Clyde & Co LLP - True Picture

When we Clyde we come together… at a litigation and insurance-focused firm with a global footprint and healthy work/life balance.

Clyde & Co training contract review 2021

The Firm

Each of the UK’s top 20 largest law firms by revenue has its own quirks and characteristics that help it stand out from the crowd, but Clyde & Co sits further apart than most. For a start, C&C is “weighted towards contentious work, and if you just want to do corporate law, this is the wrong place for you,” trainees said.Instead you’ll find rich pickings of energy, infrastructure, trade, transport and – most of all – insurance law. “The firm has a strong insurance bent and a lot of insurance seats, so it’s inevitable you’ll do at least one,” sources explained. “I knew I wouldn't have to sit in a finance or derivatives department like the corporate-focused magic and silver circle firms.”

NEW: Why is the legal profession shifting from practices to sectors?

Chambers UK slots the firm into the top tier for contentious insurance, reinsurance, aviation, personal injury, and police law nationwide. Professional negligence is another Clyde & Co specialism, with the firm earning top rankings in London, Thames Valley and the North West for this practice. Among the other Clyde standouts, it’s worth highlighting top billing for real estate in the South thanks to the Guildford office. “Interesting insurance work, diversity of cases and the ability to specialise early on” were a draw for many trainees.Others touted Clyde’s reputation for offering “a good work/life balance,” and were pleased to find this to be true in practice.

“The firm has a strong insurance bent and a lot of insurance seats, so it’s inevitable you’ll do at least one.”

In England, the firm recruits most trainees into its London office; Manchester also takes a few, and Northerners were pleased that “it’s not London or nothing.” Look beyond the shores of Blighty and you’ll find Clyde’s presence across Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia and the Middle East. The option “to do a seat abroad” appealed to some, though not every office offers a seat and Covid-19 may bring down the number that do for the time being (the firm hopes to return to its pre-pandemic overseas seatoffering when government guidelines allow). We also heard “there’s a thirst to keep growing the firm” larger still. Clyde & Co in space, perhaps?

“Trainees have to do one transactional seat to fulfil SRA requirements; otherwise, there are no compulsory seats.” Insurance departments are a likely destination for most, as there's a grand total of 30 insurance seats in London and Manchester at each rotation. There’s a twist in the tale for Londoners – they have to list one seat in the Guildford office as a preference each time. “It’s not mandatory to do a seat there, but it is mandatory to put one down and roughly half of us will have to go,” London insiders revealed. Before each rotation, trainees rank their choices from one to ten; where they go is calculated in part by a one-to-one meeting with the careers team, then finally by an algorithm through an app. “For the most part it seems to work, there haven’t been many disappointments,” trainees said. Sources also told us: “The majority of what’s offered in London is also available in Manchester,” though the Northern office is the better bet for healthcare casualty work. In most departments, each office has a distinct work stream (construction is an exception).

The Seats

Insurance at Clyde includes both litigious and non-contentious practices. Some of the seat options for trainees include aviation liability and finance, political risk, product liability, corporate insurance, and reinsurance and Bermuda form. Some of the world’s largest insurers including Zurich and Chubb are on the firm’s books – Clyde recently represented the former in a £32 million claim brought by oil and gas company Dana, for damage to an oil umbilical in the North Sea. The firm has also recently begun advising the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, a private company administering a compensation fund for victims of accidents caused by uninsured drivers.

One of the insurance seats on offer is speciality reinsurance and Bermuda form. The team helps insurers on “high-value excess liability,” coverage which is only triggered for big money claims. “It’s normally over £100 million before the excess liability kicks in,” according to our sources. Bermuda form insurance policies include unique terms, including their settlement by arbitration. Trainees told us the work in this seat “tends to be quite document-heavy. There are hundreds of underlying claims that make up a case, and it’s a trainee’s job to manage the documents going into the claim.” As well as document management, the department offers “more analytical tasks” including low-level drafting, expert and witness interviews and correspondence with counsel.

“There are hundreds of underlying claims that make up a case.”

