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? ‘The practice areas, friendly culture and exposure to high-quality work’, ‘size of the firm, that it is independent and City based’, ‘friendly with great levels of responsibility early on’, ‘I was already working at the firm and enjoyed the people and the culture’, ‘social, non-hierarchical, large private client team’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The friendliness and approachability of everyone at the firm’, ‘open-door policy’, ‘the approachable and friendly partners, and the responsibility and client contact given to trainees early on’, ‘friendly colleagues and good variety of work’, ‘everybody is genuinely friendly and approachable irrespective of their superiority’, ‘staff approachability’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Can lack structure and clear supervision. There is a lot of assumed knowledge, which a trainee wouldn’t necessarily have’, ‘lack of transparency over the qualification process’, ‘depending on the team, the hours (relative to pay)’

Best moment? ‘Leading client meetings’, ‘working in a strong team to meet an urgent court deadline on a topical case’, ‘seeing a matter through from beginning to end’, ‘working with friendly and approachable supervisors’

Worst moment? ‘Starting virtually due to the pandemic (but obviously nothing could be done about that). At least the IT department made it a really smooth process getting us set up from home’, ‘starting a new seat whilst working from home’, ‘making mistakes’, ‘remote working’

The Lex 100 verdict on Wedlake Bell LLP

Known for the ‘approachability of staff at all levels’ and the ‘quality of work and clients’, Wedlake Bell is popular with its current trainees. A Lex 100 Winner for client contact and social life, the firm has a ‘good working culture; small enough to feel familiar, large enough for interesting and varied work, plus plenty of social events’. The small intake size means that trainees are ‘afforded a higher level of responsibility’, with ‘greater client contact’, resulting in a ‘generally more ‘hands-on’ experience from the outset’. ‘The firm takes a ‘human’ approach and there is a clear effort to ensure that you are well looked after from the outset of your training contract’. Negatives mentioned include lack of transparency over qualification and the pay, which in some seats is felt to not reflect the hours worked. But overall, comments are very positive; as one trainee adds, Wedlake Bell has the ‘mostly friendly, helpful and fun colleagues with great atmosphere when in the office. The firm is small enough to get to know most people’. Highlights of training include ‘leading client meetings’ and ‘working in a strong team to meet an urgent court deadline’. If you are looking for a smaller London firm offering lots of client interaction and a family feel, Wedlake Bell could be for you.

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 clients: Bank of Ireland; Countrywide; Honest Burgers; HSBC; Hugo Boss UK; Kuehne + Nagel; Lacoste; Millennium Hotels; Royal Academy of Arts; Tesco Stores.

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; obtained injunctions for Fresh Wharf Estates Limited against boat owners who have moored their boats adjacent to 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.

A day in the life of... Philip Slegg, trainee solicitor, Wedlake Bell LLP

Departments to date: Commercial property (current)

University: University of Surrey

Degree: Law (LLB), 2(1)

7.30am: I wake up, have a quick read through the latest news and listen to a podcast while getting ready for the day. I head out and grab a coffee on my way into the office.

8.30am: I arrive at the office and chat with some colleagues while logging onto my computer. I review any emails and messages that have come in overnight and update my to-do list with any urgent tasks that need completing today.

9.00am: I have a catch-up with my supervisor to discuss my workload and the different matters I am working on. My workload is varied – it is a combination of assisting others with discrete tasks and taking responsibility for progressing some of my own smaller matters with support from more senior members of the team.

9.30am: My first task of the day is to draft a licence to alter for a longstanding landlord client. A licence to alter formally records a landlord giving consent to a tenant to carry out works or alterations to the property. I review the points agreed between the parties so these can be documented accurately. I send my draft of the licence to the partner with oversight of the transaction for his review.

10.30am: The commercial property department has a social call every week. The department adopts a hybrid approach to working so the call is great for keeping in regular contact with the wider team.

11.00am: I have been asked to prepare a lease report for a client taking a lease of a new office space. I read through the lease and summarise the key provisions for the client – for example, the term, rent reviews and repairing covenants.

12.30pm: I head upstairs to the roof terrace to eat lunch with some fellow trainees. The firm provides a complimentary hot lunch for staff every day and this is always something different – I am yet to see the same menu twice! Although there is no cost to us, we are encouraged to make a donation to the firm’s charity partner, which is currently The Wiseman Trust.

1.30pm: I have a call with the partner who reviewed my draft of the licence to alter. We go through the draft together, and he suggests some amendments to make the document more favourable to our client. Following the call, I incorporate the amendments and send the draft to the lawyers on the other side for any comments.

2.00pm: I attend an environmental law webinar hosted by a barristers’ chambers. The firm encourages trainees to further their knowledge in any area of law they have a particular interest in. It is my turn to present at the commercial property department’s monthly know-how session next week so I will have an opportunity to share my knowledge with other fee-earners in the team.

3.00pm: I attend a client call with one of the associates in the team to discuss commercial points that have been raised by lawyers on the other side of a property sale. We take client instructions on how they would like us to progress the transaction. Following the call, I type an attendance note and send this to the associate.

4.00pm: We have just received an amended draft of a lease with some comments from lawyers on the other side. Our client is taking a new lease of a high-street retail unit. After I have reviewed the amendments, I summarise these for the associate who is overseeing the transaction and suggest which amendments I think we should accept.

5.00pm: Earlier in the week, I offered to assist a senior associate in the team with some research into assets of community value, so we arranged a quick call to discuss the scope of work required. I start my research by making a list of sources which I think will be helpful, and then I use a combination of practical and academic resources to prepare a short research note.

6.30pm: Before I leave the office, I close my time and update my to-do list for tomorrow. I join some others in the commercial property team for a quick drink after work.

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 70 partners supported by over 233 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, personal health and wellbeing support including virtual GP service, life assurance, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership, additional holiday scheme, give as you earn, cycle to work scheme, employee mortgage advice.

Sponsorship: LPC funding available, subject to terms and conditions of any offer.

Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing initiatives

Mentoring scheme, wellbeing events throughout the year, wellbeing week, employee assistance programme, mental health first aiders, Rare Recruitment, Inspire Work Placements, Law Society Diversity Access Scheme, apprenticeships, networking groups, Micro-placements Scheme with City University, working with King Solomon Academy, participated in Social Mobility Employer Index 2019, links with universities.