I'm interested in intellectual property - will I be guaranteed an IP seat during my training contract?
Yes - all trainees will sit in IP. This sets our training contract apart as most firms cannot guarantee an IP seat, even those with a strong IP practice. Our client secondments for trainees are usually to companies that have brands or technology at their core.
I like the sound of Bristows but I don't have a science background - does this matter?
No - don't be put off if you don't have a science degree. We are looking to recruit trainees who have strong academic records from a variety of academic backgrounds. A science background can definitely help for certain types of technology-based work, but Bristows is not just about technology. We have lawyers with all kinds of academic backgrounds in all departments of the firm, including our IP department. We have excellent teams across the board: in corporate; IT and data protection; real estate; commercial disputes; EU & competition; brands; regulatory; tax; & employment. The key to success at Bristows is an appetite for learning and an interest in working for clients in our target sectors, as well as a desire to be a first class lawyer.
Your website mentions client secondments. Do all trainees go on secondment?
Most trainees go on secondment for a three-month period during the course of the training contract. In the last couple of years, all trainees have done a client secondment, but we can't always guarantee this as it depends on how many clients need seconded trainees and on the structure of each individual's training contract.
Secondments are always to a UK client's in-house legal department, in or near London.
What is the retention rate like at the end of the two-year period?
Our retention rates are very good. Each trainee intake is small, and we invest a lot of time and energy in recruiting and training each individual so our aim is for them all to stay with us. It doesn't always work out, though, and on average there may be one person per year who doesn't stay at the end of the training contract.
When looking at retention, another important question is: what are the retention rates like further down the line? At many firms, the culture grinds people down, and high staff turnover is a fact of life. At Bristows, we pride ourselves on high staff retention, and it is pretty rare for our lawyers to leave to join other London firms.
How much responsibility do trainees get during their training contract?
Plenty - this is a particular feature of a training contract at Bristows. We recruit up to ten trainees in each trainee intake; this means that no trainee can get lost in a crowd - everyone has to make a real contribution. We want our trainees to be eager to take on responsibility, share their ideas and develop their skills.
Would I get feedback on my performance during the training contract?
Yes. You will have regular appraisals at the end of each seat and a more informal mid-seat appraisal as well as day-to-day feedback on the work you do - this is the best way to learn quickly. You will also have regular meetings with your allocated training partner throughout the two-year training contract.
If I accepted a training contract at Bristows, does the firm keep in touch before I start work?
Yes, we'll keep in touch with you with drinks and social activities plus an email network, but we won't hound you - we encourage social communication amongst year groups before they join the firm.
What sort of training programme does Bristows run?
We run an in-house training programme which covers both legal and professional skills training and we are also part of a training network set up with other firms.
The most important part of your training contract is on-the-job training and you will get plenty of this, either sharing a room with a partner or a senior associate.
I think I might want to take a year out. When is the best time to do this? Should I apply for a training contract and then defer?
If you want to take a year out, that's fine but we prefer our trainees to do so before starting Law School rather than between Law School and starting the training contract. If you think you want a year out, it is still worth applying to Law School to get a place and you can then defer the place at Law School. For a training contract, we prefer if you apply for the year when you want to start, rather than accepting a training contract and then asking to defer the start date.
I've already started my GDL/LPC. If I got a training contract would Bristows reimburse my fees?
Yes, we reimburse any fees for the GDL and LPC that you have already paid. We backdate the maintenance grant to the beginning of the month in which we offered you the training contract.
How does the selection process work - do you do psychometric testing or personality profiling?
Our selection process is straightforward and primarily interview based with an emphasis on the face to face assessment of individuals. All applications forms are reviewed personally by our graduate recruitment team. A selection of applicants are put forward for video interview and then these are reviewed by partners who will select candidates for interview. There is a first interview conducted by two partners and/or senior associates followed by a tour of the firm with one of the current trainees. Candidates for second interview are selected by partners and a further interview is normally held with two partners who are members of our Trainee Committee. Candidates will also be asked to undertake a written exercise.
We don't do psychometric testing or personality profiling - it's not our style.