It's “growth, growth, growth” on all fronts at Clyde & Co – new offices, a growing headcount, more trainees and two decades of continuous revenue rise.
Into the Clyde blue yonder
Bristol, Orange County, Los Angeles, Mexico, Kuwait, Chicago, Washington DC, Düsseldorf, Miami. No, we're not listing extensive, if slightly arbitrary plans for a gap year of travelling. Those are actually all the new offices Clyde & Co has opened in the past two years alone, and it's a lot. We haven't even mentioned the new associated offices. “We've grown exponentially recently,” one source exclaimed, “and we're still growing.” The firm reported its 20th consecutive year of revenue growth in 2018.
“There's been a lot of emphasis on growing the US."
The US seems to be getting the most attention – on top of the new offices, the firm recently snatched up a team of 15 partners and 30 other lawyers from collapsed US insurance firm Sedgwick. Trainees had certainly noticed: “There's been a lot of emphasis on growing the US. English firms can find it hard to break into America, but we've done it along the insurance line. Now we can branch out and cross-sell to other sectors.”
Find out more about Professional and financial disputes at Clyde & Co
Indeed, insurance is one of Clydes' main specialities, and Chambers UK awards it top-tier rankings for contentious insurance claims, reinsurance and volume claims – and the insurance practice is ranked by Chambers Global too (along with shipping and construction). As one trainee put it: “Look at pretty much any big loss in the past 30 years, whether it's a plane crash or stadium collapse, and Clyde & Co has been on it.” It was often the firm's sector focus which initially attracted trainees: “It was the shipping practice I was interested in,” said one source. “It's one of the biggest.” (160 lawyers in the UK as a whole.) Other sources leant towards areas like aviation, international arbitration and construction (all get kudos from Chambers UK, as do other areas). Trainees were also attracted by the firm's litigation focus – one interviewee estimated that 80% of seats are in contentious teams.
Insure or go?
At the time of our calls, there were ten trainees in Manchester, eight in Guildford and eight on international secondment, with the rest in London (around 60). Manchester has its own trainee intake, while Guildford doesn't and London trainees often have to do a seat in Surrey at some point. At each seat rotation, one of trainees' four preferences has to be a Guildford option, which drew a few grumbles from our interviewees. “In general people want to avoid Guildford,” one source said. “It's quite far away. A lot of people come to a City firm to be in the City.” We'd add that Guildford is actually only 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo and that trainees also said you can do “great work there” on “high-value cases” for “amazing clients.” Trainees rank their other seat preferences in order, and interviewees praised the relatively new graduate recruitment team for “hugely improving the organisation and structure of seat rotations.” Some still felt “more transparency on the actual decision-making process” wouldn't hurt.
“An insurer wanting to sell part of their business.”
Clydes' contentious insurance work covers an array of areas, including marine, international trade, cyber-liability, energy, healthcare and employment. Trainees can do a specific seat in one of these areas, e.g. marine, property and liability, or casualty and healthcare. On large or long-running cases trainees found their work to be quite “doc review heavy,” but they also got the chance to work on smaller matters – for instance stress, harassment and disease claims in the healthcare seat – sometime running cases themselves. This means “drafting witness statements, attending conferences and meetings, and drafting responses to the other side.” A recent shipping case saw the firm act for Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance as insurers of the cargo of the 'Maersk Tangier', which was damaged on board ship. On the healthcare side the firm represented an NHS trust in an inquest and a clinical negligence claim related to a care home patient who died of a perforated ulcer.
