Four trainees and four seats prove good things actually come in fours at single-office Druces.
Druces training contract review 2024
It’s fair to say Druces has been around the block more than a few times. Founded in 1767, the firm has built on its four core practices (corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, real estate and private client) over the last couple of centuries, establishing deep roots in London. This long history gives it a depth of experience sought after worldwide: as a founding member of the Alliance of Business Lawyers they also collaborate amongst an international web of firms on cross-border matters. So you may be surprised to discover that this firm is home to just 18 partners and takes just two trainees a year.
“With one trainee in each department, you don’t have competition.”
Trainees told us that the firm’s small size is ideal for newbies given “you get more responsibility in a place where everyone knows each other, and with one trainee in each department, you don’t have competition…” It’s a sentiment that real estate partner Adrian Footer shares too, as the firm aims to create an environment where the training through practice is at the core of the training contract, “so we don’t just lock them up doing bundling day and night! It's very hands-on.” Footer further explains that Druces’ policy of having only one trainee in a seat at a time ensures “there isn’t that competition for work. Trainees are allowed to make their mark.”
The largest of the 36 practice areas, the firm’s company and commercial group, is only 13 people strong, but best believe it still packs a punch in its core areas both here and abroad. “We’re well placed,” Footer tells us, “and we have a broad practice.” Druces was given a nod in Chambers’ High Net Worth guide last year for its private wealthpractice. Footer emphasises that, “within all those areas we punch above our weight. We act for really well-established organisations and institutions that people wouldn't associate with a firm of our size.” And though Footer tells us they are looking to consolidate in their capital markets and corporate practices, the firm has also recently expanded into construction; “we’ve hired a major construction lawyer from Goodman Derrick - Richard Bailey - who is doing big-ticket non-contentious and contentious construction work.”
If you’re looking for a clear idea of how your training contract will pan out, then you’ve come to the right firm. Druces keeps things super simple with its four trainees expected to spend six months in each of its four departments: “It’s good to get that breadth of work as a trainee,” one insider said, explaining that, across seats, newbies support the department they’re in wherever their help is needed.
Druces’ corporate and commercial seat exemplifies this in the variety of matters on hand for trainees, including banking and finance, M&A, capital markets, insolvency, commercial work and more. “It’s a very partner-heavy team so you work with senior people,” explained one insider, which ensures that newbies are given “a lot of responsibility; it’s very hands-on.” We were told trainees get the opportunity to draft joint venture and loan agreements, talk directly to clients, write board minutes, and handle due diligence – “you could be working on anything! Clients come in with weird requests so it can be intense… but I like that.” The group has a good amount of experience with companies in the natural resources sector, advising Gold Metal Resources in its admission to the AIM market earlier this year. Druces recently acted for Cool Planet Technologies on its €3 million Series A funding round.
“Where there’s a personal story it’s easy to get invested!”
Private client at the firm follows a lot of probate, contentious probate, charities, tax and trusts work. “It’s contentious and non-contentious,” one insider explained. The former “can get messy. That’s when it gets really interesting with stories of peoples’ personal lives.” Newbies do find themselves working on will drafting, estate planning and trust registration, but also get to go to court a few times. “The matters can go on for months and months and, where there’s a personal story, it’s easy to get invested!” So it’s no surprise trainees told us: “It’s nice to get that connection going by attending client meetings every week.”
Both commercial and residential property are covered in the firm’s real estate department. The team acts for borrowers and lenders on acquisitions and construction, development funding and REIT property funding transactions, among others. Unlike private client, client meetings are extremely rare and teams generally work with longstanding clients. The team acts for borrowers and lenders on acquisitions and construction, development funding and REIT property funding transactions, among others. Trainees told us they were drafted into helping mainly on the commercial property side, processing transactions and helping with “a lot of drafting! Especially bigger documents like leases, underleases, deeds of assignment…” but they also got the chance to work on quite of bit of research into niche aspects of property law.
Though the firm’s disputes department does work on insolvency litigation it also follows real estate’s focus on commercial property, alongside construction and professional negligence. “It’s an intense seat as you’re working mainly with the head of the commercial litigation department,” who lets trainees run with matters by going to court and dealing with correspondence. Newbies are also expected to work on your typical trainee tasks such as bundling, drafting defences, court documents, and disclosure statements.
