Two’s company at this City double act that offers trainees top contentious and transactional experience.
Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt training contract review 2024
Memory can be a slippery thing, but fortunately with law firms you can usually be crystal clear about what’s going on, so let us explain the set up at this particular firm. Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt are two brands operating as one legal entity. Both firms were acquired by RBG Holdings, but have retained their separate brand identities to prevent any dilution of what they’re known for: in Rosenblatt’s case, this is disputes and financial crime work, while Memery Crystal stands out for its corporate/M&A, real estate, and capital markets know-how (you can see for yourself by taking a look at the firm’s Chambers UK rankings here).
"... an interesting mix of sectors such as medical cannabis, sport, and technology.”
“For the trainees who joined since the union, it doesn’t even feel like they were two separate firms,” explained a first-year interviewee. “ As one trainee who joined through Memery Crystal put it: “It looked quite unique in the way it grounded itself, focusing on an interesting mix of sectors such as medical cannabis, sport, and technology.” And, for many of our interviewees, the firm hit the sweet spot when it came to trainee cohort size, offering “a sense of community without being just one face among the masses.” Lots of our interviewees seemed to agree that the firm struck the balance of big work with a cosy feel, and it was the “greater focus on work-life balance than the larger, scarier firms” that ultimately sealed the deal.
Trainees have their first seat assigned to them by HR, but we heard that they take newbies’ prior experience into account. From the second seat onwards, trainees can submit preferences that are then taken into consideration. Sources mentioned that employment and CIPT are typically reserved for second years as they’re so popular but, more generally, second-years are prioritised in the seat allocation process. One interviewee summarised, “there’s a good mix of seats on offer, and we’ve got a strong offering of both transactional and contentious practices if you’re open-minded and looking to experience it all.”
“I tried out virtually every typical corporate transaction and got a really wide range of experience.”
The firm’s corporate practice is split largely between M&A and equity capital markets, and trainees get a flavour of both sides. Sources felt there was a good variety of both public and private M&A matters with clients across industries, such as entertainment, environment and education. Simon Cowell might not be the first name you think of when it comes to corporate M&A, but the team advised his company, Syco Entertainment, on a unique $125 million transaction involving the securitisation of its Got Talent intellectual property. The main tasks for trainees on such matters are due diligence, drafting ancillary documents, and updating document lists. Interviewees mentioned opportunities to participate in client calls, liaise with other departments in the firm, and draft some bigger sale purchase agreements, disclosure letters or stock transfer forms. A trainee summed up, “I tried out virtually every typical corporate transaction and got a really wide range of experience.”
It turns out verification processes are a pretty infamous part of IPOs and equity capital markets work if you're a trainee here. “It’s a rite of passage,” an interviewee quipped. “It can be a bit laborious, but the team does a very good job of making sure one trainee isn’t stuck doing that for six months.” However, insiders explained that plenty of more substantial responsibility can be expected once that’s out of the way, especially since trainees often work with just a partner on matters. These are typically with smaller companies listing their shares on AIM, a subsection of the London stock market. Trainees said they’ve been involved in raising funds, negotiating investment documents and drafting subscription agreements. “It’s a good seat for client contact, and the partners let you take control,” an interviewee explained. “You can jump on calls with clients and discuss the verification of various presentation and admission documents.”
Real estate covers a mix of residential and commercial work, as well as private client and property finance. Newbies can get a variety of responsibility on the commercial side, working on both landlord- and tenant-side matters. The group has worked with various property companies such as Dandi Living, Countryside Properties and Telford Homes, as well as other companies looking to buy and sell property.Interviewees felt it’s “a great seat for learning the soft skills you need to be a lawyer.” Tasks range from the more typical lease review and land registry applications to some more hefty drafting of licences and sections of reports on title.There’s a lot of day-to-day admin, such as updating document checklists, conducting searches on land, and handling due diligence. However, one trainee was grateful for the case management experience: “you get a lot of opportunity to run cases and do a few completions. It’s daunting at first, but once you’ve gone through the process it becomes easier.”
“Even if you’re just doing admin, you’ll be involved in the trial so you can see how your task fits into the bigger picture.”
A seat with the disputes team gives trainees the chance to get involved in a variety of litigation and arbitration matters. A trainee elaborated, “these often have quite an international edge to them, and I’ve seen disputes relating to loans, insolvency, agency and employment.” For instance, the team worked with a capital markets company on its claims against the Republic of Mozambique concerning the $500 million funding of infrastructure projects in the country. Trainees in this seat get to grips with the standard document review, disclosure and bundling tasks, but our interviewees valued the opportunity to see matters through to the end. According to an interviewee, “even if you’re just doing admin, you’ll be involved in the trial so you can see how your task fits into the bigger picture.” There are opportunities to get stuck into some drafting as well, and trainees had tried writing up witness statements and corresponded with the other side, clients and the court. “I was chucked in the deep end from my very first week and I’m as responsible as anyone else to understand the case,” a trainee enthused. “Everyone’s working together to put together the best claim or defence possible.”
