Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Addleshaw Goddard

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Addleshaw Goddard

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The people – normalcy in the legal world is sorely underrated’, ‘approachable staff all the way to the top, great clients and work opportunities’, ‘from the first insight evening at the firm right through into my training contract, people have made an effort to chat to me, to make me feel welcome and to help me out if I need it’, ‘fantastic clients, great open culture and secondment opportunities’, ‘location and remuneration’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Fee-earners are all ready and willing to share knowledge and help you progress’, ‘90% of the people I have worked with here have been brilliant’, ‘the high-level work’, ‘everyone is very friendly and approachable’, ‘I’ve felt supported starting my training contract in the middle of a pandemic, both by the people I’ve worked with and through management providing budgets for equipment and remote working’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The ongoing issues with compatibility between the firm file’s management software and MS Word’, ‘it sometimes feels as though it is reluctant to invest’, ‘it would be great to see a higher pay grade for trainees in Manchester’, ‘the pay gap between trainees based upon location’, ‘the seat move process isn’t the clearest’, ‘poor culture in certain teams’

Best moment? ‘Going to a division-wide conference in Edinburgh’, ‘the feeling when you’re getting the hang of your role as a trainee’, ‘playing an integral role in completing a deal on my first day’, ‘taking part in virtual hearings, mediations and trials’, ‘attending an all-day client meeting’, ‘my client secondment’, ‘being given the responsibility of covering someone else’s work’, ‘being part of the team that successfully defended a football club manager against criminal charges’

Worst moment? ‘Struggling with the internet connection whilst working from home’, ‘working until 2.30am on a mediation’, ‘searching for property deeds that other fee-earners had lost’, ‘being in lockdown whilst training has been difficult’, ‘two completions in one day’, ‘feeling unsupported at times’, ‘being thrown in at the deep end on a high-pressure case three weeks into my training contract’, ‘late nights’

The Lex 100 verdict on Addleshaw Goddard

For Addleshaw Goddard trainees, ‘the culture of the firm really stood out at interview – it seemed pragmatic and down-to-earth’. A ‘progressive outlook and a reputation for being forward-thinking’ also attracted recruits to the firm in droves.  With offices across the UK, AG is the ‘perfect mixture of a City and regional firm, whilst still offering some opportunities to work abroad and undertake top client secondments’. The happy medium of ‘high-quality work and deep involvement in matters with a good work/life balance’ goes some way in explaining the firm’s eight Lex 100 Winner medals. On a less positive note, trainees would like to see an improvement in the facilities in the Scottish offices and ‘greater transparency around how the seat allocation algorithm works’. Understandably, working remotely has taken its toll on AG recruits, with some lamenting the loss of ‘learning by osmosis’, the ‘diminished opportunities for face-to-face client contact’ and the limited social interaction with their teams. ‘Completing deals at home’ and ‘long nights, especially when having been sat in the same room all day’ were considered worst moments. Nevertheless, remote working also has its positives: ‘I think this has moved the firm away from the slightly old-fashioned idea that we have to be present in an office’. Trainees were quick to compliment the ‘approachability of all senior fee earners’ who show a ‘willingness to lead by example and take time to give sufficient feedback’. One such example is ‘a partner ringing me out of the blue to tell me I was doing a good job and to keep my head up’. For a firm with a ‘heavy emphasis on a people-centred culture’ and a ‘real team spirit’, research Addleshaw Goddard.

The firm: Addleshaw Goddard is a premium international law firm with an exceptional breadth of services. The firm is an FT Innovative Lawyers Award winner, which recognises its pioneering approach to legal services. The firm is a leading advisor to FTSE 100 companies and a market leader across its corporate, commercial, finance and projects, real estate and litigation business divisions; specialist fields such as private capital; and the energy, financial services, health and life sciences, real estate, retail and consumer, and transport sectors.

The deals: Advised Bruntwood SciTech, the UK’s leading property provider to the science and tech sector, on their successful bid to help deliver the £1.5bn ID Manchester innovation district; advised Southern Water on a first-of-its-kind partnership with Portsmouth Water to address climate-related water scarcity through construction of a new reservoir in Hampshire; advised Battersea Power Station Development Company on a number of high-value deals to support the financing and construction of a 42-acre regeneration scheme in central London, including the £1.6bn sale of the power station building itself and £600m development debt financing to create London’s newest high street; advised Terra Firma on the £110m acquisition of Kier Living from leading UK construction and infrastructure company Kier Group.

