Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Macfarlanes

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The mix of private client/corporate work, culture, size, level of responsibility, and type of work done’, ‘the variety of seat options’, ‘the exceptional training offered and the knowledge that I will be qualifying as a confident solicitor because of it’, ‘it had a reputation for having a strong community, as well as high-quality work’, ‘interesting mix of work and good culture’, ‘small trainee cohort, high responsibility’, ‘reputation for training and client exposure’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The training and care the firm puts into its trainees’, ‘the friendly and collegiate culture’, ‘the community’, ‘the culture’, ‘there is no competitiveness, everyone is supporting you to do the best you can’, ‘the friendliness and approachability of everyone from the associates to the partners’, ‘working with intelligent people’, ‘the quality of work given to trainees’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The perks could be improved – especially social ones’, ‘the firm has made good strides in D&I at the junior and associate levels, but there is still lots of work to do at senior levels to improve diversity and representation’, ‘I often experience IT problems which impact my work’, ‘the food’, ‘for trainees working from home is only allowed once per week, whereas the associates can work from home twice’, ‘no international secondments’

Best moment? ‘Orchestrating a completion that went so smoothly it had the entire department feeling very superstitious for several days’, ‘completing a deal where the partner and associate were very grateful for my help’, ‘closing a large transaction in my first seat’, ‘being taken to so, so many client meetings’, ‘running my own smaller matters (with appropriate supervision)’, ‘exchanging on a huge deal that I had been working on since the start of my seat’, ‘negotiating an investor side letter opposite US counsel on my own’

Worst moment? ‘A particularly busy stretch of time in a transactional department taking a mental toll on me’, ‘my seat review – it could have been done better’, ‘staying up until 2am doing a difficult administrative task’, ‘too much work at the same time and an inability to move deadlines’, ‘inputting handwritten comments into documents’, ‘making a mistake’, ‘compiling a witness statement exhibit at 1am in the morning’, ‘working with difficult partners’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes ‘punches above its weight; it’s a relatively small firm with one office but competes  with Magic Circle and US firms in corporate, litigation, funds, tax and competition law: impressive’! Trainees were ‘particularly attracted to the unique mix of practice areas, and the opportunity to try both top-tier private client and corporate work’. In terms of culture, ‘it’s the friendliest firm I’ve experienced in the City’, said one recruit and the culture is ‘genuine and down to earth’. Training is described as ‘truly excellent’ and is a ‘priority of every practice area; a lot of pride is taken in the frequency, quality and depth of training’. The pastoral care is also second to none: ‘we are given a high level of responsibility, but never without support, and only when supervisors think we are capable. It’s a great environment for development’. There is also a reasonable ‘balance of quality work and responsibility, along with a life outside the office’. However this doesn’t mean that trainees haven’t experienced ‘working a full weekend’, ‘a high-pressure closing late on a Friday night’ and ‘working 40 hours straight over the 22nd, 23 and 24th December’! One thing that bothers recruits is the work-from-home policy for trainees, which requires them to be in the office four days a week. This is a higher requirement than for more senior lawyers, and ‘means you are in the office alone quite a lot’. Other bugbears are the lack of international secondments and ‘the food options, especially when working unsociable hours’. Ultimately, though, these are fairly minor grumbles when compared with highlights such as ‘feeling my confidence increase through my seat’, ‘visiting a client to sign a settlement agreement in an exciting location in London’ and ‘completing two significant M&A deals on the same day’. For ‘amazing training’, an ‘unparalleled breadth of high-quality work’ in a firm where ‘everyone wants you to have the best training experience possible’, research Macfarlanes.

About the firm

The firm: Macfarlanes is a unique firm: an unrivalled blend of expertise, size and culture means it has the flexibility to meet clients’ most challenging demands and adapt to the changing world around us.

Its aims are simple. Macfarlanes wants to form long-lasting relationships with clients and be entrusted with their most difficult and complex problems in the areas where it practises. It also wants to find, recruit and train individuals from all backgrounds, who it hopes will one day shape and lead the firm. In order to achieve these aims, it operates differently to others.

 The clients: Derwent London, Improbable, Omnicom Group, Superdry, Virgin.

The deals: Recent news – Macfarlanes

Senior partner: Sebastian Prichard Jones

Managing partner: Luke Powell

Other offices: Brussels

Who we are: We are a distinctive London-based law firm with a unique combination of services built and shaped around the needs of our clients. Our unrivalled blend of expertise, agility and culture means we have the flexibility to meet their most challenging demands and adapt to the changing world around us. While many of our practice areas can be found at other firms, the mix cannot.

As a trainee you could be working on major corporate transactions or commercial litigation, and then working for private clients on their most sensitive affairs.

We recruit people to build careers for the long term. We know each other personally which means we work together with more cohesion, and less formality. Our culture is thoughtful, challenging and supportive, and we are a place where everyone, at whatever level, can thrive.

What we do: Commercial, brands, IP and IT; competition/antitrust; construction; corporate and M&A; derivatives and trading; employment; finance; financial services and products; lawtech; litigation and dispute resolution; private client; private funds; real estate; reward; tax.

What we’re looking for: We look for a rare combination of character, drive and intellectual curiosity, along with strong interpersonal skills, an ambitious and commercial approach, motivation and resilience.

What you’ll do: Across your four seats you will receive a combination of hands-on experience with real responsibility and challenge, with a first-class education programme and the support you would expect from a leading firm.

Perks: Flexible benefits package including life assurance, pension scheme and private healthcare, in addition to a discretionary performance-related bonus scheme, subsidised restaurant, season ticket loan and gym membership.

Sponsorship: Full sponsorship for PGDL and SQE preparation course fees at BPP University for successful training programme offer holders. A £17,000 maintenance grant is provided for those studying the SQE and £13,000 maintenance grant is provided for those studying the PGDL.

Diversity and Inclusion

Percentage of female associates: 56.3%

Percentage of female partners: 24%

Percentage of BAME associates: 19.1%

Percentage of BAME partners: 2%