You'll find practices beyond the classic corporate sphere at BLM, where insurance risk and commercial law take centre stage.
BLM training contract review 2022
“Rather than a standard corporate/commercial firm, I was more interested in the work that BLM does,” one trainee immediately recalled. It’s BLM’s insurance offering that this interviewee was referring to – if it touches on insurance, you can be sure BLM will have a dedicated practice for it. As such, the firm’s client list is populated by major insurers (and the hefty household names they insure), for whom BLM deals with issues from road traffic accidents and property damage, through to catastrophic injuries and clinical negligence. These focuses drew trainees to the firm and are supported by the firm’s impressive UK-wide Chambers UK rankings for professional discipline, personal injury, police law, insurance, and health & safety.
Trainees also appreciated the “range of litigation seats offered in different areas and sectors” at the firm. One trainee noted: “I knew I really liked litigation and personal injury work, but I wanted to experience different types as well, and have access to caseloads in other areas of litigation.” Beyond its well-known personal injury-related practices, trainees have the opportunity to do seats in areas like fraud, inquests & regulatory, public sector, and family law (as well as a couple of transactional seats like commercial real estate).
As well as its range of seats, BLM has a number of offices to be reckoned with. The firm has 13 offices across the UK and Ireland, connecting the country from as north as Edinburgh to as south as Southampton. Not to mention, the firm also gains recognition from Chambers UK in each of its regions – find the full breakdown in the ‘Firm Rankings’ tab above. At the time of research, the London and Manchester bases took the largest pool of trainees (seven each), while Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Southampton took one to three newbies each.
Seat options differ slightly depending on office, with a wider variety available in bigger offices such as London and Manchester. “Smaller offices have a more limited choice, and some of these can be quite specialised. For example, Bristol and Southampton have areas like marine insurance.” Sources added “there is scope to do a seat in another office,” though most agreed this wasn’t a common occurrence. As such, it’s worth doing your homework on which offices offer which seats before applying.
Trainees are typically allocated their first seat by the firm, then for subsequent seats the firm provides a list of available seats (across all offices) to choose from. Trainees then rank their top three preferences, which are taken into consideration for that rotation. The firm also offers semi-regular client secondments, one of which is to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
“…minor accidents in the workplace up to serious brain injuries, fractures, and psychological damage.”
The firm’s casualty team deals with a variety of multi-track personal injury matters from the angle of employer liability or public liability. Clients here are often big insurers, but also include major companies and public sector entities (a sample of the broad range includes AIG, Asda, Thames Valley Police, TK Maxx and multiple county councils). In a recent case, the team acted for the first defendant and his insurer, Direct Line, in a claim arising out of a road traffic accident in North Yorkshire where the defendant lost control of the vehicle due to black ice. The claimant was the front seat passenger, who suffered a severe brain injury as a result of the accident. BLM brought an additional claim on behalf of the defendant against North Yorkshire County Council alleging breach of their duty to ensure safe passage along that road. Interviewees came across a variety of injuries, from “minor accidents in the workplace up to serious brain injuries, fractures, and psychological damage.” For trainees, this often meant “getting stuck into medical evidence,” “locating relevant experts in the field,” “arranging and attending conferences with counsel and experts,” and “drafting applications.” Trainees were also able to “assist with drafting advice to clients” from time to time.
In healthcare, the team covers both clinical negligence claims as well as the more regulatory aspects of healthcare. The latter often revolved around matters where “healthcare professionals are being investigated by regulators for professional discipline matters,” as well as representing healthcare professionals at inquests. The team recently acted for Care UK as a prison healthcare provider in a case revolving around an alleged breach of the Human Rights Act brought by a family member of the deceased prisoner. On these types of matters, trainees would usually attend telephone conferences with healthcare professionals, and help prepare for GMC hearings or other investigations. On clinical negligence claims, the team does solely defendant work. The team regularly works for Medical Protection, and most recently acted for them in a wrongful birth claim where the defendant GP admitted giving negligent advice regarding a blood test result. The claimant then became pregnant and gave birth to a child who suffered from haemophilia and autism. For trainees, the day to day on clin neg claims involved “drafting letters to the CRU [Compensation Recovery Unit], drafting instructions to experts, reviewing medical records and drafting chronologies of medical records.” Some sources were also able to “attend video meetings to do with taking witness statements.” The work here was pretty similar to the work in the firm’s professional indemnity team, except rather than healthcare professionals, the team works on “claims brought against accountants, financial advisors, solicitors, architects etc.”
During their stint in property damage, sources came across a variety of claims, from workmanship to fire or water damage. Sources also dealt with some “wider-scale problems on housing development projects.” Trainees were regularly given their own caseloads in this seat, which usually “consisted of small claims under £10,000.” As such, trainees appreciated being able to “see cases from their inception to conclusion.” This included tasks like “reviewing expert evidence from engineers and other technical disciplines” as well as “advising on whether a claim was covered under a specific insurance policy.”
