Clyde & Co’s industry expertise guarantees it gets a front-row seat to major insurance disputes, and that’s not all that’s on offer at this growing commercial player.
Clyde & Co training contract review 2024
“Clyde’s practices all underpin global commerce,” said one trainee, getting straight to the point on why they were drawn to the firm in the first place. Shipping, energy, construction, transport, and aviation are a few of the sectors we’d single out, but it’s insurance that the firm is best known for. “We are well respected across the insurance industry,” said one interviewee, but that’s putting it mildly. The firm actually achieves the highest possible ranking in insurance and insurance disputes from Chambers Global. It’s important to note that Clyde & Co is very much a disputes-focused firm, so “this is a good place for trainees who want to practise in litigation.” The Chambers UK rankings reveal the firm’s prominence in the UK, with top marks in aviation, police law and professional discipline. The firm also has a lot of strength in clinical negligence, commodities, health and safety, infrastructure, shipping, and transport. You can view the firm’s many more regional rankings here.
“We represent all the major insurers.”
Coming back to that ‘global’ aspect, the firm has around 70 offices across Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and Europe. With 14 of those on UK soil, Clyde & Co pretty much has the length and breadth of the country covered. Of the 68 trainees who join each year, over two thirds are recruited into the London mothership. “The office is by Aldgate station,” trainees in the HQ explained. “It’s well connected and close to all the big insurers.” Handy! Manchester is the second biggest base, following the firm’s 2022 merger with insurance firm BLM, which was headquartered there. A few trainees were also dotted between the Edinburgh, Birmingham and Liverpool offices, while Glasgow and Belfast housed a single trainee each. The firm also has offices in Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton, Guildford, and Aberdeen. These don’t take trainees at the moment, but trainees do occasionally spend a seat in another office.
This year, Clyde & Co opened applications for the first round of its newly launched Paralegal Academy, which will offer an alternative route to the firm's casualty practice. Those who complete the 12-month scheme will then have the chance to qualify as a solicitor through the SQE route, continuing to work as a paralegal alongside their studies. While similar to an apprenticeship, the Academy is open to graduates with at least a 2:2, with the hope of attracting a diverse set of applicants with or without legal experience.
Seat allocation at Clyde & Co varies by office. In London, “we use an app called Roof. It’s supposed to be an AI computer algorithm that matches people based on preference." The firm also takes business need and uses the app as a starting point to allocate seats. Reviews were mixed, but we also heard the firm uses the app “to rate the seats out of ten for HR” to assess what’s going well. Pretty snazzy stuff. Outside the capital, “the trainee development team asks for your preferences, and you hear from them what you got – no fancy apps here!”
Trainees are of course very likely to have an insurance seat, and “there are a lot more casualty seats now since the BLM merger” – in fact, it’s likely that all trainees will complete two insurance seats during the course of their training contract. Competition for the transactional seats is a bit higher since there are fewer spots to go around. When it comes to secondments, some offices offer client secondments “to certain insurers.” Our sources felt that “the firm could do better at offering international secondment opportunities. It has been quite slow in opening secondments post-COVID.” London trainees can however apply for a seat in Dubai.
So, let’s dive into some of the seats! Marine, energy and natural resourcesis a good place to start. This team encompasses the firm’s work with prominent oil and gas clients and shipping practices. The shipping side deals with “all claims relating to ships and marines” – that’s insurance-related work around marine insurance and coverage issues, collisions, cargo claims, personal injury and shipbuilding. “I have my own caseload and work that I assist a partner on,” one trainee shared. “When working on ship collisions and accidents on board vessels, we need to obtain any CCTV records, and review and draft advice to the client.” Trainees also draft formal responses to other solicitors and assist with research and drafting briefs.In one high-profile matter you’re sure to know about, Clyde & Co is representing insurers of over $130 million worth of cargo in ongoing claims from the grounding of the Ever Given container ship in the Suez Canal back in 2021 (remember the memes?). Trainees might also get exposure to non-contentious matters, such as the sale and purchase of ships and advisory work in trade finance. “With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were a lot of queries on relationships with Russian entities and how to comply with sanctions,” said one trainee. “We do checks on the sanction status and review legislation that would impact the clients.”
“A mixture of detective and legal work.”
