If it's clean energy and renewables work that floats your boat, then this regional firm might be your cup of TLT.
TLT training contract review 2024
You’d be forgiven for thinking the capital was your only bet for getting your hands on some innovative legal work, because we all know London gets everything, right? Well, not on TLT’s watch, as this regional star has this work in abundance. The firm formed at the turn of the century, at a time where change was aplenty. Starting out in Bristol, TLT now sits with six heads in offices located in Bristol, Manchester,London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast. “It’s your classic large commercial firm,” one trainee explained, “but it’s one where growth has been brilliant. I wanted to be at a firm that was really expanding and that’s still the case.” Where it's expanding is the great part: “TLT is doing really exciting things in future energy and clean energy,” raved one source. Another added that “what they’re doing with sustainability is really impressive; their targets and aiming for net zero – they’re really living that!”
“I wanted to be at a firm that was really expanding, and that’s still the case.”
TLT’s Scotland office has top billing in Chambers UK for its licensing work, as well as in the regions. In the South West, the firm excels in employment, IT, professional negligence, banking and finance and restructuring/insolvency matters. The firm also receives a big thumbs-up for its energy and natural resources practice in Northern Ireland. Chambers Fintech shines a light on the North West and South West offices for its fintech legal work. But it’s not just practice acclaim that drew insiders to the firm. “A lot of firms do the same work, so for me it was about the cultural fit,” one trainee admitted. Another source noted that “it’s very dynamic, but it’s also not stuffy at all.” The London and Bristol outposts both take on five trainees a year. The rest are split between Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.
At TLT, seats are allocated via a “waterfall system.” This means fourth seaters get the list first, then third, second and so on, so those further into their training contract get priority. While trainees did concede that “there’s no getting away from business demand,” one explained that “people are very happy with allocation and tend to get what they want.” For those interested in secondment opportunities, we heard they are more limited up North, though Manchester usually has one on offer. The London and Bristol offices have offered places for a while and “it’s a big thing in London,” one trainee confirmed.
The financial services disputes & investigations group – or FSDI for the initiated – was described as “your classic commercial litigation seat, acting for lenders up and down the country,” which includes a fair few major high street banks like the Bank of Scotland. We heard there were a lot of sub teams, so the work depends on which you are in. But given the work is “a lot of litigation claims,” trainees were involved in drafting defences, witness statements, working out settlements to take to clients and instructing barristers. But they also took on more varied roles including general research, phoning up courts, and assisting with document preparation.
Financial service regulation,on the other hand, involves the advisory side of work: “We’re working directly with the FCA and directly with clients, drafting advice notes for questions they might have.” Newbies also supported corporate transactions with due diligence and document gathering. On top of that, “we also have a public inquiries and public law team where we’re working on some pretty major inquiries, so there’s work on that with inquests, drafting and document review.” Recently, the team advised Copper, to ensure compliance with the relevant regulatory standards in the UK and Switzerland in respect of its anti-money laundering policies and procedures, as well as a subsequent KYC (know your customer) file review.
“Everything gets signed off, so you do have that support.”
Trainees told us that the firm’s planning and environment seat is “very varied, and it’s not just a property law seat. There is a lot of transactional work, a little bit of litigation as well as environmental issues too.” To get a snapshot of what the team gets up to, TLT advised WHSmith on matters across the UK, including planning refusal for advertising vinyl in Glasgow, the impact of HS2 and the DCO application at Ebbsfleet. In Northern Ireland, the firm also advised Energia Group, an all-Ireland renewable energy company, on their planning applications in Northern Ireland for renewable energy projects. Alongside the typical section 106 negotiations and research, we were told “it’s a good mix between the practical and academic side of law.” Trainees also worked on compulsory purchase order work and we heard some got to attend judicial review hearings in the High Court. “You’re the main point of client contact so there’s a fair bit of responsibility,” one trainee noted, “but everything gets signed off, so you do have that support.”
TLT’s future energy group is “all things renewable,” with clean energy deals at the heart of its practice. The firm serves high-profile clients such as Santander and BlackRock in their renewable energy endeavours. It’s understandable that newbies found the work to be “very fast-paced! You get exposure to very dynamic clients who want you to match that.” For trainees, there was a fair bit of due diligence to be getting on with on renewable land, as well as assisting with reviewing plans and drafting documents. To showcase the spirit of the firm’s innovative work in this practice, the team recently represented Ecotricity, in relation to the country’s first 100% vegan biogas plant that creates gas from grass. They also advised them on a feedstock supply arrangement which benefitted the local farming community.
The projects, infrastructure & construction team has a similarly eco-centric focus. For example, in London TLT advised the Carbon and Energy Fund on projects to deploy the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding to various NHS Trusts. These funds give public sector bodies money to decarbonise existing heat systems and install new, lower carbon heat systems. Up North, clients include the likes of JD Sports, Boohoo & Wolverhampton City Council. The seat covers both contentious and non-contentious construction work, from contract procurement to drafting and negotiation. Trainees in this seat worked on anything from contracts and drafting agreements to due diligence and being the lead point of contact for clients, depending on what stage in a deal cycle you join the team.
