The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Reed Smith has offices across Europe, Asia the US and the Middle East but its London office is its largest. The firm is highly regarded for its work in the media, transportation, energy and finance sectors and also has expertise in trade, litigation and commercial matters. We believe that the practice of law has the ability to drive progress. We know your time is valuable and your matters are important. We are focused on outcomes, are highly collaborative, and have deep industry insight that, when coupled with our local market knowledge, allows us to anticipate and address your needs. You deserve purposeful, highly engaged client service that drives progress for your business. Although Reed Smith works from multiple locations, the firm’s lawyers are linked by more than technology. All share a common culture, with Core Values supporting Reed Smith’s firm-wide commitment to add value, achieve excellence, and promote professional development. These foster a workplace in which diversity and inclusion, pro bono service and community support are manifest.
The star performers
Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commodities: derivatives; Commodities: physicals; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Debt capital markets; Fraud: civil; High yield; Insurance litigation: for policyholders; International arbitration; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m-£250m; Pensions (non-contentious); Private equity: transactions – mid-market deals; Property finance; Public international law; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; Trade finance
‘There is no bar on the level of work you may be given’ as a trainee at Reed Smith, which means that ‘often you can be doing associate-level work during your training contract’. The firm is ‘committed to innovation’, trainees included: ‘we are encouraged to be innovative and to say if we have any ideas, which is great for inclusivity and development’. There is an ‘emphasis on diversity’ and the firm’s ‘down-to-earth’ culture is ‘based on cooperation’ where there is a clear ‘willingness to pass on knowledge’. There are some ‘amazing views from the top floors’ of the firm’s Broadgate Tower offices, although the building does ‘sway when it’s windy’! ‘Lawyers are promoted on ability rather than just tenure alone and it is recognised that ‘if you are good enough, you will move up the ranks more quickly than at other firms’. On the flip side, ‘increases to target hours have had a negative impact on morale’ and the ‘pay could be better’, although this is currently under review. ‘The very occasional weekend working’ and ‘the lack of clarity in the seat rotation process’ also irked some recruits. The firm’s ‘industry focus’, in particular on the media sector, and focus on arbitration and litigation received acclaim. Reed Smith also offers plenty of opportunities for client secondments and international secondments, with one trainee singling out ‘being seconded to Athens for six months’ as their best moment. Other work highlights include ‘drafting the majority of 175-page pleading in a $100m arbitration’. To work at a firm with an ‘opportunity to maintain a work/life balance whilst also working on challenging matters for interesting clients’, where ‘the unbelievably nice and accommodating people are just the cherry on top’, apply to Reed Smith.
A day in the life of...
Departments to date: Shipping, corporate (secondment to Abu Dhabi)
University:The University of Sheffield, BPP Law School
Degree:LLB Law with a year abroad (The University of Tarty, Estonia) 2(1) MA, (LPC with Business) Distinction
Why did you choose Reed Smith? One of the main reasons that I chose to train at Reed Smith was due to the international nature of the firm. Now in my third seat in the corporate department, I spent my second seat on secondment to our Abu Dhabi office where I was involved in a wide range of corporate and commercial work for both our Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices. I quickly had to adapt to new legal systems, new cultures and new terminology. Undertaking an international secondment is a fantastic way to experience the global network of Reed Smith first-hand and to make connections across offices and practice areas. You can forget quite how big Reed Smith is when you are sat in one office! In addition, I was aware of the incredible pro bono and voluntary work that Reed Smith was involved in and I knew that I wanted to work at a firm that was committed to giving back and making a difference.
Which skills/attributes are key for your role? Being able to work effectively as part of a team is key to being a trainee solicitor. In addition, it is important to have good timekeeping skills due to the demands of the job, the ability to get into the mind set of the client to produce excellent work and the ability to prioritise the many deadlines you will be working towards. There is excellent training provided at Reed Smith to assist during your training contract but it is also the case that a lot of learning is on-the-job and you should therefore be confident in regularly stepping out of your comfort zone.
What are the best and most challenging things about your job? Getting positive feedback from a colleague or client is a great motivator. In addition, it is an amazing feeling when you read about a matter you have worked on in the press! The work we do is often pressured, whether by deadlines or otherwise, and therefore it can be challenging to balance demands on your time but the key is to manage expectations and be honest when you cannot take on a piece of work or, as happens to everyone at some point, you make a mistake.
What sets your company apart from its competitors as a top graduate employer? Reed Smith is a firm with a truly unique, open and welcoming culture. There is a wonderful diversity at Reed Smith and I am proud to work at a firm which so highly values the differences we have; differences that together make deals happen and allow us to effectively solve disputes for our clients.
What is the culture like at Reed Smith? There truly is something special about the culture at Reed Smith and I am quite sure that is because of the people who work here. Reed Smith employees, from partners to support staff, are willing to help, think collaboratively and are willing to go above and beyond what is expected of them when necessary.
What advice would you give to someone applying for a role with Reed Smith? Make sure you know why you want to work at Reed Smith specifically. Firms such as Reed Smith receive hundreds of applications for vacation schemes and training contracts each year and it is incredibly important to stand out whether that be based on, for example, your knowledge of Reed Smith or specific skills or experience you can offer the firm.
About the firm
Address:The Broadgate Tower, 20 Primrose Street, London, EC2A 2RS
Telephone: 020 3116 3000
Fax:020 3116 3999
Facebook:Reed Smith Graduates UK
Managing partner: Andrew Jenkinson
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Athens, Austin, Beijing, Century City, Chicago, Dallas, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Houston, Kazakhstan, Leeds, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Richmond, San Francisco, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tysons, Washington DC, Wilmington.
Who we are: Reed Smith is a global law firm, with more than 1,700 lawyers in 29 offices throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.
What we do: The firm represents leading international businesses, from FTSE 100 corporations to dynamic mid-market and emerging enterprises. Our lawyers provide litigation and other dispute resolution services, regulatory counsel, and legal advice on the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions.
What we are looking for: We are looking for you to demonstrate that you have the skills and behaviours which we would expect from our trainees. These are: legal skills (such as research and analysis, and communication skills), citizenship (teamwork, developing self and others), business skills (leadership and matter and financial management) and client skills (client relationships and business development).
What you'll do:Trainees undertake four seats of six months’ duration and you will be able to choose these from a wide range of disciplines as well as international and client secondments.
Perks: 25 days’ annual holiday, permanent health insurance, subsidised cafeteria, life insurance, lifestyle discounts and concierge service, contributory pension scheme, season ticket loan, staff introduction bonus, conveyance fees reimbursed for domestic conveyance.
Sponsorship:Full course fees for both the GDL and LPC, plus maintenance grants of £6,000 during your GDL study year and £7,000 through your LPC study year.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 120
Other fee-earners: 205
Total trainees: 50
Trainee places available for 2021: 25
Applications received pa: 700
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £43,000
Second year: £47,000
Newly qualified: £75,000
Apply to:Grace Ambrose, recruitment assistant.
When to apply:By 30 June 2019.
What's involved:Case study, interview and group exercise.
Summer:June and July 2019 (applications open on 1 November 2018 and close on 31 January 2019).