Squire Patton Boggs - True Picture

Despite the benefits of being part of a large US outfit, Squires retains a distinct UK identity.

It ain't easy being cheesy

Law  firm marketing can often be a it blah, but the motto of choice for Squire Patton Boggs – 'Local Connections, Global Influence' – neatly hits the nail on the head. Here's the wrap: back in 2011, national firm Hammonds merged with Ohio-based Squire Sanders, which then combined with DC-based Patton Boggs in 2014 – what did it create? Well, a blend of the local, and the global. "I know these law firm tag lines are cheesy," commented one source, "but I think it's fairly reflective of the firm. There is obviously quite an influence from the US because it's such an established firm, but I don't feel like we are an outpost. We are very much a national firm with an international element on the side."

At the time of our calls there were 18 trainees in the firm's London office, 12 in Leeds, 11 in Birmingham, and eight in Manchester. “We are located where we are because of regional clients in the North West, North East, Midlands and London. From these bases, we cover the entire country and further afield,” says training principal Giles Chesher. As a result, each office retains individual importance, helping out on cross-border work, but also servicing local clients. Assessed together, Chambers UK affirms the firm's national reach, calling it a national leader outside of London for banking and finance, employment, pensions, restructuring and tax. In London, the team does best at mid-market M&A, real estate, and immigration, and 2018 saw London bring in two energy partners as well as a new partner for its dedicated India practice. The capital is now also home to the firm's global managing partner.

So let's scope out a little here, and bring the overarching global firm into focus:  47 offices; 21 countries and an eye-catching public policy practice driven by a Washington DC office. The firm even worked for dastardly data gatherers Cambridge Analytica during the fallout from the scandal that enveloped Facebook, the US presidential election, and Brexit. Not bad.

No small beer

Squires opts for six rather than four seats. "It gives you two extra seats to play around with and pick some wild card options." But Squires gets even more novel than that, running three-month client secondments for most trainees who do the fast-track LPC at BPP. Trainees found it provided useful insight into the aims of clients, and city councils, banks and global recruitment companies have all taken budding Squires newbies. Their first proper seats are assigned by HR. From there, there's "a mid-seat review where you express your preferences.” Each location houses seats in the core departments of corporate, real estate, property litigation, employment, banking/financial services, pensions, IP, tax and litigation. More specialist areas like international dispute resolution, competition and sports law are reserved to London.

“It opens your eyes to everything else in a transaction.”

The corporate department operates in the mid-market, covering M&A, private equity and capital markets. London handles media, energy, utilities and financial services M&A, as well as football club takeovers. A team of London lawyers recently advised Hong Kong investor International Entertainment on its acquisition of Wigan football club. The Manchester team meanwhile has specialisms in chemicals, manufacturing and tech. It recently helped a data intelligence company, GB Group, on its £58 million share placing on AIM, as well as its £74 million acquisition of Postcode Anywhere, a company that specialises in validating international addresses for e-commerce companies. The Birmingham team aided brewer and pub operator Marston's in acquiring the Charles Wells brewery, and the Leeds team advised the developer of video game Worms on its £217 million flotation on the London Stock Exchange. As is typical of transactional seats “it got to the stage where it was quite busy, and they didn't have time to hold your hand, so there was more of a learning curve." Trainees therefore stepped up to “deal with the completion rooms, guiding the client around and witnessing their signatures,” as well as "drafting a lot of due diligence reports, where you collate information from the specialist teams and then see how it all fits in. It opens your eyes to everything else in a transaction.”

The banking teams represent a mix of borrowers, lenders and sponsors that includes banks like Barclays and Clydesdale Bank, other lenders, like Finance Birmingham, and corporates like Moixa Energy (a Manchester smart home battery company). The teams often work in tandem with corporate – the Leeds team recently advised Lloyds' private equity subsidiary Lloyds Development Capital on the financing of its management buyout of Pelsis, a Yorkshire-based international manufacturer of pest control products. Elsewhere the Birmingham and London teams advised US investment firm Gordon Brothers on a cross-border loan to finance luxury brand Fabergé, of glitzy egg fame. "I really liked the transactional aspects of it,” said one trainee. “We did loads of multi-jurisdictional work with our US colleagues. There are long hours in banking but it's work hard, play hard – you get rewarded with dinners and drinks." Trainees were tasked with “drafting ancillary documents – board minutes, directors' certificates – and also doing the conditions precedent checklists. There was a lot of document collation and post-completion work on bibles.”

