Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams

Address: 15 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2HB

Web: www.wfw.com

Email: uktrainees@wfw.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 ''International secondment opportunities' 'very good vacation scheme' 'six-seat training contract' 'strength of finance practice' 'the energy projects department has a great scope of work' 'mid-size trainee intake' 'everyone was very friendly throughout the application process' 'quality of work' 'shipping specialists'
Best thing about the firm? 
 ''Growing practice areas' 'proximity to the gym' 'fantastic benefits' 'lots of social activities' 'good exposure to clients' 'exposure to interesting work' 'very friendly and approachable' 'international secondment guaranteed' 'we have a three-course Christmas lunch in the firm restaurant which is a lovely idea'
Worst thing about the firm? 
 ''Lack of transparency by graduate recruitment' 'WFW has 14 offices worldwide but integration could be a lot better' 'due to its small size and large size of the deals, we can be short of man power' 'the lack of more formal training in some departments means that trainees can often feel a bit lost'
Best moment? 
 ''A big closing finally going ahead on my last day in my asset finance seat' 'being involved in closing a very high-value deal in my first seat and receiving lots of thank you emails from clients' 'being thanked by the partner for helping on a closing' 'getting to work on transactions involving ships'
Worst moment?
 ''Long nights doing menial tasks which could have been done at a more sensible time' 'sending documents to the wrong client' 'working on a deal and not being told how it was developing or any of the details as it ran''

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

William “Will” Munny (Unforgiven) - modest, determined and effective

The Verdict

The firm

Watson Farley & Williams has an impressive network of 14 offices in 11 jurisdictions throughout Europe, Asia and the US. The firm has particular expertise in the energy and infrastructure, maritime, natural resources, real estate and transport sectors. It advises clients on corporate, finance, dispute resolution and tax matters, as well as employment and regulatory issues. 

The star performers

Asset finance and leasing; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Commodities: physicals; Corporate tax; Employment: employers and senior executives; EU and competition; Flotations: small and mid-cap; International arbitration; Immigration; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Mining and minerals; Planning; Power (including electricity, nuclear and renewables); Private equity: transactions; Property finance; Rail; Shipping; Trade finance.

The deals

Advised Sinoriches in a dispute against dry bulk owner and operator Polaris, in relation to an appeal from an LMAA arbitration award; acted for Lehman Brothers Finance (in bankruptcy) in a claim arising out of the calculation of loss under the 1992 ISDA master agreement; acting for Crossrail Ltd on an over site development at Liverpool Street; represented Nordea Bank on the provision of a $409.5m revolving credit facility for international shipping company Euronav; assisted Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners with its acquisition of OffshoreMW from Blackstone.

The clients

Abertis Infrastructure; Aurelius; Barnet Council; China General Nuclear Power; Diversified Gas & Oil Plc; Morgan Stanley; Network Rail; North River Resources Plc; Ropemaker Properties; Teekay Tankers.

The Verdict

For the vast majority of Watson Farley & William trainees, 'the guaranteed international secondment was a huge plus'. As the firm has 14 offices worldwide these secondments are in 'some pretty glamorous destinations', and 'some trainees even spend two seats overseas'. These seats offer 'real responsibility', and it's 'a great opportunity to experience another part of the world'. It is therefore no surprise that Watson Farley & Williams is a Lex 100 Winner in the international secondments category - the firm picks up a second gong for its 'fantastic' trainee salary. Back in London, specifically the 'great location next to Liverpool Street station', the six-seat training contract offers trainees 'more exposure to different departments'. The firm is 'heavily asset-finance focused, spanning across various sectors', and respondents think highly of this 'clear, focused strategy'. Work highlights have included 'signing a multi-billion dollar facility while acting for a syndicate of banks' and 'closing an innovative and complex aviation finance transaction in Paris'. Because of the 'relatively small intake of trainees', there is 'often only one trainee involved in a matter'. This heightens the 'exposure to interesting work'. The hours can get demanding, requiring 'all-nighters', but there does seem to be a feeling that this is not excessive, and that 'if you don't have work to do you aren't expected to stay'. One complaint centres on 'the lack of communication from HR regarding qualification', and NQ opportunities are 'limited in some of the smaller departments'. The firm employs 'approachable staff at all levels', and there are 'lots of social activities'. To join a 'global leader in its chosen fields' that is 'growing at a time when many firms are contracting', take a closer look at Watson Farley & Williams.

 A day in the life of...

