Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Wedlake Bell LLP
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Wedlake Bell LLP
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Trainees are given direct access to clients and a high level of responsibility’; ‘the strength of the firm’s key practice areas’; ‘the atmosphere during the interview process made a good impression’; ‘my vacation scheme experience’; ‘everyone is so friendly and welcoming’
Best thing about the firm? ‘There are always fun events going on, so getting to know people in different teams has been easy’; ‘the open atmosphere’; ‘senior members of staff are approachable and make an effort to interact with junior members’; ‘the quality of work’; ‘the training’; ‘we are encouraged to take on responsibility’; ‘the ease with which they permit flexible working, especially for parents’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The limited access to and encouragement to take part in pro bono work’; ‘the downside to being a social firm is that it can feel a bit cliquey’; ‘the lawyers you are learning from can be very busy sometimes, so you don’t always receive enough direction on matters’; ‘financial remuneration is lower than other City firms but this is offset by the work/life balance’
Best moment? ‘Receiving positive feedback on drafting something complicated that the partner just expected me to ‘have a go at”; ‘being given lots of responsibility very early on and being able to move a transaction forward by my own doing’; ‘delivering a training presentation to a client alongside a senior associate’; ‘finding my niche in corporate and being permitted to do two seats here’
Worst moment? ‘Doing something you think you have done well and it being torn apart’; ‘reviewing thousands of documents for a complex litigation claim with a tight deadline’; ‘any day with not much work on’; ‘dealing with high-pressure scenarios’; ‘feeling stressed after working late’
The Lex 100 verdict on Wedlake Bell LLP
The firm: Independent law firm Wedlake Bell is headquartered in London. The firm is renowned for its family law and private client practice, as well as for its real estate work. Wedlake Bell advises clients ranging from FTSE 100 companies to owner-managed businesses and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
The deals: Acting for YoBike on licensing arrangements relating to its patented YoBike bicycle rental system and mobile app; advised OKI Europe on the employment elements of the reorganisation of its EMEA operations; advised Warburg HIH Invest on lease transactions with H&M and Sushi Mania at a retail scheme in Cambridge; acted for Taylor Wimpey and Jaynic Suffolk Park in relation to the promotion agreement and construction documents for a 90-acre greenfield site in Suffolk; handled a case for Fresh Wharf Estates Limited. Injunctions were obtained against boat owners who have moored their boats adjacent to the client’s land which is set to undergo a major residential development; assisted Pearson Lloyd Design with contractual negotiations with a major European airline relating to the design of the business class seating and cabin interior of a new fleet of Boeing 777-9 aircraft.
The clients: Bank of Ireland; Countrywide; Honest Burgers; HSBC; Hugo Boss UK; Kuehne + Nagel; Lacoste; Millennium Hotels; Royal Academy of Arts; Tesco Stores.
The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Contentious trusts and probate; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Employment: employers and senior executives; Family; Intellectual property; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property finance; Property litigation; VAT and indirect tax
Wedlake Bell has ‘a reputation for high-quality clients’ and offers recruits ‘genuinely interesting and challenging work’. Chosen by trainees in part for hiring a small cohort, Wedlake Bell’s size affords newbies ‘high levels of client exposure and greater responsibility’. Recruits report that ‘the firm encourages us to move matters forward ourselves’ and offers ‘great training’. As for the working environment, all respondents were appreciative of the ‘friendliness of the firm’ which inspires ‘good collaboration on work matters, even with people from different departments’. ‘The social side of the firm is definitely the best thing’, with regular team events such as ‘ski trips, annual summer excursions and firm lunches’. No surprise then that, Wedlake Bell is a Lex 100 Winner for its social life. Recruits are delighted that they ‘get rewarded for hard work’, although the NQ salary is considered ‘not in line with firms of a similar standing’. This is, however, offset by a ‘great work/life balance’, at least in certain departments. ‘Receiving recognition from senior partners’ and ‘attending a roundtable meeting and being involved in discussions and negotiations’ has allowed trainees to ‘really feel like part of the team’. Recruits are confident in their roles as they have ‘a strong sense of ongoing development’, especially since ‘there is no hierarchy’. Performing ‘high-profile tasks’ has sometimes led to ‘almost missing deadlines due to high-volume workloads’ and occasionally recruits have had to ‘go through evidence and historic correspondence to check duplication of documents’ which was a ‘tedious, slow task’. If you want to reap the benefits of a small trainee intake which provides ‘a ready-made support and social group’ take a closer look at Wedlake Bell.
