Nabarro is a bigger firm than you might think: it now has 120 partners, each of whom made an average profit of £475,000 in 20013/14. That's up 10% on the year before, which in turn was up 10% on the 2011/12 figure. So nothing to scoff at. And the firm has a reputation for promoting from within wherever possible, so the chances for ambitious assistants are as good as they get for this sort of mid-market practice.
The firm's gold standard has always been its property department which is extremely strong (recent deals of note include work on the 2012 Olympic park, helping out big hitters British Land and Land Securities and the excitingly newsworthy redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks - whether Prince Charles likes it or not). Over the last few years, however, it has made no secret of its desire to be seen as more of a corporate firm, what with the long-standing senior partner being a corporate type, its private client team moving on to other firms and announcing that it aims to be "the top commercial law firm serving the UK mid-market
". Plus, of course, the (expensive) 2007 rebrand - dropping the Nathanson from its name. Whoop.
Of course, it's not the only one trying to do that. But it seems to be making a decent stab of it. It may not be quite back to the levels of 2006/2007, when it was a boom market and the firm's corporate group was very busy - but there have been recent successes - work for the Williams Formula 1 team, RATP and Virgin Healthcare. A couple of years ago there were a few reports suggesting that despite those wins, it's all been a bit slow. There were a few nasty rumours of people leaving not necessarily of their own free will. The firm was definitely doing some cost-cutting - it shaved 13 fee-earners and 10 other staff from its headcount in 2011/12. But if recent profit figures are anything to go by, things are looking up. And it seems like a relatively friendly place (despite its client relationship with the world's least favourite airline Ryanair), with one correspondent stating that there is a "lack of scary partners
". Which is always nice.
As far as individual remuneration is concerned, pay is OK to reasonable, on the basis that the hours are meant to fall short of the top tier. Although one anonymous lawyer told us that there's an "increasing expectation of Magic Circle hours for less than Magic Circle pay
". And the "Individual Merit
" bonus scheme introduced last year doesn't seem to have addressed complaints about pay, either. It applies to all staff and is awarded for "client care and business development, knowledge development and innovation, training and development of people and performance delivery
". So whoever the partnership like the look of, then. Another lawyer told us the "bonus system does not incentivise
", so it might be a case of back to the drawing board.
If you fancy a training contract (and going through the quirky six-seat rotation), it's pretty much a given that you'll need to have done a vacation scheme. The six seats you'll face are the standard set - plenty of corporate and banking and pensions - with a hefty chunk of real estate thrown in (which, if nothing else, probably means you'll get to run small matters pretty much all on your own). Plus there's a good-sized disputes team who get instructed on sizeable matters (including mopping up Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock). And if you're in Sheffield, you can do a few months of work on vibration white finger. The social scene oop north is recommended, though - with "even partners coming along [to social events] to embarrass themselves
The firm has no formal flexible working policy, but they claim to "consider requests for such arrangements on a case-by-case basis
". And given that arrangements have been made with 150 staff so far, it's clearly more than just talk. It also has plenty of employees like the associate who called it a "really friendly firm
" with a knack for "great socials
" (but apparently no Christmas party since 2008).
On the negative side, the pay is generally viewed as a bit cruddy, and those looking for experience overseas will be underwhelmed by Nabarro's list of out-of-London offices: Brussels (for competition law), Singapore (mainly construction and engineering work) and, of course, Sheffield. Still at least the (award winning) London offices in the heart of Bloomsbury are nice.
For more information on recruitment at Nabarro click here