The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
London-based Wedlake Bell is renowned for its private client and family law practice, as well as for its work on mid-market M&A, brand protection, commercial property and probate cases. The LB100 firm has affiliations throughout Europe, Asia, South Africa and the US, strengthening its international capabilities.
The star performers
Bank lending – investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Brand management; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction: contentious; Data protection; Employment: employers; Family; IT and telecoms; Intellectual property; M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property finance; Property litigation; VAT and indirect tax.
Acted for Bio-Rad Laboratories on employment issues across 22 EMEA jurisdictions; assisted Hugo Boss with a proposed Black Friday promotion; advised William Nash on its £15m refinancing of an 18-property portfolio through Santander; advised Axpo on commercial arrangements for the cross-border transportation of nuclear waste; acted for Messila House on the £30m financing of the development of Montrose Square and 47 Belgrave Square.
British Journal of Urology; Care UK Community Partnerships; The Chartered Insurance Institute; Hargreaves Developments; Heron International; Jumeirah Carlton Tower; Lufthansa; Melford Capital Partners; Residential Land; Warburg HIH Investment Estate.
Trainees were enticed by the ‘variety of practice areas’ and ‘broad range of departments’ at Wedlake Bell. The ‘mix of private client and corporate/commercial work’ proved attractive, as did the fact that the firm ‘offered expertise in the property field’. The ‘small trainee intake’ means that ‘lots of responsibility is given out early on’, and this entails ‘writing and research, as well as chargeable work’. Trainee highlights include ‘being involved in a big corporate transaction from start to finish’, ‘getting good feedback from a partner’ and ‘completing the first transaction I worked on, after it had already fallen through once’. At Wedlake Bell ‘there is a culture of working hard but also respecting the importance of life outside of work’, so while ‘the hours can be long when it gets busy’, feedback also mentions the ‘good work/life balance’. The firm’s vacation scheme is praised and merits a Lex 100 Winner medal, with two recruits separately describing it as a ‘friendly and welcoming’ experience. There is a ‘focus on training’ at the firm, and respondents appreciate the ‘outstanding supervision’ of ‘very talented lawyers who genuinely care about your training’. There are complaints about the ‘lack of transparency on qualification’ and the resultant ‘worry about not being retained’, but the firm makes clear that it ‘values each of its trainees’ and is ‘supportive of social events including the Christmas party and the ski trip’. Additionally, trainees get involved in the firm’s business development work, an experience which affords a ‘real understanding as to how the business as a whole works’. To train at a firm where trainees are ‘trusted with great responsibility’ and are given ‘exposure to a variety of work’, take a closer look at Wedlake Bell.
A day in the life of...
Chris Nelson trainee solicitor, Wedlake Bell LLP
Departments to date: Commercial litigation, corporate (current seat)
9.00am: Having battled my way through London’s bustling streets, I settle down at my desk in the corporate team. I check my to-do list, run through my priority tasks for the day with my supervisor and respond to a few emails.
9.30am: An associate asks me to determine how many days’ notice our client, a publicly listed and traded company, must give to its shareholders ahead of an AGM. I turn to the Companies Act 2006 and check the articles of association of the company before drafting a brief research note.
10.00am: I have been assisting my supervisor on the buyback, by our client (a private limited company), of shares held by a departing shareholder. One of the directors is attending our offices this afternoon, so I print the final form documents that I helped prepare, double check the documents with my supervisor and flag where signatures are required.
10.30am: A partner has requested that I prepare documentation required for a client to comply with the new PSC regulations. I analyse the ownership structure of the company to determine the ultimate beneficial owner and prepare a draft set of board minutes, a board memorandum and a PSC register. My supervisor and I discuss and amend the documents before they are emailed to the client for approval.
11.30am: Since the start of my seat, I have assisted an associate on a client’s proposed acquisition of another company. As part of the share purchase agreement (the ‘SPA’ – you quickly become familiar with acronyms!) I have been asked to prepare profiles for subsidiaries of the target. I prepare the profiles and update the SPA.
12.45pm: A senior associate in the commercial litigation team calls asking me to verify details of a company registered in Guernsey. I perform the search and note my findings in an email.
2.00pm: The director arrives at our offices to sign the buyback documents. I take notes of the meeting, witness the signatures and, when I return to my desk, scan the documents which I then send to the selling shareholder’s solicitors in advance of completion.
2.30pm: I have been assisting an associate on the sale of two separate businesses. The client has provided a number of documents to be supplied to the buyers for their due diligence review. I redact commercially sensitive information before the documents are circulated to the buyer’s solicitors.
3.30pm: I have been asked to review and sense-check the SPA that I updated this morning. I conduct a cross-reference check to ensure all references are accurate as well as a definitions check to ensure that all definitions are correct and, importantly, that there are no duplicate definitions.
6.00pm: As it is month end, I assist my supervisor in running through WIP (work in progress) on various matters to determine what should be billed this month.
6.30pm: Every month the corporate team has a know-how lunch meeting. As I have been asked to give a presentation at the next meeting, I update my notes on recent decisions regarding variations to contracts, fiduciary duties of directors in joint ventures and the construction of exclusion clauses in warranty claims.
7.00pm: A few of the corporate team are heading to the local watering hole. I update my time recording and calendar and join the rest of the team for a few drinks in the sun.
About the firm
Address:71 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4AY
Telephone: 020 7395 3178
Senior partner : Simon de Galleani
Managing partner : Martin Arnold
Who we are: Wedlake Bell LLP is a leading London law firm. We provide a full service to UK and international corporate and private clients.
What we do: Our expert teams cover the following core areas: commercial; IP and IT; corporate; dispute resolution; employment; pensions and employee benefits; private client; property and construction; banking; projects and infrastructure.
What we are looking for: Academic excellence together with commercial aptitude, common sense, enthusiasm and a personable nature.
What you'll do:Six months in four different practice areas. Trainee solicitors are closely supervised but have client contact and responsibility from day one.
Perks: Pension, health insurance, life assurance, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership, cycle to work scheme.
Sponsorship:LPC funding available, subject to the terms and conditions of any offer.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 6
Applications received pa: 250-300
Percentage interviewed: 15%
Total partners: 59
Apply to:The graduate recruitment department.
How: Online application.
When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for September 2019 start.
First three weeks of July 2017 (apply by end of January 2017).