Travers Smith

A mid sized firm, unburdened by an overseas network, with a 100% equity partnership, strong profits and an aversion to merger. Back in the early '90s you could have said this about many firms - perhaps not so many now (anyone remember Gouldens?). But the fact remains that Travers continues to plough its own furrow with great comfort and success from its office tucked away around the back of HogLove.

The firm is very heavily focussed on corporate work, and its client list reads like a who's who of top banks, PE houses and brokers - JPMorgan, HSBC, Barclays Private Equity, 3i, Bridgepoint, Macquarie etc. If you're looking for great, hands-on experience at the corporate coal face, this should definitely be on your list.

Travers hasn't been one to bite off more than it can chew. The strategy seems to have served the firm well so far, and means that assistants can expect greater hands-on exposure to big ticket work than they would generally get at larger firms. One associate commented that "Partners take an avid interest in associates careers and skill development". 

Travers is not a place for those looking for huge overseas experience, although there may be an option of a stint at their Paris office, which is the only City law firm practising exclusively English law in Paris.

Word to us is that people are bright ("bloody clever", even if"they know it") and personable (and are, in our experience, disturbingly good-looking and charming) and morale is generally perky throughout the firm - a combination of that impressive quality of work and offices where the people are "incredibly friendly, welcoming and approachable". Many correspondents use the phrase "collegiate" and - for once - it looks like it might actually be true. Staff here love the big shared offices, the spirit of mucking in and the "very open" senior lawyers.  One hungry associate also complains that the biscuits could be better.

Whilst there is "no target-hours culture" obviously life won't always be a complete picnic - "There's no pretending this isn't a City firm with City firm hours" as one associate puts it.  Another associate points out that they "don't have much choice about being beasted at around the sweet spot (2-4 PQE)".  Whilst a decent base-pay wedge helps tip this equation into the 'fair enough' category, there are slight grumbles that the available "bonus is only ever <5% across the firm" which "doesn't help given such high partner profits". 

The firm is a happy ship, by most accounts. It did well in RollOnFriday's most recent satisfaction surveys, and placed 18th in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2024

"The lack of a billable hours target and flat bonus facilitates a strong collegiate environment", said a senior lawyer, as "everyone pulls together regardless of where the instruction came from or who the matter partner is." Another lawyer praised the firm for "a great social scene".  

Travers ”is really well led at the top. Charismatic, thoughtful and progressive”, said other lawyers. “Very pleased to have a woman take over as chair of the firm”, said one lawyer. “I joined from a US firm and the management here (at every level) is so much better”, said another.

"It's still a City law firm, so the work is demanding and the hours can be long," said a colleague. "But on the whole it is a humane place to work. Agile working is encouraged, which helps with this balance." 

Career development at Travers was now "more structured and transparent", said employees, although a couple of solicitors grumbled about "a real logjam for career progression in corporate", whereas "other departments (disputes, financial services) seem to have unlimited room for partners". 

And most were generally satisfied with pay, although one senior lawyer pointed out the firm didn't pay US rates and "in the past couple of years it has lagged behind the Magic Circle" - but overall "it represents a fair package for the work that we do." A junior lawyer disagreed, saying "the pay could be more given that we do similar work to Magic Circle and American firms - we are quite often on the other side of a transaction with them."

But still, the combination of small size and top quality corporate work means that the experience as a young lawyer is as good here as anywhere. One of our mid-sized firms of choice.


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