Squire Patton Boggs - True Picture

Enticing work, a global reach and a six-seat training contract all contribute to this firm's allure.

The Patriot Act

Ohio, birthplace of the Wright Brothers and home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also the place where a law firm called Squire Sanders & Dempsey was founded in 1890. Just four years earlier a chap called Albert Victor Hammond had founded a firm called Hammonds in Yorkshire. Fast forward 120 years and in 2011 these Brit and American firms – which had both accumulated significant international networks – tied the knot to form a transatlantic behemoth. Add in Washington DC lobbying firm Patton Boggs in 2014 and today Squire Patton Boggs is rockin’ all over the world... or in 47 offices in 20 countries to be exact.

"Sometimes I forget there’s a US element at all!”

But it's important to bear in mind that domestically “Squires is still very much in the UK mould and sees itself that way,” according to trainees, “but it still benefits from having a global name.” Or as another source put it:  “We’re such a global firm, but it’s important to know that we still feel like a national firm. Sometimes I forget there’s a US element at all!” The firm's national presence is confirmed by its nationwide Chambers UK rankings across Yorkshire, the Midlands, the North West and London for core areas like corporate, real estate and litigation. It’s also recognised nationwide for media, health and safety, retail, and sports work  and is seen as a national leader outside London for employment, pensions, tax, restructuring and banking.

The trend for mergers seems to be continuing, and the firm's UK presence could be about to change again. In spring 2019 the US legal press reported Squires had been discussing a merger with fellow national outfit Addleshaw Goddard, although talks were suspended at the time we went to press.

Six on the beach

At the time of our calls there were 17 trainees in London, 12 in Leeds, ten in Birmingham, and nine in Manchester. Squires opts for six rather than four seats, which appealed to many of our sources when they applied. Once on the inside, while many were “grateful for the opportunity to experience a vast number of areas before thinking about qualification,” some noted that the “six-seat benefit is muted by the fact the NQ process happens in the middle of the fifth seat, so the sixth seat is a write-off.” So if there’s something trainees really want to do, they “have to focus their mind and try to do it early on.” In addition some also felt “you don’t get to spend enough time in some seats.” To combat that, repeating a seat is allowed. No seats are compulsory, and the first seat is assigned at random. After that, every rotation trainees specify three preferences at their mid-seat review. 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 disputes, competition and sports law are reserved to London.

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. The London group recently helped EDF Energy Renewables auction off its £701 million 49% stake in 24 UK wind farms. This was one of the firm's biggest recent deals; in a more typical matter the firm represented fintech company LMAX in its buyout of Betfair’s £22 million LMAX shares. Meanwhile the Manchester office acted for Manchester-based travel company On the Beach on its £21 million acquisition of Classic Collection Holidays. And lawyers in both London and Manchester advised Hong Kong's International Entertainment Corporation on its acquisition of Wigan FC. Trainees conduct due diligence, draft diligence reports, work on completion rooms and handle signature packets as well as taking client calls.

"It’s quite a technical area of law and there are a lot of changes.”

Restructuring and insolvency gets up to “a mix of transactions, administrations and litigation” – litigation happens when a company goes into insolvency and there’ve been “questionable transactions which directors have done prior to that.” The group acts for major accountancy firms like KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, EY, BDO and Grant Thornton as administrators as well as banks like Lloyds, Barclays and RBS. Manchester recently helped the Manchester Building Society acquire a loan portfolio from the liquidators of NMB Mortgage Acquisition, and Leeds recently acted for EY as administrator of Northern butcher Crawshaw.Typical trainee tasks include drafting appointments of insolvency and company voluntary arrangements, reviewing security documents, and making amendments to contracts, with court experience a possibility. Trainees rate the seat as a “having a lot of client contact and keeping you involved in networking events too.”

Worth a pension

Funding arrangements, pension scheme closures, pension fund mergers and structural discussions all crop up in the pensions department. There is some contentious work, but trainees described this as “very much an advisory seat – we advise trustees on the day-to-day running of pension schemes for large national companies.” The group has long-standing relationships with many clients, with a lot of work being amendments to existing pension schemes. There is a regulatory element to the group when it comes to working on scheme mergers. The London team recently worked for South Yorkshire Pensions Authority on a strategic investment arrangement for a £8 billion scheme, while Birmingham lawyers advised the trustees of the Aston Martin Lagonda pension scheme on a £260 million restructuring. On this transactional side, trainees help draft merger deeds and exposure letters. On the advice side there’s “a lot of research because it’s quite a technical area of law and there are a lot of changes.” Trainees can be found preparing presentations, doing research reports and drafting advice papers, emails, deeds of removal and deeds of appointment.

Real estate is a department that spans the offices, with cross-office work being common. That said, each office has its niche. Leeds is ace at working on developments, particularly student blocks; London covers investment, development and finance, with work coming particularly from the healthcare, hospitality and retail sectors; Manchester also works on developments, for example advising public sector clients on regenerations; and Birmingham presides over residential and commercial developments with an eye to the charities, healthcare and energy sectors. Leeds recently advised cosmetics company Charlotte Tilbury on the opening of its new £200 million HQ on the Strand, while London worked with Aviva on its £47 million sale of Birmingham's Broadway Plaza shopping centre. One trainee told us:  “From day one I was involved in helping draft documents and agreements, and got loads of client contact straight away.” Overall, interviewees rated the department for the opportunity “to engage, have an opinion, and say what you think the next steps should be.”

“Sadly secondments to those offices aren’t as well integrated as they could be.”

