Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Taylor Wessing LLP
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Taylor Wessing LLP
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Interested in their practice areas’; ‘open-door culture and work/life balance’; ‘great training, level of responsibility and interesting clients’; ‘the fee-earners were genuinely welcoming and set aside time to chat with us’; ‘there was no competitive spirit on the vacation scheme and we all made good friends’; ‘sector focus and collegiate culture’; ‘good hours, great clients’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Approachability of partners’; ‘in-house cafe’; ‘there is a genuine work/life balance and we are encouraged to get involved in other areas of the firm e.g. sport, attending events as well as having a life outside the office’; ‘the opportunity to contribute and implement ideas’; ‘niche expertise in a range of subject matters which attracts the most unusual and interesting clients and cases’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Limited benefits’; ‘NQ remuneration less than other similar firms’; ‘occasional IT system flaws’; ‘lack of inter-departmental connection’; ‘the big presence of its IP and tech capabilities is not matched by the opportunities available for trainees’; ‘not being guaranteed certain seats’
Best moment? ‘Appearing before a master during my litigation seat’; ‘leading a call in my first few weeks’; ‘completing deals where I have played a significant role’; ‘being heavily involved in a FTSE 250 client’s largest ever acquisition during my corporate seat’; ‘receiving great feedback from a client’; ‘trip to Dublin to meet other lawyers and bond as a team’
Worst moment? ‘Staying late to bundle documents in order to meet a court deadline’; ‘stress of seat allocations’; ‘staying late to do document review that it turned out the client did not need doing’; ‘getting landed with a massive bundling job at 5pm on a Friday’
The Lex 100 verdict on Taylor Wessing LLP
The firm: Full-service international law firm Taylor Wessing specialises in technology, media & communications, life sciences and private wealth. The firm acts for several leading global brands and also counts start-ups, high-net-worth families and individuals among its client base.
The deals: Advised YOTEL on its $250m strategic partnership with private investment firm Starwood Capital Group; acted for Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 in relation to a significant dispute arising from its historical investment in GO Science (now in liquidation); advised Bridgepoint on the MBO of maternity clothes brand Séraphine; represented Hospira, a global pharmaceutical and medical device company owned by Pfizer, on the revocation of Cubist’s patents – covering methods of dosing and purifying daptomycinin; advised Supercell on its $90m acquisition of a majority interest in SpaceApe Games.
The clients: FarFetch; LVMH; PWC; Brentford FC; Pfizer; Sky; Monzo; Wooga (leading games studio); Secret Escapes; Audio Network.
The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Brand management; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Data protection; Employment: employers; Fraud: civil; Gaming and betting; IT and telecoms; Immigration; Intellectual property; Islamic finance; M&A mid-market, £50m-£250m; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Private equity: transactions; Property finance; Reputation management; Trade finance; Venture capital
Taylor Wessing has ‘a strong reputation in IP, patent litigation and life sciences’ and attracts trainees with its ‘commitment to innovation and quality of tech’. Many felt that the ‘vacation scheme was amazing and made the decision for me’, while others were pleased that attending the open day confirmed that ‘the feel of the firm was vastly different to others’. Taylor Wessing is praised for its ‘collaborative culture’ where new recruits can expect a ‘great work/life balance’ while being offered ‘as much responsibility as you can handle’. Respondents appreciated the ‘true open-door policy’ and relished ‘not doing so many admin tasks’, as ‘whilst we are expected to work hard the culture is relaxed’. Boasting an ‘atmosphere of inclusivity and respect’, trainees commended Taylor Wessing for being a ‘very supportive and encouraging place to work’. Best moments include ‘being heavily involved in a FTSE 250 client’s largest ever acquisition during my corporate seat’, ‘running part of a large transaction with limited supervision’ and ‘working on a large high-profile patent litigation case’. Although trainees recall ‘feeling out of depth at the start’, they progress to enjoy high levels of responsibility. ‘This is challenging, but made me feel like a valued member of the team’. The ‘lack of transparency around seat rotations’, ‘limited international secondments’ and ‘the unpredictability of working in corporate finance which has produced some last minute late nights’ were causes of concern. But others insist ‘there is no need to stay late if you have no work’. TW also boasts a brilliant canteen and runs social mobility initiatives which trainees admire. If ‘high exposure to incredible clients’ combined with ‘excellent training and support’ sounds good to you, research Taylor Wessing.
