Eversheds Sutherland - True Picture

Looking for a firm with a national presence, but don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in the rest of the world? Eversheds has offices all over the UK and internationally.

Eversheds training contract review 2021

The Firm

“I’m pretty sure you’ll get this answer from most, but I was drawn to Eversheds for its international scope.” In one way or another, all of our interviewees flagged the firm’s international reach as a main reason for picking Eversheds. The firm was already a big deal before its 2017 merger with US-based Sutherland to form a mammoth global firm with nearly 70 offices across almost every continent. The combined Eversheds Sutherland now stands as one of the ten biggest law firms in the UK, and the top 50 in the world.

“I think one of the goals of the merger was to become a global giant firm, and I think they’ve achieved that,” sources said. “We’ve had quite a few office openings in the last few years and the merger has increased our revenue massively.”Most recently, the empire has expanded into Oulu (northern Finland) and boosted its presence in Chicago and San Diego via lateral hires. This is all excellent news for applicants who want an international reach, without having to sacrifice regional roots: Eversheds has 11 bases across the UK and hires trainees in Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham. “It’s a big firm with a great reputation,” sources reflected. “I felt like there were lots of opportunities available to me here, and that I could maximise my potential.”

“I think one of the goals of the merger was to become a global giant firm, and I think they’ve achieved that.”

The firm’s departments (and seat options) cover a broad range of commercial practices, and its many Chambers UKrankings are about as varied as they come. Some of the highlights include UK-wide top billing for education, health and safety, investment funds, pensions litigation, Parliamentary law, public procurement, retail and rail franchising work; Eversheds also earns national leader status outside London for banking, construction, corporate, employment, IT, litigation, pensions, real estate, restructuring and planning. Trainees in the City said they were initially drawn to Eversheds by the prospect of “a global firm with down-to-earth people,” more frequently citing culture than work quality as a motivation for signing on here. The firm does score strong London rankings for mid-market M&A, pensions and real estate litigation.

Before each rotation, HR releases a list of which departments have room for a trainee. They all then rank three preferences that the firm takes into account when allocating who goes where. Not every department (and seat) is available in every office, but “trainees can apply to seats in any office in the UK.” (At least one trainee per rotation goes to another office, so it's not super common but possible).There’s a separate system to manage international seats and client secondments: “You apply almost as if you’re applying for a job – submit your CV, then there will usually be an interview with the client or office partner.” Secondments can be competitive, though sources noticed that among their cohort “everyone who wanted to do one has been able to.” Destinations included Paris, Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The Seats

Each office has a slightly different corporate specialism, but the department as a whole handles M&A, capital markets, private equity and energy deals. Birmingham sources filled their time “primarily with typical M&A transactions and multi-jurisdictional reorganisations,” while some London sources were “advising energy companies on buying and selling of rivals in their industry.” Eversheds recently acted for energy company CGN in its $750 million acquisition of nine subsidiaries that came with a portfolio of solar and wind power plants in Brazil. Other clients include Shell, Nestlé, American Express and Inflexion Private Equity. Interviewees liked that “corporate sits in the middle of almost every team in the firm, so you’re able to learn massively and get insight into so many areas.” Day to day, they got stuck into project management as well as drafting the required ancillary documents for deals. Sources were also responsible for liaising with foreign counsel on international deals, sometimes “drafting emails to the other side” as well. Regional offices work on local and overseas deals – the Birmingham team advised on the non-US elements of a $485 million transaction between American life sciences companies LabCorp and Envigo.

"Corporate sits in the middle of almost every team in the firm, so you're able to learn massively and get insight into so many areas."