For a front-row seat to the epicentre of Clyde & Co, a stint in insuranceis the ticket. In the insurance financial professional disputes (IFPD) practice, trainees work on “larger-value and complex matters that have been running for several years.” As for the clients, “we represent all the major insurers,” including Zurich, AXA, Allianz, Hiscox, and AIG. In London, the seats are chunked up into various sub-groups which demonstrate the breadth of the practice. To name a few, there’s corporate insurance; work with financial institutions (known internally as FIDO); energy, engineering, marine and construction disputes; cybersecurity matters; property damage claims; and commercial litigation. “The day-to-day caseload is very varied,” trainees confirmed. For them, there was quite a bit of coverage analysis – analysing the extent of what an insurance policy covers. Trainees described it as “a mixture of detective and legal work.” Newbies we spoke to had been called on to source and review documents, liaise with expert witnesses and prepare expert reports, prepare defences, and assist in trial prep.
A seat in professionalnegligence sits under the insurance banner. It’s an area of particular strength for Clyde & Co, and trainees pointed out that “some of the best lawyers in this field work at our firm.” Here, the team defends accountants, construction professionals, and even law firms and lawyers in claims against their professional conduct. For example, Clyde & Co was one of the firms representing a partner at KPMG in a high-profile investigation by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) following the collapse of construction company Carillion. When acting for a law firm or lawyer, “you have to understand the matter the solicitor advised on,” one insider explained. “Sometimes you have to become an arbitration or tax expert in order to defend them.” Trainees were often conducting research on discrete points or procedures to check that they were complying with rules and regulations. “You also have to make sure documents are in order and make deadlines,” a trainee emphasised. “It’s administrative, but important.” The firm also acts for private clients and insurers in negligence and regulatory issues. Trainees attended trials and mediations, conducted corporate investigations and case law research, and wrote attendance notes.
The employment seat is one area where trainees can find non-contentious work, but there’s also tribunal litigation here. The department works on anything from cases of unfair dismissal and discrimination claims to whistle-blowing. “You prepare the bundles, attend the hearings, and draft skeleton arguments and pleadings,” one interviewee outlined. “You also do advisory work with clients asking questions about holiday and maternity pay.” That meant “lots of research” for trainees. The department also offers work on traditional employment matters such as contracts, apprenticeship agreements, disciplinary policies and investigations. Recognisable clients include UPS, Estée Lauder, University College London, and Which?
“Hundreds of files on accidents that occurred abroad.”
Just to give you an idea of the array of insurance work that Clyde & Co handles, here’s a snapshot of some other seat options. There’s the travel and tour operator liability team, which deals with“hundreds of files on accidents that occurred abroad. We would deal with it from the inception, getting evidence from the hotels, and going through the whole litigation process.” Trainees might do a seat in excess liability methods,dealing with enormous group claims stemming from product liability, natural and manmade disasters, and even things like the opioid crisis. In volume claims, trainees found themselves a lot of responsibility handling motor claims for insurers.“I have several dozen cases at different stages,” said one. “Sometimes I’m reviewing initial documents and creating a plan, preparing a defence, gathering evidence and expert reports, or preparing to settle claims.” Then there’s the catastrophic injury seat, where the firm defends insurers against claims relating to serious injuries, ranging in value “from a few thousands to millions of pounds.” In clinical negligence, the firm defends the NHS. “You do admin tasks, help with bundles, draft defences, correspond with medical experts, and attend client meetings, case management conferences, and mediations.”
Is the social life popping? As expected in a firm of Clyde & Co’s size, some offices are more sociable than others, though each have their own sports and social committee. Manchester sounded particularly buzzing according to interviewees: “The social committee hosts events at Paradise Skate World, Easter egg hunts with prizes, yoga classes on Thursdays, and there is a candy man who comes in on Wednesdays.” For sports lovers, the office takes part in sports leagues and has a netball team. They also arranged a ‘North British Social’ with their colleagues in the Liverpool office. Down in London, the biggest grumble we heard was that “the trainee social budget isn’t very generous,” but trainees still made the effort to get together for “drinks or dancing.”
“We have barristers coming in to deliver training.”
