CMS Cameron McKenna
Best known for its substantial finance and corporate practices, CMS Cameron McKenna occupies a lucrative mid-tier position. The firm inspires great loyalty from its client list of FTSE 100 companies and financial institutions, across the UK and Europe.
High quality of work but friendly atmosphere.
- No face time culture, encouraged to go home early if you've finished your work
- Secondment opportunities are excellent
- Trainees can get involved with high-end, interesting work
- Everyone is approachable and interested in your development
- Unpredictable and long hours in some departments
- Internal communication could be improved
- The office is not the smartest of places
- Lack of responsibility in certain departments
Since its inauguration in 1997, CMS Cameron McKenna has become a significant force across Europe as well as amongst the City’s top players. As one of ten law firms throughout the Continent bonded by the CMS prefix, CMS Cameron McKenna is best known for its substantial finance and corporate practices.
The firm’s moniker is the result of the 1997 merger of UK law firms, McKenna & Co and Cameron Markby Hewitt, as well as the firm’s founding member status of the CMS alliance. However, the origins of the firm can be traced back 200 years prior to this conjoining, with the practice of T Hewitt. Today, the CMS organisation boasts 54 offices, over 750 partners and 2,800 lawyers. The firm has renowned practices in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moscow and Romania and is headquartered in London with UK outposts in Bristol, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
CMS Cameron McKenna inspires loyalty from its roster of FTSE 100 and finance clients, by offering a full service approach and promoting long-term relationships. And with many of the firm’s UK competitors limited to offices in the City, CMS takes full advantage of its regional outposts to deliver services at a lower cost. The firm's impressive domestic client base includes BP, Lloyds TSB, Microsoft, Nestlé, Procter and Gamble, RBS and Shell.
Although its finance and corporate practices make up nearly half of the turnover company-wide, its litigation department also puts in a strong innings – supplying almost a quarter of the firm’s revenue. However, CMS Cameron McKenna has many strings to its bow, with one notable thread being its energy, projects and construction group. With an enviable client list, CMS advises top firms in the market, including AMEC, BP, McAlpine, Metronet and Taylor Woodrow. The firm’s insurance practice forms another essential part of the CMS Cameron McKenna whole. Its contentious and non-contentious teams, spread across London and Bristol, focus their energy on a relatively small list of 25 – 30 major clients, including Deutsche Bank, Prudential and John Laing. And completing the CMS Cameron McKenna chord is the firm's notable tax and real estate practices.
CMS Cameron McKenna takes corporate responsibility very seriously. The firm makes concerted efforts in pro bono, volunteering and charity. Additionally it is committed to diversity and to being an environmentally friendly firm. As part of its pro bono work the firm represents death row prisoners in the Bahamas, and also supports a charity and matches employee donations - since 2011 this has been The Special Olympics and a total of £152k has been raised to date. Since introducing a number of environment initiatives in 2002, CMS Cameron McKenna has increased its green credentials immeasurably: evidenced by a number of awards, including the Platinum Award from London’s Clean City Awards scheme which the firm won for four years running, between 2006 and 2009.Read all 380 employee quotes
As one of the top law firms in the UK, CMS Cameron McKenna naturally looks for trainees who are the full package. To be in with a chance at a training contract or vac scheme with the firm, candidates need an excellent academic record, (320 UCAS points and a 2:1 are the minimum requirements), as well as a range of other qualities. As one trainee with the firm said, ‘our firm likes proactive, outgoing candidates that are confident, intelligent and personable.’
The firm’s application process is split into two stages and has a reputation as being ‘quite challenging’. Despite this, candidates should not be put off as the firm does everything in its power to ensure that the process is ‘very transparent and fair.’ The first stage consists of an online application and a verbal reasoning psychometric test.
Applicants who do well in these tests will then be invited along to the second stage of the process: the assessment centre. Usually taking place over a single day, the assessment centre comprises an interview with either an associate or HR representative, an analysis exercise, a presentation, a group exercise and a partner interview.
For candidates hoping to make an impression, one trainee advises that ‘the presentation and the written exercise are good opportunities to stand out’. However as with most application processes, the partner interview is where the very best candidates will be rooted out from the rest. This ‘testing’ final stage features ‘some very specific and challenging questions’ on candidates’ experiences, competencies and academic background.
Candidates who have performed consistently highly all the way back to the initial online application form will have an advantage here; especially if they’ve used strong examples during earlier competency questions. These will form the basis of some of the questions asked in the interview, so it will help if you can talk about them with confidence.
If you’ve completed a vac scheme you’ll be fast tracked to the group exercise and partner interview stage of the proceedings. In these cases, interviews can be slightly more informal than usual and may focus more on your experiences during the vac scheme than on your academic history.
After your interview, CMS Cameron McKenna will let you know quick sharp if they want you or not. Some trainees even report that after attending an assessment centre during the day, they were offered a training contract the same evening.
CMS Cameron McKenna Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment Team
Tel: 0845 300 0491
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 676
No. of lawyers in the UK: 414
Trainee intake: 60
Trainees retained: 76% (2012/13)
CMS CAMERON MCKENNA: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 26 (Tie) Most Reputable Law Firm (6.20/10)
# 6 in Salary (7.96/10)
# 9 (Tie) in Culture (8.33/10)
# 11 in Formal Training (8.26/10)
# 13 in Diversity (7.91/10)
# 14 in Trainee Retention (7.50/10)
1st year trainee: £37,500
2nd year trainee: £41,500
Newly qualified: £60,000
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Solicitors and partners are always happy to talk to trainees.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Pro bono and CSR have a very high profile with every fee earner having a target of 50 hours of CSR a year.Second year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Starting the working day earlier and finishing earlier.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Make sure you know why you want to study it - because everyone always asks!First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
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160 Aldersgate Street
London EC1A 4DD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7367 3000
No. of worldwide offices: 54 (including associated offices)