Getting paper

Litigation comes in different forms across offices. Commercial litigation – which presents a jumble of breach of contract, professional negligence and shareholder disputes – is available across offices (though the focus differs). Property litigation is also available, but sports litigation and international dispute resolution are only in London. Manchester sees a lot of manufacturing, finance and life science clients; Birmingham tends more towards financial disputes, property and pensions; Leeds has significant expertise in international arbitrations; and London tackles sport, finance, shipping and construction-related arbitration and litigation. Sources in commercial litigation could find themselves drowning in paperwork. “I had to deal with a disclosure of about 100,000 documents on a major case. I was also stuck bundling 34 lever-arch case files, which was horrendous!" More interestingly, another trainee “helped write up a statement of claim, which required reading judgments to understand why specific decisions were taken in relevant cases. You have to look at the very fine detail to decide upon the merit of your argument." Property litigation meanwhile involved “working on a lot of Section 26 notices, which guide how business tenants terminate their tenancies.”

Funding arrangements, pension scheme closures, pension mergers and structural discussions all crop up in the pensions department. There is contentious work, but trainees described it as "quite a technical seat which involves mainly advisory work. It was very research-heavy and really challenging, but if you go into law it's good to have that base nailed down." Apparently “data protection is also quite a big part of pensions. The funds are aware of how much data they hold on their members.” One source recalled a matter where “a client of ours received a warning from the pensions regulator on their pension plan. We were advising the trustees of the pension scheme on how to react to the warning notice.” The firm works with a mix of employers and trustees, which has included trustees of Jaguar Land Rover Pension Plans, Weetabix and Hertfordshire County Council. Lawyers in London recently helped ten Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) create the ACCESS Pensions Pool, which holds £42 billion in assets.

Insiders in real estate "are given such a plethora of cases that you get really nice exposure. You are handed a portfolio of matters and are expected to draft and submit all the paperwork for any transaction and keep up to date on it. There's a lot of dealings with the Land Registry, a lot of forms to fill in. It can be quite a lot of work if you don't organise, but that is part of the job." Leeds is ace at acting on developments, particularly student accommodation; London covers investment, development and financing, with work coming from healthcare, hospitality and retail; Manchester also works on development, advising public sector clients on regeneration; and Birmingham presides over residential and commercial developments with an eye to the charity, healthcare and energy sectors. The Manchester office recently advised Warrington Borough Council on its £211 million purchase of a business park, while the Birmingham team acted for the NEC on deals with Merlin Entertainments to bring Legoland and Bear Grylls attractions to the Birmingham Arena and NEC respectively.

Clien secondments “combine legal and non-legal work: contracts, settlement agreement policies, corporate support.” There are also overseas seats in Paris and Brussels. Brussels, which combines competition with litigation matters, provided one trainee with “the most high-profile work I've done, because the competition work comes directly from the European Commission.” Those who went abroad enjoyed their time, but it could be a demanding experience: “I don't know if there is an understanding that trainees need to be a trainee.” An interview with Brussels partners is necessary to check you're up to the task.

Office Boggs

Squires commits to 'local connections', but what are the connections like within the firm? Our sources agreed that across the firm “everyone has a personality and enjoys socialising." One source was certain that "you can't just be a bookworm and keep your head down." But don't expect a homogeneous experience across the offices. Mancunians were quick to boast about their office building: "It's the best one. We have just moved into Number One, Spinningfields, with brand new computers, iPhones and furniture." Manchester also hosts a netball and football team, a busy charity committee and "an event called Grow Your Network. It's just associates, trainees and paralegals and we get to invite other businesses along. We had a pizza night with beer pong for our opening event." Moving down to London, insiders confessed: “People know each other a bit better in the regions – the London office is bigger so you don't know everyone." Trainees here had “met with the London office managing partner to negotiate a social budget,” which had partly been splashed on a quiz night.

