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UK City Firms

Ince & Co (London)

Our view...

Ince & Co, Holman Fenwick and Willan and Clyde & Co together form the triumverate of top City shipping firms. Ince makes the least money, but it’s still very profitable - its most senior partners take home an estimated £545,000, and assistants’ salaries compare favourably with all but the largest corporate practices.

Shipping firms tend to have a slightly more relaxed attitude to hours than more corporate finance driven practices, and this seems to be the case here. Assistants say that hours are generally civilised in all areas. Plenty seem to agree with the Incer who wold us, "there is no macho environment encouraging late nights for the sake of it".

On the downside, shipping law isn't everyone’s cup of tea, especially, it would seem, to the lady lawyers out there. When last we heard, of a total of 97 partners (many of whom started their careers with the firm), only 14 are female. Almost as poor a proportion as the woeful 15 out of 127 at Holman Fenwick. What is it with shipping firms?

Ince has a curious system where there are no departments, everyone just sits together. You can work for anyone, but generally have 10-15 partners who give you work as and when you have capacity. So as a trainee, you can carry matters through the two years of your training.

The training seems to please. As one associate explains, “from a professional development perspective, there is a very clear career path guidance document detailing what responsibilities you can expect at each stage in your career, the milestones in professional development, how those milestones are measured and the benefits of achieving them”.

The opportunity to work abroad is another plus, and on the international front it’s been a busy few years. The firm has European offices Le Havre, Piraeus, Paris, Monaco and Hamburg to its letterhead, plus the only slightly more exotic Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Says one lawyer, "I've been to India, Korea, South America, Central Europe and had a fantastic time of it". So there are plenty of interesting places to work when the fleet's in port.  Most of all London – the offices overlooking Tower Bridge are beautiful, although insiders tell us the chef apparently poached from Claridges is no longer with the firm.

It's not all Michelin-starred gravy. The firm's profitability dropped in 2012/13, resulting in 10 fee-earners and six staff being made redundant in the shipping team. NQ retention fell to a miserly 58% a few years back and only nine new trainees were taken on. However all of those nine were kept on when they qualified, and the firm promptly went back to recruiting a dozen trainees a year. Almost all were kept on for a while (11 from 12 in 2009, 10 from 12 in 2010 and 14 from 15 in 2011), though in 2013 only 10 from 15 found a berth in the firm.

The performance in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year survey over the last few years has been nothing short of stellar. An impressive second place in 2011 was followed by victory in 2012. And the firm retained its crown spectacularly in 2013. In 2014, though, it slipped to eight place - though top ten is still excellent. Responses gave particular attention to the "fantastically friendly" people and the "excellent social life" (especially if you like sailing). Such a great place, in fact, that it's the only firm ever described as "like living in a land of unicorns and rainbows".

Overall a very decent firm with an interesting set up and what must be one of the best cash/work/life ratios in the City. Let's hope the redundances in 2014 are an aberration, because generally one staffer's assertion looks bang on the money: Ince & Co "looks after its people"

For more information on Ince & Co click here


Salary (1st seat trainee): £36,000
Salary (NQ): £58,000
Salary (1PQE): £64,960
Salary (2PQE): £69,020
Salary (3PQE): £76,125
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

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


Grant for GDL: £6,500
Grant for LPC: £7,000
Training places per year: 15
% of trainees retained: 93%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 90%
Development: 92%
Work/Life: 81%
Openness: 86%
Biscuits: 78%
Toilets: 81%
Social: 94%
Firm of the year overall score: 87%


Holiday allowance: 25 - 27
Flexi holiday: Yes
Pension: Contributory (matches contributions up to 5%)
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: 10 weeks at full pay, 4 weeks at 75% of pay, 4 weeks at 50% of pay and then 8 weeks at SMP.
Target hours: No targets
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: Subsidised off site
Restaurant: No, but lunch menu available
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No


News Stories

Exclusive: Ex-Ince & Co partner sets up firm after release from prison
Ripped off clients to tune of millions, but has done his time ... read more > (6 comments)
Andrew Iyer gets fours years and eight months jail
Former Ince & Co partner admits stealing £m ... read more >
UK Firm of the Year 2013: Pay
US firms dominate the top of the table, but it's not just big bucks that make for a satisfied workforce ... read more > (2 comments)
UK Firm of the Year 2013: Career development
Which firms offer the best route to partnership? And which will keep you chained to the photocopier? ... read more > (1 comment)
UK Firm of the Year 2013: Work-Life Balance
Bird & Bird puts the life into work-life balance, but Linklaters lawyers "get flogged to death" ... read more >
UK Firm of the Year 2013: Openness
Which firms are open with their plans and which are shrouded in a North Korea-like secrecy? ... read more > (2 comments)

Your Views

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anonymous user
10/04/2012 15:50
Rate it
Ince & Co is not a social company, its a corporate one.

The morale is among the lowest I have worked at, everyone seems to have a gripe with their salary. The events it does host are very much shrowded by cliques within the firm also.

Roll on Friday seems to depict Ince & Co as something it isn't.

Ince has demanding targets of both fee earners and non fee earners and is by no means similar to:


"living in a land of unicorns and rainbows"


However, the firm does support internal growth and if you like Golf then you might make partner / management.
anonymous user
26/11/2013 02:43
Rate it
Bitter much
anonymous user
09/01/2014 17:22
Rate it
Claridge chef no longer working in kitchen and food very dissapointing now,