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? ‘Friendly people, great culture, cool sectors’, ‘the tech focus’, ‘it truly is a full-service firm’, ‘fresh perspective and relaxed atmosphere’, ‘its focus on remaining cutting edge, its expertise in technology and its impressive client list’, ‘its early embracing of legal tech’, ‘friendly and approachable staff’, ‘the best private wealth offering in the City – I believe the firm undersells this though!’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Friendly people’, ‘the time taken on my personal development by everyone from NQs to partners’, ‘there is an absence of the stuffiness that deterred me from certain firms’, ‘the trainees are generally great and a really diverse mix of people’, ‘there are some truly excellent lawyers here, from whom you can learn a lot’, ‘exceptionally interesting clients’, ‘the people and the type of work’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The lack of international secondments, although this is improving’, ‘minimal social life, sports and clubs’, ‘the working hours have been getting longer since working from home’, ‘repetitive work for juniors and not enough feedback on work’, ‘the pay could be better’, ‘it holds itself out as a cuddlier version of a City law firm but some of the people measures during the pandemic have exposed it as being really no different than any other City outfit’
Best moment? ‘Leading on my own matters’, ‘being given the opportunity to work with our internal innovation team, which produces tech products for clients to use’, ‘some really interesting work for genuinely cutting-edge clients’, ‘working on pro bono matters at a legal clinic’, ‘providing advice to a client in my second week’, ‘drafting a client’s complaint to the legal ombudsman and seeing it pay off with a win’
Worst moment? ‘Page-turning an arbitration bundle’, ‘sending an email to the client instead of to my supervisor’, ‘working from home making communication a lot harder’, ‘working late and remotely in the early weeks – I sometimes felt isolated and out of my depth’, ‘working late into the night to finish a piece of work for someone and not even receiving an acknowledgement, let alone any feedback’, ‘grinding through Excel sheets in the small hours’
The Lex 100 verdict on Taylor Wessing LLP
Known for its tech focus and impressive client list, Taylor Wessing offers top-level work with the benefit of working in small teams. Praised for its ‘quality of work, reputation for work/life balance, good clients’, trainees also commend the ‘friendly and approachable staff’, ‘fresh perspective’ and ‘relaxed atmosphere’. Expertise goes beyond the tech sector: ‘it truly is a full-service firm, meaning that the experience you get throughout your training contract is vast and I thought that this would enable me to find an area of law that suited me’. The training at Taylor Wessing provides exposure to many different sectors, all the while being focused on trainee welfare and development. As one trainee adds, ‘the firm genuinely cares about trainee welfare. There is very open dialogue about how the firm can improve life for trainees, especially during the pandemic’. That’s not to say the training contract is without hard work or long hours, both features of life at any major firm. Trainees find that ‘it can differ greatly from seat to seat’. Highlights of training include ‘working on matters that make the news’, ‘drafting a client’s full complaint to the legal ombudsman, as well as the counter claim, and seeing it pay off with a win’ and ‘working on pro bono matters at an external legal clinic’. Overall trainees praise Taylor Wessing for its ‘engaging, intelligent and enthusiastic colleagues’, plus the ‘exceptionally interesting clients’. A current trainee sums up: ‘it really is trying to be at the forefront of progression in terms of diversity, inclusion, gender equality and mental health support. It gives me hope for the future of the legal sector’.
The firm: 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. 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.
The deals: Advising Wolt on a US$160m financing round; acting in successful Z Trust litigation; advising Babylon Health on its continuing investment in digital healthcare with the largest European and US fundraising; advising on the acquisition of Terra Verde by EMMAC Life Sciences Ltd; advising Vivion Investments on an international €1bn bond issuance and complex reorganisation; acting on the UK launch of the Volkswagen Financial Services and Daimler Mobility backed online marketplace, heycar; advised Vinted as it become the latest European Unicorn after closing a €128m Series E round financing; advising tech VC firm Dawn Capital on a unicorn deal; advising Glenmark on its product portfolio sale; advising Cazoo on £100m funding round
The clients: FarFetch; LVMH; PWC; Brentford FC; Pfizer; Sky; Monzo; Wooga (leading games studio); Secret Escapes; Audio Network.
