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UK City Firms

Trowers & Hamlins (London)

Our view...

Trowers & Hamlins was traditionally a rather genteel, laces and braces outfit with a reputation for real estate, housing and public sector work. Its relatively small private client department seemed to be funded almost entirely by a handful of wealthy Middle Eastern sheiks, and it leveraged on this to make a big effort to get more out of the region and up its corporate game. For a while this led to impressive growth, but recently the firm has been having a pretty wobbly time of it.

Corporate and Real Estate (which still includes lots of housing and public sector - not very sexy but a big niche for the firm) form the lion’s share of T&H’s work: some 80% of its practice. Property takes up over a third of global revenue and the firm's four UK offices (Manchester, Birmingham, London and Exeter) are all top rated for social housing.

As far as the corporate practice is concerned, the Middle East is where it’s at. The firm has offices in Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain. It did have one in Cairo, but shut it in 2014 and left revolt-rocked Egypt. The firm does a huge amount of transport work in the Middle East and has a great deal of experience in Islamic finance. The firm’s private client team may still be small, but it’s also still successful in feeding the corporate dept.

After a torrid couple of years, there were signs turnover was beginning to recover. The firm did fairly well during the financial wobbly period of 2007/8, when despite dramatic falls in the real estate revenue at other firms, Trowers managed to grow to £77.6m. And in 2008/09, revenue jumped again by an impressive 15.3% to £89.5m. Whilst the following year saw a small drop to £89.4, the firm was still more than pulling its weight compared to its rivals.

At least it was until 2010/11, when the firm suffered a double digit drop, with revenues plunging 12% to £78.6m, pushing the firm out of the top 40. The firm blamed the difficulties in the social housing market. But its Middle East offices were also in the doldrums, following the ructions of the Arab Spring which caused the Cairo office to close. And its Saudi Arabia office was shuttered permanently in 2012 after partner defections. In the 2013/14 period its turnover dropped from £77.8m to £77.2m, though profit increased by 33% to £24.2m. Trowers was bullish about a strong rebound, but it's still a tricky time for a firm which relies so heavily on housing work and the fragile Middle East. In the 2014/15 period, turnover rose marginally to 79.4m, and in 2015/16 it rose more significantly to £85.6m, thanks almost entirely to a takeover of Devon firm Stones Solicitors, which added that firm's turnover of £5m to the pot. However profits per equity partner  dropped by 8% to £310k from £336k the year before, and in 2016 it was one of a handful of firms to delay summer pay reviews and temporarily freeze pay for a few months following the Brexit vote, blaming uncertainty in the market.  

To add to Trowers' woes it also came bottom in the 2015 Firm of the Year survey, which measures staff satisfaction. It has fared badly in the survey for years, routinely languishing near the bottom. In 2015 lawyers said "morale is pretty bad", with a partner adding that they presumed the windows don't open "to stop one ending it all". Another claims that "capricious decisions are commonplace as those unable to find work elsewhere seek to cement their position by knifing the more capable in the back". Oof. On the other hand, a happier lawyer said there were "a lot of genuinely wonderful people" at the firm, and a "free breakfast".

It fared much better in the 2016 survey, albeit with a noticeable influx of partners, most of whom painted a rosy picture. Others were positive, too, though, with one associate arguing that, "the bad press which this firm has had - including the Golden Turd - is I think completely undeserved". 
One other upside: the firm recently moved to "excellent" swanky new offices on Bunhill Row, where apparently the only downside is that the "view from the meeting rooms is somewhat spoilt by Slaughter and May".

A mixed view, then with some vouching for a, "genuine open door policy -no-one is unapproachable" and others claiming, "Politics are worse than the Russian Imperial Court".

Equity partners all make pretty much the same, but PEP of £310k is waaaaaaay down from 2009, when PEP was £553k. But, in any event, you're unlikely be amongst the top earners. Only 25 of T&H’s 118 UK partners are equity. Although at least it's had a pretty decent run of trainee retention rates recently, with 82% (9/11) kept on in Spring 2015, 71% (5/7) in Autumn 2015, 88% (7/8) in Spring 2016 and another 88% (7/8) in Autumn 2016.

The firm's focus may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and given the current state of the housing market and the troubles in the Middle East it's not going to be a quick path to recovery for Trowers. But if the work does float your boat then T&H may be worth serious consideration.

