Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Gateley

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Gateley

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The interview was more like a conversation than the grilling I got from some other firms’, ‘I worked as a paralegal in the Leeds office’, ‘unique business structure sets it apart from the competition’, ‘people and general atmosphere of the firm’, ‘the ethos’, ‘I liked the idea of participating in the employee share scheme straight away’, ‘genuinely nice people’

Best thing about the firm? ‘We stand together and support one another’, ‘you can be the direct point of contact with the client and run smaller transactions yourself’, ‘everyone is really committed to you getting the most out of your training contract’, ‘it puts a lot of weight on colleagues getting to know each other’, ‘impressive clients’, ‘the networking events and the firm-wide party’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The office décor’, ‘the occasional requirement to burn the midnight oil, but this comes with the territory!’, ‘seat rotation information is sent out late’, ‘it feels as though you are moved around according to where you are needed the most rather than where you actually want to train’, ‘open-plan seating’, ‘the vac scheme doesn’t do the firm justice!’

Best moment? ‘The rush of completing several deals in a week’, ‘working on an extremely large restructure of a household-name client’, ‘completing on the sale of a development with 26 plots within my first eight weeks’, ‘receiving valuable feedback in my mid-seat review’, ‘client social events’, ‘handling a matter from start to finish’

Worst moment? ‘A particularly busy period and having to get all the work done’, ‘drafting a document and then being told it was essentially completely wrong’, ‘all-nighter to complete a deal’, ‘my first day when I didn’t know anyone and had no idea what any emails meant’, ‘giving the other side’s solicitor the wrong information and having to call back when I was more prepared’

The Lex 100 verdict on Gateley

The firm: “Gateley is a special business and one that stands apart from the crowd, we stand apart because of what we do and because of who we are. We were the first commercial law firm to float on the London stock exchange. Our strategy is not to conform or to run with the crowd, but to differentiate. This is why we are on a journey to diversify and be a law-led professional services group that incentives the people that help us get there.”

The deals: Advising Dr Oetker on the purchase of Alsa Baking; advising Praetura Ventures on the first investment from its 2019 Enterprise Investment Scheme; advising Langley Holdings on its acquisition of Marelli Motori; advising LDC on its investment in British Waterways Marinas Limited; advising Volkswagen Financial Services on its acquisition of payment solutions provider, Mirada Connect Limited (Connect).

The clients: CACI Limited; Connection Capital; Inflexion Private Equity; LivingBridge; Lloyds Development Company; Lyceum Capital; Maven Capital Partners; NorthEdge Capital; Palatine Private Equity; Praetura Capital.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Banking and finance; Banking litigation; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Commodities: physicals; Corporate and commercial; Employment; Fraud: civil; Health and safety; Insolvency and corporate recovery; M&A: smaller deals up to £50m; Mediators; Media and entertainment; Shipping; Sport

The verdict

Gateley’s ‘innovative and entrepreneurial’ plc status and the resulting ‘incentives provided to staff by way of shares’ enticed trainees. Respondents were impressed with the recruitment process, which made clear that the firm ‘genuinely wanted to get to know you as a person above anything else’. Training is ‘closely supervised’, particularly in certain departments, where ‘supervisors are willing to take the time to discuss your work and how it can be improved’. There are also plenty of opportunities to be ‘the direct point of contact with the client and run smaller transactions yourself’. Some examples of the latter are: ‘being the main liaison in completing a property transaction which had been running for years’ and ‘drafting a fairly technical letter to which my supervisor made almost no amendments’. There is a palpable ’emphasis on work/life balance’ and trainees assured us that ‘there are no adverse effects of leaving on time if your work is all done’. Gateley is a Lex 100 Winner for confidence of being kept on. That there is ‘little choice when it comes to seats’ is a bugbear; trainees are required to do a corporate, property and a contentious seat and the firm picks the first two departments. Inevitably, recruits had their fair share of low moments too, such as ‘receiving a stamp duty land tax (SDLT) fine on a transaction’, ‘working long hours during the summer’ and ‘drafting documents for a transaction which was called off at the last minute’. To work at a firm which ‘strikes a good balance between high-profile clients and exciting work whilst preserving a friendly, down-to-earth culture’, research Gateley.