Vacation scheme insider
University: Lancaster University BPP Law School
Degree: LLB Law; LPC
My participation in a national mock trial competition, during high school, was my first interaction with the legal profession and vital to forming my journey into law.
From this experience, I decided to research further into the legal profession, and also receive guidance on how to pursue law as an academic discipline. I attended many law firms open days, gaining an insight into the different practice area strengths and cultures, and began to identify the type of firm that I wanted to work for. My experience with Taylor Wessing, from the very start to the end of the recruitment process, has solidified that this firm is exactly what I have been searching for.
During my scheme, I have been able to determine that Taylor Wessing is a very different firm from other firms, as all employees are encouraged to be forward-thinking and innovative. The firm’s trainees expressed clearly that they are encouraged to engage with innovative thinking, and are trailblazers, paving the way for other firms to follow.
I was also given an insight into Taylor Wessing’s sector-focused approach, which ensures they remain the market leaders in a number of cutting-edge sectors. From this, I would be able to train alongside experts who provide legal services to exceptionally high-profile and revolutionary clients and industries. As a trainee, this will ensure that I gain a variety of exceptional training and will develop my expertise and skills quickly.
Virtual vacation scheme
During my virtual vacation scheme, I spent one week with the real estate department and was made to feel a member of the team from day one. Every individual I met was extremely friendly and welcoming, and from partner to trainee level, no question was ever left unanswered. I was thoroughly impressed with the attitude of every individual, who understood that these were very strange times, but put us all at ease and made us feel comfortable throughout the experience. We were each given a ‘trainee buddy’ who were integral in providing a fantastic experience, where we felt supported and were always there to help!
The vacation scheme set up
The scheme comprised of us using Microsoft Teams to navigate through our day which was full with exciting virtual experiences including: catch-ups with graduate recruitment, focus-on sessions with many of the firm’s sectors, and even chats with other practice areas which we were unable to sit in as the scheme was reduced. I was also allowed to engage with a variety of sector-specific tasks during the scheme. This included: several research tasks, where I was asked to feedback my findings clearly and concisely, legal writing and even had the opportunity to sit in on a virtual conference with a number of important clients.
The firm also organised a number of social events, such as a scavenger hunt, a virtual quiz and even end of scheme drinks which allowed us to learn more about the firm and its employees. I found it impressive that the firm had factored in time for social events, to ensure we had the opportunity to build relationships, but also gave us some downtime during a very hectic week!
The highlight of my scheme was the culture that I saw exhibited from every member of the firm. Taylor Wessing lives by its values and invests completely in its people and its clients. The firm encourages you to be your true authentic self and allows you the opportunity to have conversations with people at various levels across the firm, including partners. Moreover, there is a common belief that clients are the driving force behind the firm, and it is the need to continue to enhance the client experience that Taylor Wessing strives for.
I highly recommend applying to Taylor Wessing’s vacation scheme. The experience will provide you with the opportunity to work alongside a supportive network of individuals and gain a true insight into what the role of a trainee solicitor entails.
About the firm
Senior partner: Dominic FitzPatrick
Managing partner: Shane Gleghorm
Other offices: 29 offices in 17 countries.
Who we are: Taylor Wessing is a global law firm that serves the world’s most innovative people and businesses. Deeply embedded within our sectors, we work closely together with our clients to crack complex problems, enabling ideas and aspirations to thrive. Together we challenge expectation and create extraordinary results.
We work with clients in the world’s most dynamic industries and help them succeed by advising on their businesses throughout their life cycle. Specialising in technology, media and communications, life sciences, real estate, energy and infrastructure 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.
A diverse client base allows us to advise on more than just the law. We’re a firm that encourages new ideas and different ways of doing things. Our experts play an essential role in advising clients on business growth and protection, while introducing them to new people, new markets and fresh perspectives that will help their businesses stand out and flourish.
