We spoke to Julia Robilliard-Smith, a second year trainee at City law firm Travers Smith, about what sets the firm apart from the crowd.
Julia Robilliard-Smith, Studied Biology at Imperial College London
What sets Travers Smith apart from the other firms?
Travers Smith is renowned for its independence, innovative legal reasoning and deep commercial insight – the firm isn't afraid to challenge established thinking. Most of all, Travers Smith is defined by its unique culture, a result of exceptionally talented lawyers with a good sense of humour who take their work, but not themselves too seriously.
Why do you think a graduate should choose to start their career at Travers Smith?
The unique room sharing structure (often 1 partner or senior counsel, 2 associates and a trainee) provides fantastic opportunities to learn from exceptionally talented (and inspiring) lawyers and contributes to the non-hierarchical culture. As a trainee, you receive individual and extensive tailored training from these experienced lawyers, and partners go out of their way to ensure that trainees are given a broad range of high calibre work and client contact. The responsibility and challenge that comes with all of this may seem daunting, but the culture at Travers Smith ensures that you always have support when you need it and gives every trainee the opportunity to excel.
At Travers Smith, there is a real focus on equipping future partners of the firm with the knowledge they need through a structured training programme (both general and department specific), as shown by the very high trainee retention rates each year. At Travers Smith, you're valued as an individual, and trained in the literal sense of the word. The firm offers you a career, not just a job.
What benefits does the firm’s international outlook have?
With handpicked 'best friend' partner firms across the world, Travers Smith is able provide the same level of expertise expected by our clients in English law, even when they require advice from other jurisdictions or advice on cross-border transactions. These 'best friend' partner firms are exceptional independent law firms in their respective overseas jurisdictions – Travers Smith has not taken the approach of some international law firms by opening numerous overseas offices.
The firm's international outlook allows trainees (aside from being involved in particularly interesting - and often very difficult - international matters) to build relationships with clients and other law firms around the world. Last year alone, Travers Smith worked with over 100 foreign law firms. The international associates events are also a lot of fun – the firm hosted an après-ski themed party last year!
As a trainee, you are able to request a Corporate seat in the Paris office, and as an associate, the international secondment programme has recently seconded lawyers to countries including the U.S., Japan and India.
How would you describe the Travers Smith company culture?
The culture of the firm is collaborative with a friendly and engaging team spirit - each individual, from trainee to partner, is actively encouraged to contribute their thoughts and ideas to legal problems. However, don't be fooled by Travers Smith's friendly reputation. Behind each individual there is an efficient, highly intelligent and pragmatic lawyer who is always considering how to provide the best bespoke, commercial, advice to all of our clients. This is a firm where long-lasting relationships are established with clients and colleagues alike - often friendships too!
What qualities does a typical Travers Smith employee have?
The lawyers at Travers Smith are academically excellent, articulate and able to think on their feet.
Do you have any advice for Vacation Scheme or Training Contract applicants?
Ensure that you attend presentations and law fairs so that you can network with trainees and partners prior to application, and use the opportunity to find out as much as you can about Travers Smith. It's important to be able to explain to Germaine and Claire why it is Travers Smith you want to work for rather than any other city law firm.
The interviews at Travers Smith are not what you would expect of an average city law firm – expect the unexpected!
Why is diversity important and what have you seen Travers Smith do to create a diverse work force.
At Travers Smith, individuals are valued and respected for their differences: not just in relation to gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and faith, but also in terms of background, education, working style, gender identity and family or care responsibilities.
Travers Smith is actively involved with numerous initiatives and networks in order to promote diversity both in the recruitment of trainees and throughout the firm – to pick a few examples, a BAME committee was recently established, Travers Smith is committed to an LGBT+ mentoring programme, and the firm is part of Rare Recruitment. Travers Smith understands that an inclusive environment is crucial to any business and creates a both a rewarding and enjoyable workplace for everyone.
Find out more about Travers Smith here.