- Work 020 7814 8000
- Fax 020 7814 8141
- 530 LONDON CITY EC2
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The lowdown (in their own words...)
Watson, Farley & Williams has a well-established record in the maritime, energy and finance sectors, with a raft of international offices across Europe, Asia and the US. On the transactional side, the firm has a strong client portfolio of banks and business owners. It also enjoys a good reputation for cross-border shipping and commodities disputes, as well as more general international arbitration matters.
The star performers
Arbitration; Asset finance and leasing; Banking litigation; Commercial litigation; Employment; Shipping; Transport.
Advised Universal Coal on its listing and AU$20m placing on the Australian Stock Exchange; advised a joint venture between Teekay LNG and Marubeni on the $1.2bn financing for the acquisition of AP Moller Maersk's LNG shipping fleet; acted for HSH Nordbank in a claim against an Italian bank relating to interest rate swaps.
Clipper Group; Concept Oil Services; DONG Energy; Nordea; Singapore Airlines; Tangiers Petroleum; Wildhorse Energy; Zeus Petroleum.
Attractions at Watson, Farley & Williams centre around the guaranteed seat abroad ('who wouldn't want to be faced with the dilemma of choosing between Paris, Piraeus, Bangkok or Singapore?') and also the six-seat rotation system, which provides the 'chance to get a broader training experience'. The nature of the work is 'very international' and, as one trainee puts it, 'if you like finance this is as good a place as any to come and learn'. The firm also has particular expertise in 'shipping and renewable sectors' and does 'interesting work' in areas such as aviation. There is a lot of responsibility from the off, balanced with plenty of partner contact ('work is often set and checked by partners, who take the time to discuss issues with you'). Current trainees have been 'sent to Brussels to make a merger notification in respect of a joint venture between two major shipping companies' and 'attended client meetings and contributed to them'. You may occasionally have to work weekends and some late nights but 'better hours' than peers at some other City firms mean that you should still be able to enjoy a healthy work/life balance. Minor reservations revolve around the lack of firm-wide social events plus more inter-departmental socialising would be appreciated. If you want to work for a firm which provides a great grounding in the world of finance and has a strong sense of community ('everyone from support staff to partners knows each other's names and genuinely seem to get along') then WFW should suit you down to the ground.
A day in the life of...
Nick Payne trainee, Watson, Farley & Williams LLP
Departments to date: Asset finance, London and asset finance, Piraeus
University: University of York
Degree: History, First
9.15am: I arrive in the office, a short walk from the flat the firm provides for trainees in the Piraeus office, where I am currently working. The office specialises in ship finance, and the international nature of the work means we get correspondence overnight so I check my email to see if anything urgent has arrived. We have received a draft legal opinion from a Chinese firm we have been working with, so I review it to check if we have any comments.
10.00am: I discuss the legal opinion with my supervisor. She clarifies some points that I was unclear on and we agree on a reply to their email. She then tells me that she has received instructions to assist with the restructuring of a loan agreement and she would like me to help prepare drafts of some of the documents.
10.30am: Having talked through the restructuring and what I need to prepare with my supervisor, I start work on the documents. Everyone here makes a real effort to explain tasks and the deal as a whole, so I feel like I've got a good understanding of what is required. Preparing first drafts of documents is great experience, and an interesting and challenging task that really helps you get to grips with the way a transaction works.
12.30pm: We have recently been preparing for the discharge of a mortgage and my supervisor tells me that we have been instructed to do it today as the ship is being sold soon. I contact the registry where the mortgage is recorded to let them know that this is going ahead, and arrange for a meeting to take place there later in the afternoon.
1.00pm: I take a break for lunch - I like to have something Greek at least a couple of times a week. It's one of the nice things about doing a seat abroad, along with getting the chance to explore at the weekend.
1.45pm: I catch up on emails, and then prepare the documents that I will need to take with me to the registry. Fortunately there aren't too many involved and, having done this before, I know what's needed.
2.15pm: I leave for the registry. One of the great things about being in Piraeus is that many of the organisations that we work with have offices within walking distance. Not only does this make meetings easy to get to, but it means that, as a trainee, you get a lot of opportunities to meet people in person, which is great for getting exposure to clients.
3.30pm: I return from the registry and send a few emails confirming that the discharge has taken place. I've received an email from another client with comments on some draft documents that we had sent to them the previous day. I discuss their points with my supervisor, make some amendments that they have requested and draft an email answering the questions they have raised.
5.00pm: I return to preparing the documents that I started working on at the beginning of the day. There are always several different matters going on at the same time, which makes the work really varied. You can never be sure what will come up during the day, so it's always interesting.
6.30pm: I finish my drafts and give them to my supervisor to review. I catch up on the emails that have come in whilst I finished the documents and check whether there is anything else that needs to be done tonight. I leave the office at around 7.00pm - some trainees from other firms with offices in Piraeus are meeting for drinks, so I decide to go and join them on my way home.
About the firm
Address: 15 Appold Street, London EC2A 2HB
Telephone: 020 7814 8000
Fax: 020 7814 8017
Senior partner: Mike Vernell (London office head)
Managing partner: Michael Greville
Other offices: Athens, Bangkok, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Piraeus, Rome, Singapore
Who we are: WFW was founded in 1982 in London. It has since grown to over 100 partners and a staff of over 600.
What we do: WFW is a distinctive law firm with a leading market position in international finance and investment, maritime and energy. We also specialise in natural resources, transport, real estate and technology.
What we are looking for: You will need a 2(1) or above. We also ask for at least 320 UCAS points (ABB) from A-level results, or their equivalent. As well as academic achievement, we particularly value applicants with initiative, drive and commercial awareness.
What you'll do: At WFW we deal with training and ongoing development in an individual way. During each seat, we discuss with you plans for the next one, encouraging a two-way conversation about areas you are interested in. Each trainee undertakes six four-month seats, sitting with a partner or a senior assistant. Currently trainees also spend a seat in Paris, Piraeus, Singapore or Bangkok and undertake most of the PSC at the start of their training contract.
Perks: Available after a qualifying period of service: 25 days' holiday plus public and bank holidays, income protection scheme, life assurance, employee assistance scheme, group personal pension scheme, annual interest-free season ticket loan, £250 contribution towards a sports club membership of your choice, WFW healthcare membership.
Sponsorship: Sponsorship is available for both the GDL and LPC depending on point of offer plus a maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2015: 14
Applications received pa: 600-800
Percentage interviewed: 30%
First year: £35,000
Second year: £40,000
Newly qualified: £62,000
(from Legal Business magazine)
Turnover in 2011: £87.8m (+9% from 2010) Profits per equity partner: £457,000 (+2%)
Total partners: 126
Other fee-earners: 200+
Total trainees: 26
Apply to: Louise Turgoose, graduate manager.
How: Online application form available via www.wfw.com/trainee
When to Apply: 31 January 2013 for 2013 vacation schemes, 31 July 2013 for 2015 training contracts. .
Spring: 11-22 March 2013 (apply by 31 January 2013)
Summer: 17-28 June and 15-26 July 2013 (apply by 31 January 2013)