Trainees told us that TLT looks to hire “like-minded people. Everyone is ambitious and switched-on, but down-to-earth as well.” In doing so, the firm has created “a really nice culture. Every team has a different way of working but it’s a firm of enthusiastic people.” The source added that “trainees are really, really supportive and nice people. Nobody is out to get you!”
Interviewees also told us that, for the most part, the firm leaves it up to trainees to decide how many days they go into the office. “Most teams do pitch a team day,” explained one source, where trainees are encouraged to go in. But the source stressed that “we have a fully flexible work policy. There are no prescriptive requirements.” Trainees book a desk “a bit like you would at the cinema,” and can see in real time who is sitting where. “I prefer the hot-desking approach,” one insider shared. They added that “at some firms, people might go in, but their team isn’t there. Here you can make sure you come in on the same days.” In fact, most of the trainees we spoke with preferred coming into the office. Not just because they got to directly learn from more senior lawyers, but also for the office perks and social gatherings.
Speaking of office perks, “the office is great,” onenewbie beamed. This was partly thanks to the food it serves up in all of its offices. “They’ll do food for anything!” the source raved. Truly? “Yes, it’s quite funny. We have pancakes for pancake day, fish and chips, a lot of doughnuts, national burger day, national ice cream day, national cupcake day and even national chocolate chip cookie day! They love to do food incentives, which definitely works.” Better bring Tupperware with you… On top of this, trainees told us that “we can work in any office in the UK.” So, we heard that “sometimes people will go for a long weekend to somewhere like London or Edinburgh and work there.” One source explained that “we see ourselves as one big pool, echoed across the offices,” so “we’re all making an effort to organise stuff beyond what is organised by the firm.”
“They love to do food incentives, which definitely works.”
TLT gives newbies a budget to put those plans into action: “We have a social committee to help organise activities, dinners and sports-themed things,” one trainee outlined. This included a football team in the London Legal League, rounders, and a netball team. As well as the typical seasonal parties, insiders also told us about the firm’s fairly active D&I societies like the Women’s Equality Network and the Ethnic Diversity Network. The firm also has charity committees, where they take part in a number of volunteering opportunities. “We typically work with charities around sustainability, because it’s one of our core principles,” one trainee noted. They also mentioned that “we raise money, usually through local charity events, things like quizzes. We’re putting in place a structure with a partner as chair of the charity committee to increase our efficacy.”
Trainees were also happy with supervision and feedback. One remarked that they were “surprised at how much time partners invest in feedback.” Whileothers pointed out that there was “detailed and thought-out” feedback across the seats. Sources felt this feedback was reasonable too: “We all make mistakes, so they completely reassure you. I think generally every team has been really invested in giving clear instructions to help you rectify mistakes.” There is also formal training at the firm which gives trainees a good grounding in essential soft skills, as well as know-how sessions with lawyers. The firm does a good job of making these a regular occurrence too: “Every time you move seat there’s a programme of training before the start, and it’s all relevant, which is good to have!”
Overall, future prospects were bright amongst interviewees, who generally gave a thumbs-up for its openness and transparency throughout the qualification process. “Everyone seems to be kept on,” assured one trainee,and “there’s even an opportunity to transfer between offices on qualification.” Up in Scotland though, trainees did say, “they might be slightly behind the curve on releasing their NQ lists, so you’re not entirely aware of what opportunities there are going to be internally.” The firm didn't disclose its 2023 retention figures.
A few insiders also felt that NQ salaries could be a little higher, given that “as the firm grows bigger, they’re probably lagging behind.” Though one trainee did counter that “we are growing and investing, so there’s a value you attach to that.” Another insider expressed that “even if we are working the same hours relative to competitors, the pay is not miles away and times have been uncertain, so you do appreciate it.” A further point made was that “even if you want the big bucks, you can use it as a springboard.” Though, people tend to stay at the firm as “TLT really value loyalty. Everybody at the top has stayed.”
Can’t get much greener than that!
By 2025, TLT aims to be totally powered by renewable energy.
How to get a TLT training contract
- Vacation scheme deadline: 10 January 2024
- Training contract deadline: 10 January 2024
Applications and assessments
TLT receives around 1,000 applications each year – this figure includes both vacation scheme and direct training contract applications. The firm now has 35 training contracts on offer across its offices each year, taking between 15 and 20 trainees each intake. A minimum of 120 UCAS points and a 2:1 degree form the baseline criteria on the academic front.
There are two routes to obtaining a training contract with TLT, via a vacation scheme or via a direct training contract application. The firm strongly encourages candidates to apply via the vacation scheme route so that they can experience the authentic insight into real trainee life and the renowned culture. In terms of the application process, TLT uses a traditional application form with a questionnaire that allows you to showcase your commercially agile mindset alongside your academic ability to really demonstrate why you would make a great commercial lawyer.