A day in the life of... Emma Wilson, trainee, Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Emma Wilson, Addleshaw Goddard

Departments to date: Corporate, Client secondment to British Airways, Competition

University: University of Leeds

Degree: LLB Law with American Legal Studies (First class)

There is no ‘typical’ day as an AG trainee with my tasks and daily schedule varying dependent on the seat that I’m in and the transactions/projects that I’m working on.

In my corporate seat, tasks would vary depending on the type of deal and the stage that the transaction was at. Generally, I would start each day by checking my emails and calendar so that I could plan my to-do list for the day (though this can quickly change!). I would then catch up with my colleagues on each deal team to see if there were any additional tasks that I could help with.

Throughout my corporate seat I was involved in a real mix of deals, both national and international, buy-side and sell-side, private equity deals and IPOs, acquisitions and reorganisations and corporate support work. One of the large international deals that I was involved with I got to see from instruction through to completion. I really enjoyed being involved in all elements of the transaction, which also helped me to understand the context of the deal and how all the moving parts worked together to get the transaction to completion.

As a trainee, I was involved in attending internal and external meetings, taking notes and drawing up lists of action points following meetings. I also drafted ancillary documents such as board meeting minutes, share certificates and appointment and resignation letters.

A large part of the role as a corporate trainee is project management. For example, during due diligence I was responsible for managing the data room and further enquiries, coordinating with the AG specialists and international advisers and analysing sections of the due diligence reports. I was also responsible for drafting and updating the documents list to ensure all aspects of the transaction were captured. I got to experience two in-person completions during my seat which were really exciting to be involved with and it was great to meet the clients in person. At completion, I was responsible for ensuring we had the final versions of each document for signature, setting up the signing table and checking that everything was signed correctly. Trainees also get involved with post-completion matters such as ensuring that the necessary filings are made at Companies House.

About the firm

Senior partner: Charles Penney

Managing partner: John Joyce

Other offices: UK: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester. Overseas: Dubai, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Oman, Paris, Qatar and Singapore. The firm also has a formal alliance with Tokyo-based Hashidate Law Office, and a worldwide network of strong relationships with chosen firms in North America, Europe and other emerging jurisdictions.

Who we are: At Addleshaw Goddard, we are more than just exceptional lawyers: we are leaders in client investment and understanding. With over 1,200 lawyers based across the globe, we have a deep understanding of our markets and sectors. We act for our clients whatever the scale of their requirements, and have been instructed by over 40 FTSE 100 companies in the last 12 months. Our business is about strong client relationships built on successful delivery across national and international markets. We have 13 offices worldwide, which we link together with a network of likeminded global partners. Where we don’t have offices, we work with firms well known to us, to deliver an international capability.

Equally important is strong loyalty which is proven through 75% of our clients who have been with us for more than ten years.​​​​​​​

Join us, and wherever you are based, you will work side-by-side with blue-chip clients in a supportive yet challenging environment. This is a structured training programme, and it is designed with your future success in mind.

What we do: We act for clients whatever the scale of their requirements. We have been instructed by over 40 FTSE 100 companies in the last 12 months, including Associated British Foods, Barclays, Dixons Carphone, GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC and Standard Life. Our business is about strong client relationships built on successful delivery across national and international markets. Equally important is strong loyalty which is proven through 75% of our clients who have been with us for more than ten years.

The range and scale of our work is compelling, and encompasses high-value strategic advice to the everyday. It means we are able to attract talented, like-minded individuals who love what they do, are committed to our clients’ success, and strive to build valued partnerships through our collective energy and expertise.

Training contract
We are more than just exceptional lawyers here. We attract sparkling people from all backgrounds, who bring their own unique qualities, along with a collaborative approach, professional drive and a commitment to every client’s success. This is just one of the reasons we’re sure you will enjoy working with us.

As a trainee, important cases will come your way from the get-go. You will work on everything from multimillion-pound deals to high-profile fraud cases, employment disputes to complex technology contracts. Our success is intrinsically linked to yours, so we’ll always have your back and help you realise your potential.

