The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Womble Bond Dickinson is a full-service transatlantic law firm, created on 1 November 2017 through the combination of UK firm Bond Dickinson and US firm Womble Carlyle. In the UK, the firm advises several FTSE 350 companies, large businesses, government organisations and wealthy individuals, and focuses on 11 key sectors.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate tax; Debt recovery; Education; Employment; Environment; Health and safety; IT and telecoms; Licensing; Pensions; Personal, tax, trusts and probate; Planning Professional negligence; Property litigation; Social housing
Acted for Three Rivers District Council in relation to a mixed-use regeneration project in partnership with Countryside Properties (UK) and Home Group to develop over 500 new homes; acts for TSB as the sole adviser on employment and employment litigation matters; assisted Rittal with the lease acquisition for its new UK headquarters in Canary Wharf; advised Arriva on the new rolling stock aspects of its bid for the Wales and Borders franchise; assisted Serica with its takeover of BP’s interests in the Bruce, Keith and Rhum gas fields in the North Sea
AIG; Atom Bank; Crown Commercial Services; Grainger; Homes England; Kingfisher; Piper Private Equity; RES
Womble Bond Dickinson’s ambition impressed trainees. Following a combination with Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice in November 2017, the now transatlantic firm is ‘growing quickly and this brings with it new opportunities’. Boasting a ‘large local presence’ in regions across the UK, the firm ‘dominates the Newcastle legal market’ in particular. An irrepressible theme throughout the feedback was the high standard of training afforded to trainees: ‘the level of partner engagement in personal development is incredible’. ‘Excellent supervision and prompt and constructive feedback’ is also provided. Highlights arising out of such high-quality work include ‘being mentioned by name in the press release for a large project I worked on’ and ‘negotiating a multi-million pound deal’. Conversely, ‘a week of nocturnal working’ and ‘getting my first piece of drafting back covered in red pen’ were dispiriting moments. The environment at Womble Bond Dickinson is ‘dynamic’ with ‘very little hierarchy’. ‘People at all levels are genuinely friendly and encouraging’ and recruits appreciate the feeling that comes with ‘working as part of a team and not just being used as a cheap resource’. Having said that, the ‘level of responsibility can differ between seats’. There were also some complaints about the pay, and about the ‘uncertainty over seat rotation’. There is no doubt, however, that the firm has ‘its finger on the pulse in terms of changing expectations and the sectors of the future’. To work at a firm which ‘strikes a near-perfect balance between ambition and friendliness’ where ‘trainees are encouraged to be themselves’, apply to Womble Bond Dickinson.
A day in the life of...
Charlie Welman Womble Bond Dickinson (Currently seconded to New Look, London)
Departments to date: Real estate
University:University of Southampton
Degree:LLB – Law with International Legal Studies (year abroad in Hong Kong)
The calibre of clients that WBD offers secondment opportunities to always made the firm stand out to me. Being able to work directly for New Look, one of WBD’s biggest retail clients, is proving as invaluable an experience as it is enjoyable. WBD have supported me throughout my time at New Look. I’ve been able to engage with partners across WBD who have always provided advice and guidance if ever I’ve needed it.
8.50am: I arrive in the office and stock up on the free fruit that gets delivered to us in the morning.
8.55am: I arrive at my desk – we’ve all been given 25% off New Look vouchers to give to friends and family – no wonder I’m so popular.
I have a brief chat with my supervisor, Nadya, about an email regarding some advice from an external firm on a contract for New Look in China. I have received an email from New Look’s Senior Brand Manager, she has asked for a meeting to discuss the registration of a new trade mark we are hoping to use in an upcoming campaign. I head down to ‘the Hub’, our onsite café (great coffee), for the meeting. I go over the difficulties involved with registering the mark and I pose some commercial considerations which her team will need to consider.
9.45am: Time to prep for an internal catch-up call I have with Neil, one of New Look’s commercial solicitors in a different office. Like me, he’s a contender for the title of ‘World’s Biggest Alan Partridge’ fan. Later in the day we will be advising the relevant teams on the ability to terminate a contract.