The IP and technology team has a “slightly deceptive name – on the tech side it handles lots of commercial work, contracts and outsourcing for tech companies.” The team also handles corporate support, media buys and advertising work and even runs prize promotions, “advising on whether things will clear all the relevant checks.” Typical trainee tasks include producing research reports, drafting cease and desist letters, reviewing terms and conditions, checking compliance and writing blogs. Interviewees found it interesting to “research verification requirements and look into advertising claims like whether a company can say they’re ‘the number one product’.” Google, Sony, WPP and the Telegraph Media Group are all clients. The firm also recently advised data and polling company Kantar on the expansion of its agreement with Facebook to provide brands with advertising data. On the IP side the group covers both contentious and non-contentious work for clients from the IT, sports, media and retail sectors. The Birmingham office was recently instructed by Maplin on all the IT and contracts stuff related to its administration.

Client secondments are pretty much a given – “if you want one, you will get one.” Trainees rated the experience as “great for building networks and forming valuable relationships.” Despite Squires' many international offices, “sadly secondments to those offices aren’t as well integrated as they could be.”Overseas seats in Paris and Brusselsare available. Trainees rate the latter as “pretty cool because you're at the centre of everything to do with the EU.” However, trainees were still yearning for more international stints: “It’d be good to have a formal system in place to go elsewhere, since we cover the whole world! I think it should be a focus for HR – it’d be a very big pull for trainee recruitment.”

The price on the label

Quite rightly Squires “doesn’t like to call itself a US firm,” according to trainees, with one source adding cheekily: “Of course they don’t – then they’d have to pay us a hundred grand!” It’s true that Squires' salary isn't anywhere near that of US firms, but “the salaries are competitive across all the offices.” In addition “trainees in US firms are expected to work significantly more hours than we are!” Indeed. At Squires, “we’re in at 9am and people start leaving from 5pm," trainees told us, "and most of us have left by 7pm.” Restructuring and insolvency is an exception to the rule, with busy periods leaving rookies in the office for “11-hour days typically.” London’s average day is also “longer than that in other offices, but not too crazy.”

Talking of London, the firm’s Spitalfields office was praised for its “nice surroundings with shops, places to eat, bars and pubs, meaning it’s easy to do stuff after work. And I can see the Gherkin from my window!” Mancunian trainees claimed to have “physically the best office, as it’s the newest and very swanky” – the firm relocated in January 2018 to No.1 Spinningfields. The Leeds lot love being in this “up-and-coming city” in a “very modern” new building in a business development part of the city. Brummies are in the city centre near Colmore Row but were bummed that their building “isn’t very fancy.” That’s made up for with weekly drinks and “a lot of raffles.” Many in Birmingham rated the open-plan nature of their office as being good for fostering an attitude “where there aren’t barriers between people – the managing partner sits at a desk on the floor with everybody else.” Plenty of communal areas means trainees regularly dine and catch five together, as well as creating an atmosphere where “no one’s too busy or important to talk to you – people always smile and chat.” Trainees across the firm found supervisors “approachable and friendly,” and appreciated their “positive feedback and constructive criticism.” Initial training takes place when all trainees get together in one office and complete the induction process. Newbies were pleased that “all our relationships were great and no cliques were formed.” There's regular departmental training too, as well as online stuff, and first-years are also paired with a trainee buddy in the year above them.

“No one’s too busy or important to talk to you."

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, trainees rated the firm for being “on it and open and encouraging of everyone.” The Manchester office participated in the city’s Pride march in 2018 and the firm’s women’s enterprise group puts on various events and training sessions. However, we heard that BAME diversity is something trainees would “like to see being actioned more.” Overall though, trainees felt that “there is space for your identity and for you to express what you want and celebrate differences.”

Trainees start thinking about qualification right from their induction which includes a ‘route to qualification’ seminar, covering “what the process involves, how it will affect you and how can you prepare yourself for it.” Interviewees rated the firm’s “open process – there’s no cloak and dagger vibe.” Qualifiers who wish to stay must apply with a CV and face an interview with partners. “If there’s competition for a seat, it’s a formal interview with technical questions," one interviewee explained, cautioning: "It’s not unusual to get asked about work you haven’t done yet.” Extensively revising for the interview isn’t unheard of. In 2019 19 out of 25 qualifiers were kept on.

The firm has a relationship with the Social Mobility Business Partnership, offering work experience placements to Year 12 students from low-income backgrounds.

How to get a Squire Patton Boggs training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2019/20):  1 November 2019 (winter); 10 January 2019 (summer) (opens 30 September 2019)

Training contract deadline (2022): TBC

Insight events

Squire Patton Boggs runs webinars to provide prospective applicants with hints and tips to aid their knowledge regarding the application process. They also host a number of insight open evenings focused around strategy, the programs on offer, life at the firm and application tips

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. They are also invited to social events 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 50
  • UK offices Birmingham, London, Leeds, Manchester
  • Overseas offices 47 offices across 20 countries
  • Contacts  
  • Graduate recruiter: Miriam Edwards
  • Training partner: Giles Chesher
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 25
  • 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: 30th September 2019
  • Winter Placement scheme 2019: 1 November 2019
  • Summer placement scheme 2020: 10 January 2020
  • Salary and benefits  
  • London: 
  • First-year salary £37,000
  • Second-year salary £42,000
  • Post-qualification salary £73,000
  • Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester:  
  • First-year salary: £26,000
  • Second-year salary: £28,000
  • Post-qualification salary: £44,000
  • 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 47 offices in 20 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 the Graduate Diploma in Law, Legal Practice Course or equivalent qualification. 

University law careers fairs 2019

We will be attending 7 law fairs at various universities across the UK.

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Competition Law (Band 6)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 4)
    • 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 (Band 3)
    • 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 4)
    • 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 3)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Licensing (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: AIM (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Power (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (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 3)
    • Construction (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 3)
    • Planning (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)