This “refreshingly human” firm in the Southwest shows that there's no need to get Anstey when you start off on the right Foot.
Foot Anstey training contract review 2024
“I grew up in the South West near Bristol,” one trainee reminisced, “and I think if I had moved to London and started there, I’d have been a bit scared!” While law firms in London don’t bite (at least most of them don’t), it’s certainly true that life in the big corporate firms in the capital isn’t for everyone. Enter Foot Anstey. While the firm does have offices in London and Southampton and expansion is on the horizon, its roots are firmly planted in the South West, with offices in Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro. “I wanted something based in the South West – that was so important for me,” one trainee told us. Indeed, whether it’s the trendy neighbourhoods of Bristol, the rolling countryside of Somerset, the ancient cathedral city of Exeter, or of course the stunning coastline of Cornwall, it isn’t hard to see why so many of our trainees were drawn to the region. As one trainee in Truro put it: “One of the great things about the firm is how close you are to the beach – being based on the Cornish coast over the summer months was so good!”
“…being based on the Cornish coast over the summer months was so good!”
One of the messages that a lot of people forget to pass on about starting out on the path to becoming a lawyer is that “lots of rejection can be the norm,” which can sometimes leave you feeling like ‘just another candidate’. But at Foot Anstey, “I’d say there’s more emphasis on who you are as a person and how you interact with them,” one trainee was quick to highlight. In fact, according to training principal Katie-Jane Rees: “We use the tagline ‘refreshingly human’, because we wholeheartedly believe that we are different.” It’s not just in terms of the training environment that the firm stands out too, with strong Chambers UK rankings in family/matrimonial law in Exeter and surrounds, and agriculture and rural affairs in the South West. There’s also an impressive top-tier ranking in charities: legacy disputes nationwide.
The seat allocation process at Foot Anstey has recently gone through a reshuffle. Where trainees used to do six seats across the two years of the training contract, it’s now four, and the firm has started using a new seat allocation software which allows them to submit a list of preferences from the available departments before allocating seats. While there was some “initial nervousness around relying on a piece of tech,” the reviews have been positive, especially given the software’s ability to “take into account previous seat choices and attempt to find the most fair outcome.” While trainees can choose an office base at the firm, the general consensus was that “you should be aware that moving locations is a distinct possibility. You can choose a base, but be prepared for a seat that isn’t there.” Before you worry too much, the firm covers travel costs and will happily put trainees up in a hotel for a night or two.
There’s a good chance that you’ll do a client secondment at some stage during your training contract too: “There are generally two secondments available each rotation.” Whilst we’re not able to list names, energy companies, large retailers, and banks proved to be the primary locations for those on secondment with a client. Pretty much every trainee we spoke to highlighted the firm’s Virtual Trainee Schemetoo, where trainees are aligned to a client for the duration of their training contract, and spend five hours a week providing additional legal support and advice. “The virtual trainee scheme is such a cool initiative,” lauded one trainee, “if you’re stuck in a seat you’re not enjoying, it’s a great way of picking up valuable commercial experience more tailored to your interests!”
“You get to see a whole transaction from beginning to end, which is nice!”
The corporate team at the firm handles “standard M&A transactions, alongside more discrete tasks like confidentiality agreements.” The department is split into various sub teams, including entrepreneurial private company, private equity, and corporate banking. In fact, private equity houses such as Stanley Capital Partners commonly appear in the firm’s investment work. The group also recently advised Integrity360, a portfolio company of August Equity, on its acquisition of IT consultancy company Caretower.Trainees in a corporate seat are typically involved in “drafting ancillary documents, running smaller transactions and drafting share purchase agreements.” While we did hear that “some nights were quite late,” and “it would be a real struggle to put the hours in if it’s a seat you’re not interested in,” trainees were mostly positive about what it offered: “The seat provided great exposure,” one trainee praised, “you also get to see a whole transaction from beginning to end, which is nice!”
Where the commercial litigation team deals with disputes in sectors like banking, property litigation forms a separate team, with its work spread across commercial, agricultural, residential and general property litigation. For trainees spending time in the seat, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn the ropes when it comes to drafting, from “witness statements and defences of claim to correspondence.” The group’s client list contains a host of household names, from Netflix and B&Q to Ikea and Welcome Break. In one recent case, the firm represented Spire House RTM in a right to manage claim in relation to prestigious residential apartments in London.