The corporate insurance team essentially deals with non-contentious issues for insurance companies. This could mean “an insurer wanting to sell part of their business or buy part of another,” or “working on the insurance aspects of M&A deals,” or “conducting regulatory research.” Interviewees told us they'd been handling “quite a few data protection matters, what with GDPR happening.” Trainees had also “drafted commercial contracts, which included reviewing and negotiating them.” The team recently advised on the $4.9 billion merger of Canadian insurer Fairfax with Switzerland's Allied World, ensuring all UK regulatory approvals were completed. It also worked for the founders of Sabre Insurance, a car insurer which sells policies to riskier drivers, on its £600 million IPO. Trainees in this seat do a mix of typical tasks like drafting ancillary documents and researching regulations, along with more substantive tasks like “drafting parts of share purchase agreements and documents registering an insurance company,” as well as attending client meetings and liaising with lawyers in other countries.
The professional and financial disputes team (PFD for short) is one of the firm's biggest with around 130 lawyers according to trainees. It covers professional negligence defence work for professionals such as solicitors, accountants and builders and advises on insurance coverage issues. Some sources felt “you get more traditional trainee tasks in this seat because of the scale of the matters.” This means a fair bit of bundling and collating documents for disclosure. However, others felt responsibilities “depended on who you worked with.” Some had “prepared first drafts of advices, proofs of evidence and witness statements,” or “drafted letters of claim and settlement agreements.” The group's client roster includes magic circle and other law firms and their insurers, as well as top barristers and big accountancy firms. The team recently defended criminal silk Michael Wolkind in a Bar Standards Board hearing over his behaviour in a murder trial and acted for a vet accused of striking a dog.
“Major airlines as well as aviation insurers.”
Trainees doing a seat in the firm's aviation group can cover either the contentious/liability side or the non-contentious/finance work. The former is to do with “everything that goes wrong in aviation,” as one source put it – “it can be a whole range of things, from aircraft damage to cargo claims to personal injury claims.” The team acts for “a lot of major airlines as well as aviation insurers.” These include Emirates, easyJet, Air France, Allianz, Chubb, and AIG. Non-contentious work involves “drafting all of the documents required to buy, sell, or lease an aircraft,” as well as regulatory advice on things like slot agreements at airports. On the contentious side the team recently advised the liability insurer in claims related to the 2016 crash of a charter flight carrying Brazil's Chapecoense football team – the crash killed nearly all the players. Closer to home, the team advised on claims by a pilot for breach of contract regarding health insurance, following the suspension of their licence on medical grounds.
In the real estate, projects and construction seat trainees get stuck into “drafting leases, drafting reports on titles, investigating titles, drafting collateral warranties, and providing contractual advice.” Sources felt that “you can get involved with a lot because there are a lot of lower-value things you can do as a trainee.” This means “lots of client contact – I was liaising with clients right from the outset of the matters.” These clients could be anyone from housing developers to contractors for commercial building and infrastructure projects – “working on a skyscraper in the City or something!” There's also some contentious stuff in the form of adjudications and arbitrations, which means tasks like bundling and “helping to prepare witness statements” crop up too. The team recently acted for the private company Associated British Ports in negotiations with the Welsh Government over the construction of the Newport M4 relief road through Newport Port, which is owned by ABP. The team also advised property developer and investor Urban & Civic on the development of a 351-apartment block in Manchester.
Clyde & Co offers numerous secondments, both to overseas offices and clients. At the time of our calls there were trainees in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Dar es Salaam. “You normally have to prepare a business case of why you want to go abroad, then some offices interview candidates as well.” Sources reckoned: “If you haven't had experience in a seat related to the area of law in that office, the likelihood of you going is lower.” They also emphasised that “going abroad is not guaranteed.” However, those that had gone said it was “a very smooth process” and that the firm “organises everything for you” in terms of flights, accommodation and even the taxi from the airport.
The social network
Many interviewees reckoned: “The firm is very sociable because of the markets it works in – the insurance sector is probably the most sociable sector that exists!” This translates into “spontaneous drinks with the team” or “trainees going to the pub together” quite often. Sources also revealed: “We're constantly invited to client events, whether that's talks or drinks.” There's a Thursday bar “on the top floor of the building” where the first drink is free, then any following drinks are subsidised. Outside of drinking, the firm also has various sports teams to get involved with and occasional networking lunches. One source highlighted a more happy-go-lucky trainee social: “One time we went to a 'Total Ninja' soft play type thing.”