In their real estate seat, trainees came across a healthy mix of big deals and lower-value projects where they could take the reins. “From the off I was drafting and negotiating leases off my own back,” one happily recalled. Smaller issues could be “retail matters, where a new tenant was going into a shopping centre,” whereas larger ones might involve “assisting on major developments by reviewing agreements to lease.” On bigger portfolio deals, the team often works with “real estate investment funds or banks who own property or mortgages of property as investments.” Microsoft, Next, DFS and Sports Direct have all called on the firm’s real estate expertise. Recent deals include the £120 million sale of Morrisons’ store in Camden, and the whopper £1.45 billion sale of Network Rail’s 5,200 property commercial estate to Blackstone and Telereal Trillium. On matters great and small, trainees were happy to “take client calls to discuss necessary changes to documents.” Other common responsibilities in a real estate seat include drafting licences, land and title review, and ordering and indexing property deeds.

If you’d like your property experience to come with contentious elements, the real estate litigation team is the place to go. Sources here had come across rent review cases, as well as clashes born out of the buying and selling of properties. In Birmingham, the team worked on a £3 million opposed lease renewal for the Government Property Unit over an office building on St Phillips Square. Trainees often helped with organisational aspects of hearings and arbitrations, and were often able to attend these to gain valuable court experience. Sources had also “drafted notices for when landlords want to evict tenants, prepared reports for clients and drafted letters before action for claims.” A real estate litigation seat typically calls for plenty of research, which the Covid-19 pandemic only increased: “We took on lots of advisory matters over rent payments during the outbreak.”

"There's been a lot of advisory work related to Covid-19."

Commercial dispute resolution is another contentious option for trainees. Interviewees dabbled in a broad range of disputes, from classic breaches of contract and international arbitration to more niche product liability claims. Eversheds has represented Specsavers, John Lewis and Rolls-Royce on the litigation battlefield: in one of its largest recent cases, the firm defended the National Iranian Oil Company during $15 billion arbitration proceedings and ‘satellite’ litigation coming out of it. Closer to home, the team is acting on behalf of The Haemophilia Society as part of the Infected Blood Inquiry. Sources found themselves with “a large volume of work” for online retailers, “responding to claims by individuals who weren’t satisfied with the service they received.” On bigger cases, trainees draft advice notes, complete legal research and dive into classic bundling and disclosure review. Some also got to help draft witness statements and pre-action letters to opposing counsel. A regional source recalled the highlight of their seat as “visiting the Court of Appeal in London for a larger case and collaborating closely with the instructed barrister.”

Trainees who did a seat in employment found they split their time pretty evenly between litigious and non-contentious projects. The Cambridge squad recently advised Urban Outfitters UK on relocating its distribution centre from Rushton to Peterborough, affecting around 300 employees and with £4 million in potential liability; over in Birmingham, Eversheds was on call for Ideal Standard UK during the closure of their bath manufacturing site in Hull, resulting in the loss of nearly 100 jobs. The contentious side of the practice gave trainees the chance to assist on tribunal claims and other litigation by “reviewing bundles and evidence, then drafting statements of defence.” Interviewees were often charged with liaising with chambers to instruct barristers too. For most, at least half of the seat was advisory in nature: “We’ve been advising clients on issues stemming from Covid-19, as well as on other employment-related questions including data protection issues.” Our sources drafted non-disclosure agreements, terms and conditions of employment and other policies.

Trainee Life

Eversheds may have offices all over the UK, but trainees in most locations described a firmwide “very hard-working culture. Everyone wants to be the best and provide great service to the firm’s clients, but we’re well supported throughout the training contract by both supervisors and other partners on the team.” Reports from outside London were especially positive, as trainees reckoned they’d got the Hannah Montana best of both worlds: “I feel I’ve got experience of what it’s like to work in a large commercial firm, even from a regional office. It’s like we’re getting the City experience.”Sources found it “surprising how interconnected everyone is,”and commented that even in larger offices like London and Birmingham “it feels like a smaller firm than it actually is, because everyone is friendly and chatty.” Some admitted the culture can “differ from department to department” but emphasised that most are “interested in getting junior members of the team involved.”

“I feel I’ve got experience of what it’s like to work in a large commercial firm, even from a regional office.”

