With real estate powers and reasonable hours, Trowers “is the perfect firm for work-life balance.”
Trowers & Hamlins training contract review 2024
For some of Trowers’ aspiring lawyers, it was love at first sight: “I had been to many law events, and many firms seemed robotic. At Trowers’ events, I got a real understanding of what it was like to work there. It was the first firm I fell in love with.” Beyond the butterflies, others thought “a big presence and variety of work” was an important factor. “I wanted to go for a large, international firm to further my career prospects.” With over 1,000 staff members and international outreach, Trowers was an obvious choice. Very few can compete with Trowers’ 240 years in the field, but what’s it’s claim to fame? It was the first foreign law firm to gain a licence to practice in Malaysia. Niche.
“We’re doing big things in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Oman,” revealed one interviewee. These overseas offices offer international secondment opportunities, which are available to trainees in all offices. Our sources were keen to emphasise that “although we’re known for being real estate specialists, our work goes far beyond that. We are across the public and private sector, and we cover lots of clients.” These clients and practices are spread across Trowers’ domestic offices in London, Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester.
The London HQ is by no means the only office that does market-leading work. Our sister guide, Chambers UK, considers the firm to be the crème de la crème nationwide for its local government and social housing finance work, with further accolades going to its real estate, and third sector employment practices in London. “We have diversified the training contract and introduced a seat in risk and compliance,” explained training principal Lucy James: “We have appointed our SQE provider and we are shaping it to help prepare our future trainees for practice. Key modules will include real estate, ligation and commercial.”
“I was a Trowers trainee a long time ago. I stayed here because I have developed a career doing some amazing cases. Similarly, we get trainees involved in deals and push them to go to court because they have a part to play. It’s a special place to train,” James reflected. If this sounds like a good fit, the contract offers a myriad of options and trainees all do a stint in real estate. Trainees do not choose their first seat, but from all following seats are assigned based off their preferences. In month three, graduate recruitment have a chat with trainees where preferences are shared. “You talk about your dream seat and they do their best to give it to you. They have to juggle everyone’s wants.” A trainee noted that some of the most popular seats are general counsel and risk, all the litigation seats, and projects and construction.
“You also manage lots of spinning plates.”
At Trowers, real estate is the main character - think of Beyonce in Destiny’s Child. The practice is divided into commercial real estate, property litigation and investment and development, offering everything under the real estate umbrella. Some of the regional offices have more sub-groups such as local authority, housing and regeneration. Trainees can expect to work on acquisitions, sales of property and on behalf of registered providers.
“It’s the busiest seat because you get so much responsibility.”
Our sources mentioned taking part in reviewing contracts, conveyancing, doing searches, and handling completion. “It’s the busiest seat because you get so much responsibility and run your own files. You feel like you are trusted from the beginning, managing lots of spinning plates.” a trainee added. Newbies typically draft and submit property documents such as contracts for sale, transfer and land registry documents. They also conduct due diligence, liaise with clients and negotiate terms. In terms of clients, Trowers is acting for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the procurement of the Lots Road South site, intended to be a mixed-use development providing private residential, affordable and extra-care units.
Inprojects and constructionthere is a real mix of work. The matters range from public-private partnerships to private finance initiatives and joint ventures. Sector expertise covers housing, education, healthcare, technology, sports and more. In terms of clients, the department works for local councils and big developers that own residential properties, hotels and lab sites. The seat also involves lots of work with warranties: trainees will manage the process by drafting, reviewing and sending out these warranties to the relevant parties. For those interested in this team, the department advised Eco World on the construction aspects of its Verdo-Kew Bridge project in West London, which includes infrastructure, 900 homes and a 20,000-seat stadium for Brentford FC and London Irish RFC.
Commercial litigation work at Trowersencompasses everything that doesn’t fall into property litigation, construction litigation or travel litigation. The department acts for companies and some net high worth individuals in high court disputes, contract disputes, misrepresentation cases, contentious probate, shareholder disputes and unfair prejudice claims. Trainees can expect to draft court documents and liaise with counsel and clients. “In litigation you are monitored because if you make a mistake on court documents or a deadline, it would be a big issue.” On Project Abacus, Trowers represented 435 claimants in a group action who suffered losses as a result of a major potentially fraudulent property investment scheme.
The broader corporate department works on private equity, M&A and restructuring. With businesses and investors as clients, Trowers has industry expertise in healthcare, retirement living, pharmaceuticals, social care and -as you’ve probably figured out- real estate. On the commercial side, there is public and private sector work. The team works on agency agreements, data protection, public sector procurement advice, and helps local authorities. Typical trainee tasks include reviewing data protection documents, creating precedent documents for others to use, organising transactional documents, taking part in business development meetings with clients, and conduct corporate structure research. In addition to due diligence, disclosure and drafting ancillary documents, our sources help amend and draft privacy and policies, sales and distribution agreements, subscription agreements. For example, Trowers recently advised The Disabilities Trust, a charity which provides care services to people with additional needs and/or autism, on its business and asset sale to a member of the Voyage Care Group.
