The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
BLM is an insurance risk and commercial law firm with both a domestic and international focus. The firm is spread across the UK and Ireland and has offices in Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Derry, Edinburgh, London and Southampton to name a few. The firm handles top-end serious injury work and also manages personal injury and motor insurance work for its varied clientele.
The star performers
Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Crime: fraud; Family; Health and safety; Local government; Personal injury: defendant; Professional discipline; Professional negligence; Shipping; Social housing; Transport; Travel: personal injury.
Representing Thomas Cook in a large group action involving allegations of a cryptosporidium outbreak; acted for the Bar Standards Board in a claim by a practising QC disputing its handling of a complaint from another barrister; represented a former medical director at UC24 in a General Medical Council investigation and Medical Practitioners Tribunal hearing into allegations that he failed to action over 150 test results and failed to adequately manage his responsibilities as medical director; defended Clarion Housing Group on a case involving allegations of disrepair, breach of human rights, personal injury, disability and racial discrimination; advising the University of East London and RSA on a claim brought by an international student
Allianz; Aviva; Chubb; European Risk Insurance Company; Fujitsu; Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; National Pharmacy Association; Spirit Pub Company; Stena Line; Zurich
If you’re looking for ‘hands-on experience’ and ‘responsibility from the beginning’, BLM should be on your radar. The firm is a ‘leader within insurance law’ and has ‘connections with the London insurance market’. Many trainees started off as paralegals at the firm, and their decision to commence training contracts is testament to BLM’s ‘welcoming’ and ‘friendly environment’. Recruits also chose to train at BLM due to its ‘regional setting’ which appealed to those wanting a life away from the capital. The ‘variety of seats available’ and ‘eminent defence practice’ also tempted rookies through the doors. According to respondents, it’s ‘almost unheard of to work late at BLM’ which explains why the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for work/life balance. Trainees enjoy the ‘day-to-day responsibility’ given to them and it’s customary to have ‘your own case load’ whilst ‘feeling supported’. The ‘lack of international opportunities’ and ‘non-legal administrative work we are required to complete’ grated on a handful of recruits. Trainees also groaned about the salary which is ‘quite poor in comparison to similar firms in Manchester’, however, one recruit believes that ‘the great people balance that out a little’. Trainee highlights included ‘attending a groundbreaking trial at the High Court’, ‘being offered a client secondment’ and ‘attending the PSC course prior to joining which allowed the trainee cohort to get to know each other’. In recent times, recruits have participated in ‘bake sales and ‘fancy dress competitions’ as part of the firm’s CSR efforts. A ‘Tough Mudder’ event is also scheduled. If you want a ‘large firm but with the feeling of a high street firm’, apply to BLM.
A day in the life of...
Holly Paterson trainee, BLM
Departments to date: Casualty, healthcare (current)
University:University of Manchester Degree and class: Law with Criminology LLB, 2(1); Healthcare Ethics and Law LLM, 2(1)
8.30am: I arrive in the office, armed with a Pret coffee (50p off for using my reusable flask!). I have some time to review today’s to-do list, check my emails, peruse the morning news, or get a head start with any urgent tasks.
9.00am: I have been asked if I want to attend a conference with my supervisor at 11, so I pop over and check if there is anything I can do beforehand. All is under control, so I spend a bit of time reviewing the file. I really enjoy researching the medical elements, and the practitioner’s speciality beforehand. It’s also essential for noting the spellings/abbreviations of any unfamiliar conditions for my future note.
11.00am: Attending the meeting is our client (the insurer), and their member (usually a doctor, dentist or other healthcare professional). It makes for an interesting dynamic balancing the instructions of the insurer client, with the expectations of the member. We spend a couple of hours discussing the allegations, the available evidence, and realistic prospects. I make a shortlist of follow-on tasks that I will assist with.
1.00pm: Lunchtime, and I am meeting the other trainees, typically grabbing lunch and (weather permitting) heading to a nearby park for some fresh air. We usually swap snippets of our daily tasks to give us some understanding of other department’s work and atmosphere. This really helps when it comes to making future seat choices. When possible we attend lunchtime talks from other departments. These are really useful for gaining insight into alternative sectors, and for notable legal developments generally.
2.00pm: I begin drafting instructions to an expert in another matter. I enquire if there are any other similar matters ongoing to which I can compare my draft, and delve into the many documents on file to identify the allegations, summaries, and medical evidence that form my instruction.
3.00pm: The department’s professional support lawyer pops over and invites me to attend a telephone meeting between the BLM healthcare departments nationally. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the issues pertaining to gross negligence manslaughter allegations in relation to medical professionals within a hospital setting.
4.00pm: I am heading to a medical practitioners tribunal hearing tomorrow to take note and assist counsel. I review the documents on the file so I am aware of the allegations the doctor faces, and the evidence before the panel. I quickly research who counsel is so I can put a face to a name tomorrow and save the embarrassment of wrong introductions.
4.45pm: I am asked if I can assist in collating a bundle a partner is hoping to send out that evening. I am happy to help as her instructions are always very clear, her files are in good order and she is always very appreciative of your assistance.
5.30pm: I review any supervision provided that day, send any final emails, and review tomorrow’s to-do list. I might research any issues that have piqued my interest that day, or chat to the trainees about ideas/plans for a social event. A partner in an adjacent desk is probably telling me to go home already and on the days the sun is shining it is likely some trainees will be at a nearby pub. Otherwise it may be dinner with friends, an exercise class, or more likely home to cook up a feast.
About the firm
Address:King’s House, 42 King Street West, Manchester, M3 2NU
Telephone: 0161 236 2002
Senior partner: Matthew Harrington
Managing partner: Vivienne Williams
Other offices: Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Southampton
Who we are: BLM is an insurance risk and commercial law firm with both a domestic and international focus.
What we do: We have established a deep-rooted presence in the general insurance sector, the London Market and amongst brokers. We also have a significant presence among corporate businesses many of whom are multi-national, the public sector and the health and care industry.
What we are looking for: You should be confident and resilient in your approach and demonstrate exemplary interpersonal written and verbal communication skills.
What you'll do:You will be assuming real responsibility in a supportive environment from an early stage.
Perks: Health cash plans, income protection, retail vouchers, pension, chance to buy holiday.
Sponsorship:BLM will fund the LPC for future trainees who have not completed this. The LPC must be completed with BPP.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 196 (61 EPs, 135 SPs)
Other fee-earners: 770
Total trainees: 47
Trainee places available for 2021: 23
Applications received pa: 1,200
Percentage interviewed: 5%
First year: £31,000
Second year: £32,000
Newly qualified: £44,000
Apply to:Keely Nelson – emerging talent specialist
What's involved: Online application, online critical thinking test, assessment centre
When to apply:
Training contract: By 30 June 2019.
Vacation scheme: By 27 January 2019.