Our sources were especially keen to get involved in pro bono. Trainees in the capital spent time at the Battersea Legal Advice Clinic, “helping whoever shows up on the day with their respective legal issues.”Examples range from customers trying to get a refund from a retailer, to individual potential employment disputes. Further north, Leeds trainees sought international pro bono including helping the Amicus organisation reviewing death row cases in the UK. On the volunteering front, Birmingham sources “visited colleges to give legal presentations,” while Cardiff trainees helped at “CV workshops for students from less privileged backgrounds.”

Looking internally, Eversheds also has initiatives to broaden its recruitment scope and offer support for diverse employees. Five firmwide D&I networks have representatives in each office. Interviewees highlighted Verve (the race and ethnicity network) and Perspective (LGBTQ+) as particularly active groups, “but all the committees run events throughout the year – everyone at the firm is invited and encouraged to attend.” Sources were also pleased to see “a surprising number of senior women” in their departments: “The representation has been increasing over time.” Eversheds aimed to have a minimum 30% female partnership by 2020 – at the time of our research it had reached 28.7%, so the firm was very close to its target.

"I've rarely had to work on the weekend. Over two years I've given up about three weekends for work, which is not bad at all."

Reviewing their time at Eversheds, second-years noted that some seats come with more reasonable hours than others. Transactional departments tend to be more demanding, corporate especially: “When we were close to the exchange, it involved some 14 to 16-hour days.”Former corporate trainees were keen to add that when this happened, it was always “a team effort and it’s not like you have to stay while everyone else is in bed! If I have to work for longer, the associates and partners do too.” Litigation seats generally had “more humane hours,”with the occasional late night if a case went to court. All things considered, most trainees agreed they had enough time for their private lives away from the firm. “I’ve rarely had to work on the weekend,”one noted. “Over two years I’ve given up about three weekends for work, which is not bad at all.”

The firm usually releases a list of available NQ positions around Easter; second-years apply with a CV, cover letter and reviews from each seat. It’s then up to each team to choose if it wants to interview candidates for jobs (potentially including a case study or practice-specific skills-based questions). Covid-19 disrupted business as usual, delaying the internal recruitment process. “It’s been a very uncertain time, but the firm says they want to make sure as many of us as possible receive jobs,”trainees told us in the midst of the confusion. The pandemic also prompted Eversheds to introduce a ‘flexi-working scheme’ where lawyers and business support staff could opt to reduce their hours to 80% for 80% pay. The firm ended up retaining 38 of 43 qualifiers on fixed-term contracts in 2020.

Making money moves? 

Eversheds trainee and NQ salaries vary sizeably by office. Though the pay packet is highest in London, sources in the City were the most likely to suggest their future career moves may be in search of a higher salary.

How to get an Eversheds Sutherland training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2021): 3 January 2021

Training contract deadline (2023): 27 June 2021

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 57
  • Contact gradrec@eversheds-sutherland. 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 2021 Training contract deadline, 2023 start: 27th June 2021 Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2020 Vacation scheme 2021 deadline: 3rd January 2021
  • 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 £377 a week (London) or £326 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 2020

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, Northumbria, the Legal Cheek.

Social media
Twitter: @eslegaltrainee
Instagram: @eslegaltrainee

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance: Borrowers: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance: Lenders: Lower Mid-Market (Band 1)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 4)
    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Competition Law (Band 3)
    • Construction: Contentious (Band 5)
    • Construction: Non-contentious (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Information Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation (Band 4)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Planning (Band 4)
    • 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 2)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 3)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
    • 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: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Fraud: Civil (Band 5)
    • Health & Safety (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Immigration: Business (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance (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 (Band 4)
    • Public Procurement (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Transport: Rail: Franchising (Band 1)
    • Transport: Rail: Planning & Authorisation (Band 2)
    • Administrative & Public Law (Band 1)
    • 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)
    • Information Technology (Band 2)
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • Planning (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)