“The firm understands that everyone has different requirements to be productive,” revealed one source when asked about work-life balance at the firm. Trainees reckoned an average working day was 9-5, and were well compensated for their time: “The salary is in line with inflation. No one expects you to be in at like 2am or be online 24/7. This is the perfect firm for work life balance,” a source mentioned.
Others were keen to tell us that “senior lawyers are mindful of what you have going on. They check in and can help you talk to someone if you are working mad hours. They want us to look after our wellbeing.” Speaking of which, Trowers recently launched a firmwide health and wellbeing initiative and regularly hosts D&I events too. Sources were pleased to report that the firm’s senior partner, Sara Bailey, regularly attends these events: “We have other webinars and panels about topics like microaggressions, and on international women’s day we had an event where people talked about their personal stories.”
“There is a learning culture here; people take pride in being teachers.”
According to trainees, these initiatives encourage an open and supportive culture, helped by the open-plan office, “We sit next to partners. I can turn around and ask for five minutes if I have a question. There is a learning culture here; people take pride in being teachers,” a source pointed out. One source noted: “I came into the training contract thinking that supervisors are just there to assign work, but they have encouraged and helped me get work from lots other different people.” Another explained: “I’ve worked very closely with mine, so I’ve ended up talking to them most days.” In addition, Trowers organizes mid seat and end of seat appraisals where the trainees get more lengthy and formal feedback.
One-to-one supervision is supplemented with various internal and external training opportunities. “Lots of barristers put on training which we’re encouraged to attend" (but it’s not compulsory.)Internally, “we have training every time we move seats. For example, my first week in corporate started with in-house training by an associate, senior associate professional knowledge lawyer.”
“They invite all of us to the city – they even pay for our train tickets!”
From Thursday drinks and quiz nights to rock climbing and netball, there are several opportunities to get involved in the firm’s social life. “We had a Great British Bake-Off event to raise money for charity, plus CSR initiatives.” Trowers also takes part in Law Rocks,an event where bands from different firms perform against each other: “We sold over 100 tickets!”
At the trainee level specifically, there are also mid-seat events in London which the trainees organise themselves. “They invite all of us to the city – they even pay for our train tickets!”Those on secondment aren't missing out either as there are also international mid-seat events in Dubai and the firm again covers the travel costs. It makes sense, then, that Trowers looks for “people who are prepared to get involved not just in the fee earning aspects but the other aspects of firm life, such as CSR,” explained James, adding: “We like people to be enthusiastic, and have an open mind about what they want to do. They have to show good attention to detail too.”
Finally, the qualification process at Trowers is straightforward. “In the last week of May and November, they publish an internal job list with roles we can apply for.” Trainees then create a formal application and can apply for a maximum of two positions and heads of sections will reach out for interviews. “We have two weeks to accept or reject the job.” In 2023, the firm retained 19 of 25 qualifiers.
The power of three
Trainees are expected to work in the office three days a week.
How to get a Trowers & Hamlins training contract
- Vacation scheme deadline (2023): 8 January 2024
- Training contract deadline (2026): 31 July 2024
Trowers & Hamlins recruit around 25 trainees each year into their UK offices based in Birmingham, Exeter, London and Manchester, split between March and September intakes. The majority of training contracts are offered to those who undertake the firm's paid summer vacation scheme but a handful are reserved for those who are unable to commit to that scheme.
Both training contract and summer vacation scheme applications begin with an online form that features four questions alongside the usual education and work experience sections. Graduate recruitment & development manager, Rachel Chapman says "Before you apply, spend time doing research and thinking about why you want to join Trowers and what you think you could bring to the firm. Go further than looking at our website - search for articles our lawyers have written, podcasts they've recorded or videos they've featured in. There is a wealth of information available which will give you a real insight into the type of firm we are and the work we do. "
"Enhance your research by coming to speak to us at virtual and in person law fairs and insight events. You can show your motivation for Trowers specifically by tailoring your application using the knowledge you have gained from your research. Finally, remember to showcase your work experience. The most important thing here is not whether you have lots of previous legal work experience, it's about demonstrating the skills you have developed during any experience you've had and why they will be relevant to a career in law."
The firm looks for candidates with a minimum of 128 UCAS points (ABB) from their top three A-Levels or equivalent, and a consistently strong predicted or achieved 2:1 degree. However, they take into account mitigating circumstances and do not automatically reject candidates who do not reach this minimum criteria. They also use a contextualised recruitment tool to understand a candidate's achievements in context.
Successful candidates will be asked to take an online assessment before moving on to the next round. For the summer vacation scheme, you will complete a written exercise and competency-based interview. The firm then assesses all candidates for a training contract with a final interview at the end of the vacation scheme. For the direct training contract, you will complete a written exercise and then a competency-based interview and a case study/analytical interview.