Despite the abundance of socialising, trainees emphasised that “equally, people understand you have a life beyond the firm.” As such, Clydes' hours are marginally better than those at many of its big City counterparts, described by trainees as “not horrendous.” Most sources said they got in between 8.30am and 9.30am, and left between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on average. There are periods when “you have to do what needs to be done,” resulting in a couple of late nights (midnight or 1am). When it comes to salary, trainees admitted: “It's not the worst, but it's not the best either. It can be a bit of a contentious topic, given the size of the firm and the calibre of the work.” Others found the salary reasonable given “we get a better deal on our work/life balance – it's worthwhile making that trade.”
“We're two minutes from Shoreditch.”
The London office is split between two buildings across the road from each other, one more distinctly coloured than the other. “One is relatively new and shiny, and bright blue,” said a trainee. “It has a big canteen and a roof terrace with a 360-degree view over the City. The other building is slightly more dated, with a smaller canteen.” Sources praised the location for being “on the edge of the City – we're two minutes from Shoreditch, which is great.” The Guildford office was described as being “like a big old Victorian house” and “not as flashy as London, but it has everything you need.” It's ten minutes' walk from the station, though “many people there drive to work so they can go back and see their family.” The Manchester office is also currently spread over two buildings, though we heard rumours this could be changing.
When qualification rolls around, the process usually starts with the firm publishing a jobs list. We heard things didn't work quite like this in 2018 with one source saying "info was given in a one to one with the grad recruitment team" and another commenting: "You know if you're in the running by speaking to the relevant partners." Trainees rank their preferences in order, then submit an application with CV and copies of prior appraisals. This is followed by interviews, if required. Some practices, like employment, are more competitive to qualify into than others, and in some cases “four or five people might be applying for one NQ position.” Those going through the process at the time of our calls generally felt “hopeful, but not certain by any means.” Retention is usually pretty solid, around 80%, and in 2018, Clydes kept on 40 of 46 qualifiers.
The firm has an art committee which “supports local and upcoming artists” – art is displayed in the office, auctioned off and the artists even get free legal advice.
How to get a Clyde & Co training contract
Training contract deadline (2021): 31 July 2018 (opens 1 October 2018)
If you're looking to register your interest in Clydes early, apply for one of the firm's open days or its Bright Futures Programme, which runs between December 3rd and 7th 2018.
Those who make it onto the programme shadow a lawyer in their department of choice and also receive guidance from a trainee mentor. A variety of social events are also scheduled, and those who impress most might get fast tracked onto the vacation scheme.
Clydes' open days, meanwhile, are for both law and non-law students at any stage of their degree and run from January 2019. The day includes an overview of the firm, presentations, workshops, mingling opportunities with the current trainees and plenty of application tips.
The vac scheme and training contract application form
Clydes attracts around 1,000 applications for its vacation scheme each year, and roughly 2,000 for the training contract (of which there are between 40 and 50 on offer). The firm recruits most of its trainees through the scheme, and highlights it as a useful means of getting to know the Clyde culture – applicants are therefore encouraged to take this route.
The online application form, which is accompanied by a cover letter, 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 spring (London only) and summer (in London, Manchester, Scotland and Dubai). There are no online tests, so once applications are screened by the graduate 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. The lucky few undertake a group exercise, as well as an interview with a member of the graduate 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.
Direct training contract applications
Those who wish to submit a direct application for a training contract have until 31 July 2019 to apply. Once screened by the graduate team, successful applicants are invited to an assessment centre day. These require candidates to complete a group exercise based on a commercial case study; two in-tray exercises based on scenarios that trainees typically face; and an hour-long interview with two partners. The in-tray exercises include a written assessment and a prioritisation/organisational task.
