The Lawyer UK 200 Rank21

Osborne Clarke is a Bristol law firm of very long-standing and for many years it played the quirky, laid-back counterpoint to the more conservative Burges Salmon in that city. Then in the 1990s it roared into the limelight by spotting the opportunity in the technology sector. The dotcom boom years saw the firm prosper as it acted for the early internet and technology companies. The firm even opened in Silicon Valley to capitalise on this type of work. The dotcom

Osborne Clarke is a Bristol law firm of very long-standing and for many years it played the quirky, laid-back counterpoint to the more conservative Burges Salmon in that city. Then in the 1990s it roared into the limelight by spotting the opportunity in the technology sector. The dotcom boom years saw the firm prosper as it acted for the early internet and technology companies. The firm even opened in Silicon Valley to capitalise on this type of work.

The dotcom crash that followed hit Osborne Clarke exceptionally hard, with profits slumping and a string of partner exits. The firm was also struggling to make its London office, opened in 1987, a strong enough corporate force.

Simon Beswick

The man tasked with extricating Osborne Clarke from its problems was the firm’s most prominent corporate partner, Simon Beswick, who had been out of the UK heading up the firm’s fledgling Silicon Valley office.

He took over as managing partner in 2002 and by the time he stepped down from the role in 2015 he had transformed the firm from a regional player with a turnover of £60.9m into an 18-office £142m heavyweight with a centre of gravity in London.

The transformation took time. After navigating the recession, it was still unclear exactly what Osborne Clarke wanted to be famous for. In 2010, some sort of answer was forthcoming when the firm restructured around four distinct sector groups: financial services, real estate, energy and digital business (formerly known as TMT). It has since bolted on a handful more sectors, bringing its tally up to seven. This strategy has proved remarkably successful, and led to Osborne Clarke being named The Lawyer’s firm of the year in 2015.

In the UK it still has only three offices – Bristol, London and Reading – however, it has been adventurous internationally, opening in the likes of Hamburg, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Padova and Brescia. Osborne Clarke has also launched in New York and San Francisco, while the firm’s Silicon Valley office remains an important gateway to tech clients.

Ray Berg
Ray Berg

Fittingly for the areas it operates in, Osborne Clarke has been among the most adventurous law firms when it comes to branding and embraced a corporate image that – until recently at least – was distinctive from the rest of the market. Its traditional puma logo remains, though it too was given a new look at the last firm rebrand.

Ray Berg took over the reins from Simon Beswick as managing partner in 2015, with Beswick continuing in the global CEO role he had begun in 2012. Asia is the next frontier, and Osborne Clarke has recently begun alliances with local law firms in China and Hong Kong. 

Appointed Managing partner Senior partner CEO
1994 Leslie Perrin
2002 Simon Beswick Leslie Perrin (full-time role created)
2006 Tim Birt
2012 Simon Beswick (role created)
2014 Andrew Saul
2015 Ray Berg

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Osborne Clarke?

1st year trainee: £34,750 – £40,000

2nd year trainee: £36,750 – £42,000

What is the NQ salary at Osborne Clarke?

NQ: £48,000 – £65,000

Number of trainees: 56

OSBORNE CLARKE FACTS

Founded: 1748

Locations: Bristol, London, Reading