Survey Results - Trainee feedback on RPC

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The culture and friendliness of the firm’, ‘I worked here previously; it is a great firm with a lovely team’, ‘it was one of the highest trainee salaries in Bristol at the time’, ‘the people and culture of the firm are unmatched’, ‘genuinely care about you and support you throughout your career’, ‘litigation focus’, ‘work/life balance’

Best thing about the firm? ‘They are great with medical or mental health issues’, ‘people are interested in your development’, ‘partner approachability and the amount of time the firm invests in their trainees’, ‘everyone in my team is very friendly’, ‘the high quality of the work’, ‘senior people in my department are very approachable’, ‘the people, as everyone’s amazing and great to work with’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Relatively low salary for the level of work’, ‘the tech is dire’, ‘some trainees have to struggle/work really long hours consistently’, ‘pay is falling behind competitors’, ‘the working hours seem to be increasing since I first applied’, ‘low salary for NQs compared to competitors and poor reimbursement procedures in place’, ‘the hours are longer than you might expect’, ‘the LPC grant is nowhere near enough to live on in London’

Best moment? ‘Getting really positive feedback unexpectedly’, ‘being given responsibility to get closely involved with a matter, including drafting witness statements’, ‘attending high-profile court hearings for household-name clients’, ‘successfully defending a freezing injunction’, ‘working on incredibly high-profile and interesting cases’, ‘attending an in-person client meeting’, ‘attending hearings’, ‘my current client secondment’, ‘client meetings in-person and being given good feedback’

Worst moment? ‘Working two full weekends in a row’, ‘the low morale in junior staff’, ‘lack of delegation at times meaning there is a lack of work at trainee level’, ’not hearing from my supervisor for months…’, ‘being given work at 7pm to be done by midnight with no heads up beforehand’, ’I had to work a day of holiday’, ‘getting behind on work and getting stressed’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on RPC

RPC offers training contracts in London, Bristol and Hong Kong. Renowned for its contentious work, several respondents applied to the international firm because of its litigation focus. For others, ‘it was the friendliness and culture of the firm which sold it to me. Everyone I spoke to from the firm, at all levels, gave the same message about the culture and it is true’. Happily, ‘90% of the people here are lovely’, and the current trainee intake ‘are very good friends’. Two Future Lawyers Winner medals have been awarded to RPC for its vacation scheme and supervisor approachability. Many respondents had been impressed by the offer of a ‘good work/life balance’, but were slightly disappointed to find that the working hours can be ‘longer than expected’, particularly during busy times. The most common complaints centred on pay, which is considered to be ‘low at NQ level’ and ‘out of kilter with the market’. Another worry is that ‘the LPC grant is not enough to live on in London’. Best moments included ‘attending a large mediation involving lots of claimants’ and ‘successfully defending a freezing injunction’. Some RPC trainees have been lucky enough to go on ‘fantastic’ client secondments too. Recruits did not enjoy ‘the lack of delegation at times’ nor ‘being given work at 7pm to be done by midnight with no heads up beforehand (despite the associates being aware in advance that it needed to be done)’. For a firm which is ‘really supportive of your learning’, where you can be ‘very good friends with your intake’ and ‘can chat to anyone about anything’, consider RPC.

A day in the life of... Binta Balogun, trainee, RPC

Binta Balogun, RPC

Departments to date: Construction; Commercial technology and outsourcing (CTO)

University: University of Warwick

Degree: Law and Business 2(1)

6.00am: I’m up and start my day with some quiet time. I enjoy this time in the morning to gather my thoughts. My quiet time normally consists of listening to relaxing worship music or meditation using the HeadSpace app (which RPC staff receive a free subscription to).

7.00am: Today is a Tuesday, which means it’s one of my scheduled work from the office days. I tend to work from home Mondays and Fridays if possible. I find it helpful to stick to a routine as it helps to structure my week.  At times there are several tourists in the walk up to the office at the docks, but it’s always nice to see people appreciating sights on our doorstep that we often take for granted.

8.45am: I arrive in the office and it’s nice to reconnect with colleagues I haven’t seen since the weekend. I sit at my pre-booked desk somewhere in the allocated section for our team. I start reviewing my Microsoft to-do list to make sure I’m clear on the day’s tasks. I have a catch-up call at 9.30am regarding a key client I’m assisting with relationship management. I’m tasked with keeping track of the various matters we are on, updating the workstreams and chasing key stakeholders as needed. I spend time reviewing the client inbox to update my worklog tracker ahead of the catch-up call.

9.27am: Just before my call I get an email from a fellow trainee notifying the team that she’s provided brownies for all to enjoy in the kitchen on our floor, having tried her hand at baking. I am excited to have a lovely treat to accompany the cup of tea I’ll be making later.