A day in the life of… Emily Daly, trainee solicitor, Wedlake Bell LLP
Departments to date: Insolvency, restructuring and recoveries (contentious); IP and commercial disputes (currently on a three-month secondment)
University: Durham University (University College)
Degree: Anthropology (BSc) 2(1)
6.00am: I wake early to make it to a class at the gym which is down the road from the office. Wedlake Bell employees are offered a discounted rate.
8.40am: When I arrive I have a chat with some of my colleagues and sit down to review any emails that have come in overnight. I update my to-do list accordingly. Due to the variable nature of the trainee role this can often go out of the window by 11am.
9.00am: I pop upstairs to grab some breakfast. Porridge, toast, crumpets and toppings are available every morning.
9.10am: A longstanding client calls up with a new matter for the commercial litigation team and sends over the relevant documents. I am responsible for looking through them and piecing the evidence together before a call with the client this afternoon to discuss the merits of the matter and the strategy we think we should employ. It is important that we move quickly on this, so the to-do list gets put on hold.
11.00am: I have finished collating the documents that came in this morning and have a list of points we need to clarify with the client. I run through these with the supervising solicitor and discuss any queries she has.
12.00pm: Another team in the firm has been advising a client on a matter relating to three jurisdictions. I am asked to assist on some research about rules on service in the relevant locations and to feed back to the partner and associate in a meeting.
1.00pm: I head upstairs for lunch with some fellow trainees and sit on the balcony.
2.00pm: When finalising preparation for the client meeting which is due to begin in half an hour, I am asked to draft a letter to court urgently. I have done similar letters before so I use a precedent and get the letter sent in time to attend the meeting I prepared for this morning, which lasts for a few hours.
4.00pm: I call the other side to a trade mark opposition that we are involved in. There may be a possibility of settling the dispute, but we need to negotiate the wording so that both our clients are happy with the position. Once this is done, I write to the European Intellectual Property Office informing them of the amendment, diarise to check for a response and update the client.
5.00pm: A response has come in from the other side on a matter we are trying to settle. It is a fairly sensitive matter, and so it is important to consider the best way to provide an update to the client.
6.30pm: There is a friendly firm netball match vs an accountancy firm we share the building with. Before I leave, I close my time, update my to-do list for the next day and check whether anyone else on the team would like my help with anything. We play the match and head out for a drink afterwards.
9.10am: A variety of tasks come in throughout the day. One of the biggest parts of being in an in-house legal team is protecting the organisation, including the brand. I am therefore writing cease and desist letters to third parties who are infringing our trade marks.
1.00pm: I head to the local park with a few legal team colleagues.
2.00pm: The risk team are providing training via an interactive workshop with the whole team which lasts all afternoon. It is a great insight into the challenges business clients face.
4.00pm: A number of meetings are arranged for the next day to discuss some of the more complex advice that I have given to the business.
About the firm
Senior partner: Kim Lalli
Managing partner: Martin Arnold
Who we are: We have strong expertise in real estate, private client, dispute resolution and business services. Our driving force is to empower our clients by providing quality legal advice, insight and intelligence that enables them to achieve their goals whether personal or business. We are large enough to advise on the most complex matters, but small enough to ensure that our people and our work remain exceptional and dynamic.
What we do: With 66 partners supported by over 170 lawyers and support staff, we operate on a four practice group model: private client, business services, real estate and dispute resolution.
What we’re looking for: Strong technical skills, diligent and hardworking, enthusiastic and self-motivated.
What you’ll do: Six-month seats in four different practice areas. Trainee solicitors are closely supervised but have client contact and responsibility from day one.
Perks: Pension, health insurance, dental insurance, life assurance, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership, additional holiday scheme, give as you earn, cycle to work scheme.
Sponsorship: LPC funding available, subject to terms and conditions of any offer.