Address: 90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6XX

Web: www.olswang.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘The focus in TMT’; ‘the great interview process’; ‘interesting and diverse list of clients’; ‘ability to compete with higher level firms’; ‘the industry sectors the firm primarily works with’; ‘the firm’s non-hierarchical reputation’; ‘I loved the vacation scheme’; ‘client base in media and technology’; ‘great reputation for being a top firm with interesting clients’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘The clients’; ‘the people’; ‘a friendly place to work’; ‘places a lot of trust in its trainees’; ‘top-quality work across all the departments I have worked in’; ‘the firm is very self-aware’; ‘tries to break down any hierarchy as much as possible’; ‘everyone is trying their best to be friendly and inclusive’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Not meeting the cool clients’; ‘lack of communication from HR’; ‘international opportunities have been reined in hugely over the last few years’, ‘general belt-tightening is still evident’; ‘some of the IT systems are starting to feel out of date’; ‘difference in expectations of trainees across different departments’; ‘sometimes initiatives quickly lose momentum and ideas are not followed through’
Best moment? 
 '‘Client Christmas party’; ‘4am distressed loan negotiations’; ‘going to court’; ‘attending very interesting meetings with external counsel; ‘getting good feedback from senior colleagues’; ‘working as part of a team on a transaction which spanned corporate, finance and commercial departments’; ‘compiling a regulatory report on a new Microsoft product in its desired territories and receiving great feedback’
Worst moment?
 '‘Leaving some documents for execution in a taxi’; ‘working hard on a deal that didn’t go ahead’; ‘feeling over-loaded with work on occasion’; ‘many long nights verifying an AIM admission document’; ‘working late on the night of the Christmas party’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Danny Ocean (Ocean’s Eleven) – chilled, stylish, delegates well and always gets the job done

The Verdict

The firm

Olswang is a popular choice for clients seeking advice on all matters relating to media, IT and telecoms law. The firm also contains a large corporate department which handles a variety of mid-market deals. Olswang enjoys an international reputation owing to its network of offices in Europe, and the firm announced non-exclusive associations with firms in Hong Kong and Singapore in December 2015. 

The star performers

Brand management; Commercial property: hotels and leisure; Commercial contracts; Employment; Fraud: civil; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Franchising; Gaming and betting; IT and telecoms; Intellectual property; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Property finance; PATMA: Patent attorneys; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Property litigation; Reputation management; Sport; VAT and indirect tax; Venture capital.

The deals

Assisted Catalent with the proposed closure of its UK packaging facility site, affecting over 150 employees; acted for Surreal Vision during its sale to Facebook; advised Gamesys on its £425m sale of Jackpotjoy to Intertain Group; acted for key client UBS Global Asset Management on the £113m acquisition of New Brook buildings in London; defended Focus Pharmaceuticals in litigation against Novartis.

The clients

BP; Bloomberg; Cineworld; Groupon; Investec; Jeremy Clarkson; Marks & Spencer; Prezzo; Unilever; Vodafone.

The Verdict

Olswang has an ‘excellent reputation in media and TMT law’ making it ‘the place to be’ if you want to work in these sectors. The ‘interesting clients’ are at ‘the cutting-edge of their industries’, and advising them can offer ‘fantastic exposure to the in-house practices of large media organisations’. The impressive clients are considered one of the best things about the firm, but trainees note that sometimes there ‘isn’t much client contact’. Trainees are ‘key members of the team’ and are known as ‘individuals rather than trainee number X’. There is ‘zero expectation of face-time as everyone has side hobbies that keep them motivated and in touch with the outside world’. There have been a few grumbles from trainees about ‘being over-loaded with work’ and ‘working long days and nights’. The ‘very tight deadlines’ result in trainees working ‘under high pressure’, though celebratory moments include ‘a bottle of champagne after finishing the verification process for an investor presentation’. Also, trainees enjoy ‘meeting famous people through the media practice’, as well as ‘completing deals for happy clients’. The ‘firm is self-aware in trying to break down any hierarchy as much as possible’, and as a result Olswang lawyers are ‘friendly and inclusive’. Trainees get to work with ‘different teams of people who are highly intelligent and have different working styles you can learn from’. This is ‘good-quality training’ which involves a ‘combination of formal and informal training sessions’. Those who want to work with ‘top clients’ at an ‘innovative firm’ should take a look at Olswang.

 A day in the life of...

David Whitehead trainee, Olswang 
Departments to date:  Corporate, commercial litigation
University:St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge 

8.40am:  I arrive at work after cycling in. After a shower and a quick check of my emails I grab a coffee and head up to the third floor.

