Simmons & Simmons
Widely considered the everyman of UK law, this reputation hasn't prevented Simmons & Simmons from competing with the industry's best in finance and M&A. And after more than a decade of international expansion, the firm remains ambitious, continually looking for opportunities to grow.
Sharp, genuine and friendly.
- Friendly, supportive and collaborative culture
- Trainees can experience a wide variety of work thanks to the broad range of practices
- If you prove yourself you will be given more responsibility and challenging work
- Solid training and development with a really good mentoring scheme
- Swanky London offices in CitiPoint, decorated with impressive art
- Trainees will sometimes be stuck with admin work
- There can be minimal client interaction in some departments
- Pay is slightly below direct competitors in London and trainees do not get bonuses
- Get ready for a demanding recruitment process
Just below the UK's top-10 in terms of revenue, Simmons & Simmons competes with the industry's best in finance and M&A. And after more than a decade of international expansion, the firm remains ambitious, continually looking for opportunities to grow. Simmons & Simmons is widely considered to be the everyman of UK law – it's not quite as profitable as the Magic Circle’s incumbents, neither is it a niche boutique. However, the firm's mid market position hasn't prevented it from garnering a top drawer client list, including household names Deutsche Bank, Shell, Barclays, HMV, JPMorgan, Bacardi and GlaxoSmithKline.
Simmons & Simmons was founded towards the end of Queen Victoria's rule, in London, in 1896, by twin brothers Percy and Edward Simmons. The firm’s history really kicked off though, when it became the first City firm to open an office in Brussels, in 1962. Simmons' international expansion continued with the launch of its Hong Kong office, in 1979, followed by Paris, in 1988, and New York, in 1990. In 1992, the firm participated in the founding of Grupo Legal Português EEIG, a cooperative venture with a group of Spanish and Portuguese firms, quickly followed by an alliance with Italian firm, Grippo e Associati, in 1993. Despite impressive growth, Simmons struggled financially in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and suffered from a series of high-profile departures. However, the arrival of Mark Dawkins as managing partner, in 2004, marked a change in fortunes. Four years of steady growth followed, with the firm’s once-fraught international expansion activities proving to be a driving force.
In 2005, the firm changed tact, refocusing on its five core strengths: financial institutions, asset management and investment funds, energy and infrastructure, TMT and life sciences. Simmons is also capable of landing knockout M&A contracts – the hallmark of a weighty corporate player. These mega-deals are not only sourced from the London office; the branches in France, the Gulf, Italy and Hong Kong are all now pulling their weight.
Simmons moved into glam new offices at the turn of the 21st century, and there is no doubt that the move gave the firm a shot in the arm in the confidence stakes. Simmons' fantastic building at CityPoint – almost the closest London gets to a skyscraper – has all mod-cons and is loaded with amenities for employees, including a flashy restaurant and first-rate conference facilities.
What’s more, Simmons has a contemporary art collection that is the envy of the City – and not just because it looks so good. One of the firm’s partners has been supporting young British artists for decades, and the firm was one of the first to purchase Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin work, which is now worth big money. The corridors and meeting rooms are full of great works of modern art, often with an international feel to reflect the firm’s overseas footprint.
Life at the top of Simmons’ is renowned for being tough, with the firm’s management not afraid to remove underperforming partners from a share in equity. Although on the flipside, recent initiatives include an option to work more flexible hours and the chance to slow progress on partnership track without losing benefits or responsibilities.
At the start of 2008, Simmons launched a scheme for diversity and access, through which lawyers offer career advice to A Level students from Tower Hamlets – one of London’s most deprived boroughs. The firm sponsors two students through university and law school every year, providing financial assistance, a summer placement and the possibility of a training contract with the firm.
Simmons and Simmons also offers an MBA programme which is designed to provide their trainees and junior lawyers with an opportunity to gain valuable business and commercial skills early on in their careers.Read all 379 employee quotes
The rumblings coming out of Simmons & Simmons signal that a 2:1 is the absolute minimum academic requirement. The good news is that the field of study is far less important, though a strong interest in business and finance would certainly do your application no harm.
After the initial online application, candidates should ordinarily expect a further two rounds of assessments. Face-to-face interviews with either senior associates or partners are on the agenda, and if you’re not used to talking about yourself, then you better get practising! Simmons & Simmons wants to find out as much as it can about the person behind the CV; questions will therefore be designed to elicit what the individual can contribute to the firm. And although Simmons & Simmons judges each candidate on their individual merits, the firm values teamwork, community spirit, and demonstrable drive and determination in its would-be lawyers.
Case studies have also cropped up more than once in the firm’s application process. Heavily steeped in the minutia of financing and running a deal, the test is as much about keeping your head under pressure as it is about demonstrating what you know. So stay calm – no one knows all the answers!
Simmons & Simmons Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment Advisor
Tel: +44 (0)20 7628 2020
Training Contracts: 31st July 2014
Vacation Schemes: 31st January 2014
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 800+
No. of lawyers in London: 400+
Partners: Approx. 230
Associates: Approx. 500
Trainee intake: 40
Trainee retention: 92% (Sept 2012)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 2000
SIMMONS & SIMMONS: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 20 Most Reputable Law Firm (6.40/10)
# 4 in Green Initiatives (8.25/10)
# 6 in Informal Training & Mentoring (8.00/10)
# 9 in Diversity (8.17/10)
# 14 in Offices (7.67/10)
# 14 in Hours (7.25/10)
1st year trainee: £37,500
2nd year trainee: £41,750
Newly qualified: £59,000
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It's not especially hierarchical. Strong sense of team in the departments I've experienced. Friendly and supportive culture (I've never felt unable to ask questions/seek further explanation). My trainee intake is very close.Second year traineeHelpful?
The offices are nice and in a great location. The building itself is prestigious. However, I would say that the whole place could do with a lick of paint and some new furniture. The dress code is generally quite relaxed. You don't really need to wear a tie unless you're seeing clients. There is dress-down Friday, although I find this more annoying than anything else as its a bit of a gamble knowing what is and isn't acceptable.First year traineeHelpful?
Generally good, sometimes peak. As a trainee it is often unpredictable. About 50 hours on a normal week.Second year traineeHelpful?
Everyone will have an opportunity to do a client secondment/international secondment. Trainees have to do a contentious, commercial/corporate and finance seat.Helpful?
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One Ropemaker Street
London EC2Y 9SS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7628 2020
No. of worldwide offices: 21