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. Law students should be aware that Clydes pays “close attention to the black letter law subjects such as contract and tort law.” We were also told that “the firm looks for well-rounded individuals, so it's important that candidates demonstrate their interests/hobbies outside of academia.”
Becoming a financial disputes lawyer
Clyde & Co LLP
The St. Botolph Building,
- Partners 415*
- Associates 1,800*
- Totaltrainees 73*
- UK offices: London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Guildford, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow plus various international offices
- Overseas offices: 50 offices and associated offices globally
- *denotes worldwide figures
- Graduate team, [email protected], 0207 876 5555
- Training partner: Edward Mills-Webb
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 45-50
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or other
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: 340
- Vacation scheme places pa: 60
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 1 October 2018
- Training contract deadline, 2021 start: 31 July 2019
- Vacation scheme applications open: 1 October 2018
- Vacation scheme 2019 deadline: 6 January 2019
- Open day deadline: Rolling
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £38,000 (London), £26,000 (Manchester)
- Second-year salary: £40,000 (London), £28,000 (Manchester)
- Post-qualification salary: £63,000 (London)
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant pa: £7,000 those studying in London & £6,000 those studying outside of London
- International regional
- Offices with training contracts: Manchester, MENA and Hong Kong
- Overseas seats: San Francisco, Dar es Salaam, Hong Kong, MENA
- Client secondments: Various, including Deloitte & Willis
Main areas of work
MENA training contracts: four six-month seats between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in corporate, employment, construction, IP/commercial, dispute resolution. International secondments to UK offices available. Hong Kong training contracts. International secondments to UK offices available.
We are open for direct training contract applications, however a large proportion of trainees are recruited via vacations schemes.
• Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme: 4-8 December 2018, aimed at first-year law and penultimate year non-law students
• Spring vacation scheme 2019 (two weeks): March/April 2018, aimed at finalists and above
• Two London summer vacation schemes (two weeks), June scheme and July scheme 2019. Aimed at penultimate year law students
• Summer vacation scheme (two weeks): July-August 2019, aimed at penultimate years and above
• Summer scheme (two weeks): July 2019, aimed at penultimate years and above (pay: AED1,200 per week)
Open days and first-year opportunities
Clyde & Co Bright Futures Programme (one week). Aimed at those in the first year of a law degree or penultimate year of a non-law degree. Applications should be made online and open 1 October and close mid-November 2018.
University law careers fairs 2018
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2018
Aberdeen and surrounds
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 2)
Glasgow, Edinburgh and surrounds
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Construction: Purchaser (Band 3)
- Construction: Supplier (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 4)
- Employment: Employer (Band 3)
- Planning (Band 4)
- Professional Negligence: Financial (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence: Insurance (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence: Legal (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction (Band 1)
- Real Estate Finance (Band 6)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 5)
- Real Estate: Mainly Mid-Market (Band 2)
North East & Yorkshire
- Professional Negligence: Mainly Defendant Recognised Practitioner
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Education: Institutions Recognised Practitioner
- Employment (Band 3)
- Health & Safety (Band 2)
- Litigation (Band 3)
- Professional Discipline (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Professional Negligence (Band 1)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Information Technology (Band 2)
- Litigation (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
- Asset Finance: Shipping Finance (Band 2)
- Aviation (Band 1)
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
- Commodities: Physicals (Band 1)
- Commodities: Trade Finance (Band 4)
- Construction: International Arbitration (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas (Band 5)
- Fraud: Civil (Band 4)
- Health & Safety (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 5)
- Insurance: Contentious Claims (Band 1)
- Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 2)
- Insurance: Reinsurance (Band 1)
- Insurance: Volume Claims (Band 1)
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 4)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Police Law: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
- Professional Discipline (Band 4)
- Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 4)
- Retail (Band 2)
- Shipping (Band 2)
- Transport: Logistics (Band 2)
- Travel: International Personal Injury (Defendant) (Band 3)