SJ Berwin was set up in 1982 as a separate law firm, after founder Stanley Berwin broke away from another firm Berwin & Co that he had set-up in 1970. Berwin & Co is now known as Berwin, Leighton & Paisner and is among several rivals of SJ Berwin.
SJ Berwin is an international corporate law firm with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris and Shanghai. Clients range from major multinational business corporations and financial institutions to high net-worth individuals. As a result, the firm has established a strong reputation in corporate finance. The firm was created and continues to thrive as a leading-edge legal services business, focusing on the European and international market place. The firm’s clients are sophisticated buyers of legal services, principally entrepreneurial companies and financial institutions, whom the firm advises on a comprehensive range of services.
The firm has an enviable set of names from the world of business on its client roster—British Land, Morley Fund Management, Macquarie, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, Apax, Nomura, Peabody Global Real Estate, Star Capital Partners, Lion Capital, Morgan Grenfell Equity, William Hill, Coca Cola, Expedia and O2.
A relatively young firm, SJ Berwin in the last 25 years has managed to grow quickly and move into the big leagues. Along the way it has registered some industry firsts, notably a hike in pay scales for associates which led to other City firms jumping on to the bandwagon and then indulging in a long series of ‘one-upmanship’ moves on salary hikes.
The firm also earned a reputation as an aggressive, tough-talking firm, one of the few firms to have registered the fastest growth rates in the last five years or so.
SJ Berwin’s main strength and expertise lies in corporate practice; specifically in M and A, private equity, venture capital, investment funds investiture and management and corporate finance. Other areas of practice include arbitration, litigation, IP, employment, EU and competition, real estate and construction, tax, insolvency, public law, environment and planning, media and telecommunications.
A good academic background, with a 2:1 degree at the minimum, strong communication skills and leadership qualities are desired. Candidates should be able to demonstrate a good understanding of commercial awareness, be self-starters and have a confident and aggressive attitude.
The two year training contract is divided into four six-month seats offered in commerce and technology; commercial litigation; corporate finance and private equity; IP; financial services; media and communication; real estate; Mergers and Acquiisitions, MBO and VC; tax; employment and environment and planning.
Since the bulk of S J Berwin’s practice is in corporate, trainees will necessarily have to spend at least 12 months in various seats in the corporate department. The various sub-units in corporate where a trainee can expect to spend some time are, in Mergers and Acquisitions —private and public enterprises, AIM listings and IPOs.
The second sub-unit specializes on private equity and venture capital which is Pan-European and a well-regarded team. The last sub-unit handles fund management. There are also seats in finance, real estate and other areas listed above and trainees can also look for overseas placements at any of SJB’s other European offices, or secondments to clients.
The formal part of the Training Contract covers the Professional Skills Course (PSC), knowledge management and special training sessions devoted to specific individual needs.
SJ Berwin runs one week-long placement during the Easter vacation and three two-week placements in summer. The Easter scheme is open to final year law and non-law students and all graduates are eligible. The summer vacation programmes are conducted from June to August. Penultimate year law, final tear law students and all graduates are eligible to apply.
The placements provide aspiring lawyers with practical experience of working in a law firm; give an insight into SJ Berwin and its work and culture. The trainees will complete daily assignments in one chosen department for duration of the scheme, and will attend lectures and workshops on the detailed process and work in other departments, negotiation skills and interact with other trainees and lawyers in the firm.
First year trainees are paid a salary of £37,500 and second year trainees are paid £40,000. Annual benefits provided are life assurance, permanent health insurance, season ticket loan, subsidised on-site meals, subsidised gym membership and 25-days’ annual holiday.
Fees for GDL & LPC courses are paid in full and annual maintenance bursary ranging from £6,250 to £7,250, based on whether the course is studied in London or elsewhere.
For graduates who’ve already cleared GDL & LPC before taking up a training contract at SJ Berwin will be reimbursed fees, the percentage of reimbursement will depend on when studies where completed in relation to the commencement of training contracts. Vacation scheme trainees are paid an allowance of £275 per week.
Training contract, vacation schemes and Open Day application forms should be submitted on-line here. Law students in the second year, non-law students in the final year and all graduates are eligible to apply for any/all of the above programmes.
Vacation scheme applications can be submitted between 1 October and 31 January, between 1 October and 31 July for training contracts and during October for Open Days to be held in December and January.
London UK Office
020 7111 2222
020 7111 2000
Please click on the links below to browse through the city firms.