Occupational disease covers an array of issues including “asbestos-related diseases, occupation-related asthma, hearing loss, and employment-related repetitive strain injuries.” The team recently acted for the Ministry of Defence in securing a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a former soldier who had filed a claim against the MoD, alleging he had acute acoustic trauma due to the explosion of a practice grenade, which subsequently led to him being discharged from the army. As a trainee, one source felt they’d had “good exposure to everything – I did work on every type of disease.” The general day-to-day tasks were pretty similar to those in the clinical negligence-type areas, which included “day-to-day running of files, drafting updates to clients, and reviewing various documents.” According to our survey, the level of client contact was slightly lower than average, but most found the work itself to be interesting and felt their legal skills progressed while in this seat.
“Sometimes if you’re working closely with a lawyer, you might be drafting the brief for trial as well.”
Given the prominence of insurance throughout the firm’s work, there is also a team (and seat) dedicated to fraud. The team steps in when there is a claim suspected of being fraudulent. “We deal with lots of motor fraud claims, passenger claims, and other various suspicious claims, which we investigate from the early stages.” The team also come across travel sickness claims and property damage matters. Oftentimes this could go all the way up to trial, “which can be quite exciting!” As with many of the firm’s areas of work, most clients are confidential, but in one matter the team worked on a low-speed impact case for the defendant, where the claimant claimed the incident resulted in injury to his back and neck. In this investigative area, interviewees would typically get stuck into things like instructing counsel, attending conferences with counsel, disclosure exercises and assessing the quality of evidence, and drafting witness statements. One source added: “Sometimes if you’re working closely with a lawyer, you might be drafting the brief for trial as well.”
Conversations about firm culture revolved around the relationships between partners and trainees: “In every seat, I’ve worked closely with partners. It’s not a place where you can’t talk to them.” Sources admitted things had been “hard due to being at home for the last year,” but at the same time trainees “never felt awkward or found it difficult to approach anyone.” Although this was consistent across all offices, some found that the level of socialising differed depending on location. In Birmingham, sources noted “the office itself doesn’t have that many social events, besides Christmas parties and the occasional charity get together.” Beyond those, it’s “up to trainees to organise things among ourselves.” In Manchester, interviewees appreciated that “even with Covid, they did make the effort to do social things” – virtually, of course. “We had weekly ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ and did quizzes after work.”
Other firm events and news revolved around its diversity and inclusion efforts. “Over the last couple of years, there seems to have been a real push. We get a lot of communication about the new EDI [Equity, Diversity & Inclusion] group.” In a recent communication, the firm “sent around an email inviting people to use pronouns in their email signatures to normalise that practice.” In terms of representation, sources did admit that the firm “lacks racially diverse employees,” though largely praised the gender split.
“It’s not a firm where you routinely see a packed office after 5pm on a Friday.”
For the most part, trainees described “quite standard, nice hours” within the realms of 9am to 6pm. “It’s not a firm where you routinely see a packed office after 5pm on a Friday,” one confirmed. Naturally, the hours varied slightly depending on the seat; interviewees flagged areas like professional indemnity and property damage as having slightly longer hours. However, sources felt “on the whole, BLM is good for work hours and work-life balance.” On compensation, most agreed “it’s probably lower than what you would expect from firms of a similar standing,” leaving some feeling it is “out of step with market.” That said, one interviewee felt “the work-life balance is good, so I don’t mind the trade-off.”
When it’s time for trainees to qualify, the firm will send around an email with NQ positions “as and when the teams decide they need an NQ.” The staggered release of jobs meant it felt like “a bit of a waiting game” for those hoping for a particular role, but as soon as one of interest pops up, trainees can apply with their CV and an application form. “Last year retention wasn’t very good because of Covid, which is probably why they brought jobs out earlier this year to try and improve it.” Last year, BLM retained just under 50% of its qualifiers, compared to this year where it retained 62% (12 out of 21 qualifiers).
Training contract deadline (2024): 24April 2022
Application form and online testing
The online application form asks for standard academic and work experience info, as well as posing a few more pointed questions. Expect a question on why you want to join BLM, and something to test your commercial awareness. The firm received around over 2,000 initial applications in 2018.
After an initial sift of these applications, candidates participate in the second stage, which consists of an online Watson Glaser critical thinking test. The test is designed to assess your ability to logically analyse, deduce and interpret information – all skills that will be used during your training contract and future career.
The firm's assessment centre comprises a strengths-based interview with a partner and recruiters; a written scenario question; and an individual presentation. Around 50 candidates make it through to this stage per application round.
For the presentation, candidates are sent the title a week in advance – expect it to be something related to the firm itself.
The recruitment process for the vacation scheme and the training contract is the same. Those who choose to take the vacation scheme route will not have to complete any further assessments after the placement, and instead will be made an offer for a training contract based on the feedback from their two weeks at the firm.
BLM re-launched its vac scheme in 2016. In 2017 the scheme was expanded and now lasts two weeks and is available in several of the firm's offices. The firm aims for around half of trainees to be recruited via the vac scheme.
Vac schemers spend their time sitting with current trainees and can express an interest as to which team they'd like to spend time with. As well as work experience there will be networking events, social events and on the last day an informal final meeting, which is more of a chat to address outstanding questions rather than an interview.
Who fits the bill?