Professional negligence is known at Clyde as financial institutions directors and officers, or FIDO. Yes, that does sound like a dog’s name, but you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think the practice is cuddly: “During this seat I’ve had more experience of what it’s like to be a qualified associate,” a trainee told us. “There’s some bundling, but I’ve drafted letters to clients and only done two solid days of doc review, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that bad!” The firm’s practice involves defending financial, legal, construction and insurance professionals who are being sued; a recent example was the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, defending a €6.5 million claim brought by investors after one of the firm’s clients dissolved.

Various different subgroups make up the sizeable aviation practice. Trainees complete a seat in the department as a whole, so could be getting involved in matters of various shapes and sizes – “it could be small aircraft or big cargo planes. It was a really good seat that I enjoyed a lot.” Though cases here can involve “a lot of file maintenance,” the role of a trainee includes a mix of drafting, research and document review as well as bundling. “Cases tend to cover multiple jurisdictions” by default, because that’s kind of the point of aeroplanes, “so you’re researching different discrete points of law.” Clyde keeps the names of its aviation clients hush-hush, but we can tell you a recent case involved a Commercial Court dispute between the seller and prospective purchaser of a Boeing 737 business jet, a $2.5 million battle for the deposit following the transaction’s collapse.

“…quite a lot of responsibility to see them through. Nine times out of ten you’re going to settle.”

Clyde & Co’s clinical negligence team practice encompasses industrial and occupational disease (“which comes up as ‘disease’ internally”).The firm almost exclusively represents defendants, including NatWest, RBS, Aviva and Wagamama. Trainees had dealt with “lots of asbestos-related claims, the department’s been so busy recently!” Other common cases range from noise-induced hearing losses to individuals claiming to have suffered medical incidents from colleagues’ workplace behaviour. For example, “a person claimed their heart attack was caused by bullying at work.” Trainees here tend to receive their own pre-litigation files, safe in the knowledge that most will reach settlement. “You get quite a lot of responsibility to see them through,” sources felt, but “nine times out of time you’re going to settle.” The clinical negligence practice also covers more typical medical malpractice claims for clients like the Royal Society of Arts, the Medical Protection Society and NHS trusts. Clyde & Co represented MPS in a potentially £1.2 million-valued claim alleging hip injuries following an operation.

To get an international or client secondment, trainees submit a CV and one-page letter putting forward a business case of “what you’d bring to the team, and how it will help you and the firm in future.” No pressure. There tend to be “six or seven international seats” available each time, often including Tanzania, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong, as well as “four or five client secondments.” Where there are more applications than positions available, the firm runs telephone interviews and chats with the partner overseas. Secondees said they enjoyed “a lot of responsibility. You run your own matters – with supervision – from beginning to billing.” Early responsibility was a theme across departments in the UK too: “Speaking with friends from other firms, we’re very much thrown into the deep end, which is great!”

Trainee Life

The much-touted work/life balance that comes with a Clyde & Co training contract can vary by department. Some trainees told us they were “leaving at 9 or 9.30pm on a few occasions,” and had “worked whole weekends and finished around midnight or 1am. That’s sometimes necessary during the week as well.” Others told a happier story: “I don’t tend to stay past 7pm unless something crazy is going down. The firm takes wellbeing quite seriously and will tell you to go home if they think you’re working too late.” That’s especially true of Manchester, where trainees usually finish “between 5.30 and 6pm.” A source there said they “had to stay late maybe two or three times, and that was only until 7pm.”

Some treated their healthy levels of spare time as a “trade-off” for a salary they described as “fine, but slightly below market rate” for a firm of Clyde’s size. Others were less impressed… “When a lot of young people are earning more money and working considerably fewer hours than you, it makes you think, ‘hmmm, okay.’” A £68,000 NQ packet in London is indeed one of the lowest of the UK top 20 firms (the firm did not disclose its NQ pay for Manchester). Interviewees did at least agree that Clyde’s hiring process brings quality people through the door: “I was initially attracted by the people here, and that’s not changed. The support available is excellent.” Sources added that overall, “colleagues are very friendly and senior lawyers don’t throw their weight around. Partners speak to you like you’re an actual person.” Where some firms have a graduate recruitment team in one office that monitors all trainees remotely, Clyde & Co has “someone based in Manchester as well as London, so there’s someone here to get to know you as a person. You don’t feel like an add-on.”

“Senior lawyers don’t throw their weight around. Partners speak to you like you’re an actual person.”

