Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Russell-Cooke Solicitors London
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Russell-Cooke Solicitors London
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I chose Russell-Cooke due to the breadth of seats on offer’, ‘everybody I spoke to at the firm emphasised how great the work/life balance is, which I’ve found to be true’, ‘the opportunity to work in legal aid while still getting a decent salary’, ‘I really like the ethos, as well as the kind of work’, ‘a lot of their seats are very client-facing and I enjoy working with individuals’, ‘I wanted to train at a full-service firm which offered both transactional and litigious work’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Work/life balance and breadth of seats on offer’, ‘working hours’, ‘chance to work in interesting areas of law e.g. crime, children and education’, ‘range of seats – opportunity to do crime as well as commercial to a high standard’, ‘approachability of partners, lack of hierarchy’, ‘the people are so friendly, kind and fun to work with’, ‘good work/life balance and good social culture’, ‘down to earth, welfare conscious and driven by people’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘There is plenty of room for the firm to improve its approach to diversity and inclusivity’, ‘no secondment or international opportunities’, ‘lack of transparency about qualification, including salaries’, ‘the three different offices means that the trainee cohort is divided’, ‘the benefits are not very good’, ‘if you have a problem, some people in the firm are not very understanding and don’t have much compassion’
Best moment? ‘Being able to look back to day one on the job and recognise how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt’, ‘going to visit a property with my supervisor which we had been working on’, ‘attending court’, ‘running my own transaction from start to finish’, ‘feeling like a truly valued member of the team’, ‘attending client negotiations’
Worst moment? ‘The start of my training contract was quite tough’, ‘having to often chase my supervisor for replies to my emails’, ‘doing very basic admin tasks every day and quite an unfriendly team’, ‘calls to the court/admin tasks’, ‘there could be more IT training’, ‘poor supervision and guidance in some departments’, ’finding it hard to talk through amendments virtually’
The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Russell-Cooke Solicitors London
Russell-Cooke’s unique selling point is the ‘breadth of seats on offer, incorporating both transactional and contentious work’. As one respondent put it: ‘it’s quite rare to find a training contract that spans practice areas as wide ranging as children, education and commercial property, whilst also offering the opportunity to work in legal aid’. The London firm’s ‘emphasis on work/life balance’ does not go unnoticed either – recruits ‘very often leave at 5.30pm and rarely have to work past 7.30pm’. There are ‘plenty of opportunities to work directly with partners’, which trainees consider is ‘a great way to learn’. Russell-Cooke trainees like spending time with their colleagues outside of work as well as in the office. Trainees enjoyed taking part in extra-curricular activities such as five-aside football, which goes some way to explaining the firm’s Future Lawyers Winner medal for social life. That NQ salaries, which ‘vary between departments’, are not disclosed frustrates trainees. Some recruits also feel that the supervision in some teams is lacking and ‘would like more reassurance’. On the plus side, trainees have had their fair share of pride-inducing moments, such as ‘attending a final hearing judgement where we were successful in returning two young children to their mother when the likely alternative was adoption’. Less fulfilling was ‘a week of admin tasks’ and ‘often having to chase my supervisor for replies to emails’. For the opportunity to experience a ‘range of practice areas, including interesting and unusual ones’ in a full-service firm, consider Russell-Cooke.
A day in the life of... Sophie Connolly, trainee, Russell-Cooke
Departments to date: Property litigation; Private client; Personal injury and clinical negligence
University: Durham University
Degree: English Literature 2(1); Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction); Legal Practice Certificate (Distinction)
8.00am: My working day starts, rather unusually, not in my bedroom in London but in a hotel in Wales. Today is the third day of a trial that I have been assisting on for the past three months and it’s my job this week to attend the trial each day, assist counsel where I can, and take an attendance note. The case itself is a clinical negligence claim. Our client had vaginal mesh surgery that went badly wrong and has left her in chronic pain for the last six years. The defendant had admitted liability and settlement negotiations were underway to agree the value of the claim. The defendant then suddenly announced that they had put surveillance on our client for a week and trawled through her social media. They then accused our client of fundamental dishonesty (FD). FD is a relatively new and very draconian defence that can lead to the claimant receiving none of their damages and potentially having committal proceedings brought against them. Our client came to us as a litigant in person, having been dropped by her previous solicitors and unable to find anyone to represent her. The firm agreed to take on her case on a no win no fee basis, meaning the risks were extremely high for both the client and the firm.
9.00am: I’ve had my breakfast at the hotel and have headed off to court which is just a five-minute walk away. When I arrive at court I meet leading counsel and we go into a conference room. Our client took the stand yesterday and is in the middle of cross-examination so we are not allowed to communicate with her until her examination is finished.
