Eversheds Sutherland - True Picture

Eversheds Sutherland combines all the best qualities of a leading national outfit with a strong international outlook.

Roots suite 

For trainee hopefuls reluctant to relinquish their regional roots, finding a firm that guarantees quality international work can be a predicament. But it’s one that many of our interviewees resolved when they turned to Eversheds. “I like my local Leeds roots,” one source began. “But I didn’t want to lose sight of having access to top-quality work, so Eversheds was really the only firm for me. I wanted to have that global network to tap into.” The performance of the firm’s offices in locations like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff makes Eversheds Sutherland one of the top firms operating outside of London. Chambers UK recognises much of the firm’s work as being among the very best available outside the capital, including its exploits in core practices such as banking & finance, corporate, employment, litigation and real estate. Between its ten national offices, Eversheds has over 100 Chambers UK rankings to its name – more than any other UK law firm.

The firm also takes a gold medal for its headcount: the 1,600 lawyers it employs make it the largest firm in the UK. Internationally, the firm boasts 59 offices, providing trainees around the country with a plentiful stream of international work to engage with. “I have been responsible for co-ordinating a project covering 19 countries,” one Manchestertrainee proudly told us, while another in Cardiff recalled their experience “communicating frequently with far-flung places such as Bermuda, Germany and the Cayman Islands.” It’s a point worth emphasising. Eversheds is one of very few firms that can offer regional lawyers this kind of work, let alone overseas secondment opportunities in Doha, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Paris.

The firm’s London base still takes the most trainees however. In this crowded market the firm’s mid-market M&A work stands tallest, though it also receives praise for its employment, competition, pensions and real estate teams. That puts it in the mix with established London practices like Slaughter and May, Macfarlanes and Baker McKenzie in some of those areas (though it can’t compete elsewhere). “We’re obviously not the best firm in London,” sources acknowledged, “but some of the work and clients we have are top-tier.” Deals in the hundreds of millions are not uncommon. Recently the firm advised investment group Letter One on its £870 million sale of 12 purpose-built luxury student accommodation properties to iQ Student Accommodation. Moreover, sources felt the firm’s transatlantic merger with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan in 2017 was yielding results. They pointed to the fact that the firm “was being appointed to a lot more legal panels.” True enough, the firm has recently been appointed onto panels for Metro Bank, Heathrow Airport, Network Rail, Crown Commercial Services and Lucozade Ribena Suntory. 2019 also brought 11% revenue growth, and the launch of four new offices in Prague, Bratislava, San Diego and Chicago.

“I have been responsible for co-ordinating a project covering 19 countries.”

Trainees in the bigger offices such as London, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham have more seats to choose from, while smaller offices are more limited. In Newcastle for example, only seats in employment and real estate finance were available at the time of interviews – a minor source of frustration for this year’s cohort. “It’s not ideal if you want to spend your whole training contact in Newcastle. Most people opt to take a seat in another office, repeat a seat, or go on secondment.” Given there’s a business need for them, trainees do have the possibility of swapping offices.

Trainees express their seat preferences via an online form and, on balance, it seemed a majority were satisfied with the seats they ended up with. But there were some gripes. “My first two seats weren’t any of my preferences,” one source bemoaned. Client and international secondments are available to all trainees, but popular international spots often require a CV application listing relevant experience.

Je t’aime le counterclaim

Corporate was a common seat among trainees, with around half of our interviewees having completed a stint there. Beyond “general M&A,” the larger offices also offer a mix of private equity, IPOs and public companies work. The department has particular strength in the energy and real estate sectors, and the firm’s London team recently advised on the $329 million sale of Shell Exploration and Production Oman to Indian Oil Corporation subsidiary IOCL Singapore. Meanwhile, the team in Birmingham advised Rolls-Royce on the £500 million sale of its commercial marine division to international technology group Kongsberg Gruppen. Lawyers in Manchester also advised on the sale of Footasylum to JD Sports. “Across all the subgroups, trainees’ responsibility leans towards project management,” one source explained. “My favourite deal involved a group reorganisation spanning 14 jurisdictions. My main role was reaching out across the jurisdictions, keeping the teams informed of which documents needed to be updated.” Another described “liaising internally to compile specialist reports from different regions and other departments, all of which needs to be formatted into one master document.”

“The more complex the case, the better.”