10.00am: Neil and I have a quick call on approach. He suggests I draft a chronology of key dates so we can clearly map the correspondence to date and assist our stakeholders with their negotiations.
11.00am: Time for a tea break and a quick review of the newest products that have hit the New Look website.
11.10am: I begin reviewing terms and conditions for an upcoming project with a high-profile media company.
12.20pm: The Procurement Manager needs me to amend a letter that is being sent out to a supplier. I re-draft the letter as a deed and tweak it as necessary.
1.00pm: Time for the meeting I had been preparing for earlier in the day. I take the relevant teams through the risks they need to be aware of but give them a clear steer on how we should approach terminating the contract.
1.50pm: Lunchtime. Off to a barre class with Nadya (still working on that bikini body…).
2.40pm: Email out to our external lawyers in China to chase them on some points we need confirming in respect of Chinese law.
2.45pm: Back to the reviewing the Ts&Cs I started looking at earlier in the day.
3.35pm: I draw up a table which can be shared with relevant teams to raise any specific points they need to be aware of in the Ts&Cs.
4.30pm: Directors will need to sign a bundle of deeds tomorrow morning that I have been working on. I proof-read the deeds and make corrections as necessary.
5.00pm: Email in. I’ve been invited to the private showing of “Mamma Mia” at Universal’s Screening Rooms. I helped negotiate on the contract for our partnership with the film so it’s ‘super trouper’ to see everything coming together!
5.45pm: Nice early finish and off to see the new Alexander McQueen documentary with the Investor Relations Manager, Carla.
Vacation scheme insider
Charlie TemperleyUniversity: University of Nottingham, Darwin College, Cambridge Degree: Mathematics and Philosophy, MPhil in Philosophy
I applied for a vacation scheme at (as it was then) Bond Dickinson as part of my training contract application while studying for my GDL. My undergraduate degree was Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham after which I completed an MPhil in Philosophy at Darwin College, Cambridge before turning to law. Having decided that I didn't want to continue on to my PhD as planned I became interested in pursuing a legal career as I saw that it would allow me to exercise many of the same analytical and problem-solving skills that I had developed at university.
Why Womble Bond Dickinson
The balance between culture and ambition was what I looked for when applying to law firms. In Womble Bond Dickinson I saw a firm with the determination to push for strategic growth but without compromising the impressively friendly and collaborative atmosphere among its lawyers and support staff. The assessment day that I attended at the Southampton office was the first I had been to and I found it really enjoyable and motivating. I left the day knowing that this was somewhere I wanted to work.
The vacation scheme structure
The vacation scheme that I attended was for two weeks, during which I sat in the real estate and commercial teams for a week each. It was really useful to spend time in more than one team as it meant I was able to meet more people and get a broader view of the firm's work.
During the two weeks there were a few more formal assessment exercises with the other candidates and an interview towards the end of the second week.
On the social side, we were taken out for lunch and drinks (not with lunch, after work of course) with the current cohort of trainees, which was a great opportunity to get to know them better in a relaxed environment. I also attended a Junior Lawyer Division event (it was rounders and BBQ) that was a lot of fun and made me feel like part of the firm. As luck would have it, the firm's summer party fell during the two weeks. It was great to be able to attend this and was a good opportunity to interact with people in an informal setting.
Types of work
I found the work I was asked to do much more interesting than I expected, having spoken to other people who had been given less engaging tasks on vacation schemes elsewhere. I was treated more like a new trainee solicitor than one of many training contract candidates.
During my time in real estate I was asked to sit in on client calls, prepare draft documents (such as a completion statement), assist with document mark ups and undertake research tasks. In commercial my experience was similar in that the work I was asked to do was engaging and useful.
For me, the highlight of the vacation scheme was a conference with counsel that I attended in London. Although I was sat in real estate, I was asked by the property litigation team if I would like to accompany an associate to London for a meeting with the client and counsel to discuss litigation tactics on one of her matters. I was delighted to be asked and found the experience really valuable and I actually went on to work as a paralegal at the firm in property litigation for two years after securing my training contract as a result.
