Travers Smith (London)
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 Hog-Love.
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, Macquarieetc. If you're looking for great, hands-on experience at the corporate coal face, this should definitely be on your list.
Given the nature of the firm's practice it's no surprise that profits per partner have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the past couple of years. PEP in 2007/2008 was a record £810,000 - up well over a hundred grand on the previous year. A bit of a hammering in 2009 (with PEP slipping nastily down to a mere £470,000 - as the private equity market fell on its arse) has now been smoothly rectified and we're now almost back where we started. Travers Smith is again sailing smoothly forward.
Travers Smith claims that it will concentrate on its core areas and not over-expand. It's 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. Which sounds good, but expect to work hard here. Very hard. And whilst the pay may be decent, the bonuses are not that clever - you may well get the same basic as your peers at Macfarlanes, Ashurst and the like - but the lack of any "meaningful
" bonus means that "we do much worse than assistants at our competitors
Added to that, Travers is not a place for those looking for overseas experience (but then the lack of overseas offices is part of the reason for its strong profits). So what can tempt you through the door?
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 "full of fun and banter
". 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. Although associates have also said that the firm is highly media-savvy - which obviously helps with its friendly image.
On the downside? Well, one senior associate worried about morale in the office after "stealth layoffs
". Another suggested that the firm was "fast becoming two firms
", with "arrogant corporate t***s [who] consider themselves a cut above the rest
". What's more, there's a suggestion that the IT system could do with a reboot, and female employees (who perhaps "shouldn't be worrying their little heads with things like exercise or cycling to work
") only get two showers - whilst the smelly men get seven. This sad tale of ablution inadequacy seems to be reflected at the top of the firm, with the majority of the 50% female associate body not making it onto the notepaper (only about 10% of the partnership is female). Could do better.
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. Still our mid sized firm of choice.
For more information about Travers Smith, click here