Payne Hicks Beach

Payne Hicks Beach

Address: 10 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3QG




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘The nature of the work carried out by the firm’; ‘the general feel of the firm’; ‘its reputation is brilliant’; ‘I wanted to experience both private client work and commercial work’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘The location – Lincoln’s Inn is an incredible place to work’; ‘the work/life balance is great’; ‘everyone at the firm is approachable and supportive’; ‘the people’; ‘the location of the office’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘The qualification prospects: it is a bit unsettling to think that there won’t be a position to qualify into at the end of the two years’; ‘it is a bit old fashioned and doesn’t always seem to be moving with the times’
Best moment? 
 '‘Being involved in a case as soon as I arrived where I got to see all the stages of litigation, including going to court. This shows how collaborative the process is’; ‘being in charge of my own caseload with minimal supervision’
Worst moment?
 '‘Making silly mistakes’; ‘feeling overwhelmed with work’; ‘the frustration of having to learn to use the complicated IT system’; ‘making a mistake and being shouted at by a partner in front of everyone else in the department’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Becky Sharpe (Vanity Fair) – feisty and determined

The verdict

The firm

Established around 1930, London-based Payne Hicks Beach is renowned for its expertise in family and private client law. This is complemented by the firm’s strong commercial, privacy and media law capabilities. Payne Hicks Beach includes individuals, families and businesses among its client base. 

The star performers

Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Commercial property: development; Commercial litigation; Contentious trusts and probate; Employment: employers and senior executives; Immigration: business; Family; Residential property; Partnership; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property litigation; Sport

The deals

Assisted an estate client with the disposal of a large residential scheme; advised an investment company on its acquisition of multiple floors of a Central London premises; acting for a Swiss trustee in relation to a substantial breach of trust claim over alleged excessive distributions by the former trustees; acted for an Asian billionaire in the purchase of a Marylebone penthouse apartment valued in excess of £10m; acted for Valhalla in a claim against Coutts & Co, which related to the mis-sale of an interest rate hedging product

The clients

Atari; DNAFit; Everton FC; Fiat; Frank Bruno; Pineapple Dance Studios; Rhone Trustees (Bahamas); Royal College of Psychiatrists; The Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust; The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation

The verdict

Payne Hicks Beach’s ‘fantastic reputation in the private client world’ really sets the firm apart. ‘I had been told it was a great place to work, and it’s true!’ said one trainee. The ‘amazing location in Lincoln’s Inn’ was heralded as one of the best things about working at the firm, as well as the people, who are ‘incredibly approachable and very willing to help or explain anything you need assistance with’. Trainees are given ‘more interesting work’ and an ‘amount of autonomy on matters which appears to be higher than many of my peers’ whilst enjoying ‘better hours’ and a ‘better work/life balance’. Recruits still had the odd unpleasant experience though, such as ‘being screamed at by a partner in front of the whole department’ and, more generally, ‘making silly mistakes’. On a positive note, trainees enjoy ‘a much better quality of work’ which has led to the firm being awarded a Lex 100 Winner gong in this category. Work highlights such as ‘seeing all the stages of litigation, including going to court’, ‘running a trial with minimal supervision’ and ‘being personally thanked by a client for all my hard work on a case despite the fact that I had moved seats by the time the case had concluded’ explain why PHB also has a Lex 100 Winner medal in the client contact category. Trainees had some qualms about the firm’s ‘slight resistance to embrace modern technology at times’ and expressed frustration that the firm ‘does not make space for their own trainees at NQ level’. But, if you’re looking for a ‘good mix of commercial and private client work’, Payne Hicks Beach is the firm for you.

 A day in the life of...

sorcha finucane

Sorcha Finucane  trainee, Payne Hicks Beach 

Departments to date:  Dispute resolution and family

University:Newcastle Upon Tyne 
Degree:BA in Marketing and Management, 1st 

9.00am:  I arrive at the office. I have a brief catch up with the partner I sit with and make myself a coffee. I then check my emails, review my task list for the day and highlight the tasks I need to complete that morning.

9.30am:  First on my task list is to draft updated instructions to counsel before the financial dispute resolution hearing which is listed to be heard at the Central Family Court the following week. I was briefed on it last night by an associate who gave me detailed instructions on what new information counsel would need to prepare for the hearing. As the only trainee in the department, you get very involved in cases and are often given the opportunity to do more substantive work like this.

