Memery Crystal - True Picture

Explore the Memery Crystal maze, where the AIM of the game is “quality commercial work in a smaller environment.”

 

The Firm



Here’s a TV gameshow pitch for you: Memery Crystal Maze. It’s like Crystal Maze, except instead of the Aztec, medieval and futuristic zones, you get to explore sectors like financial services, technology, natural resources, retail, and leisure. As for the players (aka the trainees), the aimof their game wasfinding “a firm that had quality commercial work in a smaller environment. Memery Crystal reflects that really well.” The firm’s relatively smaller size means trainees found they could be “a bigger cog in a smaller machine.”

“It’s exciting to have a reputation in a sector that technically doesn’t exist yet!”

Memery Crystal is well-known for its expertise on the Alternative Investment Market, with a high national ranking in AIM capital markets from Chambers UK. The AIM market is designed for growing companies, so lawyers here are often dealing with different types of businesses, and not just well-established financial services outfits. For example, trainees described the firm’s ambitions “to be the primary firm in the country for cannabis work.” Medicinal cannabis isn’t widely available in the UK at the moment, but “the idea is to be building a practice and hit the ground running as experts before it kicks off in the UK. It’s exciting to have a reputation in a sector that technically doesn’t exist yet!”

Interviewees were pleasantly surprised to find international work on offer too. The firm’s work in mining and natural resources feeds into its cross-border dealings as clients are often connected to projects based all over the world. Chambers UK recognises the firm’s mining expertise with a national ranking, and its lower mid-market real estate and M&A practices are also ranked in London.

The Seats



Memery Crystal’s current trainees agreed that “having a smaller intake works for our personal development.” The incoming 2020 class had their training contracts delayed by six months due to the pandemic, but were offered paralegal roles to bridge the gap.

Trainees are automatically assigned their first seat, with subsequent seats decided via mid-seat conversations with HR. “Broadly, you get what you want,” but if not, “next seat, your top choice is yours.” Occasionally the firm puts on split seats to accommodate preferences.

Corporate is the firm’s largest department with around 20 solicitors. The team does a mix of lower mid-market M&A and equity capital markets, but lawyers at all levels can “straddle both. You never have to choose!” On the capital markets side, this team does a lot of work with the firm’s cannabis clients, listing them on the LSE Main Market and AIM, and doing IPOs. The team recently advised video game developer tinyBuild on its admission to AIM for £340.6 million. It also helped Canadian company Yamana Gold in its £4.3 million listing on the Main Market. Mining clients like these are a large area for the department, with the firm acting for South African and Australian companies that mine gold as well as “raw materials used in batteries for renewable cars.” As you can tell, “international work comes into play” in this seat, but there’s also domestic matters too – the firm recently advised Telford Homes on its £38.1 million joint venture acquisition of Rotherhithe Gas Works, for example. “They try as much as possible to get you involved in transactions from the beginning to end,” sources said. “It gives you a bird’s eye view.” Trainees were responsible for handling due diligence and verification bundles, as well as writing board minutes and certificates. They also drafted documents such as Companies House filings.

“I’ve worked with clients in Asia, the USA and Australia.”

During a seat in dispute resolution, trainees might see litigation concerning commercial fraud, shareholder and company spats, insolvencies, and some arbitration work. Trainees got involved in matters spanning sectors such as shipping, mining and finance. “We deal with a lot of breaches of financial agreements,” one explained, “including cases of ridiculously high interest rates.” Work here again could be international in nature: “I’ve worked with clients in Asia, the USA and Australia.” The team recently acted as English law experts for Unibin Resources in Israeli proceedings concerning a dispute in an oil and gas exploration project. The firm also represented music licensing company Songtradr in a copyright dispute with rival company Ditto Music. One interviewee told us trainees in this seat get to “really hone your research skills – I really enjoyed using my research to dictate the strategy of what the correspondence would be to push back to the other side.” They also drafted witness statements, and handled some less glamorous tasks like disclosure, doc review and “some printing and filing.” When going to court or a hearing, trainees were responsible for “bundling, handing out papers and taking notes.”