A day in the life of… Tom Witte, first-year trainee, Taylor Wessing LLP
Departments to date: Private client (1st seat), contentious patents (current seat)
University: Royal Veterinary College University of London
Degree: Veterinary Medicine (PhD in Biomechanics)
9.00am: My day commonly starts with a review of changes to the European Patents Register, clinical trials database, European Medicines Agency publications and of course the news, from which I compile a series of emails for various members of the team.
9.30am: Having completed these checks, scanned my emails and prioritised any tasks that need urgent attention I turn to the two main matters on which I have been working. We have an expert witness coming to the office this morning, so I prepare by assembling and reviewing the previous attendance notes and other relevant materials.
10.00am: This morning’s meeting is with an engineer who will act as our expert witness for the upcoming trial. We spend two hours discussing a piece of prior art that is being used to challenge the validity of our client’s patent. The engineer scrutinises how the patent is worded and how it would be interpreted. My role is to make sure we capture his comments, so I take a detailed attendance note during the meeting.
12.00pm: This evening I am attending the pro bono legal advice clinic that Taylor Wessing supports, and when I get back to my desk I have received details for the two clients I will be advising. I call them to confirm their appointments, introduce myself and get a brief overview of their question.
12.30pm: At the end of the expert meeting this morning we discussed the timetable to trial and potential dates for future meetings, so I put this information together in an email to the expert, and diarise the various deadlines and dates.
1.00pm: Every other month the firm puts on an hour-long lunch time session discussing recent and emerging legal issues. I attend to keep up to date and learn what materials the firm is publishing on the latest topics – the free lunch isn’t bad either!
2.00pm: As usual the team has a number of work streams running simultaneously, so we meet to ensure everything is progressing. After the meeting I ensure that all actions have been captured and circulate an updated chart of tasks. Within the patents team the trainee plays a key role in helping coordinate activities – this puts you at the heart of the matter, and also keeps you very busy!
3.00pm: We have our regular call with various European teams with whom we are working. Patent work is commonly multi-jurisdictional and there are important differences between the countries in how patent rights are granted and protected so these calls help coordinate the litigation across jurisdictions.
4.00pm: I have been tasked with reviewing a series of patents covering a production process for one of our clients. This is a large task that has taken a few days to complete, and I am now able to forward the results to one of the associates for review.
4.30pm: During June and July the firm hosts 40 students on its two week vacation scheme. We have had a vac schemer sitting in the patents team each week and I take the opportunity to grab a quick coffee with this week’s candidate.
5.00pm: My draft email from this morning has been approved and I forward this to our client. We are preparing for an interim application hearing next week and I have been asked to put together a bundle index to be agreed with the other side.
6.00pm: I join the group of trainees, associates and the supervising partner in the lobby and jump in a taxi to the legal advice clinic. A good way to end a busy day!
About the firm
Senior partner: Dominic FitzPatrick
Managing partner: Shane Gleghorn
Other offices: 33 offices in 19 jurisdictions.
Who we are: Taylor Wessing is a leading international law firm. We work with clients in the world’s most dynamic industries and help them succeed by advising on their businesses throughout their life cycle.
What we do: Specialising in technology, media and communications, life sciences and private wealth, we act for 32 of the world’s top 50 brands; some of the world’s most exciting start-ups and unicorns; and some of the world’s wealthiest families. We have an unrivalled network of industry leaders we work with and introduce our clients to. From start-ups to liquidity to global brands, clients work with us because it sets them apart.
What we’re looking for: Naturally, we expect you to be committed to a career in law, with a genuine passion to learn. Our people love what they do and want to contribute new ideas. They are team players who value and respect individuality, and the benefit of working in an inclusive environment. Qualifications are also important to us, and we look for a minimum of ABB grades at A level and a 2.1 degree in any discipline. You should be confident, with good communication skills and the ability to build strong relationships. You’ll have the energy, ambition and creativity to take responsibility, challenge and make a difference.
