Finding the right law firm for you means finding somewhere with the right culture fit, where you can be your true self at work. We caught up with Harpreet Kaur, a Trainee Solicitor, and Ellinor Davey, the Early Talent Lead, from RPC to hear their thoughts on the firm’s unique culture.
Tell us a bit about yourselves
Ellinor: I’m the Early Talent Lead at RPC. I manage our UK Trainee and apprentice Recruitment and Development programme, so I’m part of the whole journey – from going out on campus and meeting students (in person or virtually), assessing them during our assessment centres and summer schemes, right through to their learning programme until they take the next steps in their career at RPC. I’ve been here for 8 years now and my route to RPC was a bit by chance – one of my good friends completed her training contract here and she’s always spoken really positively about RPC. There happened to be a role available and she connected me to the People team, I went through the interview process and started my role a month later!
Harps: I’m a first-year trainee, and I started at the firm last September. I did my first seat with the intellectual property team which I thoroughly enjoyed and now I’m on an intellectual property secondment at the licensing company of one of our big clients. When I was looking to apply for training contracts, the two key things for me were the firm’s culture and it also having a strong insurance practice – so RPC was a perfect fit!
How would you describe the culture at RPC in a few words?
Harps: Open-minded. Everyone at RPC is super approachable, really understanding of each other and they’re always open to new ideas and actively seeking new perspectives.
Ellinor: Inclusive. Warm. Fun. And I know it sounds cliché, but I genuinely believe it’s so true – friendly.
What makes the culture at RPC unique?
Harps: I did two vacation schemes, one at RPC and one at another city firm and I think the main thing that really stood out to me at RPC was that it’s not hierarchical in any way. Every firm has to have a hierarchy of course, that’s inevitable, but at RPC it’s not really ingrained in the firm’s culture. We sit in an open plan office, so for example I sat next to a Partner, a newly qualified Associate, a Paralegal and we all worked together in teams. I don’t ever feel nervous or intimidated about approaching someone more senior to me. Also, the Partners and Associates always get involved in the social activities going on in the firm which is helpful for building rapport.
Ellinor: I completely agree. I love the open plan nature and I think particularly if you’re more junior in your career it’s so valuable because you get to hear their conversations with clients, talk to them about things going on and you can really learn from them just by being around them. I don’t think you could get that learning if you were in individual offices. Something else that I think is unique is that colleagues are really respected no matter what their role or seniority. We have our lawyers, business services, our secretarial support teams, and there’s no sense of ‘us and them’. It’s very much respect across the board.
What values do RPC prioritise as a team?
Ellinor: A really important one is collaboration. We’re quite honest with people that if you’re not a team player, RPC is probably not the right fit for you. We also value a strong work ethic – we’re not afraid to work hard. We’re enthusiastic and passionate about what we do. And although we’re a friendly firm, we’re also ambitious. We’re competing with some larger law firms and doing some really great work, so ambition is key. We’re very much a merit-based culture, so you can progress based on performance and drive, rather than based on a certain number of years of experience– so ambition and personal development is really valued and supported.
Harps: Adding to the collaboration point – as a Trainee, I feel like my view is definitely heard just as much as the next. In team meetings, Associates and Partners will actively ask me for my opinion, which is really beneficial from a development perspective at Trainee level. As it’s a small Trainee intake, you also feel really part of the team and not just a number. This also means you get to do high-quality work and engage directly with clients.
What type of person would fit in well at RPC?
Ellinor: It’s a really interesting one – one of our straplines we say is that ‘at RPC, you can be you. In an environment that’s real’ so we certainly want to encourage a whole range of different personalities and people with different experiences to apply to RPC. I suppose, in addition to the collaborative nature and ambition that we value, we’re also looking for enthusiasm, strong emotional intelligence (internally and externally with our clients) and people with a growth mindset. We encourage people to be aware of their strengths and development areas and actively work on these.
Harps: I’d agree with this – I’ve really valued the supervision I’ve received as a Trainee. In each new seat you have a supervisor to support you and develop your career. Even though these members of the team are extremely busy lawyers, they always make time for weekly catch ups. These can be anywhere between a quick 10-minute run down of the work I have on, or a full hour to talk through any challenges I was facing or new things I’d like a chance to be involved in. Feedback levels are really consistent at RPC – when you do a piece of work for Associates or Partners, they make the effort to give you feedback on your work. We also get full constructive feedback in our mid-seat and end-seat reviews to allow us to develop as much as we can.
What are some typical activities that the RPC team do together outside of work?
Harps: All of the Trainees know each other really well, including the intake above us and the Paralegals, so Friday drinks with them is a no brainer! As a firm, the RPC quiz night is a really big event that everyone gets involved in. There are also team socials where Trainees can get to know the new departments that they'll be working with in their upcoming six-month seat. The Bristol Trainees are also invited to the events as well, so we get to socialise with them as a wider team.
Ellinor: We also have a number of different clubs including book club, theatre club, the choir who perform for our clients and every Christmas – although it’s a bit of struggle for them to practice during lockdown! There’s a netball team, a darts team, rugby events and football games against clients – there’s also more general firm wide events such as the summer and the Christmas party. We also celebrate Chinese New Year – especially important because of our Hong Kong office – as well as quiz nights, bake offs, bring your dog to work day and so much more! Everyone can get as involved or not involved as they’d like, there’s no pressure. Most of the above activities are still taking place virtually in one way or another.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell Bright Network members about RPC?
Ellinor: I look forward to going to work each day and I think that’s so important. If anyone’s reading this and thinking about what firm they should apply to, it’s so important to find one that you’ll genuinely want to go to most days. Think, will you enjoy the work and culture? You’re going to spend a lot of time at work, so you’ve got to find a place that fits you and work in an environment you can thrive in.
Harps: The key thing to know about RPC is that they want to go against the grain, they don’t want to be the 100% slick, polished, city law firm – they want to attract great lawyers but it’s people with personality and quirks, not just corporate clones, that they’re looking for.
Keen to find out more about RPC and browse their roles? Go to their profile here.