This venture capital leader proves that the best things can come in small packages.
Marriott Harrison training contract review 2024
“For me, size was really important. I wanted to be part of a smaller environment so I could get exposure to more things,” recalled one trainee when we asked what the firm’s appeal was. Others noted that the smaller headcount facilitated a close-knit group: “I was looking for a great place to train, where I could have direct access to good work and establish close relationships with partners.” This is helped by the firm’s flat hierarchy. According to training principal David Strong, “We want trainees to feel like they can speak to partners. Trainees have a voice and are part of the firm from day one, having access to firm life and getting involved in client-facing things.” With no more than three trainees joining a year and with just over 50 lawyers at the firm, we can see the appeal of a small firm. But, according to Strong, “We have been growing a lot over the past few years. Revenue especially has increased significantly, and there if a feeling of excitement in the firm about our progress."
“When you look into venture capital work, Marriott Harrison is well known in the space."
Another factor of appeal to our sources was the firm's expertise: “When you look into venture capital work, Marriott Harrison is well known in the space. It’s rare to find a firm of this size that is so good at it.” Others were intrigued by the “techy clients the venture capital market brings in.” And they were not wrong! According to the Chambers UK rankings, the firm is ranked highly for its work in private equity: venture capital investment and corporate M&A: deals worth £10 to 100 million. The firm recently moved to a new location: “It’s made a significant improvement to how we work together,” explained Strong. “We have a hot-desking system, meaning people get to sit next to colleagues from other teams who they mightn’t otherwise sit with, which helps make everyone more collaborative.” Although there isn’t a requirement to go into the office, we were told that “the offices are full every day because people want to be here.”
Due to the tiny trainee cohort, “you tend to get what you want” in terms of seats. The allocation process is very straightforward: “A couple of months into each seat, you put forward the top three choices for your next seat.” In the words of Aleksandr the meerkat, “Simples!” As is the case at most firms, the further through the training contract you are, the higher your preferences are prioritised; “but the firm does try to make sure people get what they want.” If for any reason the firm places newer trainees into a seat they don’t want, “the firm will strike up a bargain with you to guarantee you will get your choice next time.” Interviewees confirmed the process is flexible and based on open communication: “I’m happy with what I got!”
One of the most popularseats at the firm was corporate. The majority of our interviewees had sat in this department, largely because the group “makes up a large percentage of the firm.” This work focuses on venture capital and small to mid-market deals (typically up to £50 million), with a dibble-dabble into capital markets and private equity work to boot. Trainees admitted that “there is lots of admin work due to the nature of the practice,” but responsibilities can range from project management to drafting transaction documents.
“These companies are really exciting and forward-thinking in what they do, which is a cool aspect of the job.”
Sources were particularly pleased with the amount of client contact: “There was a lot, which I really enjoyed, although the first few times they rang I was like OMG!” They recently advised cryptosecurity training platform Hack the Box on a financing round. Trainees highlighted that “these companies are really exciting and forward-thinking in what they do, which is a cool aspect of the job.”
Commercial is another seat option, which is split into three subgroups: IP, contracts and data protection. In contrast to the big corporate group, the commercial group is slightly smaller with three partners spread across the three focuses, plus one paralegal and trainee. This means newbies get “exposure to the hardest stuff.” When it comes to contract work, sources found they were “checking contracts and drafting agreements on my own, with the support of a partner.” The firm is currently acting for oat milk brand Minor Figures on the protection of its trademarks worldwide. In the data protection arm, typical day-to-day life includes “completing a lot of legal updates because there are just so many, but it is an interesting section of the law." On the IP side, “there are similar research tasks, but into the backgrounds of trademark dispute, plus drafting letters of communication.” Generally speaking, “this is not the seat to do if you want admin-style tasks, which is a big plus if you are interested in the topics we cover!”
“If you tell them you want difficult work, they will give it to you.”
With dispute resolution, the team’s work revolves around company and shareholder disputes with clients such as technology companies, high net worth individuals and financial institutions. For example, the firm defended packaging company Kazakhstan Kagazy against a claim brought by Harbour Fund III alleging the fund was entitled to the proceeds of a $300 million judgment in the US. Trainees explained “the firm deals with a massive range of disputes and I really enjoyed the variety. Because there is so much to do, you really do feel like you are learning.” Because the team is relatively small compared to the other teams (“there are two partners and a couple of associates”), sources were able to get their hands on some meaty work: “I recall being directly involved in witness statements and attending chambers to formulate the statements.” Standard tasks tended to include “having a first stab at arguments and reviewing case law.” People loved the team, claiming “everyone is lovely; if you tell them you want difficult work, they will give it to you, and you let them know if you’re drowning!”
Something that kept trainees afloat was the training. In the early stages, newbies are given departmental introduction sessions. “They are led by each department head, who gives you an overview of the group. You are pretty set in your roles when you get there so the departments want trainees to know what they are getting involved in and where the market is currently sitting.” After this, trainees attend formal training sessions run by associates every couple of weeks. This includes practical work training, plus presenting a topic of their interest: “I did one session on bundling which is important when you go up the ranks.” Other support highlighted was day-to-day feedback and cross-departmental training for collaboration.
