Squire Patton Boggs (London)
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.
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.
The financials are looking pretty healthy at the newly formed Squire
Patton Boggs collecting USD 870.5 million in gross revenue in 2014.
Profits per partner in 2014 at USD 840,000, (an increase from the
previous year’s USD 810,000 for Squire Sanders partners and USD 720,000
for Patton Boggs partners).
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. One trainee says that there is "Excellent pay-work ratio, offering a good work-life balance
One happy partner chimes in that it is "one of the few firms left where partners feel part of a partnership
" adding that "partners are treated as human beings first and billing machines second
As for the offices, an associate comments that "the Devonshire Office Park isn't as flashy as Kirkland's Gherkin or Reed Smith's Broadgate Tower offices, but the insides are finished to a high standard
". There's also rumours that "the firm may be considering the Walkie Talkie or the Heron Tower as its future office space
..." which would mean some of the best views in the city, and bragging rights over other lawyers - albeit they may just be rumours at this stage.
If the name of the firm is a bit of a turn-off, the inside chat on this is that "everyone at the firm realises that the Boggs bit sounds a little bit lame, so we've informally re-branded the firm as Squire PB
!" Although outside of the firm, other lawyers still delight in including the Boggs bit.
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 said the firm was "essentially run by the Americans
" with the consequence that "It doesn't feel like anyone in the UK can make decisions
". Although at ground level, one trainee has been sucked in by the US charm reporting that "senior lawyers from the Squire Sander's US network are a hoot to work with