Chapman says, "Our summer vacation schemes are the perfect way to explore life as a trainee and a team member at our firm." Trowers & Hamlins offers around 50 places across their Birmingham, Exeter, London and Manchester offices each year. Each placement lasts two weeks, during which attendees sit in two different departments. During the scheme, attendees will be involved in real, immersive work: drafting, undertaking research, attending meetings and interacting with a range of people across the firm.
Trainees come from a wide variety of backgrounds at Trowers and have had different experiences. What is important, says Chapman, "is an ability to build relationships with our equally diverse client base and the passion and drive to succeed."
Our trainee sources characterised the ideal candidate as “a team player who can take the initiative and spot solutions to problems.” They had this advice for applicants, “Don't rush your application; you need to make sure it shows you've researched the firm and effectively portrayed yourself.”
Trowers & Hamlins LLP
3 Bunhill Row,
At Trowers & Hamlins, you’ll be part of a community more than a thousand strong – a community that stretches across the UK, Middle East and Far East. We’ll help you grow, as you build your career across offices from Bahrain to Birmingham, London to Dubai and Malaysia to Manchester. And we’ll welcome you to a place where the work you do will be as eclectic and diverse as the team of people who’ll support and champion you.
A top-40 UK law firm, we’re well known for being experts in the real estate sector, but our practice areas range from social enterprise to banking, commercial to environment, private wealth to charities. Whatever we’re working on, we have a shared sense of purpose – to help businesses and governments change the way we live and work for good.
With us, your hard work will be valued, your ideas heard, and your ambitions nurtured. We will give you the trust – and the opportunity – to show us exactly what you can do. It’s time to discover quality through connection.
Main areas of work
All trainees are teamed with a supervisor. It's their role to guide you through each of your six-month seats and ensure that you are given plenty of challenges and all the support you need.
Our close-knit team and collaborative approach drives our high calibre work, and it’s what gives us our sterling reputation in the industry. This will be reflected in your experience from day one. As soon as you join the team, you will be given real responsibility and the opportunity to learn with hands-on experience in a supportive working environment.
We offer around 50 places across our Birmingham, Exeter, London and Manchester offices each year. During your time with us, you will sit in a couple of departments and be involved in real, immersive work – drafting, undertaking research, attending meetings and collaborating with a range of people across the firm.
You will be teamed with a trainee mentor who will introduce you to each department and be on hand to offer you all the guidance you need. And you will be allocated a supervisor to offer you advice on the work that you will undertake.
At the end of your vacation scheme, you will have an interview for a training contract. We pay every candidate attending our summer vacation schemes. This is currently £400 per week in London and £365 per week in Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester.
We will sponsor you to undertake a robust and comprehensive SQE preparation programme prior to joining the firm, to allow you to develop the skills, behaviours and abilities of a well-rounded lawyer. We will also pay for your SQE exams and provide you with a maintenance grant to support you during the programme.
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing
We’ve always been proud of our natural commitment to diversity and inclusion – TrowersIncludes formalises and focuses this into a powerful initiative at the heart of our firm.
Championed by senior leaders and driven by teams across our business, TrowersIncludes brings together a network of groups and initiatives. Our nine employee networks are Allyship; Disability; Gender, Work and Family; International; LGBTQ+ and Allies; Physical and Mental Wellbeing; Race, Ethnicity and Heritage; Religion and Belief; Social Mobility. Diverse by nature, they are united in their mission to spread the word about the positive impact of equity, diversity and inclusion. We also run a full calendar of events as well as highlighting issues and initiatives across our internal communications channels and via social media.
TrowersIncludes is organic, self-perpetuating, and reaches out to our clients and suppliers too. Inside the firm, we have always been known for the variety in our partnership and have never believed that any background or characteristic should be a barrier to talent. Our hard work has borne fruit. We were awarded top marks twice over for the Diversity and Inclusion and Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative Awards at the CILEx National Awards and have one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the UK’s top 50 law firms.
With 44% of Trowers partners female and 13% from racially marginalised communities, we’re aware that there’s more work to be done but are proud of the great strides forward we’ve made and the impact this is having.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Construction: Contentious (Band 4)
- Construction: Non-contentious (Band 3)
- Employment: Employer: Third Sector (Band 1)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
- Real Estate: £50-150 million (Band 1)
- Social Housing (Band 1)
- Construction (Band 4)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 3)
- Real Estate: £10 million and above (Band 4)
- Social Housing (Band 1)
- Agriculture & Rural Affairs (Band 3)
- Litigation (Band 4)
- Planning (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Social Housing (Band 2)
- Administrative & Public Law: Mainly Public Sector & Charities (Band 3)
- Charities (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 5)
- Local Government (Band 1)
- Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 4)
- Public Procurement (Band 2)
- Social Housing: Finance (Band 1)
- Travel: International Personal Injury (Claimant) (Band 3)
- Litigation (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Social Housing (Band 2)