Foot Anstey LLP - True Picture

Even with a foot planted firmly in nationwide work, Foot Anstey’s heart and focus remain in the South West.

Foot Anstey training contract review 2022

The Firm

Although Foot Anstey’s been around for over 100 years, it’s the past decade that’s really shaped it: “The firm took on loads of laterals and opened offices in Southampton and Bristol, so even though we’re not a household name, it’s a very exciting environment to work in.” To be fair, few law firms are household names, but you may well recognise some of the clients that Foot Anstey serves: “We’re probably the only firm outside Bristol that works for big corporate clients across multiple practices, like B&Q and IKEA. We get to do City work, but in a Southern setting.”

Chambers UK has awarded Foot Anstey rankings in multiple areas in the South West, ranging from media and entertainment to social housing, though it is best recognised for its work in litigation, employment, tax, and banking and finance. Speaking of finance, Foot Anstey’s turnover has increased almost 100% since 2004, demonstrating the firm’s continuing growth. Of course, when looking to join a firm, some are more interested in people rather than numbers: “Foot Anstey’s assessment day was the only one I went to where I felt everyone was genuinely intelligent, friendly and ambitious.”

The Seats

Because all offices are in the South West (save for Southampton and the London satellite), trainees can rotate between different offices except for London (remotely, this year): “It’s a great opportunity to get a sense of the firm’s unity.” That said, recently the firm has moved to a ‘hub’ model where lawyers have a base office, but also have access to “more financial support for you to access other offices that aren’t your home office.” The training contract itself is structured as six seats of four months each: “I was worried we wouldn’t spend long enough in each seat but thankfully that’s not the case. It’s fab getting to see more practice areas.” There are also two types of secondment available. The first is a remote client secondment which involves "doing a certain number of hours a week for a client alongside your seat,” and the other is a standard four-month stint at a client.

The UK tax and trusts seat deals with private client matters revolving around issues like tax planning, the administration of estates, and wills.Client contact is often highest in private client practices, and this seat was no exception: “I built lots of relationships when drafting wills and power of attorneys, especially when it came to signing wills.” The tax side is “really complicated but very interesting: some clients had assets that blew my mind, so learning how to plan in the most tax-efficient way was cool.” HMRC’s recent tightening of overseas regulations meant “we’ve had to tell clients that what they’ve been doing for years can’t be done anymore.” Speaking of changes to tax rules, the team recently worked with Plymouth-based Tower Cabs on the tax elements concerning the sale of the company, which has been receiving Covid-19 tax payments. Sources scored this seat particularly well for encouraging matter management: “I had loads of small matters then a few bigger ones, which helped my organisational skills no end.”

Legacy and trusts litigation is a separate seat, but one interviewee explained that “I used lots of what I learned in the tax and trusts team, especially for probate work.” This group primarily works with charities, managing legacy income for Cancer Research, The National Trust, Dogs Trust and The Salvation Army, to name just a few. The litigious side sees rookies deal with will disputes, which often involve land law. A recent example saw the group represent a landowner in a dispute with Vodafone concerning the company’s telecommunications mast, which remained on site after the land lease had ended.

Agricultural work, development work, and commercial leases often crop up in commercial property. One source noted “we have lots of private clients who want to sell their land to developers, so I dealt with leases, reviewed titles and attended client meetings.” The team also works with a number of household names, including Berkeley Homes and B&Q. The team recently advised Cornwall Council on the acquisition of 120 acres of land at Langarth, Truro, as part of its development of Langarth Garden Village. Sources also took part in a fair few research projects in this seat: “That helped me learn more about the impact of commercial real estate on our clients.”

"I got to negotiate NDAs, even though it was only my first seat!"

Over in the corporate group, the firm acts on both the buyer and seller sides, typically working with SMEs on the latter. Private equity houses often appear in the firm’s investment work: “On those matters, I’d do the first draft of ancillaries but I also negotiated NDAs with the other side even though it was only my first seat!” The team recently assisted the executive management team of ClimateCare, an environmental and social impact B-Corp, on its investment with Averna Capital into the company. Trainees felt the seat involved interesting subject matter, good client and partner interaction and the chance to hone their legal skills. “This seat was completely different to my other seats because I was working with businesses, rather than private clients,” one reflected. As such, sources were surprised to find high levels of client contact: “I did a few in-person completions, then I attended loads of client meetings remotely. Working from home meant I wasn’t stuck doing bundling, I got to work that was actually important.”

