In 2017, the three law firms Cameron McKenna, Nabarro, and Olswang came together in the largest merger in legal history to create CMS.
In 2010, US firm Hogan & Hartson merged with UK firm Lovells to create one of the world’s largest transatlantic firms, Hogan Lovells. While the firm has only been operating for a decade, its excellent work has made it one of the best combinations of scale and quality outside the magic circle, and a member of the emerging global elite.
Irwin Mitchell was originally founded in 1912 in Sheffield. Since then, the firm has scaled up to 15 offices across the UK making Irwin Mitchell the largest full-service law firm in the UK. Consequently, Irwin Mitchell takes on 50 trainees across 11 of its offices, and uniquely, allows them to either seek qualification within their Business Legal Services stream or Personal Legal Services stream. Traditionally, the firm is known as the leading personal injury and medical negligence practice in the UK. Nevertheless, it also prides itself as a top-tier firm in litigation which offers a wide range of commercial services and expertise across various sectors. Irwin Mitchell is innovative, future focused and open-minded.
An oldie but a goldie, the firm traces its roots back to the very first public record of solicitors in the UK on the Law List. After being founded in 1775 as Booth & Co, numerous amalgamations finally led to the formation of Addleshaw Goddard (AG) in 2003, combining Addleshaw Booth & Co and Theodore Goddard. Since then, the firm has expanded nationally and internationally, whilst consistently maintaining its high-quality legal service with loyal clients. The firm has 12 offices, as well as a formal alliance in Tokyo. However, through its 1,200 lawyers and over 250 partners, AG delivers its services globally, having advised clients in 94 different countries. AG takes on 50 UK trainees per year, with seat options across the four divisions of Corporate & Commercial, Litigation, Finance & Projects and Real Estate. Although the firm is a leader across a broad range of commercial specialisms, it holds particular strength in Banking and Finance, Construction, Corporate/M&A, Employment, Information Technology and Intellectual Property, ranking in Band 1 for these in Chambers and Partners. The firm can be characterised in 3 words: pioneering, innovative and international.
In 2005, San Diego-based Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick and United Kingdom-based DLA merged with a vision to becoming the leading global business law firm. And so DLA Piper was born. Since then, it has made remarkable strides in the legal industry. It was the top UK law firm by revenue in 2019/20, takes up to 70 trainees, one of the largest trainee intakes, for its UK operations per year, and boasts an impressive global reach of 90 offices operating in more than 40 countries, including offices in some less-frequented developing legal markets such as Bogotá and Casablanca. It is worth mentioning that seven of these offices are based in the UK alone which demonstrates that the firm is committed to delivering seamless both local and cross-border advice. Corporate and banking work are the dominant revenue generators for the firm, whilst it is also a national leader in banking and finance, media and entertainment, and employment. To characterise the firm in three words, DLA Piper is corporate, global and ambitious.
A regionally rooted firm with growing international force, Osborne Clarke has moved onwards and upwards in recent years to become globally established. The three UK offices (Bristol, London and Reading) stand strong in each location with 35 trainees. Becoming the first firm in Europe to open an office in Silicon Valley sets the tone for Osborne Clarke’s international outreach to 25 locations, leading to a comfortable position in the top 150 firms globally. The firm takes pride in their focus on industry sectors (digital business, energy, financial services, life sciences, real estate, retail, recruitment, transport) which helps them to remain aware of the biggest issues facing clients and tailor their approach accordingly. Overall the firm can be described as reliable, encouraging and innovative.
As one of the world’s leading professional services businesses with a prestigious reputation, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has been a consistent rival to the big five in the magic circle. In 2012, the firm merged with Australasian heavyweight Freehills which has been a great success with little notable disruption to the previously pleasant culture. With 26 offices in 20 countries, HSF is a dominant global player leading in litigation, as well as business and human rights law. The firm takes on 60 trainees each year and boasts a high trainee retention rate of 97%. Due to HSF being a disputes powerhouse, every trainee is required to complete a contentious stint. As a renowned worldwide leader in the legal sector, it comes as no surprise that the firm offers international and client secondments, with most trainees taking up one of these options during their training contract. To sum up HSF in three words: global, approachable and inclusive.