A strong national presence, unwavering ambition, and “an excellent capacity for growth” were just a few of the reasons that had trainees happy to spill the tea on TLT.
TLT training contract review 2022
“I liked that it felt like a fairly new firm,” one trainee said straight off the bat. “And I thought it was quite promising in the sense that you could be part of the firm’s growth from quite early on [in your career].” And grow is exactly what TLT has done. Formed in 2000 after the merger of two Bristol-based firms (which each had longstanding roots in the city), TLT now has six bases across the UK and an office in Piraeus that specialises in shipping. The firm is striding forwards along its growth path; it recently enhanced its existing European offering by striking up a strategic alliance with Belgian firm GSJ advocaten. Prior to this, the firm had also made ties with Netherlands-based firm Holla. The shared vision of the firm’s future was palpable to those joining the firm: “Everyone is passionate about the work we’re doing and about being the best they can be. You can’t help but be absorbed by that and want to be part of that growth.” On a more personal level, one source explained that “the main thing that sold me on TLT is that it’s a nice place to be!” To elaborate, another interviewee appreciated that “there’s a culture of really trying to integrate trainees into the firm” and that “the firm is invested in you as a person.”
“...promising in the sense that you could be part of the firm’s growth from quite early on.”
The firm’s expertise, such as its “strength in the banking and financial services practice areas,”was another draw for incoming trainees. Chambers UK awards TLT multiple rankings in each region it has an office in, but unsurprisingly the firm’s work is rated best in the South West. Employment, IT, professional negligence and restructuring/insolvencyare among its top accolades, followed closely by banking & finance, construction, corporate M&A, IP, litigation, pensions, planning, real estate, and social housing. TLT is also considered a ‘national leader outside London’ for its banking & finance, employment, IT and social housing work. Key sectors for TLT include clean energy and retail – the firm is ranked in these areas on a UK-wide basis.
The firm’s 40-plus trainees are split between the Bristol, London, Manchester, Glasgowand Belfast offices. Seat options vary depending on the office – naturally, the Bristol HQ offers the widest variety, as well as more specific sub-teams. For example, real estate in Bristol is “split up into different seats like housing and regeneration, renewables real estate, commercial property, and planning,” whereas other offices tend to combine them into one seat. Regardless of office, the firm allocates trainees their first seat. For following seats, trainees can submit preferences with an understanding that “priority goes to fourth-seaters, followed by third-seaters, followed by second-seaters – like a waterfall effect.” Therefore, “the further you get in your training contract, the more choice you get.” The firm also offers trainees the chance to go on a client secondment, most commonly with its financial clients, though opportunities “depend on client need at any one time.”
“... acts for a lot of major high street lenders.”
Financial services disputes and investigations (FSDI) is one of the firm’s largest teams, and as such, many sources had spent time there. The team “acts for a lot of major high street lenders” including NatWest, Santander and the Co-operative Bank. Disputes ranged from recoveries matters (like “if someone has fallen behind on their mortgage and not met payments, leading the bank to take action”) to defending claims against banks, which were often to do with PPI, conduct with customers, freezing injunctions, or data matters. The team recently secured a claim dismissal for Lloyds Banking Group in a case involving a customer who sought disclosure from the bank after making various data subject access requests. Manchestersources mentioned dealing with fixed-charge receiver work as well as more niche matters like this one: “If there’s a property where the bank has taken possession and it turns out the Land Registry documents don’t match with what the ownership is on the ground, we advise on how to rectify and solve that.”Day to day, trainees were often liaising with courts, drafting court documents, negotiating payment plans and attending various hearings. Given the contentious nature of the seat, interviewees noted that “everything has to be reviewed before it goes out.”