9.30am: I am in a room for this call, with a partner and associate, using our hybrid meeting equipment, as some members of the client team are working from home. I lead the call by providing an update on all active and dormant matters. I gather a list of action points and circulate an updated worklist to the client and the team after the call.

11.00am: I am part of the RPC Trainees Take on Business Blog editorial committee, so I join a call with fellow trainees to discuss progress with editing articles and potential topics for an associated podcast. Collaborating with fellow trainees on trainee-led initiatives is one of my favourite things to do.

11.45am: In the run up to lunch I get an email request for urgent assistance preparing a slide deck and speaker notes for client training on regulatory considerations when running pricing promotions. I assess my capacity for the rest of the week and discuss with the other trainee in the team before accepting the task. A great thing about being a trainee in the CTO team is that the tasks usually involve rapidly developing areas of law and interactions with clients on new points of law.

12.30pm: In our trainee Teams chat, the usual request for anyone free to eat lunch together has come through. I am excited to go down and meet my fellow trainees so that we can grab lunch and eat by the docks as it’s a sunny today.

1.30pm: After a glamourous Tesco meal deal, I make myself another cup of tea and continue with my task list. I am working with a partner and an associate on a data governance project for an African start-up which is expanding into the UK. As part of this role I am reviewing the documents provided by the client in order to devise a data mapping questionnaire. GDPR is such an important regulation affecting all industries so it’s nice to see its impact on such a practical level.

3.00pm: I have a trainee supervisor check in with one of my supervisors. I love that I have both a partner supervisor, and a senior of-counsel supervisor that regularly check in with me and offer tips and advice on development.

4.00pm: I make a start on writing a blog for the retail and consumer team for publication on the RPC website, covering plastic use and the incoming ban on single-use plastics. I had a great time last week picking plastics out of a canal in collaboration with Vayyu foundation and the UOcean project. It was a great use of my allocated RPC volunteer day and I got to connect with new colleagues from across the business. I am planning to add some important statistics learned from this day into my blog.

5.45pm: I send the first draft of my blog piece and also the first draft of the pricing promotions training notes to confirm the structure and content makes sense.

7.00pm: I am grabbing drinks with the trainees at a nearby bar.

8.00pm: I reluctantly leave the trainee drinks as I have another dinner plan to catch up with a friend and former colleague. A great day all round!

About the firm

The clients: Frasers Group (Sports Direct); LINK; England Lacrosse; Saracens; Meta; Google; Associated Newspapers Limited; Federal Republic of Nigeria; QBE.

The deals:  Supported longstanding technology client and the world’s largest social network, Meta, on the setting up of its much anticipated oversight board, which hears appeals and issues binding decisions about content moderation on Meta’s platforms; acts for ANL (Associated Newspapers Limited) in respect of a claim for misuse of private information, breaches of the GDPR and copyright infringement brought by the Duchess of Sussex following the publication in the Mail on Sunday of a letter written by the Duchess to her father, Thomas Markle; instructed by Google in connection with a claim brought by Epic Games concerning ‘Fortnite’, the rights of which are owned by Epic, and its distribution in app format on Android devices, via the app store, Google Play; represents the Federal Republic of Nigeria in separate claims against JP Morgan (JPM), Shell and Eni, arising out of the oil majors’ fraudulent and corrupt acquisition of an oil prospecting licence (OPL 245) for the sum of $1.3bn; advised the liquidators on the sale of the UK newspaper Jewish Chronicle to a newly incorporated company, JC Acquisition Limited, established by a consortium led by Sir Robbie Gibb, former head of communications at 10 Downing Street.

Other offices:  Bristol, Hong Kong, Singapore.

Who we are: At RPC, you can be you. In an environment that’s real. Strikingly real.

Do you want a career in a firm that values personality as much as professionalism? For us, business success comes from building personal relationships and thinking creatively to achieve the best solutions.

So, if you value character over conformity, the unique over the uniform, and ambition over apathy, let’s talk.

What we do: Our lawyers are market leaders. Our clients are often household names. And together we achieve award-winning results. Results that have seen RPC regularly voted among the best for commercial advice.

Our business is built on mutual respect and trust. That’s where you come in. From day one, you’ll collaborate with our partners; you’ll have contact with clients; and you’ll be given real responsibility. As a trainee, you could be assisting with large-scale global disputes, or offering business-critical commercial advice.

What we’re looking for: Although proven academic ability is important (we require a 2(1) degree or above, not necessarily in law) we value personality, flexibility, energy, creative thinking, business sense, loyalty and diversity just as highly.