With a cohort of just five joining in Manchester each year, “you become closer as trainees in this office. It’s a very friendly office: because it’s open plan, you sit near partners and senior associates.” There’s a similar vibe in London: “I've worked directly with partners and head counsel in all my seats on a day-to-day basis. Everyone encourages me to ask questions and makes sure I feel comfortable.” Clyde & Co brings everyone in the UK offices together for quarterly drinks, and “inter-department socialsencourage a “good level of trainee ‘togetherness’. Every Friday it seems like there are drinks trolleys with 50 people from insurance alone.” Corporate is another standout on the social front, thanks partly to its annual ski trip.

An overly masculine tone to some activities did draw criticism. “There’s a lot of going to pubs and the football; I can’t imagine many of my female colleagues would like that too much,” a thoughtful male source noted. Despite some concerns about “a bit of an old boys' club,” female sources were happy to receive “the support of fellow women. Grad recruitment and the wider HR team are making changes which I’m confident will improve things.” Trainees had similarly mixed feelings about diversity more generally: some felt “the firm is actively learning and improving,” but others argued that “while Clyde may talk the talk, it doesn't take long to notice a lack of gender diversity in the partnership, and racial diversity full stop.” Open discussion of the Black Lives Matter protests, Pride events and a firm-wide email outlining the stress on Muslim colleagues during Ramadan were all popular steps, as was “active management of the less PC partners. The firm took stock and ran the training from top to bottom.” As for mental health concerns, trainees were once again split. The less happy voices in the cohort told us that “leadership is very keen to tell us to look after our mental health, but in no way backs this up with action.” On the other hand, some suggested “the firm is making an admirable effort regarding mental health.” The takeaway – Clyde has taken steps to address these systemic issues, but there’s still work to be done.

“The firm took stock and ran the training from top to bottom.”

Even our more critical sources were very happy with their choice to train at C&C: “My time here has been absolutely outstanding,” one concluded. “There are always going to be ups and downs, but it’s mostly been very positive and I’m looking to qualify here.” Some departments run interviews for NQ positions, depending on how many apply for each role. Clyde retained 36 of 40 qualifying trainees in 2020, with one fixed-term contract.

Home is where the work is.

Covid-19 slowed down some departments’ workstreams, but others like insurance remained busy; sources said that “the firm was good at moving trainees so that people weren’t stuck in a seat with nothing to do.”

How to get a Clyde & Co training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2021):  January 2021, opens October 2020

Training contract deadline (2023): Recruit exclusively through Vacation Scheme 2021

First steps

If you're interested in learning more about Clyde & Co, apply for one of the firm's insight days

Clydes' insight days, are for both law and non-law students at any stage of their degree and run from October 2020 to March 2021. The day includes an overview of the firm, presentations, development workshops, networking opportunities with the current trainees and plenty of application tips. Due to the ongoing COVID_19 pandemic, Clydes' insight days are taking place virtually via Zoom.

Clyde & Co also offers a first year programme, Bright Futures which will run in Spring 2021. This is for first year law students and second year non-law students.

Bright Futures is a nine month programme, including

• A week's work experience, for first year law and penultimate year non-law students.

• Aimed at students from lower socioeconomic status groups

• Experience your first taste of working in commercial law

• Develop your skills with our bespoke learning and development sessions

• Receive support and mentoring from our lawyers and early careers team

• Network at a variety of social events

• Fast-tracked through to a vacation scheme assessment centre.

The vac scheme and training contract application form

Step behind the scenes of Clyde & Co and experience what a career with us may look like. Clydes attracts around 1,000 applications for its vacation scheme each year and recruits for the training contract (40 – 50 spaces) through the vacation scheme. The firm highlights it as a useful means of getting to know the Clyde culture.

The online application form, , asks “three set questions, which test candidates on their career motivation, their commercial awareness and what interests they have outside of academia,” our graduate recruitment sources explained. “It's important for applicants to highlight any transferable skills gained through work experience and extracurricular activities.”

Vac scheme route

Clyde & Co offers vacation schemes during Summer (in London, Manchester, Scotland and Dubai). There are no online tests, so once applications are screened by the Early Careers team successful candidates are invited to an assessment centre day. These take place in early February and a maximum of eight candidates are invited to each one.  Candidates undertake a group exercise, as well as an interview with a member of the Early Careers team/HR and either an associate, a senior associate or a legal director.