In Leeds, there was agreement that London differed slightly. "I know it's a stereotype," one insider began, "but if you go to London you hear silence throughout the office! People are more friendly in Leeds." Leeds trainees could occasionally have their share of "a £500 tab at a local bar – it's really good for helping you relax." They also enjoyed the fact they shared a closed office with two others, "as you have your own space but equally you have someone there to ask questions to." Conversely, Birmingham is open-plan. “The amount of things you can pick up from senior lawyers is invaluable." In Birmingham there's a "monthly catch-up which is either dinner or an activity," alongside regular events run by the charity committee.

“You do three weeks training in the Leeds office with all the other trainees.”

Trainees come together at the start of the training contract. “You do three weeks' training in the Leeds office with all the other trainees," one source said. Individual departments run occasional away days to bring the offices together – beyond this, however, social contact between offices was thin on the ground. Within each office trainees can access "various training modules, from how to work PDFs to legal and research skills." Supervision was found to be generally good, but most trainees commented that “it massively varies depending on who takes it on and how seriously they take it.” Trainees were sometimes left disappointed as a result.

Those trainees who wish to stay must apply with a CV and face an interview with partners. Fortunately “it's wrapped up in a couple of weeks." Insiders complimented the fact the job list comes out early, "so that you're ahead of the game. You don't need to hedge your bets by applying to other firms." Of 23 qualifiers, 17 were retained in 2018.

The most taxing day we heard about in London ended at 3am – elsewhere a midnight finish was as bad as it got. Trainees could regularly bank on leaving at 6pm in the regions, compared with 7pm or 8pm in London.


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How to get a Squire Patton Boggs training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2018/19):  1 November 2018 (winter); 8 January 2019 (summer) (opens 24 September 2018)

Training contract deadline (2020): 1 November 2017 & 9 January 2018 (via vac scheme) (opens 25 September 2017)

Insight events

Squire Patton Boggs runs four webinars in October to promote its London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds offices as well as skills webinars in the spring. They’re open to all students looking to get to know the firm.

Applications and assessment

SPB only recruits trainees through its winter and summer placement schemes which are hosted at each of the firm's UK offices. Winter schemes are one week in length, while those in the summer last for a fortnight.

You'll need a minimum of 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 degree in any subject to be considered by the firm. Those who haven't graduated yet should be on track to attain a 2:1. Applications start with a short online form. Those who impress on the form are then invited to complete an online assessment. A select number of candidates will then be invited to attend a half-day assessment centre at one of Squire Patton Boggs’ offices, which involves an interview and a presentation. Placement scheme offers are made from here.

The placement scheme

During the placement scheme, students spend time in a department and attend regular presentations. There are social events too, such as dinners, bowling excursions and quiz nights. As with placement schemes anywhere, don't forget that you'll be on show at all times. There’s no need to worry about this, just simply show yourself off at your best whenever you can. All placement schemers are automatically considered for a training contract and have a final interview on their penultimate day of the scheme.

How to wow

Training principal Giles Chesher tells us the firm is "looking for character and individuality. Roughly half of our trainees got Firsts, but that's not the be-all and end-all. We want to see your personality shining off the page of your application.”

During the interview, you're likely to be asked why you want to join Squire Patton Boggs. Chesher cautions against falling back on saying “'because I want to join a big international firm,' as that tells us nothing.” He goes on to say that “everyone always says we're friendly and open, but one of the things that attracts trainees to us is the personal way in which we recruit. Candidates aren't just numbers. I personally call people to tell them if they've got a job or haven't. I attend universities. We do take an interest." Indeed, Chesher says that following the summer placement scheme he “called students personally, then texted them, then asked a trainee to get in touch, saying 'call us if you have any questions'. That reflects the culture of our firm. We want to provide support and answer any questions applicants may have as they're going through university."