On the transactional side of the property coin, commercial property is also one of the firm’s established strengths, handling residential and commercial developments and working with companies aiding clients with the nation’s housing crisis. Whilst we’re unable to name names, much of the team’s work is closely aligned with a number of leading housing associations both on a regional and national level. “As part of quite a small team, my daily tasks included things like drafting commercial leases, being involved in contract negotiations, and dealing with heads of terms with large infrastructure clients,” one trainee recalled. Whilst the cosy nature of the team may not be to everyone’s taste, one trainee noted that it meant they got to see “how partners would go about their day and how they would talk to clients.” We heard too that the team was supportive, the managers approachable, and that “there’s ample opportunity to get involved in great work if it’s for you!”
The employment team “mostly does employer work, and that comes with standard HR policy writing, service agreements, employment contracts, lots of corporate support, due diligence work, disputes, and tribunal work.” Working on both the contentious and non-contentious side of things, the seat was described as quite varied, with the potential for things to get busy depending on the time of year. With “lovely and friendly people” in abundance, one trainee was sure to shoutout their supervisor, praising them for their open communication and approachability. The team recently advised global airline Flybe, providing them with employment advice on day-to-day employment matters, Employment Tribunal defences, and strategic projects.
Whilst a few trainees noted that training isn’t particularly structured, there is a week of session-based training at the beginning of the training contract that walks trainees through how to use the tech. According to trainees, more formal training continues in seats like real estate and Islamic finance, whereas other departments adopt more of a “get in there and have a stab” approach. Of course, this is always balanced with a healthy dose of supervision. While trainees lauded the benefits of being a self-starter when it came to pursuing feedback: “Nobody will shy away from answering phone calls, and poking your head up and asking questions is very much encouraged!”
“A sign that the firm really appreciates our work!”
It was also generally accepted that supervisors were on the lookout for trainees that were burning the midnight oil: hours at the firm generally consisted of your standard 9–5. One of the big selling points highlighted by trainees was the weekly lifestyle hour, where you’re able to take an hour off work “just to chat to colleagues over a coffee or go to the gym. As long as you have no imposing deadlines!” As you would probably expect, this was gratefully received, and trainees were keen to point out that it was “a sign that the firm really appreciates our work!”
CSR was something alluded to by almost all of our newbies, whereby trainees are given two days a year to engage in community initiatives and local projects. The coastal theme has continued with the current cohort organising a community beach clean, helping rid their local coastline of waste. D&I too has been something of a priority in recent years, Whilst the firm does not match the general cosmopolitanism of a London firm (as the South West simply isn’t as diverse), “there’s very much a mix of ethnicities,” and a range of awareness meetings, speakers, webinars, and groups are organised relating to Black and Asian communities, disability awareness, LGBTQ+ rights, and the menopause. There’s also been a concerted effort to introduce more alcohol-free social events to better reflect religious diversity at the firm “and make social events more inclusive.”
Regarding qualification, rookies make clear the teams they’d like to qualify into, before submitting a formal written application consisting of a CV and answers to questions like ‘why is this seat right for you?’ and ‘why would you be a good fit?’ There is then “followed by an interview for the ones you’ve applied for,” which will take place in the May before September qualification. In 2023, the firm retained ten of twelve qualifiers.
Home firm feel
Despite well-received Pride, Ramadan, and Diwali celebrations, not to mention yoga, pilates and even massages, trainees were unanimous when it came to the best perk of life at Foot Anstey: “You are allowed to bring your dog into the office now!”
How to get a Foot Anstey training contract
- Training contract deadline: 31 January 2024
- Vacation scheme deadline: 2 January 2024
Training contracts available
The firm is currently considering applications for 2025 and 2026, and all applicants for these intakes will be sponsored through the SQE.
How do I apply?
There are a couple of different ways to secure a training contract at Foot Anstey:
During vacation schemes successful applicants will experience what it is like to be a trainee solicitor at Foot Anstey. Successful applicants will spend a week with the firm in April where they will contribute to real cases. At the end of the week, they will use the knowledge they have learnt during the week in an assessment centre.
Achieve Vacation scheme
- Achieve is specifically designed for individuals from underrepresented groups within the UK workforce as identified by the UK government. This includes individuals from Bangladeshi, Black, Pakistani and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. In addition to spending a week with the firm on the vacation scheme, successful applicants will also take part in a series of masterclass sessions. These sessions will help the cohort to develop legal skills and commercial understanding.
- Applications are open between 4 September 2023 to 2 January 2024. To apply, click here for the firm's ATS platform.
Aspire Vacation Scheme
- The Aspire Vacation Scheme is open to individuals who are looking to join the firm on a training contract in 2025 and 2026.
- Applications are open between 4 September 2023 to 2 January 2024. To apply, click here for the firm's ATS platform.
The firm also accepts direct training contract applications with assessment centres held in June. To apply directly, click here.