Attendees spend two weeks sitting in one of the firm's departments. At the point of offer, vac schemers rank three preferences detailing where they would like to sit over the two weeks. Trainees mentioned that the first week “is spent getting to know the ins and outs of the department.” Vacation scheme students are allocated a supervisor, a trainee buddy and an associate mentor. They also have the opportunity to network across the firm as a variety of social events take place; in the past they've included the underground cookery school, go-carting and cocktail making.

Trainee profile

The academic criteria that Clydes sets is AAB at A level, a “strong” 2:1 degree (taking into account mitigating circumstances alongside the Rare contextualised recruitment system), and a commendation for the GDL (if applicable) and LPC. Students should be aware that Clydes takes a holistic approach to applications and it is important to showcase your ambitions to becoming a lawyer.

Clyde & Co LLP

The St. Botolph Building,
138 Houndsditch,

  • Partners 440*
  • Associates: 1,800*
  • Total trainees: 93*
  • UK offices: London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Guildford, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow plus various international offices
  • Overseas offices: 53 offices and associated offices globally
  • *denotes worldwide figures 
  • Contacts  
  • Graduate Team:, 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 
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2020
  • Vacation scheme 2021 deadline: 3rd January 2021
  • Open day deadline: Rolling
  • Salary and benefits 
  • First-year salary: £38,000 (London), £24,500 (Manchester)
  • Second-year salary: £40,000 (London), £26,500 (Manchester)
  • Post-qualification salary: £68,000 (London)
  • Holiday entitlement: 25 days
  • Sponsorship 
  •  LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: £8,000 (London), £7,000 (outside of London)
  • International and regional 
  • Offices with training contracts: Manchester, MEA and Edinburgh
  • Overseas seats: Dar es Salaam, Hong Kong, MEA Client secondments: Various, including Deloitte & Willis

Firm profile
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 in our London and Manchester offices each year, during which students join us for two weeks and 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 for a day in the office to gain insight into the culture and work of the firm.

Training opportunities
We recruit for our training contract exclusively through our vacation scheme. We offer training contracts in London, Manchester 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.

Vacation scheme
• Applications open on 1st October 2020 and close on 3rd January 2021. Applications screened on a rolling basis so early application advised
• Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme (22nd – 26th March 2021). Aimed at first year law and second year non-law social mobility students
• Summer 1 Vacation Scheme – 14th - 25th June. Aimed at penultimate year law students
• Summer 2 Vacation Scheme – 5th -16th July. Aimed at penultimate year law students
• Summer Vacation Scheme 20th -31st July. Aimed at penultimate years and above

Other benefits
Life assurance, private healthcare, cycle to work schemes, gym, dental insurance, pension scheme, restaurant, employee assistant programme, childcare vouchers, season ticket loans, online benefits, etc.

Insight days and first-year opportunities
We will be running a number of Insight Days throughout 2020 and 2021 in both our London and Manchester offices. These are open to first year university students and upwards. Applications should be made via our website from 1st October 2020. 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. Due to the ongoing COVID_19 pandemic, Clyde & Co insight days are taking place virtually via Zoom.

University law careers fairs 2020
Clyde & Co will be attending the Legal Cheek and All About Law fairs this year.

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
    • Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
    • Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
    • Construction: Contentious (Band 3)
    • Construction: Non-contentious (Band 2)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Planning (Band 3)
    • Professional Negligence: Financial (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence: Insurance (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence: Legal (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Pensions (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Professional Negligence (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 3)
    • Health & Safety (Band 2)
    • Product Liability (Band 1)
    • Professional Discipline (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 4)
    • Professional Negligence (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Information Technology (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Asset Finance: Aviation Finance (Band 4)
    • Asset Finance: Shipping Finance (Band 3)
    • Aviation (Band 1)
    • Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
    • Commodities: Physicals (Band 2)
    • Commodities: Trade Finance (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas (Band 4)
    • Health & Safety (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Infrastructure: PFI/PPP (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Volume Claims (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 4)
    • Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
    • Police Law: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
    • Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 4)
    • Professional Discipline (Band 4)
    • Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 4)
    • Retail (Band 4)
    • Shipping (Band 2)
    • Transport: Logistics (Band 2)
    • Travel: International Personal Injury (Defendant) (Band 3)