Jasmine Lossouarn first-year trainee, Watson Farley & Williams 

Departments to date:  Litigation (currently on secondment to Bangkok), asset finance (London), real estate (London)

University:University of Bristol 
Degree:Law and French LLB 2(1) 

9.15am:  I arrive at the office to pick up some documents which are needed for a meeting with experts later in the morning. I am currently assisting on a complex insurance claim dispute which requires expert input. While I review my notes for the meeting, the renowned office tea lady pops by to give me a cappuccino as fortification for the day ahead. This is gladly received before I head out the door to catch the BTS sky train for the meeting.

10.00am:  My supervisor meets me at the experts' office and our discussions with the experts begin. During the meeting, I am encouraged by my supervisor to participate and ask questions about the engineering technicalities, so that I fully understand the issues. I take notes of the discussion as my supervisor has asked me to liaise with the matter associate and prepare a memo of the key points to circulate to the team.

1.30pm:  I hop on a motorbike taxi (the quickest way to get around Bangkok) which zooms me past the traffic and back into the office. I grab a quick lunch at my desk because I want to draft the memo while the discussion from the meeting is still fresh in my mind.

2.30pm:  The matter associate comes into my office and I fill her in on the details of the meeting. She reviews the memo I have just drafted and we discuss the key issues and next steps. She also takes the time to teach me about the Thai law and how it would apply to the facts of the case. I feel enthusiastic to be constantly learning as we discuss the differences between the civil law and common law jurisdictions. The team is very encouraging and supportive.

4.00pm:  Once the memo is completed and circulated, I quickly pop outside for some fresh air and pick up a coffee from the coffee shop downstairs. The Bangkok office is surrounded by coffee shops and restaurants so you never go hungry.

4.15pm:  I turn to review my notes on another matter that I made during yesterday's court hearing at the Thai Administrative Court. I am also assisting on an exciting aviation dispute which could have an impact on the Thai aviation industry. The opportunity to attend the hearing and witness the parties in action was eye-opening and incredibly educational. I ensure I am up-to-date on the case as therewill be more progression in the next few weeks and I want to be prepared.

6.30pm:  I complete my tasks for the day and make a to-do list for tomorrow morning. I ensure my time recording for the day is up-to-date and all files are organised. I leave to meet the other trainee, Phil Chope, also seconded to Bangkok and we make our way to a 7.00pm Thai boxing class. Bangkok is a vibrant city and there is always something to do. We intend to try fly- yoga next week, although that is only if we survive Thai boxing.

About the firm

Address:15 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2HB

Telephone: 020 7814 8000

Fax:020 7814 8017




Managing partner : Chris Lowe

Managing partner : Lothar Wegener

Other offices: Athens, Bangkok, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome, Singapore. 

Who we are: WFW was founded in 1982 in London. It has since grown to over 150 partners and a staff of over 800.

What we do: WFW is a distinctive law firm with a leading market position in international finance and investment, maritime and energy. We also specialise in natural resources, transport, real estate and technology.

What we are looking for: You will need a 2(1) or above. We also ask for at least ABB from A-level results, or their equivalent. As well as academic achievement, we particularly value applicants with initiative, drive and commercial awareness.

What you'll do:At WFW we deal with training and ongoing development in an individual way. During each seat, we discuss with you plans for the next one, encouraging a two-way conversation about areas you are interested in. Each trainee undertakes six four-month seats, sitting with a partner or a senior associate. Trainees spend one of those seats in an overseas office.

Perks: 25 days' holiday, income protection scheme, life assurance, employee assistance scheme, group personal pension scheme, annual interest-free season ticket loan, £250 contribution towards a sports club membership or exercise classes of your choice, private medical insurance, flexible benefits scheme.

Sponsorship:Fees paid for both the GDL and the LPC, depending on the point of offer, plus a maintenance grant.


Facts and figures

Training contracts available for 2020: 18

Applications received pa: c600 

Percentage interviewed: 30% 


First year: £43,000

Second year: £46,000

Newly qualified: £70,000

Turnover in 2016: £159.8m (+5% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £600,000 (+8%)

Total partners: 149

Other fee-earners:400

Total trainees:34

 Application process

Apply to:Lucie Rees, graduate recruitment and development manager.

How: Online application form.

What's involved:Online application form followed by a video interview, an assessment centre and a partner interview.

When to Apply:

Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 27 July 2018.

Spring Vacation Scheme: By 26 January 2018.

Summer Vacation Scheme: By 26 January 2018.