Clyde & Co (London)
A while on from Clyde & Co's merger with troubled Barlow Lyde & Gilbert ('takeover' might be more accurate) the dust has well and truly settled. As the name suggests, Clydes was very much in the driving seat when it
merged with BLG in 2011.
Back in the day, 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 was 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 bringing 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. The firm's growth has been steered by CEO Peter Hasson, a non-lawyer from a finance background, who has been an integral part in driving the business alongside senior partner Michael Payton (up to 2014) and now James Burns.
Turnover has been rising since 2005 - credit crunch or not. In the 2014/15 financial year, the firm boasted revenue of £395m, up 8% from the previous year. And profit per equity partner was £660,000 in 2014/15, up 10% from the previous year.
Clydes currently has 45 offices worldwide and it makes a big play of its international presence, which is perhaps unsurprising given the growth in certain regions. Clydes' Asia offices saw an increase of 30% in revenue for 2014/2015. And revenue in the Middle East and North Africa grew by 15%. Recent additions to the Clydes' empire include offices in South Africa and Brisbane in 2014, and a merger with Simpson & Marwick in 2015.
A good spread of international offices means that there are opportunities for trainees to spend a seat overseas - in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore or, err, Piraeus. We know where we'd rather go. Back in the UK, aside from London, the firm also has offices in Oxford, Manchester and Guildford. The latter 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 & reinsurance, and aviation are also very strong sectors. As far as service areas go, although corporate and commercial is growing, the majority of Clydes' work is still litigation-based rather than corporate. Inevitably disputes work doesn't require the level of all-nighters you'll experience at more transaction-led firms. Whilst Clydes is now a proper full service firm, it's possibly not the first choice if you want to specialise in M&A.
Associates, on the whole, praise the good work life balance, saying that the firm has "no face time culture
". It also seems to be a friendly place with "very sociable
" partners. And staff are happy with the swanky London office as one lawyer commends the "cracking view from the canteen
" although adds that this "conveniently distracts from the food
Pay seems to be the biggest gripe, as one lawyer describes it as "abysmal
" adding that "the senior equity partners suck the marrow out of the profits while the middle ranks scamper for greener pastures in the hope of earning more
". And there are concerns about career prospects as several trainees complain that retention rates "went down last year quite significantly
". Higher up in the firm, a 3PQE lawyer notes that "promotion prospects
" look slim under the "new career development framework
The negative points means that the firm sits in the latter half of RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year table. Grumbles aside, many still praised the working environment, with one lawyer saying there is a "very supportive management
" that doesn't heap on the pressure "in terms of billing
". Allied with an expanding overseas network, rapidly rising profits and reasonably civilised hours it's a solid choice. And club biscuits are available in meeting rooms.
For more information on Clyde & Co click here