Squire Patton Boggs

Rutland House,
148 Edmund Street,
B3 2JR
Website www.squirepattonboggs.com

7 Devonshire Square,

6 Wellington Place,

No 1 Spinningfields,
1 Hardman Square,
M3 3EB

  • Total trainees 47
  • UK offices Birmingham, London, Leeds, Manchester
  • Overseas offices 46 offices across 19 countries
  • Contacts  
  • Graduate recruiter: Victoria Pickworth Booth   [email protected]
  • Training partner: Giles Chesher
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 20
  • Applications pa: 1,500
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1
  • Minimum UCAS points or A levels: 300 UCAS points or equivalent
  • Dates and deadlines  
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 24th September 2018
  • Winter Placement scheme 2018: 1 November 2018
  • Summer placement scheme 2019: 8 January 2019
  • Salary and benefits  
  • London: 
  • First-year salary £37,000
  • Second-year salary £42,000
  • Post-qualification salary £68,000
  • Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester:  
  • First-year salary: £26,000
  • Second-year salary: £28,000
  • Post-qualification salary: £42,000
  • Holiday entitlement: 25 days
  • Sponsorship  
  • LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: Yes
  • International and regional  
  • Offices with training contracts: Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester
  • Overseas seats: Paris and Brussels
  • Client secondments: Yes

Firm profile

Squire Patton Boggs is a global law firm with 46 offices in 19 countries. Our team of 3,000 includes more than 1,500 lawyers. Recognised as having one of the broadest global footprints in the legal industry, we provide access to new knowledge, new markets and new expertise.

We support private and public sector clients across extensive global practice areas. Our teams have well-established local and regional positions across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America. Collectively, we cover 140 jurisdictions and speak more than 40 languages.

In the UK, we operate from offices in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester, working with a diverse mix of global clients. Many of these are among the biggest names and brands in the world, and include FTSE and Fortune 100 companies, emerging and fast-growth businesses, financial institutions, and regional and national governments.

Training opportunities

We are looking for people with the skills, attitude and outlook to become our next generation of business lawyers. Among other things, we look carefully at each candidate’s academic background. Lawyers need a high degree of technical ability to be successful and we feel academic ability is one way to demonstrate this. We look for candidates to have achieved BBB at A level (excluding general studies) and be en route to achieving a 2:1 at university. Personal qualities are just as important. We are looking for people who are committed to a career in law, who enjoy working as part of a busy team and respond positively to a challenge. You need to be happy collaborating with a team yet capable of working independently. You will need to demonstrate the energy, resilience and ambition required to succeed in a top global law firm.

Choose from any of our UK offices. With six seats and a variety of practice areas available, you can effectively create your own individual training programme. Prior to starting, some trainees have the opportunity to take part in a three-month pre-training contract secondment, an element that really sets us apart from other law firms. This opportunity helps develop a trainee’s understanding of how businesses work and what is expected of legal advisors. Supervision consists of a two-tier system, with a partner supervisor in your department, as well as a daily supervisor. You will have meetings with your trainee manager and appraisals with your supervisor in each seat. A dedicated trainee mentor is also available for you. You will be guaranteed first-rate work and a high level of involvement with our clients — we believe in offering challenges, responsibility and opportunities. 

Vacation placements

We run a number of paid vacation schemes, giving you the opportunity to see for yourself whether a career at Squire Patton Boggs is for you. The placements offer a genuine insight into the life as a trainee solicitor, giving you the opportunity to gain insights into our exciting, inspiring and challenging work. 

Other benefits

25 days’ holiday, death in service, life assurance, pension and income protection. We also offer a flexible benefits package that includes private medical insurance, dental insurance, critical illness cover, a cash plan, Ride2Work scheme and season ticket loan. We offer financial support for both the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course. 

University law careers fairs 2018

We will be attending 18 law fairs at various universities across the UK.

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2018

Ranked Departments

    • Competition Law (Band 6)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 3)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 4)
    • Immigration: Companies & Executives (Band 3)
    • Pensions (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Employment (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology Recognised Practitioner
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 3)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation (Band 3)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 3)
    • Licensing (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: AIM (Band 4)
    • Health & Safety (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Advertising & Marketing (Band 2)
    • Pensions Litigation (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 4)
    • Retail (Band 4)
    • Sport (Band 3)
    • Telecommunications (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)