A day in the life of… Catherine Everington, second seat trainee, Gateley (Nottingham)

Catherine Everington, Gateley

Departments to date: Banking/finance and restructuring; employment.

University: University of Sheffield University of Law (Birmingham)

Degree: LLB 2(1); LPC Distinction

7.55am: I live fairly close to our Nottingham office so my morning train journey is pretty relaxed. On my way to work, I take the opportunity to purchase anything I need to stock up our ‘tuck shop’ in the staff kitchen. This is part of my corporate social responsibility as a trainee.

8.30am: I like to start my working day with a cup of tea and a quick chat with colleagues to find out what they are working on and whether there is anything I can help with. The office is open plan and therefore I have had the chance to get to know everyone and the work that they are involved in. I always start my day by looking at my to-do list to help plan my day. I am currently working in the employment team and no two days are the same! Today I am helping to create a list of issues in relation to a tribunal case as well as assisting my supervisor in preparing our slides for some training we are doing for one of our key clients.

9.00am: We largely represent employers and today I have the task of drafting a list of issues. A list of issues is an opportunity for us to state the legal issues we want the judge to cover at the hearing. I have had the opportunity to be significantly involved in this litigation matter and follow it through the whole of my seat. We have already had a meeting with our client to obtain further information from them, so I use this information and all the documents on file to draft our list of issues. I find everyone in the office very approachable therefore, once I have prepared the draft, I sit down with my supervisor to discuss my work and obtain feedback. During my work, I am asked by my supervisor to call the employment tribunal to chase the status of consent judgment. I make a note of the call and update the partner overseeing the matter.

1.00pm: Today I am running a panini lunch. Trainees are given a large amount of responsibility in relation to organising social and charity events for the office. I am head of the charity committee. This involves remaining in direct communication with our charity and organising the office charity fund-raising events. I have already made the paninis at home, so all I had to do was cook them on the grill and they were ready to be delivered to people’s desk!

2.00pm: I have a couple of telephone conference calls with my supervisor today. One is in relation to the enforcement of restrictive covenants in a contract of employment and the other centres around sickness absence and performance management. A large amount of work that the team does involves providing general advice to employers. I regularly get the chance to sit in on my supervisor’s calls. This provides me with experience of the type of issues employers come across, as well learning how the team provide advice to clients. I also have the responsibility of making attendance notes and dictating them so that we have an accurate record of the call.

4.00pm: Employment is a broad area of law. I am therefore often required to conduct research into a wide range of areas. Today I have set time aside to conduct research around discrimination in employment. I am particularly focusing on case law in relation to harassment at work. I use this research to create a draft presentation which my supervisor can use when conducting training at one of our client’s offices. Training is another aspect of work that the employment team carry out, alongside general advice and litigation claims.

6.00pm: I often end my day around 5.45pm in order to catch the train home. However, tonight I am heading to a networking event hosted by the local Nottingham Law Society. This is a good chance to meet new people and build my network.

About the firm

Managing partner: Michael Ward

Other offices: Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds, Guildford, Reading, London

Who we are: As a law-led professional services group, we work together to deliver 100% client satisfaction by making the complex simple. We achieve this through our core values of being collaborative, pioneering and straight-talking.

What we do: Banking and finance; commerce, technology and media; construction; corporate; employment and people services; family law; financial disputes and regulation; immigration and global mobility; pensions; planning; private equity; private wealth; real estate; regulatory; residential development; restructuring; shipping; and tax.

What we’re looking for: Ambition, commerciality, vision, strong academics, exceptional interpersonal skills.

What you’ll do: Experience four six-month seat rotations across a variety of legal practice areas – we also offer exciting client secondments; gain supervision and mentoring from highly experienced solicitors; receive an in-depth and supportive training schedule tailored to your needs and areas of interest to give you the skills and experiences you need for life as a qualified solicitor; gain opportunities to work directly with clients, allowing you to build your practical legal knowledge, communication, client-care skills and an understanding of the markets within which our clients operate; study Professional Skills Courses to become an excellent well-rounded solicitor; organise social events at local bars and restaurants to become a fundamental part of your Gateley office; attend university law fairs to inspire our future trainees!

Perks: Private health, travel loan, life assurance scheme.

Sponsorship: After the training contract offer has been accepted, we will support you with course fees if you need to still complete these at the time of offer: GDL; LPC; LPC maintenance grant (£5,000)