Consider booking a two-year stay at this fully-furnished corporate firm, offering five-star training in a prime location near Chancery Lane.
Hotel, motel, trainees are in
Whether they were seeking a training contract at a more tight-knit firm than the big boys of the City, or just stumbled across Marriott Harrison while looking for hotels, our trainee interviewees had similar reasons for checking in at MH: “A small trainee intake allows everyone to shine from the beginning; the firm has a strong reputation in venture capital and private equity markets; and you get to be part of a supportive family.” It’s certainly a smaller family than at many London firms – 39 qualified lawyers at the last count – and interviewees noticed that “everyone quickly gets to know your name and a bit about you. It’s easier to make friends in an environment like this.” They also pointed out that long-term career progression might be more feasible: “I can see myself making partner six or seven years after qualifying.”
“It’s easier to make friends in an environment like this.”
Marriott’s headcount may be small, but it earns notable nods from Chambers UK for its lower mid-market corporate M&A practice and receives recognition in the private equity and venture capital investment fields too.
The firm allocates first-seaters into their starting department, which “is usually in corporate because it’s the firm’s bread and butter.” Split seats aren’t unheard of – at the time of our interviews, some sources were splitting their time between corporate and employment. Trainees submit preferences of where they’d like to go next a month before rotating; our sources explained that “it’s possible to do two different seats in the corporate department,” which many considered a real selling point for Marriott Harrison.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Every trainee’s likely to spend time in corporate – what does it entail? “It’s a great mix of work” according to trainees: “We’re particularly known for venture capital, working with interesting start-ups and early stage companies. On the M&A and private equity side we deal with long standing clients with whom the partners have forged great relationships.” The team recently advised shareholders of Whizz Kid Entertainment (creators of Ex on the Beach and Lip Sync Battle UK) on the sale of 70% of its share capital to international media firm Entertainment One (owners of Peppa Pig) for £7 million. As for the venture capital side, MH acted for Thrive Capital in its investment into mobile-only bank Monzo as part of its recent £85 million Series E fundraising. Our interviewees described the corporate seat as “the most fast-paced with a lot of on-your-feet learning.” Trainees typically get to draft ancillary documents, liaise with clients during the verification process, create bibles and sit in on disclosure meetings. Insiders told us “the team can’t afford to not have trainees in contact with the clients. The resources aren’t there to just have you sit in the background so we’re encouraged to go to client meetings and after-work events with associates.”
The firm’s “relatively small”litigation department focuses on commercial disputes, company and shareholder litigation, arbitration, freezing injunctions, breach of trust and fraud. Strap up for international work: Marriott Harrison recently acted on behalf of Lithuanian airline UAB Avion Express in its $830,000 claim against Aruba’s national airline. As for shareholder and corporate disputes, the team recently acted on a £2.75 million spat relating to a client’s decision to withdraw as a shareholder from a leading provider of oil and gas drilling technology. Trainees here can expect to draft witness statements, letters of association, participate in mediations, create bundles, liaise with counsel and “take something up to trial from its inception. There is an admin side, but you get good exposure to drafting and supervising associates really pushed me in that seat.”
“The team can’t afford to not have trainees in contact with the clients.”
At Marriott Harrison, property means solely commercial real estate. The department is the second-biggest after corporate and trainees saw themselves as leading a “more traditional trainee role, acting in the background rather than being involved heavily with the clients. We normally draft reports on title and land registry applications.” Other common responsibilities include “assisting the corporate team with property due diligence, reviewing property documents and feeding them back to the partners.” The team as a whole deals with anything from leases to acquisition of freehold estates and landlord/tenant disputes. “We had a client who was a leaseholder and wanted to buy the freehold, but she couldn’t find the landlord,” one trainee recalled. “You’ll get weird one-off cases like that.” In a less weird work highlight, the firm assisted on the £20 million redevelopment of Banco de Sabadell bank’s former HQ on Pall Mall, following their move to the Leadenhall Building; the team also advised Templar Commercial Property Limited on various aspects of its £20 million acquisition of the landmark Spectrum office building in Bristol. Property trainees praised the department as a whole for their “friendly, helpful and supportive nature.”
The employment team mostly assists on non-contentious matters and provides corporate support: “It’s rare that clients approach the employment department with queries directly.” Interviewees who’d spent time here got drafting experience in the form of employment contracts, settlement agreements and handbooks. “We would usually undertake due diligence for transactions. For example, when the corporate team was working on a tech company fundraising we carried out the due diligence for the investment, checking for any red flags. It went all the way down to checking the sickness history of an employee who had been off-sick for longer than the regular allowance.” Intervieweesalso dealt with “more discrete issues such as any concerns about redundancy or drafting new contracts.” Making the most of occasional contentious work, trainees enjoyed attending tribunal hearings.