Memery Crystal’s employment department handles mostly non-contentious matters on the employer side. Financial services and businesses in technology, energy, retail and fashion call on the firm for advice. “We cover a lot of high-profile departures,” which involves “drafting settlement agreements for them when they move to competitors. It’s interesting to read about the matter you’re dealing with in the press.” Mining and cannabis-related work crops up here too, with companies like Hempyre, Hempoland and Petra Diamonds on the books. The team recently acted for advisory firm Ridgeway Partners on the employment aspects of its sale to Teneo. Because the department is on the smaller side with just four lawyers, trainees often work directly with the partner: “You get involved in client meetings and often employment agreements.” Matters that are contentious often get taken to an employment tribunal. Trainees who saw this process were in charge of bundles and disclosure and drafted the court settlement agreement.

Trainee Life



For one trainee, what summed up the culture at Memery Crystal was – in all seriousness – a long-serving secretary in her 80s. Or to be more specific, the reverence the firm holds for said secretary, who’s worked at the firm since it was founded in 1978. “For her 80th birthday a couple of years ago, we had an afternoon tea and she invited her family,” trainees recounted. “The firm gave her presents and unveiled plans for the new office.” That included a bar and kitchen, which was affectionately named Stella’s after the legendary secretary. “Her name is up in lights on the wall!”

Split over three floors, the firm’s open plan office means “it’s easy to approach people and you can learn by osmosis.” When it comes to trainee development, “it’s a collaborative effort to train you – everyone wants to see you do well and succeed.” Though there’s an emphasis on giving responsibility, we heard partners “don’t throw you too deep too fast.” Supervisors give “very useful feedback and support,” and trainees can also reach out to their assigned mentor, who’s usually an associate a few years their senior. Interviewees rated their senior peers as “approachable and friendly – the general way of interacting is quite relaxed.” A smart/casual dress code means “people come in with their real identity, not just as a suit.”

“Fish Fridays is a thing.”

When it comes to diversity & inclusion, trainees observed there’s a “good ratio of women to men,” and a “push to include more BAME candidates in hiring.” Because of the size of Memery Crystal, trainees pointed out that “if one or two people leave it massively skews us on paper,” and several interviewees felt the firm’s statistics “aren’t always a reflection of our inclusive environment.”

During lockdown, trainees said the firm’s management “talked extensively about the importance of mental health,” and were aware of external mental health services available for employees to use. “During the pandemic they put emphasis on socials and keeping everyone in touch,” one said. “I’ve not felt isolated or anything in the last year.” We heard of monthly quizzes and a corporate cocktail-making night – “they sent loads of alcohol in boxes and then an instructor taught us on Zoom.” In the office, there’s “not a huge social trainee culture, though Fish Fridays is a thing” – when trainees sample the fish n’ chips of nearby pubs. The firm hosts firmwide drinks on the last Friday of the month and a formal black-tie Christmas party at a “fancy central London hotel.”

Pro bono was “the one area that could be improved,” one felt. “I know that associates and partners engage in it, but from a trainee standpoint it’s not something you really have a lot of time for.” But the firm “has a good attitude towards charity,” and picks an annual charity to raise money for through “cycling challenges, raffles, pub quizzes and other events.” This year four charities were picked: Love 146, Little Village HQ, Red Thread and Women for Refugee Women.

“I’d consider 8pm to be late.”

Though hours could be changeable, “I’d consider 8pm to be late.” In the office, trainees get dinner paid for after 8pm and a taxi home after 11pm. Of course, “sometimes you get an email in at 6.30pm for a large project,” but partners “make sure you get enough rest if you work really late.” Memery Crystal’s pay is in line with other City outfits.

Qualification conversations take place early in trainees’ fourth seat, “but the firm tries to make sure you have a jumpstart knowing where you are before the qualification application comes up.” Having a smaller intake “helps because it’s not a dogfight.” If two trainees want the same position, then a “more formal interview process takes place,” and if someone ultimately can’t qualify into their preferred department, “they support us in alternative arrangements.” Trainees were keen to continue at the firm, with one telling us: “I can see myself working here for years and years on end.”

 

AIM-ception: In a funny twist, the firm itself was recently bought for £30 million by AIM-listed company RBG Holdings (which also owns City firm Rosenblatt).

 

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This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: AIM (Band 2)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Mining (Band 3)