9.30am: Our day in court begins. Our client comes in and defendant counsel begins cross-examination. It is a highly emotional morning as our client is questioned in detail about whether she lied to the court about being able to work. She is taken through every relevant post she has made in the last six years and asked to account for what she has said. It was my job to prepare the disclosure ahead of the trial so as well as taking a note, I jot down any thoughts I have about the defendant’s cross-examination and pass them to counsel to assist his preparation for re-examination.
11.30am: We stop for a quick break and I grab a much needed cup of tea. Counsel thinks that our client will be done giving evidence by lunchtime so we also need to make sure the next witness is ready to give evidence. This is one of our medical experts so I give them a call and ask if they can possibly arrive at court at 1.00pm.
11.45am: Cross-examination finishes and our counsel asks the client some additional questions to address the points that the defendants made. The defendants took our client through any and all posts that show her being active or working in any capacity. Our counsel takes her through all the posts which show her reporting her pain and discussing how her life has changed since the surgery.
12.30pm: We stop for lunch so I go with counsel and his paralegal to grab a sandwich and discuss the case. Leading counsel takes the time to explain to us his take on what has happened in court. He also asks what we think and how well we feel it is going.
1.30pm: Court resumes and our expert witness takes the stand. Generally the parties instruct correlating expert witnesses so this afternoon we hear our client’s pain expert and then the defendant’s pain expert. The evidence is focused around how the surgery has caused our client chronic pain and what our client’s future prognosis might be.
4.30pm: Court finishes for the day. We have a debrief with client and counsel and go over what is happening tomorrow. Exhausted, I head back to my hotel to tidy up my (extremely messy) note. I also update the rest of my department on how the day has gone. The personal injury/clinical negligence team at Russell-Cooke is extremely close-knit and trials in our department only arise every couple of years. We therefore make sure to really support each other during a trial and everyone in the team helped work on this case.
7.00pm: I then order myself a Deliveroo and reward myself with an evening of hotel television (if you didn’t watch Come Dine With Me in your hotel room did you even stay in a hotel?). As if a high-stakes trial wasn’t enough drama, on this particular night the hotel fire alarm kept us up intermittently between 12.30am and 2.30am, so my attendance note the next day had even more typos for me to tidy if that were possible…
Two months later: I’m making a controversial sway from the day in the life format to report that a few months later we receive the judgment and find out that we have won our client almost £1m. It’s an amazing result for our client who has gone from facing no damages and potential committal proceedings to a life-changing amount of money. It was an incredible training experience for me and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.
About the firm
The firm: Russell-Cooke is the London law firm with a more thoughtful approach. Clients range from individuals desperate for a legal remedy where the result could be life-changing to royal families, celebrities and other high-net-worth individuals, as well as businesses ranging from tech start-ups to household-name retail outlets and charities.
The clients: Pret a Manger; Sky; Chelsea Football Club; The Law Society; British Heart Foundation; Lendlease; Matalan; Unicef; Lidl; World Wildlife Fund; part of the consortium representing victims and families of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The deals: Representing the family of 14-year-old Robyn Skilton at the inquest into her death by suicide; acting on the letting of 10 Fleet Place to Hogan Lovells; securing an injunction for Sky in a copyright dispute; securing the first parental order establishing legal parenthood of an adult child born through surrogacy; advising the Signet Collection hotel group on the acquisition finance for the purchase of a further hotel; continuing to represent victims and families of the Grenfell Tower fire at the inquiry; overturning in the Court of Appeal a Crown Court confiscation order; giving pro bono immigration law advice to Ukrainian nationals.
Senior partner: John Gould
Joint managing partners: Alison Regan and James Carroll
Other offices: Putney, Kingston
Who we are: We’re not driven by profit alone and we’re proud to offer a better work/life balance alongside high-level legal work.
What we do: We offer the most broad-based training contract in London, with seats ranging from crime and family to real estate and corporate.
What we’re looking for: A quick learner with strong academic results (AAB at A level and a 2(1)). You’re used to working – and thinking – independently.
What you’ll do: Four seats across three offices with two formal reviews during each seat and ongoing mentoring and supervision from dedicated supervisors.
Perks: Benefits include generous bonus scheme, pension, childcare vouchers, private medical insurance and cycle-to-work scheme. Plus free lunchtime yoga in Putney.
Sponsorship details: Up to £10,000 to cover SQE/LPC costs.
Diversity and inclusion
Please visit www.russell-cooke.co.uk/about-us/inclusive-and-supportive-work-environment for information.