Collaboration is key to our success. We recruit a wide range of students including those who haven’t studied law.
What we do: Our specialists attract the most dynamic clients in the industry. We do more than just advise on the law. Companies with innovative business models, emerging technologies and exclusive products, and high-stake investments need to remain competitive and distinctive. This is how we work.
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.
‘Superb’, ‘outstanding’, ‘expert’, ‘strategic’ and ‘commercial’ are all terms associated with our reputation. We want everyone to enjoy working with us – as much as that is possible when providing legal advice. Efficiency is important, but anticipating needs for greater protection and security through creative solutions complements the advice we provide to clients and will prepare you for future challenges of exceeding expectations.
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. We appreciate though that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper, and that’s why we use Rare Recruitment Contextual Recruitment System to consider everyone’s achievements in context. We also take into account any mitigating circumstances. 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 and crowned as one of Legal Cheek’s Firms of the Year. Our award-winning training allows our trainees to experience 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. Most importantly, regular support and feedback every step of the way ensures that your career goes in the direction you want it to.
Work placements: Taylor Wessing is ‘a great place to work’. We were awarded Firm of the Year 2019 by Legal Cheek, which recognises all aspects of our work, clients, culture, environment and opportunities for our people.
Our award-winning vacation scheme is designed for you to experience life as a trainee solicitor in a fast-paced and creative international law firm. You’ll spend two weeks in two different practice areas gaining first-hand experience under the supervision of associates and partners.
Open days 2021: Join us on one of our Trailblazing open days to find out more about the firm. It will be a packed day, during which you’ll be given the chance to learn more about the firm, attend skills sessions to help you with your vacation scheme applications and take part in a commercial business game.
To be eligible to attend you must be a penultimate year lawyer or non-law finalist as this open day will be focused on our vacation scheme opportunities.
For details of how to apply and deadlines please visit our website.
First year opportunities: Join us on our first year ‘Trailblazing’ insight day in April 2022. It will give you the chance to learn more about us, our top tips during a skills session which will help you with your vacation scheme applications and take part in a commercial business game. To be eligible to attend you must be a first year law student or penultimate year non-law student.
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: SQE fees sponsored. A maintenance grant is provided.
Pro bono initiatives: Being involved in pro bono work gives us the opportunity to help those who would otherwise not be able to gain access to justice.
It’s something we encourage everyone to do. It helps us take a step back from our complex international transactions and witness the impact the law has on the lives of people in our local community.
We support numerous individuals and organisations each year including the Mary Ward Legal Advice Centre where we provide weekly advice which all of our trainees are involved in, founding firm of Lawyers Volunteering for the Arts and the British Fashion Council. Additionally, we are panel members of the Human Dignity Trust.
Diversity and inclusion
Creating an inclusive working environment and recognising the value diversity brings to the firm is key to our people strategy at Taylor Wessing; it’s what makes Taylor Wessing a great place to work. Diversity in all professions is very important and the legal profession is no exception. The end goal for any firm is to create and maintain a supportive environment for everyone regardless of their background, culture or lifestyle. Our trainees are involved in shaping our culture through our inclusion networks. These cover: gender balance, LGBT+ inclusion, racial equality, social mobility, and physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Balance in Business
Gender balance is one of our strategic inclusion priorities. Our goal is to achieve better gender balance in our partnership and in leadership roles across the firm. Our Gender Plan seeks to optimise talent retention, promote modern working practices and enhance our clients’ experience. Like all strategically important projects, our UK executive board reviews progress to ensure we’re achieving our goals. We exceeded 25% female partnership in May 2021 and continue to focus on the gender balance of our talent pipeline.
Our Balance in Business Network works to ensure we level the playing field so gender isn’t a factor for career success. We host discussions and client round tables on issues that challenge expectation, and the network sponsored the unveiling of a new piece of artwork at the Supreme Court celebrating 100 years of women in law.
