Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Ward Hadaway

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Ward Hadaway

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The firm’s ethos fitted with my beliefs’; ‘good quality of work without sacrificing too much of a work/life balance and salary’; ‘its regional focus’; ‘opportunities for progression’; ‘close supervision’; ‘I felt comfortable from the first day of my work experience’; ‘the firm cares about its staff’; ‘down-to-earth colleagues’; ‘my vacation scheme experience’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The open-plan Leeds office makes it easy to talk to people’; ‘the fact it is a full-service firm means there is opportunity to fully explore which areas of law you are best suited to’; ‘I have never been sat doing nothing or photocopying, we’re always given meaningful work’; ‘there is a really relaxed atmosphere and a dress-down policy’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The decisions on seat rotation’; ‘the firm can sometimes be slow to respond to feedback’; the expectation for trainees to hand over work to other trainees and manage files’; ‘moving seats is daunting’; ‘IT systems can be slow’; ‘workloads and levels of client contact can really vary between departments’; ‘the changing and shower facilities could be better’

Best moment? ‘Taking part in the relay run between the three offices to celebrate the firm’s 30th birthday’; ‘I have enjoyed feeling like a respected and valued member of the team’; ‘being invited to attend a client dinner and legal award ceremonies’; ‘assisting on an adverse possession claim’; ‘working very closely with a high-profile sports club’; ‘the two completions I have completed by myself’

Worst moment? ‘In one seat I felt very overwhelmed and micromanaged’; ‘organising large bundles’; ‘working long hours on demanding cases’; ‘the expectation to action a piece of work quickly with little supervision and an upcoming deadline’; ‘feeling like you can’t manage your workload’; ‘not having enough quality work’

The Lex 100 verdict on Ward Hadaway

The firm: Top 100 UK firm Ward Hadaway has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester. Established in 1988, the firm has undergone consistent and considerable growth. Ward Hadaway has a substantial client base of regional, national and international clients from the private and public sectors and also looks after the personal interests of numerous private individuals.

The deals: Advised the shareholders of the software company Kykloud on the sale of US-based Accruent; advised Santander UK on the provision of term loan facilities to North East Property Fund, which included assisting with fund structuring and state aid matters; handling Trekksoft’s acquisition of Digital Ticketing Systems; assisted Livingstone Financial Services and The Informed Partnership with a group restructuring following the retirement of a major shareholder; acted for a Yorkshire-based development company on acquiring senior and mezzanine funding for the redevelopment of a former hotel into apartments in Harrogate; represented Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in a dispute with the Bank of Scotland pertaining to a termination notice for a multimillion-pound PFI agreement.

The clients: Abbey National Treasury Services; Anglia Ruskin University; Bannatyne Fitness; Ebac; Hyperdrive Innovation; Newcastle City Fitness; Nissan; Oakapple Group; Santander; Total Capital Partners.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Banking and finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Crime: general; Debt recovery; Education; Employment; Energy; Environment; EU and competition; Family; Health; Insolvency and corporate recovery; IT and telecoms; Licensing; Local government; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property litigation

The verdict

Ward Hadaway is a ‘full-service firm with a range of different seats’ boasting ‘high-quality work and big clients while maintaining a friendly atmosphere’. Newbies were thrilled that the Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester-based firm ‘paid LPC fees and offered maintenance grants’ and chose the firm because of its ‘strong northern ethos, proving you don’t have to go to London to attract big clients’ such as the NHS. Recruits ‘are encouraged to take on a variety of work and be in contact with clients from day one’ and report that they are ‘always given really challenging and fulfilling work to carry out’. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner in five categories including work/life balance, job satisfaction and approachability. At Ward Hadaway there is a ‘welcoming and inclusive’ atmosphere and ‘everyone gets on well’. There is also ‘very little hierarchy’ as colleagues at all levels are approachable and ‘some supervisors are even senior partners’. However, trainees would like ‘the seat rotations to be more transparent’ and some were disappointed that ‘niche seats have recently become more limited’. One trainee disliked ‘doing two property seats in a row’ and ‘the lack of a canteen’ was also disappointing. But, ‘being trusted to go to court alone and make submissions in front of a judge’, ‘attending a two-week tribunal hearing’ and ‘drafting agreements to host large sporting events on a national and European stage’ were fond highlights. If you want to work for ‘one of the best firms in the north east’ then apply to Ward Hadaway.

