Bond Pearce may not be a colossal international law firm, but it certainly is a ‘growing firm with big aspirations’ and stands tall as a true regional heavyweight in the South East and South West.
Friendly, supportive, innovative.
- Quality work minus the pressure and long hours of City firms
- Hands on responsibility, even on headline deals, from the start
- Professional yet relaxed and friendly atmosphere
- Progressive when it comes to diversity
- Pay and perks could do with a boost
- Lacks the recognition that its City peers may enjoy
Take a quick scout round Bond Pearce’s website and you may notice the words ‘customer’, ‘service’ and ‘experience’ crop up more than just a few times. With a friendly, colourful, informal design – more akin to a media agency than a commercial law practice – it is clear Bond Pearce are trying to sell themselves as a personable firm. And it appears they have the goods to go with their image: in 2010 Bond Pearce was named the number one UK law firm for client service in the Legal Week Client Satisfaction Report.
Founded in Plymouth 1887, Bond Pearce has grown into an established commercial player in the South East, advising major UK businesses and public sector organisations. But aside from its provincial power-base, the firm is a big name on the national stage, with marquee clients including Banks, Renewables, B&Q, Carlsberg UK, E.ON Ruhrgas, English Heritage, LV=, Marks & Spencer, New Look, RWE Npower, Royal Mail, Sainsburys and Specsavers.
Bond Pearce services clients in hospitality and leisure, insurance, real estate and retail and consumer goods, whilst its flagship department is energy. The firm provides advice in range of areas including banking and finance, commercial, corporate, dispute resolution, employment and benefits, environment, pensions, planning and regeneration, projects, real estate, regulatory and competition and tax.
The firm now has offices in Plymouth, Southampton, Aberdeen, London and Bristol. The latter in particular has gone from strength to strength since its 1998 launch, growing incrementally though a series of relatively small mergers and lateral hires. In 2001 the Bristol base assimilated Eversheds’ property team and merged with Bristol firm Cartwrights. Nationwide, Bond Pearce now employs over 600, including 74 partners and over 360 other legal professionals.
Bond Pearce’s CSR mission statement is ‘to leave behind something better than we inherited’. In ensuring it has a positive impact on the world in which it operates, Bond Pearce supports several projects in its local communities. The firm’s corporate responsibility group, led by its Chairman, supports charitable organisations across the UK – not just with financial support but also by providing time and expertise.
In 2011, the firm supported The Prince’s Trust as its national charity, working with the organisation to support young people from troubled or less fortunate backgrounds. In several regions, Bond Pearce also supports local causes chosen by its employees, such as St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol, Scratch in Southampton and Theatre Royal Playhouse project in Plymouth. Furthermore, Bond Pearce’s solicitors provide pro bono work under a variety of guises. This includes membership of a board of a children's hospice, chairmanship of boards of governors and work for a number of community foundations.Read all 232 employee quotes
With 600 employees, Bond Pearce may not be a colossal international law firm, but it certainly is a ‘growing firm with big aspirations’. Although Bond Pearce’s presence is particularly strong in the South of England with offices in Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol and London, the firm moved into Scotland (Aberdeen to be exact) a few years ago to expand its national footprint.
While trainees claim ‘there is less of a focus on academics and more on personal skills and communication’, prospective trainees will still have to present Bond Pearce with a top degree as ‘any weaknesses in your grades will require a good reason to justify it’. Apart from that, you should have ‘lots of interests outside of work’ so make sure you have some extracurricular activities under your belt. The firm is especially keen to hire graduates who are ‘approachable and confident’ and don’t forget to put across your ‘passion for law and the city’ you want to be based when you apply – a strong local connection will certainly work toward your advantage. The firm currently takes on trainees in its Bristol, Plymouth and Southampton offices, though seats are available in London and Aberdeen.
Training contracts at Bond Pearce are made up of four six-month seats, and we’re told ‘there's a wide range of departments and the opportunity to be seconded to the legal department of one of the firm's clients’. Options vary, but usually include insurance, commercial property, commercial litigation, regulatory, oil and gas, financial services, corporate, and property litigation. Trainees are not able to do a seat abroad – don’t let this put you off though as there isn’t going to be a shortage of interesting work when you train at Bond Pearce, one trainee comments that ‘the quality of work is very high and there are always opportunities to get involved in the firm's headline deals’.
If all of this sounds good to you, submit your online application and – fingers crossed – you’ll be invited to an assessment day consisting of an interview with a partner and senior solicitor, a role play, a few tests and a group exercise. The firm will have ‘a lot of assessors present, from associates through to partners’, but this shouldn’t intimidate you. The recruitment process may be ‘pretty tough’, ‘difficult and tiring’, but it will also be ‘relatively relaxed’ – and believe it or not, for some ‘the assessment day was very enjoyable’. The interviews will cover a range of topics and you may be asked about anything ranging from ‘interests and hobbies’ to ‘current affairs and areas of law/other subjects studied’.
In need of some last tips and advice? Current trainees suggest candidates should ‘know what clients the firm deals with and consider how you would interact with those clients as the face of Bond Pearce’. Other than that, keep in mind that ‘the firm does not hire a typical trainee. Instead, it operates a point scoring system which takes into account the candidate as a whole’, so remember to be ‘commercially minded, sharp’, ‘personable’ and ‘able to get on with people’.
Graduate Recruitment Info
Samantha Lee (Recruitment)
Tel: +44 (0)845 415 6521
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 360
Trainee intake: 10
Trainees retained: 75% (2011)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 700
BOND PEARCE: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 3 in Hours (8.71/10)
# 4 in Satisfaction with Work (8.33/10)
# 6 in Green Initiatives (7.92/10)
# 7 in Culture (8.43/10)
# 10 in Overall Satisfaction (8.31/10)
# 13 in Selectivity (8.15/10)
# 14 in Formal Training (8.23/10)
1st year trainee: £24,000
2nd year trainee: £25,000
Newly qualified: £39,000
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We have regular junior lawyer training which is useful.Second year traineeHelpful?
Very few additional benefits.First year traineeHelpful?
Group exercise in which we had to put together a pitch to a prospective client, mock client interview, psychometric and critical thinking tests, hour long interview with partner and associate, networking session. I was absolutely done in by the end of the day. Interview consisted of mainly the usual type of questions but with a curved ball thrown in where I was asked to give my views on a completely random subject and then to justify them (whether or not a new cancer treatment drug should be made available to all on the NHS and why). Tough day.Second year traineeHelpful?
We have one of the strongest client bases of any firm our size, and genuinely compete with Magic Circle firms in certain areas of work (i.e. Oil and gas, where I am currently sitting).Second year traineeHelpful?