Cultural Diversity Network
Racism and racial injustice have no place in our world. Increasing the representation of people from minority ethnic groups at Taylor Wessing is our second strategic inclusion priority. We all play a crucial role in making progress and we launched our dedicated Race and Ethnicity strategy in 2020. Our cultural diversity network creates a safe space to learn from each other and celebrate our different cultures. It works to encourage more individuals from diverse backgrounds to enter into the legal sector and remove any barriers they face to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Our commitment to working with Rare enables us to find more and better ways to overcome racial injustice. It’s through working closely together that we can continue to challenge the prejudice and privilege which prevent us reaching our goal of a fairer and more equal society.
We’re committed to providing a workplace where your talent can flourish and you can be yourself, no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity. Our LGBT+ and allies network, equaliTW, was our first employee network and exists to promote LGBT+ inclusion. They run a dedicated programme of support and initiatives throughout the year, helping our people learn more about key issues affecting LGBT+ people in the workplace and wider community. We support Opening Doors London and established the Freehold network for the property sector in 2011. We’re a Stonewall Top 100 Employer for the third year in a row and in the top ten law firms on the list.
Maintaining a positive approach to physical and mental wellbeing is of huge importance to us. Central to this is a commitment to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and disabilities. Our network helps to raise awareness of visible and invisible disabilities, creating an accessible and safe working environment and promotes wellbeing initiatives as a way of preventing the onset of physical and mental health conditions.
The network hosts regular sleep clinics, yoga classes, lunchtime learning with qualified doctors and psychologists as well as the support of over 65 mental health champions and first aiders. Everyone has access to the Headspace app. Our onsite GP and inhouse counselling service provide invaluable support. In November 2019, we won the best new entrant category for the FT and Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace for medium-sized companies.
Social Mobility Network
Our social mobility network works to improve access to the legal profession through school and student outreach. Your potential, ability and talent – not your socio-economic background or schooling – determines your success at Taylor Wessing.
We open up opportunities in the legal sector and make talented people of all backgrounds feel welcome, along with supporting a number of powerful initiatives. We’ve recently signed up as a partner of the 93% Club. We’re proud of all of our social mobility programmes and the impact they have on participants and our business. By supporting the 93% Club we hope to make our talent even more diverse, build their confidence, increase their knowledge of the range of careers in an international law firm and inspire them to reach their full potential.
Find out more at taylorwessing.com/responsible-business.
Our climate is in crisis. We must act now to cut greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. ‘Acting sustainably, together’ outlines our journey to becoming net zero by 2030. Our people, teamwork and clients are fundamental to achieving our goal. We’re advocating for the use of technology to accelerate decarbonisation.
Stage one is to be carbon neutral in our operations by 2023. That means reducing emissions within our direct control and responsibly offsetting those we can’t. Being net zero is more challenging, meaning eliminating or offsetting emissions produced as a result of all our business activities, including our supply chain. We’re determined to achieve our goal and as a trainee you can drive change through involvement in our sustainability network. We’ve been passionate about sustainability for many years Find out about our progress: www.taylorwessing.com/sustainability.
As a trainee you can drive change through being involved in our sustainability network.
Not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper. That’s why we use Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System to consider every student’s achievements in context, helping to identify those with the greatest potential, from all backgrounds.
We have an open dialogue around disabilities from the start, whether it’s discussing concerns about the recruitment process or our working environment.
We partner with MyPlus consulting to make disability confidence part of our student recruitment strategy, beginning with attracting candidates, through to assessment and onboarding.
Aspiring Solicitors: To provide opportunities for students from under-represented groups, we partner with Aspiring Solicitors (AS). As a result, we’re delighted that 50% of our training contract offers have been made to AS members for the past two years.
Each year we host events in collaboration with Aspiring Solicitors, share our success stories with other firms and take part in the professional ambassadors’ programme which allows students to speak first-hand to our lawyers. Most recently, we have collaborated with Aspiring Solicitors on BASS, a Black Aspiring Solicitors Mentoring Scheme.
LGBT+: We are also partner members of myGwork, a business community for LGBT+ professionals, graduates, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality.
