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UK City Firms

Clyde & Co (London)

Our view...

A while on from Clyde & Co's merger with troubled Barlow Lyde & Gilbert ('takeover' might be more accurate) and it's fair to say the dust has settled. As the name suggests, Clydes - then an international shipping behemoth, now more of an an international insurance behemoth - was very much in the driving seat when it subsumed BLG.

At the time Clydes, along with Holman Fenwick & Willan and Ince & Co, was traditionally one of the three great shipping firms in the City. This wasn't necessarily a good thing: collision work has been declining thanks to better maritime regulation and training, and protection and indemnity clubs were, well, clubbing together to drive their lawyers' rates down as well as bring more work in-house. As European expertise in the field increased, more work was also going to Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, whose rates are generally cheaper than in the UK.
In view of these changes Clydes decided to diversify and expand. And so far it seems to have made a huge success of it. Turnover has been rising since 2005 - credit crunch or not. And the firm's most recent financials show the firm operating at a healthy £337m turnover, with profit up 20% from last year to £84.9 million. Today shipping only represents about 15% of the business.
Clydes currently has a strong international presence with 33 offices worldwide spanning six continents - having recently added Beijing, Perth, Sydney, Montreal and Toronto to the list - and it makes a big play of its international presence. Which is perhaps unsurprising given that more than 42% of the firm's revenue is generated outside the UK. And according to the firm this trend is likely to continue.

A good spread of international offices means that there are opportunities for trainees to spend their second or third seats overseas - in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore or, err, Piraeus. We know where we'd rather go. The firm also has a Guildford office that famously pays London rates. Rather less famously it also expects its lawyers to work London hours, but given the lower living costs which normally come with provincial offices this still sounds like a pretty good deal.
Shipping is still important, but insurance and reinsurance and now aviation are also very strong sectors. It's now a proper full service law firm, with the profits and overseas offices to match. Clydes' corporate and commercial practice now makes up almost 30% of its worldwide turnover. This explains why its assistants reckon they work harder than at the traditional shipping firms - but with targets at a fairly gentle 1430 hours it still compares very favourably with the bigger City outfits.
The main reason for this is that unlike most City firms, the majority of Clydes' work is still litigation rather than corporate. Inevitably this sort of practice doesn't require the level of all-nighters you'll experience at more transaction-led firms, and it's great news if you fancy ending up as a litigator. But possibly not the first choice if you want to specialise in M&A.
Assistants seem to enjoy their work, the “relatively good working hours” and the fact that it's clearly an ambitious, business-like firm. Plus the "great new office" in the St Botolph building is "lovely" and "prettty swish". Although the go-getting, slightly aggressive atmosphere probably wouldn't suit shrinking violets, and there are grumbles about the "disturbing lack of female partners", where the "prospects for women are almost non-existent unless you are from the Devil Wears Prada school of management.apparently".  

And the firm fared badly in RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year survey, propping up the latter half of the table. The low placing may be partly explained by the fact that salaries are reasonable rather than spectacular. But many will think that the shorter hours compensate for this.  As one insider puts it, "Joined from a MC firm, have discovered what 6pm looks like..."

Grumble aside this is “generally a really friendly environment” with partners who are "approachable and inclusionary". Allied with an expanding overseas network, rapidly rising profits and reasonably civilised hours it's a solid choice.

For more information on Clyde & Co click here
For more information on Clyde & Co click here


Salary (1st seat trainee): £36,000
Salary (NQ): £59,000
Salary (1PQE): £64,000
Salary (2PQE): £66,000
Salary (3PQE): £72,000
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: Yes
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: 0%
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %


Grant for GDL: £7,000
Grant for LPC: £7,000
Training places per year: 22
% of trainees retained: 76%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 54%
Development: 57%
Work/Life: 68%
Openness: 51%
Biscuits: 75%
Toilets: 70%
Social: 66%
Firm of the year overall score: 61%


Holiday allowance: 25
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: Contributory between 4% & 8%
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: Enhanced. Full pay for 13 weeks, £200 a week for another 13 weeks.
Target hours: 1430
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: Subsidised membership off site
Restaurant: Subsidised Starbucks
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No
Other: Option to buy a further 5 days holiday each year


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.

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anonymous user
17/08/2012 14:45
Rate it
Targets are in the 1600s, and salaries are slightly higher than stated.