Eversheds’ dispute resolution department contains several individual seats: real estate litigation, commercial dispute resolution, and financial services disputes and investigations. Commercial dispute trainees “oftentake ownership over smaller claims arising from contract breaches or failure to make payments. It’s all about managing the court procedure up until the point where an agreement has been reached. There’s not a lot of client interaction, but you get to oversee all the court filings and draft some of the relevant statements.” These contrast with “complex cases such as corporate board takeovers, where you’re much relied upon in an administrative capacity. There’s some bundling – actually, there’s a lot of bundling. But I’ve also attended counsel meetings, conducted data analysis, and helped proof witnesses.” One trainee reckoned that “the more complex the case, the better. I love the ones where there are multiple claims and counterclaims going on. Those are the ones where you can really bed in and add value.” Clients here come from the energy, industrial, engineering and healthcare sectors. Some big players include John Lewis, Thames Water and the Iranian Offshore Engineering Company. The firm is representing the last of these in a complex series of fraudulent claims surrounding the purchase of an oil rig.

Within financial services disputes and investigations you can find further subgroups including white-collar crime, civil litigation, pensions, data security and regulatory. “I managed to work my way through all those areas,” boasted one source. Trainees here found that research was a particularly important part of their role: “I had tomonitor any news and government press releases related to Brexit. I really had to keep my finger on the pulse because everything had to be drafted into a report that would go out to around 50 clients.” Lawyers in Leeds recently advised US chemicals company Ingevity on the competition side of its €590 million acquisition of part of the Swedish-founded chemicals company Perstorp AB.

Picture this

Real estate is one of the firm’s biggest departments and offers a mix of investment, development, regeneration and standard landlord & tenant work. “The development work is very conceptual,” explained one trainee. “You have to be good at envisioning things and looking at the bigger picture. I’ve always got a 3D Google map open on my computer!” Sources also felt it was a great seat for “building up confidence. The general conveyancing work is very process-driven so it gets easier and easier. You often take ownership over small licences. You might have to conduct a title investigation, find out any restrictions on the property that could affect clients’ plans for the property and set about writing a first draft of the lease.” Birmingham houses the firm’s largest real estate team and has recently been busy advising on the development of the catchily named SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway, a development containing 6,000,000 square feet of logistics accommodation. Significant real estate clients include FTSE 100 housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, National Grid, Land Securities, HSBC and big four firm KPMG. One strain of work in London has lawyers advising international investors looking to snap up properties, while Leeds adds the hospitality and leisure sector to its own mix. In Cardiff, much work is done on the real estate aspects of renewable energy projects, including the Tirgwyn Windfarm in Powys.

"We... have a four-hour window to review it and respond.”

The employment seat includestribunal work, transaction-related issues, settlement agreements and everyday support to HR teams. “At the most basic level, we aid in the prep for hearings,” said a source. “That involves getting in touch with the client, explaining what documents we need from them, compiling the documents, and completing all the necessary redactions.” Trainees also stand ready to respond to any emails that come through the firm’s helpline: “Clients would reach out to us with something like a draft letter concerning a disciplinary for an employee. We then have a four-hour window to review it and respond.” In Newcastle the team represented Northumbria Police against unfair dismissal, whistle-blowing, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and victimisation claims progressed by its own former Director of Legal Services. In Leeds lawyers provided multi-jurisdictional support on the employment aspects of US manufacturer Kohler Co’s acquisition of power plant company Clarke Energy.

Waterway to give back

Although collaboration on big deals and cases is very frequent, socially, offices are largely self-contained. “I think it’s probably too difficult finding a venue big enough to house everybody,” one source pointed out. Instead each office hosts their own Christmas and summer parties: Birmingham trainees dined at Marco Pierre’s restaurant while Manchester’s lawyers descended on The Hilton in Dean’s Gate. Trainees have many more perks to smile about though: Nottingham and others have free breakfasts, Cardiff has a subsidised Starbucks and “bikes you can borrow if you want to cycle to and from work,” while London provides a discount card for the One New Change shopping centre located next door. But trainees were left underwhelmed by their IT resources: “Sometimes you’re actually fighting the IT to get the job done.” And training? That’s very much department-dependent. “Real estate have a very specific training program which takes you through ten different topics. Others have one webinar that is out of date. It could be more consistent.”

“Nobody here gives off an intimidating aura.”

Some in the larger offices also felt the size of the firm had the drawback of making it feel slightly “impersonal, especially in teams as large as real estate.” But most felt the firm did a good job of eschewing excessive hierarchy. As one source told us: “There isn’t anyone I’ve come across that I would be terrified to ask a question. I don’t consider myself a confident person, so if I don’t struggle to approach partners, I don’t think anyone else would.” Similarly, another remembered “talking very casually to someone quite young who I assumed was a mid-level associate in my first week. Later, I was surprised to find out that they were a senior partner. Nobody here gives off an intimidating aura that says, ‘Don’t waste my time.’”