Salary

Salary (1st seat trainee): £36,000
Salary (NQ): £58,000
Salary (1PQE): £61,000
Salary (2PQE): £65,000
Salary (3PQE): £71,000
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: Yes
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: %
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %

Training

Grant for GDL: £6,000
Grant for LPC: £6,000
Training places per year: 11
% of trainees retained: 64%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 58%
Development: 68%
Work/Life: 65%
Openness: 60%
Biscuits: 80%
Toilets: 60%
Social: 57%
Firm of the year overall score: 63%

Benefits

Holiday allowance: 25
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: Firm contributes 3%
Healthcare: No
Maternity policy: Statutory, although a maternity bonus is payable after a qualifying period
Target hours: 1560
Childcare vouchers: No
Gym: Off site, subsidised membership depending of frequency of use
Restaurant: Yes, subsidised
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No
Other:

  

News Stories

Exclusive: Trowers rocked by phantom stairwell turd horror
Too big to be the mice ... read more > (3 comments)
Exclusive: Trowers & Hamlins freezes pay
Senior Partner tells staff, “reassure everyone the UK is open for business” ... read more > (1 comment)
Exclusive: Trowers fires employee for being too smelly
Seriously ... read more > (6 comments)
Trowers & Hamlins' foreign profits drop 96% to £100k
As students complain of seriously budget vac scheme ... read more > (3 comments)
Trowers first foreign firm to gain licence in Malaysia
Granted the first of five golden tickets ... read more > (1 comment)
Exclusive: Senior defections from Trowers & Hamlins Middle East
Top partners in the region jump ship ... read more > (4 comments)
Exclusive: Trowers grad rec manager in drunken antics shocka
You don't have to be off your face to work here but it helps ... read more > (5 comments)
Exclusive: Thompsons staff lose jobs as office is converted to coffee shop
First realised they were for the chop when Costa Coffee arrived to measure up the premises ... read more > (4 comments)
Exclusive: Trowers' Senior Partner gets through five secretaries in a year
Before making a whole raft of them redundant ... read more > (9 comments)
Exclusive: Linklaters makes up more women than men for the first time ever
(in London) ... read more > (1 comment)
  

Your Views

Feel free to enter your comments on the news story below, subject to our terms and conditions. Please note that comments are subject to moderation and so will not appear immediately.

Please keep it nice. Thanks.

Order By:
anonymous user
27/07/2012 13:10
Rate it
-36
I joined Trowers in August 1959 when as Trower Still and Keeling
they were in New Square, Lincolns Inn. I was just 16 years of age and was passed onto the firm by an agency in Fleet Street who recommended me as a future articled clerk. I remember the days of Sir William Goselin Trower and his son Anthony Goselin
Trower and as I recall six or so other partners of the day.
The atmosphere at the firm was very friendly but also there was very much the feeling of them and us. You did not speak to anyone senior unless spoken to. All seniors were held in ore.
I remember starting on a salary of £4 10 shillings a week with five 30p luncheon vouchers per week. On this,you could lunch at Moonies Pub in Fleet Street maybe once a week, that was when Fleet Street was the centre of the news papers.
Sadly ,I left TS&K as it was known in 1968 as my father died suddenly and I had to support my mother on a little more salary than Trowers were paying.
I never did qualify as a Solicitor but my days in New Square were certainly a great beginning to my career as when I presented myself to a law firm in Hertfordshire to swear my fathers probate papers they were so impressed that they offer me a position as their Probate, Trust and Tax clerk where I remained for 36 happy years.
I will always remember my days at TS&K with affection and thanks for giving me a chance to prove myself.
I am now four years retired and living in Suffolk and alls well.
You may not be interested in my tale but after looking at your site could not resist leaving my little story !!!
One February at the annual Waldof office do, a quest said that Trowers would end up in a huge office somewhere in the city with 200 partners and a helipad on the roof. It seems that time has almost arrived.
Good Luck
Brian Foreman
(Retired Legal Executive)
anonymous user
28/11/2012 12:26
Rate it
9
I worked as a trainee at T&H at the start of the crisis. I saw the firm slowly falling apart with several rounds of redundancies, staff disappearing without any announcements made, morale collapsing, opacity in management decision making, loss of strategy with the drying up of social housing work and the firm totally outmanouvered in the Middle East and the closure of the Saudi associate office. I jumped ship on qualifying and didn't look back. It wasn't a good place to train. Despite the pride in their diversity statistics, it's not an inclusive place to work. Very much an "us and them" attitude. For a city law firm, it is strikingly parochial.

anonymous user
26/02/2015 01:11
Rate it
-1
Unfortunately, my first experience at a law firm was at Trowers and had I not then go on to visit other law firms, I doubt I would have pursued a career in law. I felt hugely disrespected at a bursary interview in 2012 when I was 18. I was interviewed by 6 partners, few of which spent majority of the interview staring out the window or picking their nails. For argument's sake, assuming I was the worst interviewee ever, they still should have at least given me some respect by attempting to listen to what I was saying. Despite their diversity statistics and emphasis on there being no 'Trowers' type, it does not take a genius to notice that their graduate brochure features all white people except for one. Being a Muslim ethnic minority female, I felt very uncomfortable and I have still have not forgotten that experience after all these years. However, good things come to those who wait and I am working at a magic circle law firm now and enjoying watching Trowers fail. Good riddance to bad rubbish.