What you’ll do: We have been recognised by LawCareers.Net for being the ‘Best Trainer’ among large City firms. Our award winning training combines our in-house Professional Skills Course with six-month seats in four different practice groups, including one contentious seat and one in our corporate or finance areas. Our programme is recognised for the extent of partner contact available to trainees. You’ll work closely with associates on high-quality work from the outset with client contact and secondment opportunities in their offices offered.
Perks: Private medical care, pension scheme, life assurance, season ticket loan for travel, 25 days’ holiday (with an extra day at Christmas), discounted gym membership, employee assistance programme, full subscription to Headspace and weekly mindfulness classes.
Sponsorship: Sponsorship GDL and MA (LPC with business) fees at BPP London sponsored. A maintenance grant is provided.
Vacation scheme insider
University: University of East Anglia
Undergraduate degree: Law; currently studying LPC at BPP
My journey to entering the legal profession can be described as a rather traditional one. I have always been intrigued by the integral nature of the law to the successful functioning of society. Although it was my interest in the law as an academic discipline that initially drew me to study it as a degree, it was exposure to the legal profession that really solidified my desire to pursue a legal career. I attended as many law firm open days as I could, which allowed me to not only identify areas of interest, but to begin making all-important connections in the profession.
Why Taylor Wessing?
My exposure to such a variety of firms helped me establish exactly what I was looking for, and Taylor Wessing was where I found it. My whole recruitment experience with the firm, from my first interaction on the open day to my last on the vacation scheme, reinforced these sentiments.
I was drawn to Taylor Wessing’s forward-thinking approach to the law, reflected in their sector focus on areas such as TMT (technology, media and telecom). I knew this would provide me with the opportunity to train not only alongside experts in the field, but for the most cutting-edge clients and industries. I also appreciated the fact that despite its sector focus, Taylor Wessing’s extremely strong teams in a range of practice areas enable the firm to offer a well-rounded training contract.
One of the talks given at the firm’s open day really resonated with me. The senior partner highlighted that clients are what drives the firm; the aim is therefore not exclusively to become the number one law firm in the world, or even in Europe, but to be the best at what they focus on. I wanted to train at a firm driven by client needs rather than trends.
I spent two weeks on my vacation scheme, one in the real estate team and the other in employment. I was impressed by the friendly and welcoming attitude of everyone I interacted with, from trainees to partners, and thoroughly appreciated the effort made by everyone to make us feel comfortable in what could have easily been a very daunting experience. Each of us were given a ‘trainee buddy’ for each seat, but they were all so genuinely willing to help that I left each seat with several!
We were invited to various social events over the two weeks, which were an excellent opportunity to get to know not only the trainees but our fellow vacation schemers in a more relaxed setting. The range of events, from drinks and canapés at flight club to a beautiful sit-down dinner, meant there was something for everyone.
The Q&A sessions with trainees, associates and partners from across the firm’s departments were extremely useful in helping develop a deeper understanding of the firm’s practice areas. The range of networking events in addition to this also helped increase exposure to the firm’s departments outside the seats I sat in over the two weeks.
In both my seats I was impressed by the high quality and challenging nature of the work across the firm as a whole, not just in the firm’s specialisms. The wide variety of tasks I was given, from proofreading, drafting and dictating client calls, to research projects and case analysis, gave me a real insight into the life of a trainee. I truly felt like a part of the team; one partner I did research for allowed me to explain my conclusions to the client in a conference call.
The group presentation which we worked on across the two weeks provided an excellent opportunity to speak to a variety of people across the firm about an interesting and engaging topic. The project really helped create a fuller picture of the firm’s culture.
I would thoroughly recommend applying for Taylor Wessing’s vacation scheme if you are looking for a firm which provides the best of both worlds: excellent clients and challenging work alongside a supportive working environment. The format of the two-week vacation scheme is arranged in such a way as to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to impress, so make sure to send in your application!