The employment folks were kept busy with “copious amounts of support work for the corporate team,” including the employment side of bolt-on acquisitions. For example, the group advised hybrid IT services company Ensono on the employment aspects of its $405 million acquisition of Wipro’s multi-jurisdictional data services. Rookies were pleased to find a mix of both contentious and non-contentious work: “I went to a few tribunals, which I doubt I’d have done if we weren’t working remotely, because the tribunal is miles away from the office.” Trainees were keen to highlight “we’ve moved away from the claimant work we did historically; these days, we’re usually on the employer side.” Some interviewees cited the ever-evolving nature of the practice area as a motivation for wanting to qualify there: “We get to react to real-life situations, like applying the Equality Act to gender confirmation cases.”

Trainee Life

Many trainees felt the firm was lacking in certain areas of diversity, but the good news is “the firm is taking action on this and maintaining momentum.” Trainees (and all new starters) have to complete five D&I training modules, like 'How to Avoid Causing Offence': “You can type whatever training you want into the system and it’ll show you the options. I’ve just typed in ‘D&I’ and 339 training sessions have come up.”

"The majority of my training contract has been incredible. I’ve rarely worked past 6pm."

Interviewees also praised the increased focus on mental health during the pandemic. For example, each office now has a mental health first-aider: “I’ve always found chatting with my colleagues really helpful. Partners often check in to make sure we’re not working over capacity.” The firm also offers a ‘lifestyle hour’, which allows anyone to start or finish an hour later once a week or take a two-hour lunch break. Better still, ‘family hours’ mean employees can swap a day’s annual leave for 15 hour-long slots which can be taken throughout the year. That’s not to say people have to put in overly lengthy hours outside of these schemes: rookies work 43-hour weeks on average: “The majority of my training contract has been incredible. I’ve rarely worked past 6pm, and on the odd occasion I’ve had a longer day, the firm’s made sure I’ve had a dinner break.” Although the salary is inevitably lower outside the capital, Foot Anstey doles out more than the average regional.

“There was complete transparency and compassion throughout lockdown.”

All trainees (barring one who was on secondment) were furloughed for up to three months when the pandemic hit: “The firm acted reservedly, which was the right decision for our future growth.” Trainees also noted: “They decided they couldn’t maintain the same level of training outside the office, as ordinarily we sit next to partners in the office, which means we learn lots through osmosis.” Despite these initial disruptions, trainees were pleased to report “there was complete transparency and compassion throughout lockdown.” As restrictions have started easing, sources were pleased to get “opportunities to go into the office and catch up, which has been lovely.”

Foot Anstey typically begins the qualification process earlier than other firms but delayed things this year due to the pandemic: “We spent longer in our third seat because of furlough.” Rookies rank their first and second department choices, then write a personal statement in response to three set questions: “If you don’t get a job, there’s plenty of time to look elsewhere.” In 2021, the firm retained 10 of 12 qualifiers.

Put your best foot forward

Trainees get two CSR days a year: “This year each department did a fundraiser related to the number eight - the corporate group did 8 million steps.” The money raised goes to the Foot Anstey Foundation, which supports local charities.

How to get a Foot Anstey training contract  

Vacation scheme deadline (2022) : 1 April 2022  

Training contract deadline: 1 May 2022  

Applications and interviews  

Foot Anstey receives over 450 applications a year. Initial applications take the form of a CV, cover letter, and an online application form where candidates answer a number of key questions, usually focused on commercial awareness. Early Careers Specialist Debbie Moors notes “this is the candidate’s opportunity to show they have understood both the question and Foot Anstey, thoroughly researched their answer from a commercial perspective and put together a well-constructed, analytical answer with no errors.” Following a live video interview consisting of around five questions, between 24 and 30 candidates will then be invited to an assessment day. 