The application form
All applications are done through the Candid ATS platform where you will be guided through a number of questions and asked to complete a couple of application form questions. Once this has been completed you will be sent a link to complete an assessment on the Amberjack platform which is a series of situational judgement, verbal and numerical reasoning questions. In addition to the written questions, there are a couple of video interview questions to support your application. All of these are considered together and successful applicants are then invited to a vacation scheme or assessment centre depending on your application route.
Good luck! And if you have any questions then please don't hesitate to get in contact with the Early Careers team on email@example.com
Foot Anstey LLP
Salt Quay House,
4 North East Quay,
We are a premier legal practice delivering specialist expertise to an impressive portfolio of regional, national and international clients. An entrepreneurial firm with history and tradition, we are on an exciting journey to become our clients’ most trusted advisor, enabling them to achieve their ambitions. How we do it is just as important as what we do. Our values of collaboration over convention, championing aspiration, being refreshingly human, embracing entrepreneurial spirit and delivering integrated thinking guide the way we act, every day, from the way we operate as a business to how we treat our colleagues and clients.
We like to think that our approach to business and developing client relationships makes us distinctly different to traditional law firms — and also attractive. As does our desire to ensure our lawyers and trainees operate in an environment where everything is tailored towards delivering specialist and forward-thinking advice to our clients.
Main areas of work
Through our network of offices across the South and South West, we work as one national team offering specialist legal advice and services to regional, national and international clients. We offer expert advice in Commercial Property, Energy, Projects Infrastructure & Construction, Real Estate Disputes, Islamic Finance, Planning & Environmental, Commercial, Corporate, Private Equity, Dispute Resolution, Employment and Private Wealth.
Training opportunities We welcome applications from law and non-law students who have a strong academic background, exceptional communication skills, and the vision to be part of our future. Our training programme is designed to help you reach your full potential. You will undertake 6, four month seats so you experience a greater number of practice areas. One of our significant differentiators is the closeness with which you will work with senior lawyers and partners. We believe being directly in the middle of good quality work will accelerate your learning and help you to develop into an exceptional advisory lawyer.
As one of our trainees, you will get exposure to situations to develop your legal and commercial expertise, in an environment that is friendly and supportive. This may be through your day to day work with your team and supervisor, on secondment with a client or as part of our award winning Virtual Trainee programme supporting national and international clients.
Our summer vacation scheme offers a week of work experience. Not only will you carry out "real work" but you will gain valuable insight into our business and the different areas of legal expertise. At the end of the week participants will take part in an assessment day after which successful candidates will be offered a training contract.
All trainees are entitled to our benefits package which includes: 28 days’ holiday, options to buy/sell holiday, contributory pension scheme, life assurance, cycle scheme, gym membership, discounted shopping, paid sabbaticals, Lifestyle Hour (the chance to take one hour off work each week to promote a healthy work/life balance) and the opportunity to exchange one day of annual leave for 15 hours holiday.
Open days and first-year opportunities
Our Accelerate Work Experience programme is available to to 1st year law student and 1st and 2nd year non-law students in the summer. All candidates will need to apply online via www.footanstey.com/careers/early-careers/accelerate/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
We hold open evenings for potential trainees throughout the year which provide attendees with an opportunity to find out more about the firm, the application process and to network with existing trainees and lawyers.
University law careers fairs 2022
BriBirmingham, BPP, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth. Southampton, South East Universities Virtual Law Fair, University of Law, UWE.
Diversity, inclusion & welbeing
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is integral to delivering our strategy, and we were delighted to be awarded the National Equality Standard for a second time in 2021. We consider this to be right at the heart of our priorities, and goes way beyond our policies – it’s something we consider across everything we do, from the make-up of our client teams, encouraging staff to reach their potential, through to our leadership. We aim to support our clients and our people to achieve their goals, regardless of background, gender, race, beliefs, sexuality or other non-work related factors. We champion aspiration and encourage it in everyone that works with us.
All employees have access to the firm's mentor programme which focusses on individuals' personal and professional development. It is used for a variety of purposes including helping an employee to fulfil their potential in an existing role to supporting them with their career progression. Our trainees have access to Partner mentors throughout their two year training contract.
Our employee wellbeing is incredibly important and is evolving all the time. We have a number of initiatives we believe genuinely support everyone to have a healthy work/life balance including fruit deliveries and desk treadmills throughout our offices and weekly lifestyle hours for all employees to enable them to take an hour out of the office every week to fit around their lifestyle. We also have paid staff sabbaticals to enable our people to have an extended break from work.
We recognise that our employees' mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. We have a diverse group of trained mental health first aiders across all our offices and offer all employees free access to a confidential employee support line.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
Exeter and surrounds
- Family/Matrimonial (Band 2)
- Agriculture & Rural Affairs (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
- Charities: Legacy Disputes (Band 1)