However, some identified that the best support came from working with those around them. The aforementioned new office “has created a very open culture. You can speak to anyone and everyone.” Some praised the opportunities this led to: “You can create relationships with partners really quickly as you sit next to them every day. They really take you under their wing!” The real benefit for one was “sitting next to the partner who brings in chocolate!” Perfect for the mid-week pick-me-ups, we think!
“We play lots of five-a-side football matches against clients, then go out together afterwards.”
What else boosts morale for juniors? “There are always social events after work,” one trainee told us: “I love an ad hoc drink at the pub down the road.” There are also planned social events for trainees which were praised by interviewees: “The firm took us all to minigolf, and we did a panic room together as well!” A couple of trainees were also involved in the firm’s football team: “We play lots of five-a-side football matches against clients, then all out together afterwards which is great for networking. We have won every game, so we are quite good!” Looks like the Premier League should be looking to MH for their next upcoming players...
Another aspect the firm scored well in was the push for diversity and inclusion. An element of this was MH Discovery: “There is a discovery panel where we can talk about concerns around these matters.” Topics have included homelessness and unconscious bias. In terms of representation at the firm, “the more trainee intakes we get, the clearer the effort for hiring diverse classes becomes.” Overall, “the firm and its people are conscious about different cultures and people are always making an effort to embrace different cultures and viewpoints.”
There is also no formal hours requirement, but sources averaged 9am to 6pm: “The work-life balance is great. Work is not the be-all and end-all.” The salary was described as “lower than other places across London,” but newbies put that down to “a reflection of what's expected of us versus what's expected at other places.”
Like many aspects of the firm, the qualification process is pretty informal. “There are no interviews or application forms.” The firm is known to use appraisals as a point of reference instead. The trainees are “encouraged to have conversations early on about what lies in their heart so we can get the ball rolling in case the seat is popular.” The most popular choice was identified as corporate across all classes. (Unsurprisingly, it is the biggest practice area after all). In 2023, the firm kept on all five qualifiers.
Marriott Harri-CSR: The firm recently donated over £25,000 worth of office equipment to Waste to Wonder.
How to get a Marriott Harrison training contract
The vacation scheme route
At Marriott Harrison, the vacation schemes take place during the months of June and July and each one lasts for one week. To apply, students must submit an online application form, with all applications being reviewed on an anonymised basis to ensure an inclusive hiring process. Candidates that are successful at the application stage will be invited to complete a video interview of around five questions, with a select number of these candidates being invited to attend the scheme.
When reviewing applications and video interviews, Marriott Harrison likes to see applicants that have real-life practical work experience (legal or otherwise) and demonstrations of transferrable skills learnt; extra-curricular activities showing the candidate as a well-rounded individual with interests outside the workplace; dynamism, adaptability and ambition to develop.
During the vacation scheme, students have the opportunity to work with multiple departments across the firm and are given real-life client work. Students are also required to take on formal tasks such as a written exercise, a debate and a presentation; training from associates is also offered. During the week, students can get to know members of the firm through a variety of social events. Students who impress during the scheme will be invited to a final-stage partner interview.
During interviews, the firm is looking for candidates who know themselves and the firm and can demonstrate why they would be a good fit and why they want to work here. The firm is also looking for candidates with a ‘can-do’ attitude who would hit the ground running as trainees and beyond.
Currently, all externally-hired trainees are recruited through the summer vacation scheme. The firm recruits one year in advance, so is looking for candidates who would be available to commence a training contract in September 2025 and would have completed their LPC or SQE in full before joining.
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 careers before joining the legal profession, while others have considerable experience at magic circle or major city firms, and an increasing number are homegrown.
Corporate, Commercial Real Estate, Business Restructuring, Banking, Commercial, IP/IT, Employment and Dispute Resolution.
Seat options: Corporate, Business Restructuring & Banking, Commercial & IP/IT, Employment, Dispute Resolution and Commercial Real Estate.
4 x 6-month seats, with most trainees completing at least one corporate seat. All trainees are supervised by a partner or senior associate.
MH usually hires 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 three 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 January each year.
Pension scheme with enhanced contributions, private medical cover, life assurance, permanent health insurance, season ticket loans, financial planning support, family friendly benefits including enhanced maternity/adoption/paternity pay, employee assistance programme; Help@hand health and wellbeing services and CSR days.
The firm is committed to diversity and wellbeing and is naturally inclusive. It has an internal programme of talks entitled “MH Discover”, which is the initiative of various partners, associates and trainees. Previous topics include Unconscious Bias, Domestic Violence, Art and the Visual Diet, Work/Life Balance, Homelessness and Sustainability. The firm is also part of the Let Me Play initiative, hosting networking events to give tips and advice to 14–17-year-old students from a mix of backgrounds considering a career in law.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Corporate/M&A: £10-100 million (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 3)