Trainees had lots to say about CSR and pro bono opportunities available. “We offer pro bono legal advice on various climate change issues, given our sector areas,” said one. “I have worked with an NGO giving advice to countries in the lead-up to big global meetings such as the COP27.” On the CSR side, Mancunians told us, “We collected for the Central Foodbank, and an organisation called Place2Be” – a children’s charity. Trainees up in Scotland had got involved with a community youth project in Edinburgh, and worked with Cash For Kids, an NGO to help children living in poverty. The firm has a couple of programmes working with students, including TutorMate to support students with reading and writing (“I read with someone every Friday!”) and the Schools Consent Project, whereby “you get training on teaching about sexual consent, and provide presentations on it” in schools.
In terms of formal training, trainees get sessions on topics such as time management. Given the firm’s focus on disputes, “we have barristers coming in to deliver training as well.” To gauge their progress and performance, “we get feedback every three months at the mid-seat and end-of-seat appraisals.” Day to day, trainees sitting with their supervisors can expect “feedback on the spot.” And on that note, “as a trainee you are encouraged to be in the office three or four days a week, but it’s quite team-dependent.”
In 2023, the firm kept on 42 out of 65 qualifiers. When the qualification process kicks off, trainees are asked to “put down two choices and submit a short application with your CV and appraisals, and then go for an interview with one of the partners.” Outside of London, some felt that “there is a lot of secrecy about qualifying, especially on wages.”
“We are not expected to be online at all times!”
Questions about compensation led to a mixed bag of answers. NQs in London are paid £80,000, which is in line with big City players; outside the capital, NQs in Manchester receive between £42,000 to £55,000, while those in Scotland get £40,000 to £42,000. NQ salaries for Bristol are undisclosed. “From a junior level, a lot of the attrition is based on salary and not being able to get the right NQ spots.” For others, “based on our market position, it’s no surprise that salaries are on the lower end. We feel the benefit in terms of work/life balance – we are not expected to be online at all times!” What is the expectation with hours, then? Among our interviewees, a standard day ran from 9.30am to 6pm. Across offices, trainees agreed: “The hours are really good.”
Clyde & pro bono: Trainees can credit up to 50 hours of pro bono towards their billable target.
How to get a Clyde & Co training contract
- Vacation scheme deadline: 4 January 2024
- Training contract deadline: 4 January 2024
If you're interested in learning more about Clyde & Co, apply for one of the firm's insight days. These days include an overview of the firm, presentations, development workshops, networking opportunities with the current trainees and plenty of application tips. Each Insight Day will follow a specific focus, whether it be on a practice the firm specialises in, commitment to increasing diverse representation in the profession, or the work it is doing to tackle Climate Change.
The firm's two Bright Futures programmes aim to support groups that are currently under-represented in the legal sector, by giving them the opportunity to experience life at an international law firm through interactive sessions and work shadowing. As part of the programme, students are assessed for a place on the vacation scheme the following year. Those that are offered will receive a mentor for that year, to prepare them for the vacation scheme.
The programmes are open to first-year law students and penultimate-year non-law students from lower socio-economic backgrounds via the Bright Futures - Access programme, and black heritage students via the Bright Futures - Black Talent programme.
The vacation scheme application form
Clyde & Co attracts around 1,500 applications for its vacation scheme each year and recruits for the training contract (40–45 spaces) exclusively through the vacation scheme. As part of the application process, candidates are asked to complete a short application form that includes their academics and work experience to date. After this, candidates complete a video interview that allows them to demonstrate their motivation for a career in commercial law, their commercial analysis, and what interests they have outside of academia. Our early careers sources explained, “It is important for applicants to highlight any transferable skills gained through work experience and extracurricular activities.”
Clyde & Co offers vacation schemes during the summer in London and Scotland. Once applications close, digital assessment scores are reviewed, and successful candidates are invited to a virtual assessment centre. As part of the assessment centre, candidates undertake a written exercise, group exercise, role play and a strengths-based interview with a legal director and senior associate.
Attendees spend one to two weeks sitting in one of the firm's departments. At the point of offer, vacation schemers rank three preferences detailing where they would like to sit over the two weeks. Trainees mentioned that the first few days “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-karting and cocktail making.
The academic criteria that Clyde & Co 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 PGDL (if applicable). Students should be aware that Clyde & Co 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,
Two New Bailey Square,
6 Stanley Street,
We’re home to some 5,500 people across more than 60 offices – that includes 2,400 lawyers. All of us share the same commitment to delivering exceptional client service. But we’re also individuals. People from different backgrounds, with different interests and different perspectives. Which we think makes Clyde & Co a very inspiring place to work.
