Osborne Clarke

Known for its work in technology, media and telecoms, Osborne Clarke is also viewed as one of the best banking advisers outside of the City. Although considered more of a mid-market practice in London, that hasn't prevented the firm from securing top clients such as RBS, Marks & Spencer and Nintendo.

8.5 / 10 13 reviews Overall Satisfaction

Ambitious, friendly, bright.

283 employee reviews - read more


  • Good exposure to complex and exciting work for trainees
  • Exceptional legal and soft skills training
  • Friendly and open office environment where everyone knows each other
  • Very non-hierarchical – just as likely to get work from a partner as anyone else


  • Minimal face-to-face client contact in some departments
  • The social scene can be a little quiet
  • No opportunities to do a seat abroad, but there are client secondments available
  • Longer hours than most Bristol firms

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​Osborne Clarke has grown from a regional firm, based in Bristol, to a firm with a truly international reach. It can trace its roots back 250 years to 1748, although it wasn’t until 1987 that the firm branched out to the City, focussing on corporate transactions.

In the 1990s the firm made yet another shift when it decided to focus on technology, media and telecoms, and it stuck to these despite the dot com bubble burst of the early Noughties. However, there is more to Osborne Clarke than tech work; and even though the tech bubble deflated, the firm has fast become a leader in mid-market transactions, which has resulted in significant growth and an increase in profits.

The employment team is strong, as is dispute resolution. There is a good roster of clients on the banking and finance side and the firm is viewed as one of the best banking advisors outside of London. The firm is also one of the leaders in the marketing and advertising sector. Besides all that, the firm has a big international presence, though not in the traditional sense of opening offices in other parts of the world. The firm founded the Osborne Clarke Alliance in 1987, which links the UK firm with others across Europe – including those in The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France. Osborne Clarke now advises clients from offices in the City, across the country and throughout Europe, and is famous for being one of the few UK firms with a Silicon Valley office.

Osborne Clarke operates its own charitable fund to help support the community, through which members of the firm can volunteer and donate to good causes; these have included the Royal Marsden and Great Ormond Street hospitals. The current themes are ‘education and employability, environment and regeneration, and sports and arts.’ Commitment to pro bono is alive and kicking, and the firm’s solicitors are encouraged to spend up to 25 hours a year working on pro bono matters. In addition, Osborne Clarke’s employees act as governors in more than 100 schools, suggesting there really can be more to life than just law at this firm.

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​With marquee clients and strength in a broad range of sectors, it’s no wonder that Osborne Clarke receives such a huge number of applications year on year. Despite the strong competition, you’ll be pleased to hear that the firm maintains an open mind when taking on new recruits. One current trainee told us: ‘Osborne Clarke is a very broad-minded recruiter. Trainees hail from all backgrounds, including career-changers, and there is definitely no classic candidate.’ The firm is particularly interested in CVs with plenty of extracurricular activities, and looks for progressive thinkers who are collaborative and talented.

Like many other firms, Osborne Clarke looks for candidates with strong grades as well as analytical, communication and organisational skills. Ideally, candidates should have As or Bs at A-Level, in addition to a minimum 2:1 in any discipline. If you’re looking for an international experience though, you best look elsewhere; because while Osborne Clarke has an international presence, trainees aren’t able to do seats abroad. However, trainees did say that ‘there are several excellent secondment opportunities’ in the UK, with Bristol offering ‘the biggest seat choice’.

After submitting the online application, hopefuls will face an interview with two partners or associates. The interview was described as ‘friendly, relaxed and structured around core questions.’ One current trainee advises applicants to ‘be confident and show some maturity – don't be afraid to give an answer that might seem a bit different’. Furthermore, make sure you ‘show initiative and prepare as much as you can’, demonstrating your knowledge of the firm.


Osborne Clarke Graduate Recruitment Info

Claire Kearns
Trainee Recruitment and Development  Officer
Tel: +44 (0)117 917 3484
Email: trainee.recruitment@osborneclarke.com

Application Deadlines:
Training Contracts: 31st July 2014
Vacation schemes: 31st January 2014

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No. of lawyers firm-wide: 440
No. of lawyers in the UK: 397
Partners: 162
Trainee intake: 20
Trainees retained: 77% (2013)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 1,200


# 44 in Top 50 Law Firms (5.43/10)
# 4 in Satisfaction with Work (8.46/10)
# 5 in Culture (8.69/10)
# 6 in Interview Process (7.91/10)
# 7 in Hours (7.85/10)
# 7 in Overall Satisfaction (8.46/10)
# 7 (tie) in Informal Training & Mentoring (8.08/10)
# 8 in Salary (7.92/10)
# 11 in Formal Training (8.17/10)
# 14 in Level of Stress (6.42/10)


Bristol 2013
1st year trainee: £32,000 (2013/14 intake)
2nd year trainee: £33,750 (2013/14 intake)
Newly qualified: £40,000 (at present)

London & Reading
1st year trainee: £36,500 (2013/14 intake)
2nd year trainee: £38,500 (2013/14 intake)
Newly qualified: £58,000 (at present)

Compare 2014 Law Firm Salaries


Banking & Finance
Employment & Benefits
Private Client
Real Estate
Restructuring Turnaround & Insolvency

There are formal inductions in each subject area and weekly/monthly training sessions and knowledge sharing sessions.

Read all reviews in Formal Training

Impressive, bespoke offices in the centre of Bristol. Business-casual dress code.

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The firm makes an effort to retain good trainees.

Read all reviews in Trainee Retention

A more regular post-work social scene.

Read all reviews in One Small Change


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London Office:
One London Wall
London EC2Y 5EB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7105 7000

No. of worldwide offices: 13
Silicon Valley
Thames Valley