The coveted CIPT (Commercial, IP and Technology) seat gives an insight into the firm’s data protection and media work, alongside its strong gambling practice. That said, betting on the CIPT seat for great contractual experience is no gamble, as trainees can try their hand at drafting and reviewing a variety of commercial agreements and documents. Interviewees appreciated working in an area that's developing as quickly as gambling: “If you like looking through legislation, it’s a great sector to get involved in. You deal with data and GDPR, drafting agreements and trying out some contentious work, too.” The clientele is more varied than you might expect for such a niche sector, and includes ITV, Fulham FC, The Health Lottery and Buzz Bingo. On the IP side, newbies can get involved in trademark infringement, domain name and copyright disputes. There’s also plenty of corporate support, such as reviewing the IP, data protection and other commercial contracts of target companies in acquisitions. “It’s a great way to develop relationships with people across the firm,” one trainee told us, “I also learned the essential elements of different contracts and what makes one unusual.”
We heard that the culture is still adjusting following the union, and this means there’s “limitless opportunity to seize initiative and make the office a bit more fun!” Sources generally agreed there’s been a concerted effort to put on more socials. Alongside the standard Christmas and summer parties, there are monthly Thirsty Thursday events and quiz nights here and there. The firm’s diversity committee also hosts a variety of social events in line with its initiatives or various religious holidays. Insiders mentioned recent events for Black History Month and Pride. More broadly, trainees appreciated that it’s a place where “everyone gets on and asks how your weekend was or how your hobbies are going.” This was described as largely consistent across all levels and departments, especially since “there aren’t any partners who would bite your head off if you reach out to them to ask for help.”
As you might expect, hours vary depending on which department trainees are in. Although we heard real estate was busy at the time of our research, it was described as largely predictable, alongside banking and CIPT. Interviewees explained how, on the whole, a standard finish time would be between 5.30 and 6pm, while a corporate or disputes seat might mean a few post-midnight finishes. Some even suggested that verification processes can take up a weekend here or there. That said, sources were grateful that their hard work was “noticed and appreciated. You never feel like your extra work goes ignored.” Trainees noted that the salary is slightly lower than other city firms with similar practices (although the firm recently raised these). One interviewee was grateful for the fact that “partners respect when you’ve got plans. It’s never ‘you’ve got to do this.’ Although there’s an underlying expectation, they do it in a friendly way and ask if you’re OK.”
The firm is this year implementing a new hybrid working policy that means everyone will be expected to come into the office a minimum of two days a week. For trainees who do come into the office, not only do they get to share a building with the lovely Chambers Student team at 165 Fleet Street, but they can also do some light lunchtime socialising with the rest of the trainee cohort in the office canteen. “That’s made the most difference for me when it comes to integrating into the firm,” said an interviewee. More generally, sources highlighted how there’s a “collaborative buzz around the place,” especially since the open plan setup means there’s no need to knock on any doors if you’ve got any questions.
“It was quite a thrill to be asked for my take. It made me feel valued and important to the team.”
With most training taking place on the job, interviewees highlighted supervision as a strength of the firm. One source sang the praises of their supervisor, claiming “I really grew as a lawyer and a person under their supervision. I know I have people I can go to with questions, no matter how stupid they might be!” Praise indeed, and this was a sentiment shared by many of our interviewees. “I worked closely with a senior lawyer who was keen to get my opinion on a matter once we’d built a relationship,” said another trainee. “It was quite a thrill to be asked for my take. It made me feel valued and important to the team.”
NQs at the firm described the qualification process as mostly transparent and informal. HR send out the jobs list and fourth-seaters email back with their preference. “There’s no CV, no cover letter, and no interview if you’re the only applicant,” a trainee explained. “I just got a call from the head of the department a few days later offering me the job.” As is often the case, spaces are made available based on business need, and the firm retained five out of six qualifiers in 2023.
Gaze into the Crystal ball
The future generation of solicitors can get an insight into life at the firm through RBG’s partnership with Sutton Trust, where students from underrepresented backgrounds visit to shadow trainees.
How to get a Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt training contract
- Training Contract Deadline (2025 & 2026): 14 June 2024 (applications open 7 December 2023)
Applications and interviews
For those interested in applying for our joint Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt training contract Training Principal, Simon Walton, says “we want people with something to offer the firm and our clients.” Such as? “We look for applicants who show a variety of experience, a passion for the areas of law we operate in, as well as displaying a mix of other interests.” On top of an interest in the firm’s practice areas, the firm is looking for “people who want to form part of a team, learn the ropes, and get stuck in. The law is led and leads current affairs so being curious and interested in the world around you helps.”
