Travers Smith (London)
A mid sized firm, unburdened by an overseas network, with a 100% equity partnership, strong profits and an aversion to merger. Back in the early '90s you could have said this about many firms - perhaps not so many now (anyone remember Gouldens?). But the fact remains that Travers continues to plough its own furrow with great comfort and success from its office tucked away around the back of HogLove.
The firm is very heavily focussed on corporate work, and its client list reads like a who's who of top banks, PE houses and brokers - JPMorgan, HSBC, Barclays Private Equity, 3i, Bridgepoint, Macquarie etc. If you're looking for great, hands-on experience at the corporate coal face, this should definitely be on your list.
The money is rolling nicely through the door at Travers with turnover jumping up from £86.2m to £97.2m in the 2013/14 financial year. Unsurprisingly it followed that PEP also took a considerable leap up by 12% from £790,000 to £882,000.
David Patient took over from Andrew Lilley as Managing Partner in January 2015. Andrew said it felt like handing over a "priceless vase
", suggesting that David had better not drop it. With a new person at the helm, it will have to be seen whether Travers Smith continues to concentrate on its core areas and not over-expand. The strategy has served the firm well so far, and means that assistants can expect greater hands-on exposure to big ticket work than they would generally get at larger firms. One Associate commented that "Partners take an avid interest in associates careers and skill development
Travers is not a place for those looking for huge overseas experience (but then the lack of overseas offices is part of the reason for its strong profits). Although there may be an option of a stint at their Paris office, which is the only City law firm practising exclusively English law in Paris.
Word to us is that people are bright ("bloody clever
", even if"they know it
") and personable (and are, in our experience, disturbingly good-looking and charming) and morale is generally perky throughout the firm - a combination of that impressive quality of work and offices where the people are "incredibly friendly, welcoming and approachable
". Many correspondents use the phrase "collegiate
" and - for once - it looks like it might actually be true. Staff here love the big shared offices, the spirit of mucking in and the "very open
" senior lawyers. Although some have commented that the offices and canteen are "shabby
" but supposedly a refurbishment is due in 2015 / 2016 to sparkle things up. One hungry associate also complains that the biscuits could be better.
Whilst there is "no target-hours culture
" obviously life won't always be a complete picnic - "There's no pretending this isn't a City firm with City firm hours
" as one associate puts it. Another associate points out that they "don't have much choice about being beasted at around the sweet spot (2-4 PQE)
". Whilst a decent base-pay wedge helps tip this equation into the 'fair enough' category, there are slight grumbles that the available "bonus is only ever <5% across the firm"
which "doesn't help given such high partner profits
But still, the combination of small size and top quality corporate work means that the experience as a young lawyer is as good here as anywhere. Still our mid sized firm of choice.
For more information about Travers Smith, click here