“Corporate really punches above the rest when it comes to being the busiest department,” and that translates to longer hours for trainees. “It isn’t unusual to find people in the office gone 10pm and you have to recognise that’s part of the job if you want to progress,” one dedicated insider told us. “You need to put the hard work in.” Other departments like real estate and litigation come with more regular 9:30am to 6pm working hours, but our sources advised future trainees “not to come to Marriott Harrison expecting a great work/life balance with easy hours just because it’s a small firm.” Consider yourself warned!
You may or may not be pleased to hear that “the firm believes that its size and the size of the trainee intake means it doesn’t need an HR department.” One trainee’s blissful lack of bureaucracy is another’s missing pastoral support, but there is “an informal mentorship scheme in place to deal with any work-related or personal issues.” Trainees seemed to agree that the “lovely and supportive members of the firm” made up for the non-existent HR, though some grumbled that the “cliquey corporate department see themselves as the top dogs because they’re the mothership of the firm. That’s a bit of a shame.”
“It isn’t unusual to find people in the office gone 10pm.”
Although this Marriott doesn’t come with a spa or swimming pool, the firm forks out for a decent social budget and there’s a pretty full calendar of events to encourage bonding. “We have drinks on the first Thursday of every month, and in August we had a great trip to Go Ape,” a trainee revealed. “We also went to Bounce to celebrate the marriage of two people at the firm.” Now that’s what we call bonding! When not practicing to catch a bouquet, trainees also get the chance to help organise a networking event for junior lawyers called ‘MH Connect’.
Come qualification, the small trainee cohort means there’s not much admin to sort out. The firm encourages trainees to make their future preferences clear at each of their appraisals: “If you’re good enough and they have the budget, you’ll get the job. There’s no interview process.” Sources assured us that good retention rates didn’t translate as the firm “hiring a surplus of trainees for additional support. They genuinely hire with the intention to grow the firm long-term.” MH retained three of four trainees in 2019.
Expect the unexpected in the Marriott Harrison Skype interview. One trainee recalled: “Apart from the usual questions, they threw me off by asking me to name as many uses of a spoon as I could!”
How to get a Marriott Harrison training contract
Apply for the training contract by completing the vacation scheme.
11 Staple Inn,
Total trainees 5 (first and second years, as at 1 September 2019
Graduate recruiter: Liz Arscott, [email protected]
Training partner: David Strong, [email protected]
Training contracts pa: 2-3
Applications pa: TBC
Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 unless mitigating circumstances
Minimum UCAS points or A levels: No set min
Vacation scheme places pa: 24
Dates and deadlines
Training contract applications open: Now open
Training contract deadline, 2021 start: 31/03/2020
Vacation scheme applications open: Now open
Vacation scheme 2020 deadline: 31/03/2020
Open day deadline date: N/A
Salary and benefits
First-year salary: £36,000
Second-year salary: £38,000
Post-qualification salary: TBD
Holiday entitlement: TBD
LPC fees: Fees paid for those about to start the LPC
GDL fees: no
Maintenance grant pa: no
International and regional
Offices with training contracts: London
Overseas seats: None
Client secondments: Sometimes
Marriott Harrison is a leading independent London law firm recognised for the high quality and personable approach of its lawyers.
The firm provides a partner-led service for clients across a wide range of commercial practice areas and sectors, with a particular focus on owner-managed businesses and investors into those enterprises. It operates at a level which is often only matched by firms several times larger, deploying specialist teams of lawyers who work at the highest levels of competence in each of its core practice areas.
The firm's lawyers have diverse professional backgrounds. Some have had previous non-legal careers, others have considerable experience at magic circle or major city firms and an increasing number are home grown.
Main areas of work
Corporate, commercial real estate, restructuring, banking, commercial, IP/IT, employment, dispute resolution.
Seat options: Corporate, Restructuring & banking, Commercial & IP/IT, Employment, Dispute resolution, & Real estate
4 x 6 month seats, with corporate and a contentious seat both compulsory. All trainees sit with a partner.
MH aims to hire its trainee solicitors exclusively from its summer vacation scheme.
Every participant in the summer vacation scheme will work in the office for one week between June and July and will typically attend with two other participants. Anyone ready to start a training contract in the following calendar year is eligible to apply, with applications to be made by 31 March each year.
Life insurance, private healthcare, weekly in-office yoga, season ticket loan, CSR days, enhanced pension contributions.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2019
- Corporate/M&A: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 3)