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UK City Firms

Squire Patton Boggs (London)

Our view...

Once just plain old Hammonds, this UK firm with European offices merged with US outfit Squire Sanders on New Year's Day 2011. In June 2014 it merged with Washington firm Patton Boggs, and Hammonds was ditched from the letterhead.

Hammonds once provided the butt of many a legal joke, with an ex-trainee dishing the dirt in a novel, a urinating shoe fetishist and, less amusingly, mass redundancies. When turnover fell in 2009, taking PEP with it, large swathes of fee earners in the firm’s corporate and real estate departments were axed.

The previously provincial firm - offices in Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds and Manchester, plus London and Brussels - now has branches everywhere with a whole bunch, of course, in the US. Traditionally, high profile clients were content to use SSH for their day to day work, but turned to the big City players when they had serious deals to get done. The London office did retain some highly-rated niche departments - notably sports, employment and advertising and marketing - but was decidedly shaky in the core bread-winning areas. That said, it did boast some big name clients, including Aldi, London Underground and some of the major sporting bodies, like UEFA. It remains to be seen whether the addition of US firm Patton Boggs, which has had a difficult few years and was casting around for a merger for months, will help the firm shuffle up in potential clients' estimation. The merger means Squires gets to bulk up in Washington, and Patton Boggs gets a global footprint.

Hours vary from group to group, but are rarely in the Magic Circle league - it seems to present more of a lifestyle choice than the more traditional City-based firms. A fair, if not spectacular, set of scores in the 2014 Firm of the Year survey suggests staff are reasonably content. Having said that, for every junior associate who tells us, “the prospects are better than many places and it comes without the bullsh*t of many other firms", another complains of being dumped on with "long hours for for poor pay, especially when you are junior", which is apparently "Particularly annoying when the partners moan about 'having to go to Florida' for their conference".

So what do you get with a SPB TC? Well, the firm has fortunately abandoned its bizarre “location rotation” training system, where trainees were expected to spend time in at least three of the firm’s offices. All well and good if you wanted to see more of the country, but not so if you were even vaguely attached to your wife/boyfriend/West Ham season ticket. You’ll now do six seats in one location, with the possibility of spending one of them overseas. Although you'll probably miss the "addictive" caramel shortcake back home.

Back in the day, SSH was statistically one of the very best firms at which to train for those who wanted to make partner. Now, who knows. Even before the latest merger bolstered the US side of the business, a SSH lawyer sais the firm was "essentially run by the Americans" with the consequence that "It doesn't feel like anyone in the UK can make decisions". A case of watch this space.

Salary

Salary (1st seat trainee): £35,000
Salary (NQ): £58,000
Salary (1PQE): £63,500
Salary (2PQE): £64,500
Salary (3PQE): £69,000
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: £7,000
Training places per year: 40
% of trainees retained: 75%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 61%
Development: 81%
Work/Life: 67%
Openness: 68%
Biscuits: 86%
Toilets: 68%
Social: 90%
Firm of the year overall score: 73%

Benefits

Holiday allowance: 23
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: Contributory. Employee contributes 3.8%, firm contributes 6.2%. Contributions increase with length of service
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: 3 levels depending on length of service. Max package offers 100% pay for 18 weeks and 50% until 29 weeks after birth.
Target hours: 1300
Childcare vouchers: No
Gym: Subsidised
Restaurant: Yes, subsidised
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No
Other: Flexible benefits scheme allows employees to tailor their own benefits package. Figures apply to London office

  

News Stories

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Squire Patton Boggs, Osborne Clarke and Harbottle look on in awe ... read more > (4 comments)
Squire Sanders runs birth control policy for staff
No enhanced maternity terms for women who get pregnant again within two years ... read more > (4 comments)
Exclusive: Squire Sanders takes two years to reject candidate
Twenty three months from application to rejection. Grad Rec snoozing on the job. ... read more > (1 comment)
Exclusive: Squire Sanders canteen slammed by Food Standards Agency
"Improvement necessary" at firm formerly known as Hammonds ... read more >
Hammonds shoe fetish urination horror
ROLLONFRIDAY STORY 22ND APRIL 2005 ... read more >
Law Firm Financial Results 2010
RollOnFriday's compilation of the performance of leading law firms for the 2009/10 financial year ... read more >
  

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