Like any training contract, trainees should expect to do most of their learning on the job, but the firm does pay for the PSC courses and provide opportunities for further learning through “the odd webinar.” Where there are specific areas of the law that it would be helpful to know a little more about, the firm organises training: “We do quite a bit of Islamic finance so we had a training session on that and verification notes for a company… so if there are things that require it they will provide extra sessions.” Thankfully trainees aren’t expected to stay too long after hours for either client or additional work. “We’re not expected to work the late hours other firms do so the salary is a little low,” one insider mused, “but the volume of work is manageable – you’re never working crazy hours but you’ve always got plenty to do.”
“Trainees, secretaries, paralegals – we all have a really tight-knit group."
Expectations for going into the office varied slightly by department but on the whole “they kind of want trainees in every day.” That being said, more flexibility is introduced on qualification. Luckily the firm’s office is located at Moorgate so while “the office itself could do with a revamp, it is in a great location.” Inside is also open-plan, ensuring trainees can easily interact with associates and partners in equal fashion; “trainees, secretaries, paralegals – we all have a really tight-knit group,” one trainee enthused, “and there are some partners you can have a laugh with and who are quite chatty.” Across the board the trainees we spoke with were pretty positive about the firm’s cultivated culture which, alongside your typical holiday parties includes clay pigeon shooting, a summer boat party and regular in-office drinks.
When it comes to qualification “it’s not guaranteed but if there’s space they will try to take you on – you just have a meeting with HR towards the end of your contract on where you might want to qualify.” Overall trainees felt that Druces offers newbies “a great supportive place to train and get lots of responsibility without being thrown into the deep end!” In 2023, the firm retained both of its qualifying trainees.
Loosey Drucey: Trainees are given freedom to pursue all things CSR including the London Legal Walk, bake sales, and even abseiling!
How to get a Druces training contract
Training contract deadline: Mid-July
Applications & assessment
Druces receives over 100 applications for its two training contract vacancies each year, made up of an application form and covering letter. The recruitment process takes shape in two stages of interviews, alongside an assessment that forms part of the second stage. The first interview is with the head of HR and an associate or senior associate, before successful candidates are asked to complete an assessment and return for an interview with the training principal and another partner. Each interview involves answering questions about your education and work experience, as well as your motivations and ambitions for pursuing a career in law. The idea, according to Druces, is to give the interviewing team and the candidates a chance to get to know each other better.
Trainee profile & experience
So, what is it that Druces are looking for in successful candidates? Any experience that enables a candidate to pick up a variety of skills relevant to the job, whether that’s legal experience as a paralegal or legal assistant, or something else. Druces are keen to stress that this sort of experience can be acquired through most work environments, but the important bit is that candidates should be able to express these transferrable skills in writing and in person. Similarly, any sort of environment where candidates can demonstrate they have worked well within a team and can explain how they were able to contribute is also a desirable feature on any application form.
Druces LLP is a City of London law firm advising businesses and private clients. Founded in 1767, the firm cherishes its heritage while embracing the highest modern standards in all that it does.
Main areas of work
The firm operates on a four‑practice group model:
• Corporate & Commercial
• Private Wealth
• Real Estate
• Dispute Resolution
We place a strong emphasis on core sectors including banking and finance, capital markets, healthcare, property development and investment, family offices, international private wealth, construction, commercial litigation and more.
We want to see bright, creative minds join our expanding team. Our firm values people skills and creativity as much as academic achievement; and trainee recruitment is an important process for the firm. We invest a lot of time and energy in the process as we are recruiting for the firm’s future, looking for dedicated and committed individuals who will contribute to our continuing success and develop rewarding careers.
We will work with you and help you to become the most astute and commercial lawyer you can be. As part of your development, you will spend six-months in the following four practice areas.
• Real Estate
• Dispute Resolution
• Private Client
• Corporate & Commercial
Unlike larger firms, Druces provides opportunities for more hands-on experience and one-on-one attention from our partners and other senior lawyers. As a Druces trainee, you will get a first-class legal grounding and access to talented and approachable colleagues. Our trainees certainly enjoy honing their skills in the Druces environment.
Please note that we are unable to provide funding for the LPC.
Pension scheme, Health cover, Life insurance cover, Season ticket loan, Cash plan, Cycle to work scheme, hybrid working