What does it do?

The company is one of the five-strong "Magic Circle" of leading London law firms. Founded in 1889 by William Slaughter and William May, it began by specialising in financial law. Tough periods around both world wars were survived, and by the 1980s the firm was in good shape to be able to work on a large number of the privatisations implemented by Conservative governments, including British Airways, Jaguar and British Telecom.

Away from the City pages, Slaughter and May recently acted for Arsenal football club on the financing and property aspects of the new Emirates Stadium, and on the acrimonious transfer of Ashley Cole to Chelsea. Its lawyers also advised the London brewery Young's on a joint venture with the Charles Wells firm to brew and distribute beers such as Wells Bombardier, Young's Bitter and Red Stripe.

Vital statistics

Of about 1,300 staff worldwide, almost 90 per cent work in London; some 600 are lawyers or trainees.

The office

The London head office has the wonderfully Dickensian address of One Bunhill Row. There are offices in Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong.

Is this you?

Around 90 trainee solicitors are taken on every year. The firm professes not to be interested in "clones". You don't need a First, or even a law degree; current trainees include graduates in Anglo-Saxon Norse and musicology.

The recruitment process

Applications can be online, ( www.slaughterandmay.com) or by post to the London office, and recruitment continues all year round. All forms and covering letters are personally reviewed by the firm's team of recruitment partners, who choose candidates to be invited in for an interview and tour of the London office. And that's it! Slaughter and May does not use assessment centres or psychometric tests.

Those picked follow a fairly standard legal training pattern, with slabs of time ("seats") spent in different departments, including, for example, tax, pensions and employment, corporate financing, commercial real estate and dispute resolution. Typical tasks would include reporting on the affairs of a business being purchased, and interviewing company managers. In parallel, trainees follow the compulsory professional skills course, and Slaughter and May's own business course, which incorporates much of the content of an MBA.

Top dollar?

As of next month, trainees will be paid £31,000 in the first year, rising to £34,500 in the second.

Beam me up Scotty?

Most lawyers spend their first years after completing training based in London. Six years after qualification, lawyers become eligible to be considered for partnership.

Who's the boss?

Tim Clark has been the Senior Partner since 2001. He joined the firm in 1974 as an articled clerk. Despite the firm's involvement with Arsenal, he supports the team that plays at Stamford Bridge.

Little known fact

A modern statue, prominently visible in the reception area of the firm's London office, is a landmark London cabbies are required to know about as part of "The Knowledge".