Contentious and advisory work are both on offer in the firm’s employment practice too. On the contentious side, trainees came across several Employment Tribunal cases, which involved “acting for large high street names on claims brought by their employees.” The team also deals with a fair few restrictive covenant cases where “the firm is either instructed on behalf of the current employer to try and prevent their IP and data being used by a competitor, or on behalf of the competitor who is taking on the employee.” On the other hand, non-contentious employment work tends to cover “advising on sickness absences, drafting employment contracts and handbooks, and providing dismissal advice,” as well as corporate support work. A recent matter saw the team defend National Grocer in an Employment Tribunal claim that centred on disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. Elsewhere, the team helped the British Drilling Association on the insourcing of its company secretarial function and the restructuring of its administration function. Trainees here got stuck into the full range of tasks, from drafting initial instructions from clients, through to “preparing for hearings, drafting witness statements, bundling, and attending hearings.” Non-contentious tasks included conducting due diligence and drafting contracts. “There are some big clients here, but it was nice to see things on a personal level – we dealt with real people quite often.”
“Helping clients with plots of land for renewable energy farms.”
Various specialisms fall under the wider real estate umbrella, including housing and regeneration, real estate finance, and energy real estate. The housing and regeneration team “deals with housing associations and affordable housing matters,” which involve acting for both the housing associations themselves, as well as “private clients who might have commercial property.” The team recently advised Livewest on its acquisition of 24 affordable units from Acorn Developments. On the contentious side, the team represented Network Homes during various disrepair claims. The regeneration side covers matters like “planning green homes and modular buildings.” Here, the team recently acted for Stonewater on a land and build agreement for 120 modular affordable units in Hereford from Ilke Homes for £23 million. Trainees spent their time doing typical real estate tasks like reviewing and amending leases, conducting Land Registry searches, and drafting property documents. “There was a lot more responsibility here,” one interviewee commented. “I was given cases and told to run with it.” A Bristolsource added that “there’s also a smaller social housing litigation side,”which gave trainees the chance to “draft witness statements, claim forms, and particulars of claim.”
Meanwhile, those who had dabbled in energy real estate were doing similar tasks to those elsewhere in the department, but from the angle of “helping clients with plots of land for renewable energy farms.” Sources highlighted their work “assisting clients with obtaining options to lease large parts of rural land in the UK, on which they intend to put wind or solar farms.”The team advised Blackfinch Energy on the acquisition and financing of Bradley Wind Farm in Scotland, and elsewhere advised Viridis Power on the sale of its flexible energy generation portfolio to Conrad Energy.
“There’s a big focus on drafting in this seat, alongside some negotiation of clauses as well.”
TLT’s general commercialpractice “works across both the public and private sector.” In the public sector, the team has been “involved in a lot of work for various public sector/government bodies,” on relevant commercial contracts. In the private sector, sources mentioned the firm’s “retail focus,” which involved working on various commercial contracts for big names such as Sainsbury’s, WHSmith, and Greene King. A recent example saw the team advise Boohoo on the acquisition of the online business and intellectual property rights of several Debenhams sub-brands, as well as other brands such as Oasis and Warehouse. Alongside more classic admin and project management trainee tasks, interviewees found that “there’s a big focus on drafting in this seat, alongside some negotiation of clauses as well.” Trainees also enjoyed “interacting with lots of teams across the firm and contacting them for their input.”
The firm has a separate commercial disputesdepartment where trainees can also do a seat. “It covers a massively broad range of matters – anything from defamation claims to more discrete money claims,”one source explained. Here’s a flavour of some recent matters and the range available: the team acted for BrewDog on defamation and negligent misstatement claims against Frank Public Relations, while elsewhere they also represented the Indian Government during a financial dispute with Pakistan. Sources found their experiences task-wise were also varied, with this one explaining that “some things you will run on your own with input from other people,” while “more high-value claims see you playing a more discrete role as part of the bigger picture.”