With size comes responsibility, and we were encouraged to discover that Eversheds was putting its weight behind some admirable causes. “In Manchester we’re part of the Canal and River Trust so we go out on a barge and help clear the canal of rubbish.” And in London, trainees had been involved in Crisis’s campaign to end homelessness. A variety of support groups are also in place throughout the firm, including BAME, LGBT and women’s groups. “We have a dedicated gender network aimed at trying to make 30% of the partnership female. They’ve recently organised talks where senior lawyers discuss their own challenges on the path to partnership, such as childcare and their work/life balance.” Taking their first step on this path, 40 of the firm's 49 qualifiers were kept on in 2019.

Hours varied among both seats and offices. Those in Nottingham reported having stayed past 8pm “only a handful of times throughout the whole training contract,” with the standard day running from 9am to 6pm. Those in Newcastle had an even rosier run of things, pointing out that “come 5.30pm, the office is pretty much empty.” This contrasts with the larger regional offices, including Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff where late nights were more frequent – especially within seats such as corporate and commercial disputes. “During peaks, I could be in the office between 8pm and 9pm all week,” one interviewee highlighted. “I know our salary can be a point of frustration for people, even if the firm does pay competitively for the area.” London trainees are paid significantly more, and experienced similar peak hours.

“Quite a few things hitting my desk recently have been from big US clients – I think having access to US offices will help us compete against the bigger magic circle firms.”

How to get an Eversheds Sutherland training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2020): 5 January 2020

Training contract deadline (2022): 28 June 2020

The application form

Eversheds receives around 2,000 to 2,500 initial applications a year. Its baseline academic criteria are a 2:1 and ABB at A-level. Beyond academics, commercial awareness stands out as the key competency recruiters look for. Eversheds makes no secret of the fact that it wants its trainees to have a business mentality, be able to understand the commercial environment in which its clients operate, and demonstrate an understanding of the marketplace challenges it faces as a law firm. “Knowing about the innovative approach the firm takes, its '2020 vision' and its key values is really important,” said one trainee.

The assessment

The entire assessment process at Eversheds was recently overhauled and now has a ‘strengths-based’ approach. Emerging talent manager Catherine Knight tell us “each strength we’ve identified is assessed at least twice throughout the process, whether it be in the online application form or on the assessment day.” The application form itself contains long-answer questions testing different strengths in a candidate. The firm then conducts video interviews with around 600 individuals a year for vac scheme and training contract places combined.

Between 150 and 200 individuals (including vac schemers) go on to the firm's assessment day each year, which is more formal than the video interview. The day consists of a face to face interview with a partner, a role play and a written exercise. Candidates are scored not only on their strengths, but also on their energy and enjoyment throughout the tasks. The day rounds off with an unassessed lunch with current trainees.

The vacation scheme

Eversheds offers 80 vac scheme places a year, with summer students based in the same eight offices which take trainees. “We try to make it as much of a mini-training contract as we can,” a recruitment source tells us. “That means giving students real work which comes from clients. We don't give them any made-up work.”

Feedback from our trainee interviewees who'd completed a vac scheme was unsurprisingly positive. “It's a good reflection of what being a trainee is like,” said one. “I was sat next to a head of department for a week, and he took me to a very high-profile meeting.” Another interviewee added: “I sat with the planning department first and then employment. I was kept quite busy. There were two and a half days each week when I was actually sat in those departments. The rest of the time was devoted to presentations and other activities.” And there are plenty of activities to get involved in. For example, Eversheds' vac scheme has a dedicated corporate social responsibility day.

Around half the firm's trainees join via the vac scheme, so standing out among your peers is important. (Do the maths: the firm recruits about 55 trainees a year, around 25 to 30 of whom come through the scheme on which there are 80 places.) “The vac scheme is all about getting the chance to impress – there is a big focus on personality,” said one trainee. “A point was made of the fact that everyone you met would be giving feedback on you.” The vac scheme ends with an assessment day and one-on-one interview. While on the scheme, candidates also complete the group exercise from the selection day.

Who fits the bill?

Beyond the academic requirement and competencies outlined above, is there anything which sets Eversheds' trainees apart? Well, the somewhat unhelpful answer is no. Our interviewees at Eversheds are always a mixed bunch, including everyone from international jet-setters to individuals with strong regional ties to Wales, Yorkshire or the North East. Past interviewees have ranged from City brainboxes with a big interest in high finance to one individual who said that “things like investment banking really don't appeal to me,” and had previously worked in the services industry and then for a government regulator.

We also spoke to trainees who had always been high achievers and waltzed out of university with several training contracts offers, as well as individuals who'd got low grades and spent years paralegalling even to get a whiff of a training contract offer. We've also heard of recent trainees at Eversheds who've had past work experience in publishing, teaching, government and the charities sector.

