The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Headquartered in London with offices in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, Charles Russell Speechlys offers a broad range of services. Private wealth services are the firm’s core focus, with high-net-worth individuals and privately-owned businesses among its clients. Other areas of focus include corporate, real estate and TMT. Charles Russell Speechlys was named International Arbitration Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2018.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Banking and finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Corporate and commercial; Debt recovery; Emerging markets; Employment; Immigration: business; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Residential property; Sport
Advised Tsokkos Hotels on a €200m secured loan facility with Bank of Cyprus; assisted Supergroup plc and its founder, Julian Dunkerton, with an employee share incentive scheme affecting roughly 4,500 employees; continues to represent Cadburys in its long-standing quest to protect its iconic purple-coloured packaging; handles several cross-border trademark infringements, filings and oppositions for Wagamama; acted for National Bank of Kuwait in connection with the provision of an £8m shari’ah facility secured over London property
Bladeroom Group; Cancer Research UK; Cobb Europe; Gulfair; Mercedes; Newmedica; Royal National Institute of Blind People; Sony Computer Entertainment Europe; Westminster Abbey; Zenium Technology Partners
A ‘mid-sized firm of good repute’ with ‘international reach’, Charles Russell Speechlys is celebrated for its ‘strong family and private client practice’. Trainees were drawn to these specialisms, but also liked that the firm has a ‘broad range’ of departments with ‘interesting clients in sport and media’. Opportunities for client contact are ‘superior’, the firm being a Lex 100 Winner in this area as well as for its vacation scheme. Trainees relished having responsibility to ‘handle my own cases’ as it gave them ‘confidence that I can be successful in the role’. Even with the ‘higher degree of responsibility’, trainees still work ‘sociable hours’ and enjoy ‘football matches on Monday nights’ as well as ‘the summer and Christmas party’ which are ‘good fun’ – only occasionally do they work ‘late nights’. Common gripes included the ‘pay and benefits package which isn’t brilliant’, ‘London offices which are split across two buildings’ and ‘not enough NQ positions offered in the popular departments’. ‘A dated hierarchical approach’ was mentioned, however, the firm ‘runs workshops about respect within the workplace which are mandatory for partners and managers to address the issue’. The opportunity to ‘draft witness statements’, ‘see a case in the High Court with a top children’s barrister’, and ‘spend six months in the firm’s Geneva office’ were trainee highlights. Low moments came when ‘doing administrative work on a Saturday’. ‘CSR and pro bono are taken seriously’ and trainees are ‘encouraged to get involved’ mentoring, fundraising and helping at legal advice centres. If you want ‘exposure to top-tier legal services’ and to work with people who are ‘in a good mood when they come to work’, Charles Russell Speechlys is a great option.
A day in the life of...
Kunal Shah trainee, Charles Russell Speechlys
Departments to date: Corporate, family
University:University of Warwick
7.00am: I find myself awake and getting ready to begin my journey into the office from Hertfordshire. With the current debacle surrounding the trains, I leave myself some extra time to ensure I am in the office on time.
9.00am: I am at my desk with breakfast and coffee from the firm’s canteen, Charlie’s. Staff can enjoy breakfast and lunch here at subsidised rates. I check my emails that have come in overnight and prepare a to-do list for the day.
9.30am: Over the next hour, as all the partners and associates arrive at the office, I speak to them about emails and documents that have come in and agree an action plan with them before responding to the client.
11.30am: Today I am exchanging a Form E, the financial disclosure document in divorce proceedings, with the other side. The partner has given me the responsibility to exchange the document as she will be in a meeting at 11.30am. This involves phoning and liaising with the other side to ensure they are ready to exchange as well as checking the form and supporting documents one last time. I successfully exchange at 11.30am and send the supporting documents to the other side after. One of the great things about a training contract at Charles Russell Speechlys is that trainees are given a great deal of responsibility from day one and are immediately made to feel a valued member of the team.
1.00pm: A group of trainees will usually head out for lunch. We sometimes go up to Charlie’s or, at the moment while the weather is nice, we grab lunch in the sun. The location of the office is fantastic with many places to eat close by and a market in the square next to our office every Tuesday!
2.00pm: A partner has a new client meeting and has asked me to attend and take a note. I am given some initial reading before the meeting which I discuss with the partner who is genuinely interested in my views and findings. We attend the meeting and the partner asks me to draft a letter of advice following the meeting. Client exposure is very high at Charles Russell Speechlys and partners are more than happy to take trainees to meetings and allow them to work closely with the client afterwards.
4.00pm: I draft the letter of advice for the partner to review and also set up the individual as a new client of the firm.
5.30pm: An associate comes to my office to discuss a letter I have drafted to the other side. They take the time to explain their amendments before I make the actual amendments to the letter and send it out to the client for their approval.
6.30pm: Before I leave the office I close my time for the day, respond to any emails and complete any administration tasks. On Wednesdays in the summer, I play cricket for the firm against clients; otherwise on most Fridays you will always find a group of trainees along with other members of the firm at the Corney & Borrow right outside our front door.
About the firm
Address:5 Fleet Place, London, EC4M 7RD
Telephone: 020 7203 5000
Fax:020 7203 0200
Senior partner: Christopher Page
Managing partner: James Carter
Other offices: Cheltenham, Guildford, Doha, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Manama, Paris, Zurich.
Who we are: At Charles Russell Speechlys, we have an unusually broad range of skills and experience across the full spectrum of business and personal needs. This gives us a wider perspective, clear insight and a strongly commercial long-term view. We use this approach to secure the growth of our clients as they move confidently into the future. It has made us a leader in the world of dynamic growth and family businesses, and among the world’s leading creators and owners of private wealth and their families. Major corporates and institutions find our more considered and personal approach a refreshing alternative to conventional business law firms.
What we are looking for: We require candidates to achieve a minimum of a 2(1) in their degree and be able to demonstrate other key attributes outside academia, such as teamwork, leadership, communication skills and initiative. People come to us from all backgrounds and degree disciplines, with a range of views that combine to give us our distinctive perspective on the law.
What you'll do:The two-year training contract at Charles Russell Speechlys is divided into four seats, giving trainees the opportunity to experience a range of different practice areas before qualification. Throughout the training contract, there are regular meetings and reviews between the trainees and their supervisors to ensure they are continuing to receive a broad range of quality work and that they are developing the required skills and knowledge as they progress through their seats.
Perks: Benefits include private medical care; PHI and life assurance; pension; season ticket loan; cycle to work; 25 days’ holiday and a subsidised restaurant in the London offices.
Sponsorship:We undertake to pay impending GDL and/or LPC course fees together with a maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 170
Other fee-earners: 429
Total trainees: 46
Turnover in 2017: £144m (+3% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £428,000 (+9%)
Trainee places available for 2021: 25
Applications received pa: 800
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £40,000 (London), £33,000 (Guildford), £29,500 (Cheltenham)
Second year: £42,000 (London), £34,000 (Guildford), £30,500 (Cheltenham)
Apply to:Hayley Halvatzis, graduate recruitment manager.
What's involved:Video interview and assessment day which includes a face-to-face interview and other exercises designed to assess identified performance criteria.
When to apply:
Training contract: By 30 June 2019.
Summer vacation scheme: By 31 January 2019.