9.15am:  At my desk I draw up a to-do list prioritising my tasks for the day (I learned early on that being organised is the one of the key skills a trainee has to learn). I start by reviewing a bundle I prepared the previous evening for a court hearing the following week. Preparing bundles is an important (and sadly unavoidable) task for litigation trainees, and the rest of the team are relying on it having been checked thoroughly! Once I’ve checked that all the documents are properly referenced I send the bundle off to be copied.

10.15am:  I attend a meeting with the rest of the team (a partner and two associates) ahead of the hearing and take a file note of a call with counsel. Strategy for the hearing is discussed, and I am assigned a number of follow-up tasks including drafting a letter to the court. I have been involved with this particular case since the beginning of my seat and have enjoyed my role within the team. One advantage of being part of a comparatively small intake of trainees is that you are given a fair amount of responsibility early on in your training contract.

11.30am:  I have a brief chat with a partner about a smaller matter I’m working on, and I give him a witness statement I have drafted to review. On this matter I’m working directly for the partner and have been trusted to carry out a lot of the work independently, which is great if a little nerve-wracking!

12.00pm:  I get back to my desk to find an email from an associate asking if I’m available to carry out a discrete piece of research on a point of law before the end of the day. I don’t have any other high-priority tasks to complete so I reply to say that I have capacity and make a start on the research (an ability to prioritise is the other key skill a trainee has to learn).

1.00pm:  I head up to the canteen for lunch and catch up with a few of the other trainees. It’s almost time for us to start thinking about our next seats, so the main topic of conversation is where everyone would like to go next.

2.00pm:  I get back to my desk to find that the copies of the bundle have been delivered. I walk over to court (which is just around the corner) to file the bundle, and I arrange for other copies to be sent out.

2.45pm:  I get a coffee on my way back into the office and start writing up my research note. An email is sent to all litigation trainees asking for someone to write a blog article on a recent case, for which I volunteer.

3.45pm:  My supervisor asks me to update the costs budget on a case I am helping her with. I’m familiar with the process, having worked on the case for a while, so it fortunately doesn’t take me too long to complete. I finish my research note and send it back to the associate.

4.30pm:  I head upstairs to join the student I am tutoring as part of The Access Project, a volunteer organisation that provides academic support to a local school. I am helping my tutee prepare for her AS-level exams, which are fast approaching.

6.00pm:  I type up my file note from the earlier meeting and circulate it to the team, and write myself a note detailing tasks that have to be completed the next day.

7.00pm:  I leave the office and meet with some of my fellow trainees for a drink in the sunshine, including some who are currently on client secondments and I haven’t seen for a while.

About the firm

Address:90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6XX

Telephone: 020 7067 3000

Fax:020 7067 3999


Twitter:@Olswang, LinkedIn: Olswang

Senior partner : Mark Devereux

CEO : Paul Stevens

Other offices: Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Singapore, the UK. 

Who we are: Olswang is an international law firm recognised for our deep industry expertise in technology, media and telecoms. We pride ourselves on our innovative approach to legal services and bringing insight and influence to our clients. Olswang manages to combine passion with a business-minded approach to the law. Our power is in our people: driven, highly-commercial and creative, they are committed to innovation and making an impact.

What we do: Olswang provides expertise across a wide range of practice areas including commercial contracts, competition and regulatory, corporate, employment, pensions and benefits, finance, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, sourcing, procurement and supply chain, restructuring and special situations, and tax.

What we are looking for: At the heart of Olswang are some truly talented people. Being a trainee at Olswang is both demanding and rewarding. The firm is interested in hearing from individuals who have achieved, or are on course for, a 2(1) degree or above, and are enthusiastic, energetic, confident and able to display a commitment to the law.

What you'll do:Training consists of four six-month seats in corporate, real estate, litigation, finance, commercial or IP. You will be assigned a mentor, usually a partner, to assist and advise you throughout your training contract. In-house lectures supplement training, three-monthly appraisals assess development and regular social events with the other trainees are encouraged to forge stronger, lasting relationships.

Perks: Childcare vouchers, dental, gym, healthcare, pension, PHI (after 12 months), STL, cycle to work scheme, life assurance, annual health screening, subsidised staff restaurant.

Sponsorship:GDL and LPC fees paid plus a maintenance grant.


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: 9

Applications received pa: 2,000 

Percentage interviewed: 4% 


First year: £37,000

Second year: £41,500

Newly qualified: £61,000

Total partners: 97

Other fee-earners:301

Total trainees:29

 Application process

Apply to:Katharine Banbury, graduate recruitment and development manager.

How: Online: www.olswangtrainees.com.

When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for September 2019 and March 2020 applications.

 Vacation schemes

We run a Summer work placement scheme for penultimate and final year law students, final year non-law students and graduates. We have 10 places on the Summer 2017 scheme and remuneration is £320pw. The closing date to apply is 15 January 2017.