11.30am:  I have been invited by a partner to attend and take note of a meeting with a new client who is seeking to obtain a divorce from her husband. I have attended a number of meetings in this department. It is a fantastic way to get involved in cases and learn about how to give comprehensive legal advice to clients at each stage of matrimonial proceedings. After the meeting, the partner asks me to use my meeting note to draft the client’s divorce petition.

12.30pm:  I head out with the other trainees to Chancery Lane to have lunch. Because of the small intake at Payne Hicks Beach, all the trainees know each other really well and will often meet for a weekly catch up. The firm also has a ‘staff lunch’ every Thursday when our catering team puts together a delicious buffet. It is a great opportunity to talk to other fee-earners from all the departments. There are also regular webinars over lunch where you get to learn about important legal developments in various practice areas. As a trainee, I find these very useful to attend.

1.30pm:  I return to my office to amend a draft letter of advice on prenuptial agreements which an associate gave me feedback on yesterday. I incorporate his amendments and proofread it before sending it back to the associate for his final approval.

3.30pm:  I assist a solicitor by putting together the exhibit to her client’s witness statement for children proceedings. I check all the exhibit documents are in order by cross-referencing them against the witness statement and ensuring that anything in writing is legible and any photographs are of acceptable quality.

4.30pm:  I make a cup of tea in the kitchen and chat to some colleagues who are also having a tea break. I catch up on what they have been up to and organise to have a drink with them later in the week. Payne Hicks Beach is a very sociable and collegiate place to work. There is a great work-life balance, which means fee-earners regularly make plans to meet up after work.

4.45pm:  I prepare a divorce petition for the new client I met that morning, giving examples of the husband’s unreasonable behaviour. I take it to the partner to check he is happy with my draft. All the partners are extremely approachable at Payne Hicks Beach and will happily take time to sit with trainees to review work and give constructive feedback.

5.45pm:  I email the various fee-earners I am working for, updating them as to my progress on their delegated tasks. It is important as the only trainee in the department to prioritise and keep everyone you are working with updated.

6.15pm:  I write my to-do list for tomorrow and check with my supervisor if there is anything I can help with before I head off home. I typically leave around 6.30pm, but will stay later if needed. I am told that nothing is needed so I head to dinner with friends.

About the firm

Address:10 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3QG

Telephone: 020 7465 4300

Fax:020 7465 4400

Senior partner:  Alastair Murdie

Who we are: Payne Hicks Beach is a Lincoln’s Inn firm established in 1730 providing a full range of legal services to domestic and international private and commercial clients.

What we do: The firm’s reputation has been built on family and private client work as one of the small number of firms in the UK who provide these services at the highest level. Its commanding position in these areas is complemented by an excellent reputation for contentious trusts and dispute resolution, privacy and media law, company and commercial law, employment, residential and commercial property, and citizenship and immigration work. Despite their position in the market, Payne Hicks Beach’s lawyers pride themselves on the confidentiality and discretion with which they conduct their work, not least because the firm’s clients include many household names, as a result of which the firm is one of London’s best kept secrets.

What we are looking for: Applicants should have an excellent academic record (a 2(1) degree is a minimum), a high degree of drive and determination, and will need to demonstrate an ability to analyse problems accurately, to be creative in finding practical commercial solutions, and communicating these clearly, as well as a flair for building relationships.

What you'll do:Trainees spend time in each of four departments, with their preferences being taken into account in this rotation so far as possible. With only one trainee per department, they play an important role, with a high level of responsibility, real work and supervised client contact from the outset. Trainees are subject to regular assessment, and engage in the required professional skills courses, as well as in-house training. However, with the firm’s team outlook and open-door policy they also have access to help and support from colleagues who are acknowledged experts in their fields.

Perks: Private medical insurance; permanent health insurance; employee assistance programme; life assurance scheme; health screening; contributory pension scheme; cycle to work scheme; season ticket loan; childcare vouchers; staff introduction bonus.

Sponsorship:Full GDL and LPC funding, and a maintenance grant each year of study. BPP Law School is the firm’s preferred provider.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 25

Other fee-earners: 63

Total trainees: 5

Turnover in 2017: £22m (+5% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £500,000 (+3%)

Trainee places available for 2021: 3

Applications received pa: 350 

Percentage interviewed: 3% 


First year: £35,500

Second year: £37,500

Newly qualified: £59,000

 Application process

Apply to:Janice Okuns, HR manager

How: Online application form

When to apply:By 31 July 2019

What's involved:Assessment day and interview.