Eversheds Sutherland

1 Wood Street,
Website www.eversheds.com

  • Partners 750
  • Lawyers 3,000+
  • Total trainees 110
  • UK offices London, Cambridge, Ipswich, Nottingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh
  • Overseas offices 59
  • Contact [email protected] com
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 50
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1
  • Minimum A levels: ABB
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 80
  • Dates and deadlines 
  • Training contract applications open: 1st March 2020 Training contract deadline, 2022 start: 28th June 2020 Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2019 Vacation scheme 2020 deadline: 5th January 2020
  • Salary and benefits 
  • Salaries: Competitive Holiday entitlement: 26 days
  • Sponsorship 
  • LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: £5,000-£7,000
  • International and regional 
  • Offices with training contracts: Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Cambridge, Nottingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle, Amman, Abu Dhabi.

Firm profile

Eversheds Sutherland is one of the world’s largest full-service law firms operating as one team, across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North America. Recognised as the leading innovators in the legal sector, we provide new legal and business solutions to meet the needs of our clients. Eversheds Sutherland is about consistently delivering great service whenever our clients need it.

We are committed to finding and developing talented legal graduates interested in becoming a solicitor. Our people are valued for their drive and legal expertise but also for their business advice too. We develop the same qualities in our trainees. With a structured solicitor training programme, our legal training contracts and graduate jobs allow you to establish the skills you need to achieve your aspirations. The training programme allows you to focus your technical skills in each of the various practice groups as you rotate through four six-month seats. You will also take part in a full programme of personal and commercial development skills training too, including finance and business, communication, presenting, business writing, client care, professional standards and advocacy. From trainee to fully qualified solicitor, Eversheds Sutherland offer an environment for a highly rewarding legal career with unbounded opportunities for progression.

Main areas of work

Core work: Company commercial, litigation and dispute management, real estate and human resources (employment and pensions).

Training opportunities

Our firm attracts great people and we’ve created an environment where they can achieve great things. So it will come as no surprise that Eversheds Sutherland is home to some of the most innovative and inspiring lawyers in the industry — or that we look for trainees with the ambition and enterprise to keep us ahead of the competition in the future.

True, you will need a strong academic background and proven ability to apply your intellect to complex problems. But that’s just the start. Our trainees need to be multi-faceted people who combine extreme professionalism with outstanding expertise, genuine approachability and real personality.

Vacation placements

We run two-week vacation placement schemes in our office. Placements offer you a great opportunity to get a feel for what Eversheds Sutherland is all about, and most of our vacation students are amazed at the variety and level of work they can get involved in.

You will be paid £370 a week (London) or £315 a week (regions). We welcome applications from penultimate year law undergraduates, final year non-law graduates as well as candidates who have already graduated or taken different career paths.

Selected candidates will be shortlisted to video interview. If you pass this interview you will then be invited to a selection day. If you do well on the vacation scheme, you may be offered a training contract.

Other benefits

Life assurance, private healthcare, cycle to work schemes, gym, restaurant, gourmet card, season ticket loan, employee assistance programme.

Open days and first-year opportunities

Open days run during autumn term (open to all) and will be advertised online from September.

University law careers fairs 2019

University of York, University of Nottingham, Warwick University, LSE, University of Leeds, Cardiff University, Bristol University, University of Birmingham, Durham University, UEA, Newcastle University, UCL, KCL, University of Cambridge, Oxford, University of Manchester, Queen Mary’s, London, Leicester.

Social media

Facebook @eslegaltrainee

Twitter @eslegaltrainee

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 4)
    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Competition Law (Band 3)
    • Construction: Purchaser (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 1)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 4)
    • Information Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation (Band 4)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Planning (Band 3)
    • Professional Negligence: Insurance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate Finance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Big-Ticket (Band 4)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology Recognised Practitioner
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
    • Employment Recognised Practitioner
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 1)
    • Competition Law (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: AIM (Band 3)
    • Commercial Contracts (Band 4)
    • Data Protection & Information Law (Band 3)
    • Education: Institutions (Higher & Further Education) (Band 1)
    • Education: Institutions (Schools) (Band 2)
    • Employee Share Schemes & Incentives (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Power (Band 3)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 2)
    • Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory (Corporates) (Band 4)
    • Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Fraud: Civil (Band 5)
    • Health & Safety (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Contentious Claims (Band 5)
    • Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 4)
    • Investment Funds: Closed-ended Listed Funds (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Open-ended Funds (Band 1)
    • Investment Funds: Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Parliamentary & Public Affairs: Parliamentary Agency (Band 1)
    • Pensions Litigation (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 4)
    • Product Liability: Food (Band 2)
    • Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 4)
    • Projects: PFI/PPP Recognised Practitioner
    • Public Procurement (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Transport: Rail: Franchising (Band 1)
    • Transport: Rail: Planning & Authorisation (Band 2)
    • Administrative & Public Law (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 3)
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • Planning (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)