We specialise in the sectors that move, build and power our connected world. Our presence in both developed and emerging markets has seen us become one of the fastest growing law firms in the world, with ambitious plans for further growth. Some of our sectors of expertise include Insurance, Aviation, Healthcare, Marine, Energy & Natural Resources, Drones and Climate Change.
We recruit for our training contracts exclusively through our vacation schemes. We offer training contracts in London/Guildford, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. These training contracts consist of 4x6 month seats. There are no compulsory or guaranteed seats, however, in London it is expected to complete one seat with our Insurance practice. In Bristol, we also offer non-rotational training contracts in our IFPD and Projects & Construction team. There are also opportunities to be seconded to our clients and our international offices.
Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024 for our London and Scotland Summer Vacation Schemes.
• Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme: Access. Aimed at first year law and penultimate year non-law social mobility students. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024. Programme dates: 8-12 April 2024.
• Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme: Black Talent. Aimed at first year law and penultimate year non-law students from a Black Heritage background. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024.
• Summer Vacation Scheme – 24th June – 5th July 2024. This vacation scheme is open to penultimate year law or final year non-law students.
• Training Contract 2025 – IFPD. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024. We are looking for those who are interested in IFPD. By August 2025 you will need to have completed your SQE. If you have not already completed this, Clyde & Co will enrol you onto the relevant courses starting September 2024. Therefore, law students will need to be in their final year, or have graduated, and non-law students will currently need to be completing their PGDL, ready to start the SQE next September.
• Training Contract 2025 – Projects & Construction. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024. We are looking for those who are interested in Projects & Construction. By August 2025 you will need to have completed your SQE. If you have not already completed this, Clyde & Co will enrol you onto the relevant courses starting September 2024. Therefore, law students will need to be in their final year, or have graduated, and non-law students will currently need to be completing their PGDL, ready to start the SQE next September.
Edinburgh & Glasgow:
• Summer Vacation Scheme 2024. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4th January 2024. 3 June – 14 June 2024. This vacation scheme is open to penultimate year law or final year non-law students.
Belfast & Derry:
• Belfast/Derry Traineeship 2024. Applications open on 18th September 2023 and close on 4 January 2024. Key requirements: 2:1 degree in any discipline; AAB A-Level or equivalent; An offer from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies IPLS) subject to securing a training contract.
Private Medical Insurance, Medical Health Checks, Dental Insurance, Pension Scheme, Life Assurance, Group Income Protection, Season Ticket Loans, Gym Subsidy, Cycle to Work Scheme, Online Benefits, Employee Assistance Programme and more.
We will be running a number of Insight Days throughout 2023/2024, and these will take place virtually and in-person. These are open to first year university students and upwards. Applications should be made via our website from 18th September 2023.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Construction: Contentious (Band 2)
- Construction: Non-contentious (Band 3)
- Employment: Employer (Band 2)
- Planning (Band 3)
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction (Band 1)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 4)
- Real Estate: £50-150 million (Band 2)
- Professional Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
- Construction (Band 3)
North East & Yorkshire
- Pensions (Band 4)
- Professional Negligence (Band 2)
- Construction (Band 3)
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Real Estate: £10 million and above (Band 4)
- Social Housing (Band 3)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
- Professional Negligence (Band 3)
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Employment (Band 2)
- Health & Safety (Band 2)
- Insurance (Band 2)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Product Liability (Band 1)
- Professional Discipline (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Construction (Band 4)
- Professional Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Information Technology (Band 2)
- Asset Finance: Aviation Finance (Band 4)
- Asset Finance: Shipping Finance (Band 3)
- Aviation (Band 1)
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
- Commodities: Physicals (Band 2)
- Health & Safety (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 5)
- Infrastructure: PFI/PPP (Band 2)
- Inquests (Band 2)
- Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance (Band 1)
- Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 4)
- Insurance: Volume Claims Spotlight
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 4)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Police Law: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
- Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 4)
- Professional Discipline (Band 1)
- Shipping (Band 2)
- Transport: Logistics (Band 2)
- Travel: International Personal Injury (Defendant) (Band 2)