Where is Downs based?
Downs currently has three offices in Surrey: Cobham, Dorking and Godalming. There are career opportunities at all three locations. Work experience participants will have the opportunity to work in each of the three offices. Please see our list of Current Vacancies for opportunities in each of the locations.
Our Dorking office is the original location of Downs and is where it was established in 1836. The Dorking office is the largest and most historic of our three office and is ideally located to serve the town, as well as the wider areas of Reigate, Redhill and Leatherhead. One of the three buildings that comprise the Dorking office complex is a historic Grade II listed building and has a beautiful garden area for staff to enjoy.
Our Cobham office was established through the merger with the law firm Lowrie & Co., and is our newest and currently smallest office. The staff here have close relationships with local businesses and individuals in the area and gives clients the option to use a local firm for their legal needs. The office offers the full range of legal services, but focuses primarily on residential conveyancing and wills work.
Our Godalming office is our most modern office. It is ideally placed to serve the town, as well as the wider areas of Guildford, Farnham and Haslemere. Located close to the UK’s longest-established law school, the University of Law, many students from the law school have participated in our work experience programme and joined our firm as staff.
Do I need to be a solicitor to work at Downs?
No, you don’t. There are many non-solicitor jobs at Downs, such as in IT, finance & accounting, administration and marketing. See our Current Vacancies list to see what opportunities are available at Downs.
However, if you are interested in becoming a solicitor, we are happy for you to apply to our training contract programme. There are many different routes to becoming a solicitor and you should think about which route best suits your needs. We currently have several assistants in our training contracts programme, training to become solicitors. This means they work during the week and take courses or modules on weekends. Although this may take longer than the traditional law school route, it means that you can work and get a qualification at the same time without taking on a major financial burden.
We are always looking for driven individuals to join our trainee contract. The trainee contract programme has a specific in take schedule. We will not be opening our 2024 intake until early 2023.
Do I need a university degree to work at Downs?
The short answer is no. We do hire graduates, but there are plenty of roles within the firm that do not require a university degree. This could include positions in IT, finance & accounting, administration and marketing. However, you also do not need a university degree to become a solicitor. There are many routes to becoming a solicitor and we support staff that are interested in becoming a solicitor through our in-house training contract programme.
Training Contracts for 2023 are now closed.
Do you have work experience opportunities?
Yes. We provide week-long work experiences to students who have finished their further education and are over the age of 18. Work experience week is held in the summer normally the last week in July and first week in August.
Students have the opportunity to ‘drop-in’ to all the various departments and offices at Downs and learn about the work being done there and interact with staff. Each day, students are given a task to complete and this is reviewed at the end of each day. To date, 50 students have completed our work experience week.
Applications for 2024 are open in the Spring.
What is your corporate and social responsibility (CSR)?
Downs takes its corporate and social responsibility (CSR) seriously. Integrity, responsibility and sustainability lie at the heart of our business strategy. We fully recognise our social responsibility to our staff and to the communities in which we operate. As part of our CSR, we have established four categories, where we demonstrate our commitment to fulfilling this responsibility: environmental, social, ethical and economic.
Under environmental responsibility, we are engaged through our office recycling program and the installation of energy saving office equipment. As part of our social responsibility within the communities we operate, we participate in regular fundraising events and charitable contributions. Downs and its staff are active supporters of the local Trussell Trust Foodbank, which provides food to families in need. Ethical responsibility is achieved through our continued efforts to invest in our staff by providing continued training and education opportunities, fair and equitable treatment of staff through bi-annual staff appraisals and maintaining relevant professional accreditations. Downs does not operate simply to maximise our profits and as part of our economic responsibility, we give back to our staff and community in various ways. Such as offering pro bono legal services and provide legal clinics for individuals free of charge.
We are always open to any suggestions from staff as to how we can improve our CSR.
What benefits does Downs offer?
The success of our firm depends on our staff and each person’s contribution plays an integral part in the firm’s success. Down offers the following competitive and generous benefits to all of our staff:
- 25 days holidays plus Bank Holidays. The firm is also closed from Christmas Eve to New year which is gven to staff as additional holiday
- Sick pay
- Discretionary bonus
- Life assurance
- Private medical insurance
- Medical cash plan that allows staff to claim back dental, optical and certain therapies
- Private pension
There may be additional benefits, which are subject to education level, work experience and contract terms.
Can I work from home?
Yes. We offer flexible working options to all our staff. This means a mix of remote and in-office work schedules. Downs has implemented and embraced flexible working and has helped set up home working solutions at no cost to staff. This set up not only keeps our staff and clients safe, but also allows staff to take care of their personal needs and responsibilities without fear of losing their job. Our staff have provided feedback during their appraisals that this shift to flexible working has allowed them to improve their work-life balance.
What out of work events happen at Downs?
Downs has always been a very personable and social place to work. Prior to the pandemic we had monthly office mingles, coffee mornings, department lunches, quizzes, summer BBQs and an office Christmas party. Although such get togethers are currently not possible, the pandemic has shown us that socialisation is still an important aspect of work-life balance.
We have begun organising regular social outdoor or virtual get togethers, such as a crazy golf outing and on-line cooking classes. Additionally, staff also organize regular circuit training and yoga classes as well.
How much annual leave do I get?
Downs offers all staff 25 days annual holiday in addition to bank holidays. The firm is closed at Christmas and staff are not expected to take their own leave during this period. The annual leave year runs from January to December.