For vacation schemes, shortlisted candidates are invited to attend a half-day assessment centre in February with the firm's regional training principals actively participating in reading applications. At the assessment centre, you will be asked to participate in a short strengths-based interview and a group exercise. Lunch is also served with a chance to speak to current trainees about their experiences. Candidates that show the most potential will then be invited to participate in either a spring or summer vacation scheme.
For direct training contract applicants, the application process is the same, but the assessment centre is a full day that includes a full strengths-based interview, a group exercise and a presentation. Lunch is, again, served with the chance to speak to current trainees about the firm and their experiences. This year, the application deadline has been brought forward so that direct candidates can be assessed alongside the vacation scheme candidates.
The firm continues to use 'strength-based' interviews, which are designed to discover what a candidate actually enjoys doing rather than just what they can do (which is tested in more traditional competency-based interviewing). The presentation centres on a commercial topic that you can choose, while the group exercise has undergone some changes this year for a refresh on the traditional solution-based assessment.
All offices now run vacation schemes, with the number of places varying to accommodate all candidates that show potential during the half-day assessment centre. Candidates are paid £335 per week and asked to complete further assessments during the course of the scheme. This takes the form of the full strengths-based interview, presentation assessment and the introduction of a hackathon. Each vacation scheme candidate is assigned to a single department for their visit, which they have some input in choosing, and also have the opportunity to network with associates and partners from the other practice areas throughout the week and attend trainee socials.
TLT now offers a joint training contract with Barclays and fellow law firm Simmons & Simmons. Find out the details here.
One Redcliff Street,
TLT is a place where ambition and drive really matter. We want lawyers that push boundaries, ask questions and can solve complex problems.
But what matters to you? Train with us and you can voice your ideas, get stuck into client work and have input on where and how you work. You’ll join an open and collaborative culture where you can approach anyone for a conversation and get involved in causes that you care about.
Our training programme gives you the opportunity to grow your legal knowledge and business development experience. It puts you right at the heart of the action and is all about giving you real work, creating real results and getting real recognition for your achievements.
We work with clients from the Clean Energy, Digital, Financial Services, Leisure, Food & Drink, Public Sector, Real Estate and Retail & Consumer Goods sectors. You’ll get to know their businesses in and out and make a real difference, no matter who you are.
Main areas of work
Advisory: helping with strategic and day-to-day legal issues.
Disputes: helping prevent and, where needed, manage conflict.
Transactions: helping organisations expand, restructure or sell.
We have significant experience working with organisations in the clean energy; digital; financial services; leisure, food and drink; public sector; real estate and retail and consumer goods sectors and can advise in all three UK legal jurisdictions.
Our training contract will give you the skills and experience you need to find solutions to the challenges your clients face and support them as they grow their businesses.
During your training contract, you will work in four different parts of our firm for six months each. This four-seat rotation process, along with a contentious seat, gives you a detailed introduction to the way we work and helps you to become an informed business advisor.
Your supervisor will work with you during your regular training. Through collaboration and communication, you will boost your technical legal knowledge and sharpen your commercial instincts.
Alongside your in-seat training, our Trainee Development Workshops will show you:
- how to grow your personal brand
- the broad range of skills necessary for business development
- effective ways to form client relationships
You’ll work on live cases, attend meetings, review contracts and see our expert lawyers in action. You’ll also be in invited to social events with our trainees and lunches with our lawyers, partners and associates to see our thriving culture first-hand. There is no better way to see whether you want to become a part of TLT.
The paid vacation scheme is part of the assessment process for our SQE training contract. It is aimed at penultimate and final year students, graduates, post-graduates and career changers and is available in our England and Scotland offices during spring and summer, and Northern Ireland in September. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the scheme is open to law students only.
Assessments during the week include a strengths-based interview and a solution-based hackathon.
Successful applicants will be required to attend a half-day at an assessment centre, comprising a group exercise and interview.
Open days and first-year opportunities
University law career fairs 2023
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Social Housing (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Construction (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: £5 million and above (Band 2)
- Employment (Band 3)
- Information Technology (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Litigation (Band 3)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
- Real Estate: £10 million and above (Band 4)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Employment: Employer (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources (Band 2)
- Planning (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 5)
- Employment (Band 4)
- Licensing (Band 1)
- Real Estate: up to £10 million (Band 2)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Construction (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: £25 million and above (Band 2)
- Employment (Band 1)
- Information Technology (Band 1)
- Litigation (Band 2)
- Pensions (Band 2)
- Planning (Band 2)
- Professional Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
- Social Housing (Band 2)
- Tax (Band 2)
- Competition Law (Band 3)
- Banking Litigation (Band 4)
- Commercial Contracts (Band 4)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 4)
- Health & Safety (Band 5)
- Hotels & Leisure (Band 4)
- Licensing (Band 1)
- Public Inquiries (Band 2)
- Public Procurement (Band 4)
- Retail (Band 3)