Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Wilsons Solicitors LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Wilsons Solicitors LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Wilsons has an excellent reputation in the areas of law I would like to specialise in’; ‘although outside of London, the firm attracts impressive work and the trainees are fully involved in cases’; ‘nice location and environment’; ‘friendly HR staff’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The interesting work’; ‘work/life balance’; ‘breadth of work available to trainees’; ‘the friendly working environment’; ‘interesting clients’; ‘the people who work here’; ‘everyone is willing to talk to you and offer you help if needed’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The old-fashioned culture’; ‘some of the work I do can be slightly repetitive’; ‘I feel there is not enough praise or recognition for hard work’; ‘limited availability in certain seats’; ‘limited social events, although this is gradually improving’

Best moment? ‘Getting involved in really interesting cases’; ‘researching and finding an answer to an issue in regards to a particularly obscure piece of land law’; ‘attending a mediation for a charity client in a contentious probate matter’; ‘interacting with clients’

Worst moment? ‘I have been dealing with one matter which should have been a simple process, but has dragged on over a number of months due to unforeseen complications’; ‘being thrown in the deep end with complicated work and feeling unsupported’; ‘having to complete work in too short a time’; ‘the long hours’

The Lex 100 verdict on Wilsons Solicitors LLP

The firm: “Ranked as one of the top private client and charity law firms in the country, our almost 300-year heritage, combined with lawyers who are recognised as leaders in their field, enables Wilsons to provide a unique combination of skills and experience to our clients. Our lawyers are dedicated to ensuring a detailed understanding of their clients’ interests and a seamless working relationship across the different specialisms of the practice.”

The deals: Advised on Help for Heroes’ participation in the Invictus Games, including on arrangements concerning the sponsorship of the charity’s delegation to the Games by third parties including British Airways, Speedo and Jaguar Land Rover; achieved favourable settlements on two Inheritance Act 1975 claims for a leading national charity; provided corporate support employment advice on the sale of issued share capital of a high-profile company; advised on the sale of an award-winning Grade 1 listed Elizabethan hotel; acted for a private individual in a claim for misuse of private information and breach of data protection laws against her son’s school.

The clients: Blue Cross; BMA Charities Trust Fund; British Cardiovascular Society; Forces in Mind Trust; Help for Heroes; Hearing Dogs for Deaf People; PDSA; RNLI; Save the Children; St Christopher’s Hospice; Pudsey Diamond Limited.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Agriculture and estates; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Education; Employment; Personal tax, trusts and probate

The verdict

Wilsons ‘has an excellent reputation in Salisbury and a London presence’. The former office is described as ‘a good working environment’ which provides ‘niche, high quality work’. The firm ‘attracts impressive matters’ and was chosen by trainees due to its ‘good work/life balance’ and ‘personal feel’. Recruits reveal that they have been given ‘really interesting and challenging work’ and say that, unlike some other firms, ‘they never receive isolated tasks but rather deal with matters from start to finish’. One trainee enjoyed being the main point of contact with clients and ‘the opportunity to progress matters’ themselves. Respondents commended the partners at Wilsons, who ‘seem more accessible’ than those at comparable firms. However, whilst some applicants enjoyed ‘a greater level of responsibility and exposure to different types of work’ some were unhappy with ‘the old-fashioned culture’ and the ‘lack of social events’. It was generally acknowledged though that ‘the social side had improved’ recently. The best thing about the firm is ‘the work/life balance’, which rewarded Wilsons with a Lex 100 Winner medal. The ‘friendly atmosphere’, ‘people’ and ‘approachability of senior partners/supervisors’ were also rated highly by respondents. Trainee stand-out moments include ‘great client exposure’, ‘attending client meetings’, and ‘going to the High Court in a highly-publicised inheritance dispute’. That said, there were complaints of ‘having to complete work in too short a time’ and ‘being thrown in the deep end’. But, generally, Wilsons is praised for ‘the interesting work’ and a ‘good work/life balance’. If you want to work in a ‘friendly atmosphere’ with ‘stimulating and varied work for prestigious clients’ then consider applying to Wilsons.

A day in the life of… Grace Chapman, trainee, Wilsons Solicitors LLP

Grace Chapman, Wilsons Solicitors LLP

Departments to date: Probate, contentious trusts and probate

University: University of Kent and The City Law School City University of London

Degree: LLB Law 2(1) and LPC LLM (Distinction)

8.45am: After a short ten-minute walk from home, I arrive at the office. I start my day by going through my inbox and replying to any urgent emails. I then check my calendar for any deadlines or reminders, and finally review my daily to-do list.

9.00am: As a partner has asked me to prepare an urgent caveat application, I make this my first task of the day. Once drafted, I ask the partner to check it over before sending it to the Probate Registry.

10.30am: I have been asked to prepare a letter of advice to a client in a new matter concerning a will validity claim. I spend time analysing the evidence including the testamentary documents and the will draftsman’s file. I organise my thoughts before beginning the letter, including the different options available to the client and our recommendations for the next steps to take.

1.00pm: I send the advice letter to my supervisor for approval before heading out for lunch. I usually spend lunch with other trainees from my intake. We like to sit in the cathedral gardens to eat our lunch when the weather is pleasant. We then take a walk around Salisbury city centre to make the most of our central location and to stretch our legs – while enjoying a spot of window shopping!

2.00pm: I return to my desk and receive a call from an executor to provide an update on the administration of an estate of which our charity client is a beneficiary. As well as advising a wide variety of private clients, Wilsons specialises in advising well-known and smaller charities on matters concerning legacies left to them in wills. As the departmental trainee, I have responsibility for our legacy recovery service files. From the outset of my training contract I have enjoyed having responsibility for my own files, while being closely supervised.

2.30pm: After speaking with the executor, I dictate an attendance note and draft an email to update the charity on the estate administration and timescale for when the administration is likely to be finalised.

3.00pm: I review another legacy recovery matter for a different charity client. I draft an update letter to send to the charity along with a chaser letter to an executor for the charity’s approval, as the executor has not responded to our previous correspondence. I diarise to review the matter in a week’s time.

3.45pm: My supervisor and I discuss the letter of advice I drafted this morning. They take time to explain their suggested amendments before I make the alterations and then send the letter to the client.

5.00pm: I review and update my current matters list to keep track of the matters I have conduct for. I update my to-do list for Monday and check that I have actioned everything that I had planned to do today, especially the tasks with a high priority.

5.30pm: We are consistently encouraged to enjoy a good work-life balance and it is uncommon to leave the office much later than 5.30pm. This means I can commit to gym classes or other evening activities without worrying about whether I will be able to leave work in time. As it’s Friday, I head out for drinks with the other trainees and some other colleagues to enjoy the start of the weekend.

About the firm

Senior partner: Frances Mayne

Managing partner: Mike Parker

Other offices: London

Who we are: Wilsons is a long-established law firm with offices in Salisbury and London.

What we do: Our lawyers advise clients on charity, corporate, commercial, property, employment, private client, dispute resolution and family law.

What we’re looking for: We look for future partners of Wilsons – intelligent, hard-working and approachable people who can use their initiative to solve their clients’ problems.

What you’ll do: As a full-service law firm, Wilsons offer trainees a rounded training contract, undertaking top-quality work and supervised by people at the top of their profession.

Perks: Pension, life assurance, private medical insurance, choice of optional benefits, travel loan.