheduled to run for the majority of the morning and early afternoon.

10.35am: The family of the client arrive just after 10.30 so we head to the client floor to meet with them. The family have a few questions about the structure of the presentations and how the meeting will run. Before the meeting starts I note down the client’s key concerns and questions that they want to raise or want clarity on in the meeting.

11.00am: The first presentation begins; the senior associate I am working with advises me to not only take an attendance note, but to pay attention to how the client interacts with the person giving the presentation as they are looking to build a long-lasting relationship. We have to ensure the client is comfortable and understands each presentation. The court also needs a full and accurate record of the meetings.

1.00pm: By this time we have had two presentations and it’s time for lunch. Usually I pop outside or go to Lennie’s but as I’m in a client meeting we have lunch delivered to us! Over lunch I am able to get to know the client’s family – they asked me about my training contract and life at KN.

2.00pm: We have a recap with the client and prepare for the last presentation; I am asked to go and meet the final person and brief them on where we are currently up to. It is really wonderful to be able to play a key role in this case and to be able to support the client so closely.

3.00pm: After the final presentation we recap with the client and remind them of their objectives and key concerns, ensuring that they have been addressed. The client then leaves and the senior associate asks me what I thought of the presentations and helps me to go through any key parts of my attendance note.

4.00pm: I usually have a weekly catch-up with my supervisor at this time. In today’s meeting she asks me how I’m getting on and about my workload. She always wants to make sure that I have good quality of work and says that she has some wills that she wants me to get involved in the following week. The team also have a WhatsApp group so we are able to communicate well; last week there were train strikes but we still were able to do a weekly catch up on Teams and stay connected.

4.30pm: I use this time to really settle down and do some more of the drafting work I have on my to-do list. I work on a witness statement that I am drafting on behalf of a client on the Court of Protection side.

5.30pm: I have a Teams call with the other trainees to discuss our upcoming summer social – we want to do something outdoors and fun (in the sunshine!). We set up a Doodle poll with various options. We are a very close group and often organise socials with both intakes of trainees. The second years are amazing and always give us so much advice. They are always open to meet up for a coffee to discuss any questions or concerns we may have. I close my time entries at the end of this meeting and begin to wrap up for the day.

6.00pm: Whenever I am in the office I try to workout in the brand new fitness studio. I am trying to workout as much as possible for my wedding so it is super helpful that the fitness studio is on the same floor as the private client neighbourhood. I connect my laptop to the larger screen so I complete a YouTube workout.

6.45pm: Once I’ve burnt about 400 calories, I have a shower in the changing rooms and head home!

About the firm

The firm: Kingsley Napley is an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. We have been assisting businesses and individuals since our firm was established in 1937 and have vast experience in many areas of law. Our full range of legal expertise means that we provide our clients with a collaborative and personal service. We are known for combining creative solutions with pragmatism and a friendly, sensitive approach. Many of our lawyers are leaders in their fields and our 11 practice areas are highly ranked in the legal directories in recognition of their excellence. We offer a culture of individual responsibility, autonomy and development, and have been ranked in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for list for the last eight years. We are listed as the number 2 law firm in the legal category, number 3 in London’s best companies to work for and number 5 in the large companies list. Our rankings are testament to our commitment to value our people as much as our clients and others that we work closely alongside.

Senior partner: Stephen Parkinson

Managing partner: Linda Woolley

Who we are: Kingsley Napley is an internationally recognised law firm based in London. The firm was founded in 1937 and has a distinguished history, distinctive values and a unique culture. Our lawyers enjoy a reputation for being innovative, creative and sensitive in their approach to complex legal issues, and over the years the firm has played a central role in many cases which have had a profound impact on our legal system.

What we do: With over 450 firm members, we are able to provide our clients with the best possible advice and service across a wide range of industries and legal disciplines. While well-known for our criminal litigation, in particular extraditions and white-collar crime, we also offers expertise in corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, employment, family, immigration, medical negligence, private client, public law, real estate and construction, and regulatory law.

Yet just as important as what we do is how we do it… Kingsley Napley is a company which treats its work, its clients and its colleagues alike with integrity, respect and care. Where diversity of thought, background and culture is not just encouraged, but expected. And where everyone, no matter their seniority, experience or background, is given exactly the same opportunity to contribute, progress and develop. That’s why it is no surprise that we have been named the best law firm to work for in London five years in a row.

What we’re looking for: Our trainees are a top priority for the future of the firm. We look for candidates who have motivation, enthusiasm and commercial awareness, as well as a passion for the areas of law we practise in. We want our trainees to be able to bring something to the table and to be creative and practical problem solvers.

What you’ll do: As a trainee at KN you’ll be working with a range of highly experienced, exceptional lawyers in each practice across a variety of matters. We like our trainees to progress quickly, so once they’ve learnt the ropes they are given more responsibility and offered the chance to meet clients, be responsible for their own work, and to take part in marketing and client development activities.

Perks: Core benefits: life assurance, PHI, pension, private medical insurance and cash plan benefit.

Flexible benefits: cycle to work scheme, dental insurance, give as you earn, Tastecard, health screenings, holiday buy/sell/bank, retail and technology vouchers, will writing, GymFlex discounted gym rates, 24/7 available employee assistance and therapy programme, available through Lifeworks.

Other benefits: discretionary performance award, wellness subsidy for use towards a wellbeing activity of your choice, conveyancing contribution, gym loan, holiday accrual with length of service, free independent mortgage advice, long service awards, season ticket loan, time off for good causes, wellbeing events – Pilates, HIIT and yoga.

Sponsorship: Full sponsorship of the SQE preparation courses and assessments. SQE plus also paid for. SQE plus covers the additional knowledge you will need to thrive as a lawyer at KN. Individuals are provided with a maintenance grant of £7,000.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion of all is how we live our values at Kingsley Napley. We recognise that valuing each other’s individuality and difference brings strength to the teams we work in, our departments and the firm as a whole. Our values of teamwork and respect as well as fairness and understanding underpin our equality and diversity policy, and our open and friendly culture breeds inclusivity. At Kingsley Napley we value everyone as individuals and have a consultative approach throughout the firm, from departmental strategy to key firmwide decisions, as we believe in harnessing the diverse perspectives of everyone in the firm. It makes us better placed to meet our client needs, understand each other, work together, and strengthen the culture of the firm. We are committed to ensuring all of our people have full opportunity to maximise their potential, for themselves and for the firm. We understand that the key to this is embedding diversity and inclusion in all recruitment processes, our internal practices such as promotion and training, and working environment.