“The firm and everyone in it have such a positive approach. People want to get to know each other and progress the firm,”replied one interviewee when asked about culture. For this approach to succeed, it helped that “there’s no real hierarchy,” plus “no one has any airs or graces about them. You’re always made to feel you are a valued member of the team.” One source said that “it feels like I communicate with partners on a daily basis!”This sense of support and togetherness was prominent throughout each of the firm’s offices. This trainee in the Bristol headquarters summarised the general firm ethos: “They want you to be yourself. They want a diverse workforce rather than clones repeating corporate slogans.”
Other ways in which the firm aims for a diverse workforce is through its diversity and inclusion efforts. “It’s not just a tick-box thing – the firm really looks into it, which feeds into the firm culture of being collaborative and supportive,” this source commented. Interviewees highlighted several diversity networks, including ones for women, LGBTQ+, and minority ethnic lawyers – “they also emailed us asking if we wanted to rename the networks,” a source reported. Others flagged regular presentations on different aspects of diversity, in particular highlighting a series on race theory. Sources appreciated the “open discussions” that take place at the firm, and the educational nature of current efforts, though some noted “more could be done other than talks.”
“The general firm approach is that working particularly late should be the exception rather than the norm.”
Opinions on working hours varied from “pretty reasonable” to “definitely full on”depending on the department and stage of a matter. Multiple sources warned that FSDI “is not a seat for the faint-hearted” and often involved later finishes (between 8pm to 9pm), while in other seats it would be “rare to work past 6.30pm.” Of course, occasional late nights in other departments were inevitable, but trainees noted “the general firm approach is that working particularly late should be the exception rather than the norm.” Another interviewee added that “if you’re doing a few later nights, they’re usually coupled with a big thank you and being told to leave at 5pm the next day.”
For qualification, the firm usually publishes a list of NQ jobs halfway through trainees’ final seat. However, before this point, trainees will have usually had informal conversations with the relevant people indicating which departments they’re interested in. Trainees can then apply for NQ jobs they’d like, and depending on how popular the listing is, they will either have an interview or an informal discussion with partners in the department. The majority of interviewees were keen to stay on with the firm come qualification, noting that “the firm is going through rapid growth, and being part of that is exciting.” In 2021, TLT retained 21 of 23 qualifiers.
One trainee was keen to let potential TLT trainee candidates know that “when you do the video interview, you can re-do it, which is a life saver!”
Vacation scheme deadline (2022): 10 January 2022
Training contract deadline (2024): 31 May 2022
Applications and assessments
TLT receives around 2,000 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 scheme candidates, psychometric tests are used for longlisted candidates and then 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, a group exercise and another psychometric test. 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, a presentation and a psychometric test. 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 £300 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 vac 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.
One Redcliff Street,
- Partners 141
- Solicitors 363
- Total trainees 48
- UK offices Bristol, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast
- Graduate recruiter: Samantha Bracey, Future Talent Advisor, email@example.com
- Ed Fiddick, Partner & Training Principal
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: circa 35
- Applications pa: circa 1500
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or above
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: 120 UCAS points (post 2017)
- Vacation scheme places pa: circa 40
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 1st October 2021
- Training contract deadline, 2024 start 31st May 2022
- Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2021
- Vacation scheme 2022 deadline: 10th January 2022
- Salary and benefits
- See firm website for details
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant pa: £6,000
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: Bristol, Manchester, London, Glasgow, Belfast
- Client secondments: A variety of large commercial organisations and smaller, niche clients
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 2021
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021
Bristol and surrounds
- Family/Matrimonial (Band 2)
- Social Housing (Band 2)
National Leaders (outside London)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Employment (Band 1)
- Information Technology (Band 2)
- Social Housing (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Lower Mid-Market (Band 2)
- Employment (Band 3)
- Information Technology (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Litigation (Band 4)
- Real Estate (Band 4)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 4)
- Licensing (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 5)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Construction (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 2)
- Employment (Band 1)
- Information Technology (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
- 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)
- Banking Litigation (Band 1)
- Competition Law (Band 3)
- Licensing (Band 1)
- Commercial Contracts (Band 4)
- Consumer Finance (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 4)
- Retail (Band 3)