The current trainee group hails from a diverse range of universities, from the Russell Group to plate-glass and post-1992 institutions. There's a good 60/40 female/male split in the trainee group (which you would expect given two-thirds of LPC grads are women).
All our interviewees had a notable maturity to them – none expected or wanted hand-holding from the firm. BLM trainees also need to be stress-resistant as a lot can be thrown at them in the course of a week – for example, you might need to drop everything to attend a trial and have to do the work you were planning for that day another time. Trainees are supporting dozens of cases at any one time, so being good at planning is vital. Oh, and some knowledge of the insurance industry won't hurt either.
BLM has something of a history of recruiting trainees from its own paralegal pool and hiring individuals who've paralegalled elsewhere. Given the sensitive and complex nature of the work and the requirement that trainees handle their own caseload, this makes sense. However, our sources noted a rise in external recruitment in recent years. So if you don't have paralegal experience, but are still keen on BLM, it's worth applying now more than ever.
One thing to note for those who do have paralegal experience: BLM doesn't encourage its trainees to qualify early with time to count. “It's not a blanket no, but we don't promote it,” says emerging talent manager Matt Akin. “We see our training contract as a valuable learning experience, and we don't want to devalue the two-year contract by making it a tick-box exercise.” In circumstances where trainees have been given time to count, it has been based on business need.
Clyde & Co LLP
The St. Botolph Building,
- Partners 440*
- Associates: 1,800*
- Total trainees: 93*
- UK offices: London, Manchester, Newcastle, Guildford, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow plus various international offices
- Overseas offices: 53 offices and associated offices globally
- *denotes worldwide figures
- Graduate Team: email@example.com, 0207 876 5555
- Training partner: James Major
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 35-45
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or equivalent
- Minimum UCAS points: 340
- Minimum A levels: AAB (mitigating circumstances and Rare contextual recruitment system considered)
- Vacation scheme places pa: 60
- Dates and deadlines
- Winter Vacation Scheme deadline: 1st November 2021
- Spring / Summer Vacation Scheme deadline: 2nd January 2021
- Vacation scheme opens: 27th September 2021
- Open day deadline: Rolling
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £40,000 (London), £25,500 (Manchester), £21,400 (Scotland)
- Second-year salary: £42,000 (London), £28,500 (Manchester), £23,400 (Scotland)
- Post-qualification salary: £70,000 (London), Competitive (Manchester), £36,400-£37,500 (Scotland)
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant pa: £8,000 (London), £7,000 (outside of London)
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: London, Manchester, MEA, Glasgow and Edinburgh
- Overseas seats: Dar es Salaam, Hong Kong, MEA Client secondments: Various, including Deloitte & Willis
Clyde & Co is a leading, sector-focused global law firm with 440 partners, 1800 lawyers, 2500 legal professionals and 4000 staff in over 50 offices and associated offices worldwide. The firm specialises in the sectors that move, build and power our connected world and the insurance that underpins it, namely: transport, infrastructure, energy, trade and commodities and insurance. With a strong focus on developed and emerging markets, the firm has achieved compound average annual revenue growth of 13% over the last ten years, making it one of the fastest growing law firms in the world with ambitious plans for further growth. We view diversity and inclusion as critical to the international nature of our business and have created a working environment where people from different backgrounds can flourish. We run a number of vacation schemes each year, during which students join us to learn about the firm and how the law is applied to our core sectors. We also run Bright Futures – a nine month programme aimed at first year law and second year non law students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – and insight days during which students join us to gain insight into the culture and work of the firm.
We recruit for our training contract exclusively through our vacation schemes. We offer training contracts in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The training contract consists of 4x6 month seats. There are no compulsory or guaranteed seats. Seats are chosen on a rolling basis. There are opportunities to second to our clients, our international offices and our Guildford office. We also offer training contracts in MEA. These are 4x6 month seats between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in corporate, employment, construction, IP/commercial and dispute resolution. International secondments to UK offices are available. We also offer training contracts in Hong Kong. International secondments to UK offices available.
• Applications open on 27th September 2021 and close on 1st November for our winter scheme, and 2nd January 2022. Applications are screened on a rolling basis so early application advised
• Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme. 9 months mentoring starting February 2022 with a week of work experience from 11th – 15th June 2022. Aimed at first year law and second year non-law social mobility students
• Winter Vacation Scheme –06th – 10th December 2021. Aimed at final year undergraduate students onwards
• Spring Vacation Scheme – 04th – 14th April 2022. Aimed at penultimate year undergraduate law students onwards
• Summer Vacation Scheme – 6th – 17th June 2022. Aimed at penultimate year undergraduate law students
Life assurance, private healthcare, cycle to work schemes, gym, dental insurance, pension scheme, restaurant, employee assistant programme, season ticket loans, online benefits, etc.
Insight days and first-year opportunities
We will be running a number of Insight Days throughout 2021 and 2022, and these will take place virtually. These are open to first year university students and upwards. Applications should be made via our website from 27th September 2021. Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme (1 week). The day includes an overview of the firm, presentations, development workshops, networking opportunities with the current trainees and plenty of application tips.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Professional Discipline (Band 1)