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UK Regional Firms

Burges Salmon (Bristol)

Our view....

Burges Salmon and Osborne Clarke are the firms that dominate the Bristol legal scene and it's fair to say that the former has been in the ascendant. It has stuck to a policy of steady organic growth, as befits a firm with a reputation as a restrained, stately sort of place with a conservative attitude to life which has allowed it to weather recent economic ups and downs successfully. And it's widely seen as being the top firm outside the capital and is top of the heap in Bristol for pretty much every practice.

It’s now grown to 79 partners, 80 assistant solicitors and 183 other fee earners and though its head office is in Bristol, its work reaches global heights. It boasts a client list featuring the likes of Eurostar, The Co-Operative Group, FirstGroup and The Crown Estate. Notable deals include advising the Greater London Authority on the regeneration of Royal Albert Docks and advising FirstGroup on its bid for the InterCity West Coast franchise. Having relocated its London office to an award-winning development at New Street Square, the firm has been keen to move away from its image as being a ‘regional firm’.

Burges Salmon has got a good name for banking, insolvency and corporate work and has made moves to bolster its competition practice too. Notable successes included a £31m AIM flotation of new client Bristol & London, securing a place on the panel of the multinational aviation service BBA group, and nabbing its largest ever securitisation deal from under the noses of numerous Magic Circle candidates.

The firm's trainees, lawyers and support staff are very happy. In the glory days of 2006 staff voted it RollOnFriday Firm of the Year. This year it came an excellent fourth place. Associates say there's "good quality work and high profile clients", while the partners are "Genuinely approachable" and "down to earth". And "the atmosphere is generally friendly and supportive".

Much praise too for the array of social events. As one respondent says “Great Social Life - lots of charity events and staff socials, which get everyone at all levels involved.” Plus the cake trolley on Friday afternoons is "magnificent". And they even have a Gromit statue.

Of course there were some grumbles. In Bristol, the "work pressure is on the increase, with London hours creeping in but no salary increase to match". (Although another making the same point counters, "Saying that, everyone appreciates you've got a life outside work".) Meanwhile in London, there is "still a significant mismatch between aspirations to compete with London commercial firms in terms of quality and client base and level of salary paid to solicitors (even after London weighting is taken into account)."

Overall, the positives very much outweigh the negatives, especially when some of the bad stuff is, "the rooms facing the atrium are a bit dark". The horror.

The general consensus seems to be of a happy, supportive ship full of "nice and normal people". One 2014 respondent sums up nicely, “Overall a nice place to work, but starting to feel a bit more like a London firm in Bristol, rather than the 'Bristol firm' it was”.

For more information on recruitment at Burges Salmon click here.
For more information on Burges Salmon click here


Salary (1st seat trainee): £34,750
Salary (NQ): £47,000
Salary (1PQE): £50,000
Salary (2PQE): £52,000
Salary (3PQE):
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

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


Grant for GDL: £7,000
Grant for LPC: £7,000
Training places per year: 25
% of trainees retained: 91%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 76%
Development: 73%
Work/Life: 70%
Openness: 68%
Biscuits: 75%
Toilets: 89%
Social: 84%
Firm of the year overall score: 75%


Holiday allowance: 25 days with an additional day after 3, 6 and 10 years service
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: Membership of a group personal pension plan with matching contribution from firm of up to 5% of salary.
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: Enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption pay
Target hours: 1,450 Solicitors, 700 trainees
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: Off site, discounted membership
Restaurant: Yes
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No
Other: Private medical insurance, life assurance (4xsalary), permanent health insurance, free BUPA assessment every two years. Professional subscriptions paid, interest-free season ticket loans, generous relocation allowances, sports and social club. Free car parking / £2,000 p.a. cash alternative for associates.


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70% of Halliwells' new joiners find training contracts
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Redundancy bias against female lawyers is widely reported
And Burges Salmon shares its thoughts on flexible working ... read more >
Exclusive - Burges Salmon partner in crackers email rant
Real estate team is given a proper kicking... ... read more >

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