Training contracts are four seats long, with opportunities to spend time in another of our offices as well as on secondment with clients. During each six-month seat, you will have regular two-way performance reviews with your supervising partner or solicitor. They will help you develop the skills you need to deal with the demanding work you will come across every day.

As well as learning on the job, you will also have access to high-quality in-house and external training, a buddy scheme in your first seat, and a mentor throughout your training contract and beyond.

Work placements
We offer week-long Easter work placements in Edinburgh and London, and two-week summer work placements in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. And because everyone is an individual, we make sure each placement is a valuable experience for each individual student.

While you are here, you will get to know the everyday life of an Addleshaw Goddard trainee. You will be allocated a department to sit in and, if you are part of the summer scheme, will swap into a new department in your second week. You will be supervised by an experienced solicitor, who will welcome you to the department and allocate work. A trainee buddy will be on hand to help throughout your placement.

This is a scheme as unique as you are. As well as informative sessions, group exercises, assessed work and plenty of time at your desk, you will attend social events with a range of people across the office. It’s a real chance to get to know our people and our culture. We offer training contracts to successful placement scheme students, so we’d encourage you to apply.

We require a 2(1) honours degree (or equivalent). But what will really open doors to an outstanding career here is the real you. At Addleshaw Goddard, we’re looking for original minds and collaborative spirits alongside motivation, drive and commercial awareness. We’re constantly delighted by the diverse backgrounds of our best lawyers, and we’re open to law and non-law graduates alike, as well as those looking to change career.

The best advocates of our graduate careers are the trainees themselves. Read what four of them have to say about life at Addleshaw Goddard.

Pro bono initiatives
Firm-wide we work on a wide range of pro bono matters from collaborative projects supporting climate change to standalone matters supporting charities and other not-for-profit organisations. We are constantly exploring new pro bono opportunities and many of these opportunities come directly via our people but we also take on matters through our pro bono facilitators LawWorks and TrustLaw as well as the Collaborative Plan.

We have regional pro bono champions who help drive local engagement with some examples of ongoing regional pro bono work including:

  • Manchester – University of Manchester Legal Advice Centre, Young Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University Business Law Café
  • London – Springfield Clinic
  • Scotland – University of Edinburgh Legal Advice Centre

Diversity and inclusion

We have created a high-performance culture that is inclusive, supportive and which thrives on individuality, personality and team spirit. We expect the best of each other and we want everyone to succeed, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, religious practice or any other perceived difference.

Our diversity programme is represented at the most senior level of our business by our board sponsor. It is run by a dedicated human resources (HR) team, partner sponsors and volunteers from across the business. We have organised our approach around five key strands of diversity focusing on: disability, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ and social mobility, and we also provide comprehensive support for parents and carers and run ongoing mental health and wellbeing awareness campaigns. In addition, we also have our people networks that not only support and help inform our inclusion strategy but also provide an opportunity for people to learn more about specific subject matter, network and share their lived experience. Our networks include:

  • AG Embrace – our race and ethnicity network
  • OpenAG – our LGBTQ+ network
  • The Disability Network – our disability and carers network
  • The Vine – our women’s network

We have been consistently recognised for our commitment to diversity over the years. In our sector’s 2019 awards season, our diversity programme has achieved the following external recognition:

  • The Times, Top 50 Employers for Women;
  • HR in Law Awards, Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative (firms with over 750 employees including partners);
  • Legal Week Innovation Awards, Mindful Business Charter (recognition) and HR Innovation (winner)

And we are also:

  • active members of Stonewall and the Business Disability Forum
  • signatories to the Valuable 500
  • founding members of PRIME
  • participants in the Disability Confident Scheme (and in 2021 we achieved ‘Employer’ status)
  • partners with the Black Solicitor’s Network and Queer Lawyers of Tomorrow

Removing barriers so that talent can shine

A key focus for Addleshaw Goddard is diversifying our trainee talent. To do this we have partnered with an external organisation, Rare, to introduce contextual recruitment and accountability into our graduate hiring process.

Contextual recruitment looks at the context of academic achievement, and identifies students who have surpassed expectations or performed excellently in conditions of adversity.

We have also removed our minimum A-level requirement to allow a more diverse pool of candidates to apply for training contracts at Addleshaw Goddard.

Our external recruitment partner helps us to screen your application without personal information to ensure we do not allow bias of any kind to affect the process.