A day in the life of… Claire Turner, second seat trainee, Ward Hadaway

Claire Turner, Ward Hadaway

Departments to date: Real estate (current seat), commercial litigation

University: Lancaster University

Degree: LLB Law – First Class

8.30am: I arrive in the office after a short walk along the quayside to our Newcastle office. It’s in a great location with a view of the River Tyne and its famous bridges. I make myself a coffee and review the emails that have arrived overnight, while updating my to-do list and prioritising my tasks for the day. This morning I’m attending a site visit, so I review the papers and plans associated with the site before speaking to my supervisor about the morning ahead.

9.00am: I head off for the site visit with my supervisor. On the way we discuss our client’s issues and the agenda for the day. My supervisor explains to me what we are looking for while we are out on site. There is an issue over a footpath that runs through private land. We are trying to establish whether it has been used continuously by the public for a period of over 20 years and whether it should therefore be recorded as a public right-of-way.

9.30am: We arrive at the site and meet the client who shows us around and points out the alleged footpath. The footpath runs along the side of the golf course so we speak to a number of members of the golf club to see if they have seen members of the public using the path. I make sure that I take an accurate note of what the golfers say as I am aware I will be drafting the witness statements on my return to the office.

10.30am: After we have carried out the site visit we head to the club house to ask further questions. We speak with a number of members of the committee. I had helped to prepare a list of questions in advance of the site visit and make sure I raise any further questions that I think may be relevant. We discuss the next steps with the client.

12.30pm: I arrive back to the office just in time for lunch. It’s a lovely day outside so myself and the other trainees in my intake decide to take a walk along the quayside and sit outside to enjoy our food. There are a number of shops, restaurants and cafes along the quayside so there is always somewhere to go if you haven’t been able to prepare your lunch the night before!

1.30pm: I catch up on any emails that have come in this morning while I have been out of the office. I notice that I have been sent a calendar appointment to attend a conference call with a barrister this afternoon. I have been assisting with this matter since I started in the department so I am familiar with the case. I go and speak to the supervising partner and ask whether there are any additional documents I need to review prior to the call.

2.30pm: I attend the conference call and take a detailed note of what is said. Following the call both us and the client have a much clearer idea of the chances of success and are able to discuss the next steps as well as the options they now have. I type up the attendance note and add any action points to my to-do list. A couple of queries were raised by the client during the call specifically in relation to the judicial review process. I carry out some legal research and discuss this with my supervising partner before drafting an email to the client. There is often a lot of research involved in my day which is a great opportunity to develop my knowledge and understanding of the area of law.

4.00pm: I am currently assisting the property litigation team with a professional negligence claim against a firm of surveyors. Property litigation forms part of the wider real estate department and it is great that I am able to get involved in both contentious and non-contentious work during this seat. I finalise some instructions to an expert and compile a bundle of all of the relevant documents, which I discuss with my supervisor.

5.30pm: It’s Friday afternoon and a number of the trainees are making the short walk across the road to the Pitcher and Piano for a well-earned drink. It is a great opportunity to relax before the weekend and catch up with colleagues from across the firm. There are also trainees from the firm just along the river so it’s often a good networking opportunity!

About the firm

Senior partner: Jamie Martin

Managing partner: Martin Hulls

Other offices: Leeds and Manchester

Who we are: Ward Hadaway is one of the UK’s top 100 law firms and a major player in the North of England with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

What we do: As one of the largest multi-disciplined law firms in the North of England, we represent clients on a regional, national and international basis, as well as looking after the personal interests of individuals. We are rated as one of the leading law firms in the country by independent legal guides The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners and have acknowledged national experts across a wide range of specialist areas.

What we’re looking for: An exceptional service can only be provided by exceptional people so we want people whose ambitions match our own – to provide the highest quality advice and build lasting relationships with our clients. We welcome diversity and, as well as strong academics, we are looking for a range of other skills and attributes including excellent interpersonal and communication skills, commercial awareness and business acumen.

What you’ll do: We aim to support and develop our trainees through every day of the training contract, from induction to qualification.

Perks: Competitive salary; 25 days’ holiday (with an option to buy additional days) plus statutory bank holidays; group personal pension plan with employer contributions; flexible benefits including health/ dental cover, child care vouchers, insurance and discounted shopping; life assurance; interest-free season ticket loans for travel; membership to the JLD or equivalent.

Sponsorship: GDL/LPC tuition fees including maintenance grant.