The first step to landing a training contract at the firm, is completing the online application form. Applications are blind reviewed by two different people of the graduate team, before selected individuals are invited to an initial interview with a senior lawyer and a member of the HR team. Those successful at this stage are then invited to one of the firm’s assessment centres. During that assessment candidates do a range of exercises, which involve both legal and non-legal related scenarios, says Walton. “The exercises are designed to collectively test a broad range of skillsets,including understanding commercial awareness, testing cognitive ability as well as assessing communication skills.” Walton adds, “we want to understand candidates’ organisation and time-management skills, their ability to prioritise tasks and their attention to detail. An important aspect for candidates to consider will be to take their time with their answers.” Walton warns, “it’s common for us to add some ‘trick’ questions. It’s important that responses are well thought through. Applicants should also ask for clarification if there is anything they’re not sure of.”
Those successful at assessment centre will then be invited to a final stage interview with two partners.
Walton adds that “we advise candidates refresh their memory of their application form as it’s inevitable questions will come back related to this. Make sure you’re clear on what you know about us, why you want to join and what you think you could bring to the firm. It’s important to remember that assessments are a two-way process – just as much as we want to learn how you would be a fit for us, you should do the same, asking yourself ‘Can I see myself here? Is this going to be a good match for me?’”
Walton describes the firm as “a great place for ambitious people. It doesn’t mean everyone has gone to the same university or arrived at their legal career in the same way. We have some very successful lawyers who came from industry, one of our partners was an engineer before moving into the law.” In other words, be able to demonstrate your drive.
All interviews will take place in July 2024, following the application deadline on 14 June 2024.
The firm tells us that all applications are read by at least two members of the graduate recruitment team and are compared against its minimum criteria. “We set our minimum criteria for potential applicants based on their academic achievements,” says Walton. “You should have very good GCSE results or its equivalent (or a minimum of ABB at A level or equivalent), have no less than 128 UCAS points (or their equivalent, this is 320 UCAS points in the old tariff) at one sitting, and a 2.1 degree at university (or be on course for a 2.1 degree).” Walton adds, “we recognise that not all applicants fulfil these criteria; however you should only apply if you have other strong qualities.”
Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt
165 Fleet St,
Where great minds dare to be different. We are two distinct law firm brands under one corporate umbrella: disputes powerhouse, Rosenblatt, and the choice of growth companies and their leaders, Memery Crystal.
With two brands ambitious trainees get dual insight and exposure to diverse, interesting, and challenging work for motivated, often high-profile, clients. Our teamwork, inventive, open culture and agile approach means we set milestones for our clients and our competition.
Founded in 1989, Rosenblatt is completely focused on Dispute Resolution. We are best known for being aggressive, outcome-driven litigators; in high-profile, high-value complex cases. Competitive in the best sense, and international in our reputation and reach, we are known for our insistence on the highest standards and our determination to achieve results. From the CEO of a FTSE company to an ambitious entrepreneur, each client can expect consistent access to our Partners who lead agile, responsive teams of experts, united by a shared ethos and a powerful sense of purpose.
Founded in 1978, sister brand Memery Crystal is a recognised leader in equity capital markets, M&A, real estate, and natural resources. We also specialise in cannabis, gambling, direct selling, hotels, retail and leisure, and technology sectors. We act for a broad range of clients, from individual entrepreneurs and owner-managed businesses, to city institutions and multi-national corporations. At Memery Crystal we are renowned for having a strong international focus, which we see as vital to our vision of remaining distinct in a globalising economy. In addition, we have considerable cross-border transactional experience and have built strong relationships with other advisers around the world.
Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt are trading names RBG Legal Services Limited, which is the legal services division of professional services group AIM-listed RBG Holdings plc. Memery Crystal was acquired by RBG Holdings plc in 2021.
Main areas of work
Memery Crystal’s suite of practice areas include banking & finance, equity capital markets, M&A, construction, real estate, commercial, IP and technology, employment, financial regulation, and tax. Clients include well-known companies and financial institutions, owner-managed businesses, HNW individuals and entrepreneurs.
Rosenblatt’s international ground-breaking disputes offering includes commercial litigation, international arbitration, defamation, financial crime, insolvency, and civil fraud. Professional practices, financial services, media, leisure and HNW individual clients all seek incisive action on contentious commercial issues.
Trainees will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience across both Memery Crystal and Rosenblatt brands, providing trainees with dual insight and exposure to diverse, interesting, and challenging work for motivated, often high-profile, clients. This takes place through four six-month rotations, with preference given to second years of their seat choices. During their training contract trainees are given on-the-job training and mentoring and are invited to all sessions in the firm’s internal training programme. Due to our partner-led service, trainees will work closely with partners from both brands and will receive regular feedback in addition to their appraisals every three months with their supervisor.
25 days’ holiday (increases to 30 days with length of service), private medical insurance, life assurance, interest-free season ticket loan, group pension scheme and cycle to work scheme.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
Visit Rosenblatt and Memery Crystal's websites.
- Real Estate: £10-50 million, London
- Capital Markets: AIM, UK-wide
- Corporate/M&A: £10-100 million, London
- Gaming, UK-wide
- Energy & Natural Resources: Mining: International, UK-wide