Additionally, one of our partners is the founding member of freehold – the first network to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals working in the real estate industry.
Finally, we are a Stonewall Top 100 employer.
Social Mobility: We also support inclusive initiatives through partnerships with 93% Club, 30% Club, Future First and PRIME.
Interview with Sian Skelton
Why is having a diverse workforce important?
Our values are key to who we are and how we do business. We embrace individuality; we understand it and appreciate it. We bring diverse teams together to create an impact in an inclusive and meaningful way. For us, creating an inclusive working environment and recognising the value diversity brings to the firm is what makes Taylor Wessing a great place to work: our diverse teams bring together different perspectives and when dealing with complex client issues, this allows us to find the best and most efficient solutions for our clients.
What are the firm’s strengths when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion?
We look to hear everyone’s voices and are always open to new ideas and how to improve. To help create long-term and wider change, we have inclusion at the heart of much of our community and pro bono activity, along with the arts – therefore, there is continuity throughout all that we do. We’re delighted to have been named one of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers for the last 3 years and to be awarded a Britain’s healthiest workplace award to recognise our wellbeing achievements last year. Our gender plan has also been nominated for the upcoming The Lawyer Awards.
What initiatives does Taylor Wessing have in place to ensure it recruits a diverse workforce?
We want to recruit the best people, so we work to ensure that no matter anyone’s background, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed with us. Focussing on our summer vacation scheme, the firm has looked at each stage of the process to ensure opportunities are accessible. This starts with reading every single application we receive, never auto-rejecting even if it does not meet our grade requirements. We use Rare’s contextualised recruitment system to consider every students achievement in context, allowing us to identify those with the greatest potential regardless of grades on the page.
Also, we are proud to Partner with Aspiring Solicitors, collaborating on events, providing professional ambassadors and sharing our success stories. We are committed to support those from under-represented groups and last year saw 36% of our 2022 training contract hires being members of Aspiring Solicitors.
Finally, as a disability confident firm, we have an open dialogue around disabilities and encourage anyone applying to reach out to our graduate team to discuss any requirements they need. Our partnership with MyPlus allows us to be confident in supporting candidates independently, whether this be from attracting, assessing or onboarding.
How has Taylor Wessing been working to improve diversity in senior/leadership positions?
Gender is one of our diversity & inclusion priorities and we have focused hard on ensuring our partnership becomes more gender balanced through our gender plan. Our gender network, Balance in Business, was established to champion gender balance at Taylor Wessing and allow for a greater understanding of the issues affecting gender balance and how to overcome them. The firm shares with its employees the desire to achieve better balanced leadership, optimise talent retention and enhance our clients experience by improving gender balance. We report on progress each year in our gender pay gap report. Over the last three years we have increased the representation of women in out partnership and in leadership positions.
How does Taylor Wessing avoid diversity becoming a box-ticking exercise?
I (Sian) sit on the UK Executive Board as the Diversity & Inclusion Partner. This means there is always a voice to bring and discuss diversity at the table, plus an opportunity for the firm to be held accountable if needs be. Additionally, I co-chair the Diversity & inclusion board which meets quarterly to agree and reflect on our priorities and activity across the firm, making sure we can refresh and re-target if needed. I sit alongside our Head of Responsible Business, fellow partners and executive board members who champion each of our diversity work steams (gender, cultural diversity, LGBT+, disability & wellbeing and social mobility). We work together to ensure our initiatives are effective and impactful.
What assurances would you give to individuals who want to apply for a vacation scheme or training contract but feel hesitant to do so because of their gender/sexual orientation/ethnicity/background/disability/any other diversity-related reason?
Don’t be hesitant. Inclusivity is at the heart of who we are and is considered at every stage of the process. We have several active inclusion networks representing the needs of each strand of diversity and ensure all our people’s voices are heard. We are proud of our inclusive environment, and hope if you were to join us on a vacation scheme and ultimately as a trainee here, you will see that diversity, inclusion and ultimately you, really are a priority at Taylor Wessing.