We are also increasing the training for everyone involved in the recruitment process to ensure that we select people based on their ability, potential and nothing else.

Diversity access schemes

We nurture strong links with reputable social mobility schemes and professional diversity networks such as Aspiring Solicitors, Black Solicitors Network, Urban Lawyers, Lawyers in Schools, Pathways to Law, PRIME and AllAboutLaw Events and value their support and expertise when reaching out to untapped talent from non-traditional backgrounds.

We are signatories of the Social Mobility Business Compact, a government-led initiative which aims to reduce elitism and improve social mobility by encouraging businesses to open opportunities to everyone.

We have always invested and partnered with local communities, schools and networks who are keen to raise the aspirations of young people – and will continue to do so by offering young talent opportunities to take part in quality work experience programmes and internships.

PRIME: We are a founding member of PRIME, an initiative through which law firms provide quality work experience placements to underprivileged school-age students. We work with local primary and secondary schools across London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh to inspire young people to fulfil their potential. Each year, around 40 students from years 12 and 13 take part in our Legal Access Week Programme.

Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP): We are a member of the SMBP in Manchester and Leeds, where we partner with our own clients and other businesses to meet our respective social mobility commitments. Through this partnership, our Legal Access Week students benefit from additional work experience with in-house legal teams at a number of well-known companies.

Legal Access Scheme: Our award-winning Legal Access Scheme offers bright BPP University Law School students from unconventional or less privileged backgrounds a place on our summer placement programme. 24 students from this scheme have secured training contracts with us since its creation in 2007.

Legal Apprenticeship Scheme: There’s no blueprint for bright. In fact, the opposite is true. That’s why we offer an alternative path into law for those who do not wish to go down the traditional university route.

Our Legal Apprenticeship Scheme, developed in Manchester and Leeds, is at the forefront of apprenticeships in the legal profession.

We have been recognised by the All About Group as a Top 100 Employer for School Leavers.

City Solicitors Horizons: City Solicitors Horizons (CSH) is a social mobility initiative designed to improve access to the legal profession for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was created by the City of London Solicitors’ Company, City Solicitors’ Educational Trust (CSET) and The Legal Education Foundation (TLEF), and is supported by the City of London Law Society (CLLS) and leading law firms – including Addleshaw Goddard.

Students attending universities across London and southeast England are selected to take part in this three-year social mobility programme, alongside their undergraduate degrees, connecting with law firms who provide access to mentoring lawyers and practical work experience.

Vacation scheme profile

Michelle Sousa
University of Leicester

I applied for the vacation scheme at the firm because I wanted to experience the firm’s culture, gain an insight into the types of work encountered by trainees and develop an understanding of how the firm operates as a global business. It was also an opportunity to confirm that the firm was the right place for me.

Due to the pandemic, my vacation scheme last summer took place virtually over three days. We were all given the same tasks to complete instead of being allocated to specific departments. The tasks included completing research, reviewing a lease, drafting an email to the client and preparing a note for a client meeting. The tasks were interesting and challenging and gave me an insight into the various types of work that you might be asked to do as a trainee.

We were also given a group task to prepare a pitch to a client of the firm for a new piece of work. We were given time to prepare and practise with our groups before our final presentation on the last day. This allowed us to work together as a team and develop our understanding of the firm and its specialisms.

Throughout the scheme, we also had the opportunity to learn more about the firm through various events including a presentation from graduate recruitment, a divisional insight talk delivered by the trainees and a corporate social responsibility webinar.

The firm organised a number of social events, including a wellbeing session, networking lunch and virtual escape room which allowed us to network informally and build relationships with the people at the firm and on the scheme. I found that this was a great setting to find out more about life as a trainee.

My highlight of the vacation scheme was the daily catch-up calls with my assigned buddy and supervisor. It was an open space to discuss work, ask questions about the firm and have a general conversation. Both provided me with support and guidance throughout the scheme and their friendliness and candid nature instantly made me feel a part of Addleshaw Goddard.

Through the scheme I was able to gain a real sense of the firm’s collegiate culture. The people are genuinely friendly, open and straight-talking. I felt comfortable starting a conversation (albeit virtually) and at ease to ask questions. The unique aspect of the firm’s culture is its ‘we are in it together’ attitude, which truly fosters itself in its collaborative and supportive environment.