Impressions of the culture
Honestly, I was blown away by the culture at Womble Bond Dickinson. By the time I came to the vacation ccheme I had been to assessment days and vacation dchemes at other firms and the difference in attitude was palpable. Every opportunity was taken to make me feel welcome, respected and valuable. Partners were friendly and easy to talk to, junior lawyers were happy to spend a lot of time with us and support staff were incredibly patient and helpful.
I had a real sense (which had been absent elsewhere) that the vacation scheme was a two-way assessment and that it was as important for me to like the firm as it was for them to like me. The result was that I was in the trenches for two weeks rather than kept quiet with busy-work tasks and that I was taken seriously when I asked questions or made suggestions. I thought this attitude to vacation scheme candidates was fantastic and, as I then saw, was indicative of the firm's culture as a whole. It was clear after two weeks that this was a firm that valued its people (at all levels) and was serious about nurturing a dynamic, supportive and collaborative culture.
Even better, this culture was combined with real ambition, drive and creativity. Since my vacation scheme in 2015 I have seen first-hand that these ambitions are being realised and it is exciting and gratifying to be part of this process.
I had read quite a lot about innovation in the legal industry before my various vacation schemes that summer and my pre-prepared 'do you have any questions for us' interview question was about how new technology would change the way lawyers worked in the coming years and how the firm was preparing for this revolution. I had asked this question in a few interviews and generally got a pretty vague answer. When I asked it at Womble Bond Dickinson it sparked a really interesting conversation with the interviewing partner about AI, robot lawyers and access to justice. This experience illustrates the firm's culture perfectly.
About the firm
Address:4 More London Riverside, London, SE1 2AU
Telephone: 0845 415 0000
Fax:0845 415 6900
Facebook:Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP Careers
Managing partner: Jonathan Blair
CEO: Betty Temple
Other offices: Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Plymouth, Southampton, plus 19 overseas offices.
Who we are: Womble Bond Dickinson is a transatlantic law firm, providing high-quality legal capability and outstanding personal service, to a wide range of regional, national and international clients from 27 key locations across the US and the UK.
What we do: We’re a full-service law firm with a focus on 12 major sectors: energy and natural resources, healthcare, manufacturing, public service and third sector, private wealth, transport, logistics and infrastructure, financial institutions, insurance, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences, real estate, retail and consumer goods, technology.
What we are looking for: At Womble Bond Dickinson we look for intellectually able, motivated and enthusiastic graduates from any discipline or background. Successful applicants will understand the need to provide practical, commercial advice to clients. You’ll share the firm’s commitment to self-development and teamwork and its desire to provide clients with services that match their highest expectations. We’re looking for people across eight of our UK offices. Our trainees come from varied backgrounds and bring a range of different experience, and that’s very important to us.
What you'll do:We look at our trainee recruitment as a long-term investment. Trainees at Womble Bond Dickinson will have an opportunity to spend six months in four business groups, gaining a real breadth of experience along the way. You’ll have access to high-quality work and senior client contacts. We regularly second trainees to our most high-profile clients.
Perks: Childcare vouchers, dental, subsidised gym, healthcare, pension, PMI as part of flexible benefits package. Other flexible benefits include travel loan schemes, discounted car parking schemes, carbon offsetting, eye care, employee assistance programme, Cycle to Work scheme, buy and sell holidays, charity giving plus many more.
Sponsorship:Full sponsorship for LPC and GDL plus maintenance grant of £6,000.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 121
Other fee-earners: 1,000 + globally
Total trainees: 52
Trainee places available for 2021: Up to 25
First year: Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth £28,000, London £34,000, Newcastle and Leeds £25,000, Scotland £22,000
Second year: Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth £30,000, London £36,000, Newcastle and Leeds £27,000, Scotland £24,000
How: Apply online
What's involved: Online application, pre-recorded video interview, assessment day, presentation, panel interview. This is reviewed annually and is subject to change.
When to apply:
Training contracts commencing in 2021: By 28 February 2019.
Summer vacation schemes: By 28 February 2019.