What you’ll do: As a trainee, we believe you’ll deliver your best if you’re free to be you. And that means being able to ask questions openly, being supported to develop your strengths, and having the right opportunities to grow. Our physical offices are non-hierarchical and open plan, which means you’ll be sitting close to our partners and associates.  What’s more, our dynamic working principles empower everyone at RPC to shape how they split their time working in and out of the office, balancing their own preferences, supporting each other and delivering exceptional client service.  Whether you’re handling complex insurance claims, resolving large-scale global disputes, or providing commercial advice and transactional support, your opinions will be listened to and respected.

Perks: Along with a competitive annual salary, you’ll be offered a creative and comprehensive package of benefits.

We’re all unique. And that’s why RPC’s benefits package is, too. We respect we’re all real people with passions, families and lives away from our desks. So, we offer you the chance to tailor your benefits, offering choice and flexibility to everyone who works here.

Our benefits package covers almost everything, from wellness festivals and social events, to extra annual leave, and family and wealth-related rewards.

Sponsorship: Postgraduate Diploma in Law (only if you are a non-law graduate).  Funding: fees and SQE paid, plus up to £8,000 maintenance.

Masters in Legal Practice at the University of Law.  Funding: fees and SQE paid, plus up to £8,000 maintenance.

Diversity and inclusion

Rachel Pears, Inclusion & Diversity Lead / Internal Employment Counsel

Why is having a diverse workforce important?
In a nutshell: diversity of thought. Who wants their lawyer to think inside the same box as everyone else? All of our experiences inform our perspectives, judgements, relationships. And we want those elements to be as creative, different and reflective of society as possible.

What initiatives does the firm have in place to ensure it recruits a diverse workforce?
We have used Rare’s contextualised recruitment tool since 2015, which enables us to consider a more diverse range of candidates for our apprentice and training contract opportunities using social mobility metrics. We are able to understand the context within which a candidate has achieved what they have.

We also entered a partnership with Aspiring Solicitors in 2018. AS works to increase diversity in the legal profession through a series of programmes aimed at underrepresented groups.

RPC is a corporate sponsor of SEO, an organisation dedicated to helping talented students, primarily from ethnic minority and/or low socioeconomic backgrounds, secure graduate positions and internships.

The firm offers legal and business apprenticeships (including solicitor, paralegal and finance apprenticeships) across our UK offices.

We also participate in a number of additional diversity initiatives at the early talent stage including:

  • BAME City Law Open Day in collaboration with Target Jobs
  • University of Law Legal Access Scheme
  • DiversCity in Law event
  • Bright Network Black Heritage Future Leaders annual event

How has the firm been working to improve diversity in senior/leadership positions?
It’s a complex issue that doesn’t, unfortunately, have an easy quick fix. But we are committed to improving the make-up of our senior positions and believe we are on the right track.

We are invested in a number of different initiatives to drive further diversity at the top. A few examples of this:

  • We have signed up to the Law Society’s Women in Law Pledge pursuant to which we have pledged to reach 30% women in our partnership. As part of this commitment the firm implemented a tailored and specific 15-point Gender Balance Plan to identify the areas where barriers to gender balance may occur.
  • We run a number of programmes through our learning and development team to support our lawyers from training to partnership.
  • We have recently signed Rare’s Race Fairness Commitment which requires a number of actions to support the recruitment, progression and promotion of Black and all ethnic minority people.
  • We believe that data tells a compelling story and so we analyse our demographics information to look at promotion and attrition figures for certain groups – for example from an ethnicity or gender perspective.
  • We are very supportive of flexible and agile working at all levels. We offer enhanced pay and benefits for anyone taking certain forms of parental leave (maternity, paternity, shared, adoption, etc) and we offer a maternity leave returners programme to support our female talent transition back to work.

How do you avoid diversity becoming a box-ticking exercise?
You have to go about it meaningfully and authentically. Don’t sign a charter or a pledge and then move on to the next. Create accountability. Consider how you can create tailored action plans for your organisation. Have passionate and engaged people driving it forward. Don’t try to tackle every challenge at the same time. Listen to your people. We all have something to learn.

What assurances would you give to individuals who want to apply for a training contract but feel hesitant to do so because of their gender/sexual orientation/ethnicity/background/disability/any other diversity-related reason?
While the legal sector (like most sectors) has a way to go in diversity and inclusion, we are certainly moving in the right direction. Most firms (RPC included) have made huge strides forward with a multitude of programmes, networks and initiatives to support people from minority or underrepresented groups. There are also plenty of people like me to challenge the norm. I am a great believer that most skills are transferrable and people who have overcome difficult hurdles in their life are some of the most resilient people you’ll ever meet. Be confident in who you are and how much you have to offer.