The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
London-based Bates Wells Braithwaite is renowned for its work in the third sector, representing a huge swathe of charities and public sector clients, some of whom are international. The firm also has strengths in corporate, employment, real estate and immigration law, to name a few.
The star performers
Administrative and public law; Brand management; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial contracts; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Electoral; Employment: employers and senior executives; Immigration: business; Local government; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Professional discipline; Property litigation; Sport.
Advised the British Film Institute on the acquisition of a long leasehold interest in site that will be developed into a new National Film Centre; assisted the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists with the acquisition of a London freehold premises from PwC; acted for Airport Coordination following the collapse of Monarch Airlines which included defending a judicial review and involved issues of interpretation of two EU Regulations; represented the claimants in the high-profile Uber gig economy case; continues to advise the Royal Albert Hall on various high profile and complex governance and constitutional issues relating to the Hall’s constitution – the constitution was created by Royal Charter and several acts of parliament dating back to 1876
Advertising Standards Authority; Arts Council England; Booker Prize Foundation; British Red Cross; Canterbury City Council; Lawn Tennis Association; National Union of Students ; Royal College of Physiatrists; Trade Union Congress; YMCA
Renowned for its ‘reputation in immigration and charity law’, Bates Wells Braithwaite is a popular choice for those drawn to firms with a ‘socially responsible ethos’. It is repeatedly BWB’s ‘specialist areas of practice’, and ‘client base’ which attracts aspiring solicitors to the firm. During their training contract, recruits have worked for a variety of clients ranging from ‘small start-ups’ to ‘large household names’, ‘refugees’ to ‘international NGOs’. This ‘varied client base’ allows for an ‘extremely varied workload comprising more high-level legal work’ reports one trainee. Though it’s acknowledged that ‘trainee experience varies from department to department’ with some experiencing ‘longer hours’ or ‘less stimulating work’, recruits across the firm are nonetheless ‘actively involved in areas of work that they have expressed an interest in’. Respondents from BWB felt they experienced ‘more client contact’ and had access to a ‘wider range of seats’ than pals at other firms. Whilst they disliked ‘cataloguing thousands of emails in anticipation of disclosure’ and dealing with ‘land registry forms’, times when they got to ‘attend a week-long trial at the High Court’ made it all worthwhile. For one trainee ‘the best moment was when, after a few late nights compiling evidence, a lovely young immigration client who had overcome many obstacles in life was granted leave to remain by the Home Office’. As is to be expected, BWB’s involvement in CSR and pro bono is substantial. There are a ‘range of outreach schemes aimed at improving diversity within the legal profession’ and ‘valuable pro bono opportunities for small charities’. If you would like to be part of a firm which is ‘trying to do something unique and worthwhile’, consider applying to Bates Wells Braithwaite.
A day in the life of...
Matthew James Bates Wells Braithwaite
Departments to date: Charity and social enterprise, immigration, public and regulatory, and real estate
9.00am: I arrive in the office and settle down at my desk to check my emails and update the day’s to-do list (making sure I’ve also had that all-important first coffee of the morning!)
9.15am: I head over to our atrium where the charity and social enterprise department holds a weekly meeting to discuss capacity and work coming up.
9.35am: I’m due to head to a client meeting with one of the partners at 10am, so spend some time reading into the matter.
10.00am: The client has arrived and we meet them in reception. The client wishes to establish a new charity in the wake of a recent humanitarian disaster, so I take a detailed note of the proposed activities of the charity and the advice given in the meeting.
11.30am: The meeting has ended and the partner tells me that a detailed note of the meeting isn’t urgent, but she would like me to draft an email to the client summarising both the advice given and suggested next steps. There has been plenty of client contact throughout my training contract and it is likely that I will be the first point of contact for this client as we work towards a successful registration.
12:30pm: My supervisor asks me to give a potential new client a call to find out more about the advice he wants. I do so, draft a quick note of the call and update my supervisor. BWB’s given me a lot of client-facing responsibilities, which I’ve enjoyed.
1.00pm: It’s summer, so a few of us head up to the roof terrace to have lunch looking out over the Thames – double-checking the weather forecast before we head up there!
2.00pm: I am back at my desk promptly as I have a call with a client and need to brief the partner beforehand. We have been advising the client on their submissions to HMRC regarding the human rights impact of the new common reporting standard for certain charitable trusts. I update the partner on my review of the current draft HMRC guidance documents and my proposed improvements. The emphasis on early responsibility was something that attracted me to the firm as I enjoy taking initiative. She agrees with my proposals and we call the client. The client is very happy with our approach and asks us to draft a letter to HMRC.
3.20pm: On my way back to my desk I catch up with a colleague about BWB’s upcoming B Corp reassessment. B Corp certifications are like Fairtrade for businesses – if you pass the assessment, it’s a recognition that your business values people, the environment and making a positive impact on society as much as it values making a profit. The assessment is rigorous and needs to be undertaken every two years to ensure we’re keeping up standards. I return to drafting the letter.
4.00pm: An associate asks if I can join them on an urgent call. We pop into one of the ‘pods’ so we don’t interrupt anyone in the open plan office.
5.30pm: I finish my first draft of the letter and read it through for typos. I draft a covering note for the client and send it to the partner for review.
5.45pm: I’m a member of the firm’s social committee and we have arranged a firm-wide pub quiz for tonight. I double check the questions I have written and head over to the venue to set up for a 6.00pm start. The firm embraces the opportunities to get all colleagues together for social events.
About the firm
Address:10 Queen Street Place, London, EC4R 1BE
Telephone: 020 7551 7777
Managing partner: Martin Bunch
Who we are: Bates Wells Braithwaite is a professional services firm, combining a UK 100 legal practice with consultancy services in impact measurement, outcomes-based planning and strategy, and financial services regulatory compliance. BWB is the first UK law firm to certify as a B Corp.
What we do: We have one of the leading charity and social enterprise teams in the country, along with a fast-growing corporate and commercial practice. We work with a wide range of clients, large and small, across a variety of sectors – from established businesses, charities and social enterprises and public bodies to innovative start-ups and high-profile individuals.
What we are looking for: We want to attract the best possible potential commercial lawyers who understand the work we undertake, the clients we work for and who are committed to our values. We expect applicants to have a sound academic background plus an ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Most importantly we want an applicant who is positively looking to join a firm with our work mix and approach.
What you'll do:In the first year there are two six-month seats and in the second year there are four-month seats which, between them, cover a wide range of work. From time to time the firm arranges secondments to clients on an ad hoc basis. The firm runs a programme of internal seminars specifically addressed to trainees and operates a mentoring scheme.
Perks: These include a firm pension scheme with match funding provided, interest-free season ticket loan, permanent health insurance (PHI), health cash plan, death in service scheme, subsidised use of gym/corporate gym membership, wellbeing classes, cycle to work scheme, access to complementary therapies, option to purchase additional leave, Christmas shopping day, firm-wide profit sharing scheme, policies for flexible and remote working.
Sponsorship:The firm will provide full fee support for both the GDL and LPC course. Fees will only be paid for courses that commence after the training contract has been successfully applied for.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 39
Other fee-earners: 161
Total trainees: 12
Trainee places available for 2021: 6
Applications received pa: 400
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £36,000
Second year: £38,000
Newly qualified: £60,000
Apply to:Hayley Ferraro.
When to apply:By 1 June 2019 for 2021 training contracts.
What's involved:Online application, critical thinking test, video interview and assessment day.
Spring:22 April-3 May 2019 (apply by 31 January 2019)
Summer:3-14 June and 17-28 June 2019 (apply by 31 January 2019)