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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 and Cairo. 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 are signs turnover is 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 for weeks. And its Saudia Arabia office was shuttered permanently in 2012 after partner defections. But in the 2011/12 period its turnover increased - slightly - by 3%, to £80.8m. Trowers is 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.

To add to Trowers' woes it also fared poorly in the 2013 Firm of the Year Survey, languishing near the bottom of the table for the second year running.

But there are upsides, including what’s widely considered to be a genuine commitment to work life balance. And the firm has 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".

Equity partners all make pretty much the same; £480k. And although that's rather less than in the good old days (in 2009 PEP was £553k), it's 9% up on 2010/11. 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 this year all 13 of its March qualifying trainees were kept on, after a dismal 2012 when only two out of seven were retained.

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 the Trowers. But if the work does float your boat then T&H may be worth serious consideration. Especially as last year's woeful retention rate may, as Trowers claimed, have been a blip.

As one lawyer says, “in comparison to everyone I was at law school with, I am the only one who still enjoys being a lawyer”.

For more information about Trowers & Hamlins click here

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:

  

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
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5
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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
8
Report as offensive
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.