The assessment consists of two interviews with a partner and member of HR, a written exercise and a group exercise. The first interview lasts for around 40 to 45 minutes and “all candidates are asked the same questions in order to ensure that everyone has the same experience.” For the second interview, candidates are given a news article to read and asked to discuss this and its impact on the firm.  All of the assessments are aimed to identify a number of key qualities in candidates, including “commercial acumen, drive, resilience, and potential to become an outstanding business advisor and solicitor.”   

Vacation Scheme  

Foot Anstey runs a one week-long summer vacation scheme, for which applications follow the same format as the training contract assessment days above. Vac Schemers work within one team during their time and “can expect to experience supervised trainee work, attend team meetings and attend client meetings.” Alongside a senior lawyer supervisor, they will also be allocated a ‘buddy’ who will be an existing trainee or NQ. The week also includes a series of insight sessions to help students learn about the firm’s practice areas, as well as social events for attendees to “get to know our existing trainees in a relaxed setting.”  

The 2022 summer vacation scheme will take place in June 2022.  

Trainee profile   

Applicants should have a minimum of BBB at A-level and a 2:1 at degree-level to be considered (unless extenuating circumstances apply). While Foot Anstey doesn’t look for specific backgrounds or personality types, Debbie Moors explains “we look for candidates with a positive, ‘can do’ approach, who embrace opportunities with enthusiasm.” For law fairs, the firm typically focuses on those in the South West, however it welcomes applications from across the country and abroad. 

Foot Anstey LLP

Salt Quay House,
4 North East Quay,

  • Partners: 48
  • Associates: 210
  • Total trainees: 22
  • UK offices: Bristol, Exeter, London, Plymouth, Southampton, Taunton and Truro
  • Contacts  
  • Graduate recruiter: Debbie Moors,
  • Tel: 02380 173042
  • Training partner: Katie-Jane Rees,
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 12
  • Applications pa: 450+
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or other
  • Minimum A levels: BBB
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 15
  • Dates and deadlines 
  • Training contract applications open: 1 October 2021
  • Training contract deadline, 2023/2024 start: 1 May 2022
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 1 October 2021
  • Vacation scheme 2022 deadline: 1 April 2022
  • Salary and benefits 
  • First-year salary: £31,500
  • Second-year salary: £33,600
  • Post-qualification salary: £48,000 (Bristol), £47,000 (outside Bristol)
  • Holiday entitlement: 25 days plus bank holidays
  • Sponsorship  
  • LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: £5,000
  • International and regional 
  • Client secondments: Yes, including the Virtual Trainee programme

Firm profile
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, Property Litigation, Islamic Finance, Planning & Environmental, Commercial, Corporate, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family and Legacies & Trust Litigation 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.

Vacation scheme
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.

Other benefits
All trainees are entitled to our benefits package which includes: 25 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
We offer work experience to 1st year students in the summer. All candidates will need to apply online via or contact for information. We hold open evenings for potential trainees throughout the year which provide an opportunity to find out more about the firm, the application process and to network with trainees and lawyers.

University law careers fairs 2022
Bristol, Exeter, Birmingham, Southampton, University of Law, BPP, Cambridge, All Wales Virtual Careers Fair, South East Virtual Careers Fair, Warwick, Durham.

Diversity, inclusion & welbeing
‘Powering your ambition’ summarises what we stand for as a firm. It means that 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. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is essential to delivering our strategy, and we were delighted to be awarded the National Equality Standard accreditation at first time of assessment in 2018 and to successfully renew this in 2021 and in doing so, achieving the highest score for a law firm. In 2019 we built on our approach through an additional Diversity & Inclusion sub-group of the Partnership Board to develop further our strategic diversity and inclusion priorities for 2019 – 2023.

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.

Social media
Twitter: @joinfootanstey
Facebook: @footansteycareers
LinkedIn: @FootAnsteyLLP
Instagram: @footanstey_careers

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Agriculture & Rural Affairs (Band 2)
    • Family/Matrimonial (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
    • Charities: Legacy Disputes (Band 1)
    • Defamation/Reputation Management (Band 5)