Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Fladgate LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Small intake with lots of responsibility’, ‘good work/life balance’, ‘you work directly with partners, plus good client contact’, ‘I had been working in related fields for a couple of years, so wanted to join a firm which provides hands-on work and a good level of responsibility at an early stage’, ‘culture, collegiality, diversity and inclusion, work/life balance’, ‘my personal experience of working alongside people at the firm after completing work experience’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Very approachable and nice bunch of partners and associates’, ‘good supervision from active partners and senior associates, with a steady increase in autonomy’, ‘very hands-on legal training’, ‘ the people who work at Fladgate are genuinely lovely, approachable, and very intelligent, ‘work/life balance’, ‘there is a real community spirit across the firm and you truly work with your friends. People genuinely care about your happiness and your success’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Average pay, and little reassurance given by HR regarding your chances of qualifying into the seat you really want’, ‘lack of transparency and insight into the decision-making processes’, ‘the trainee salary and not offering a grant during law studies (we are offered a loan which needs to be repaid during our training contract)’, ‘trainees are ineligible for the bonus scheme’, uncertainty around qualification’, ‘appalling IT’

Best moment? ‘Running my own matter’, ‘my seat in dispute resolution – excellent supervision, training sessions, client exposure and interesting work’, ‘attending a completion call in the office with the more senior lawyers on the deal. It was on a matter which had been complex and ongoing for a while, with plenty of challenges. There was a palpable sense of being a core member of the team, the hard work having paid off and there being a job well done’, ‘obtaining a favourable settlement for an individual claimant client’

Worst moment? ‘Not enough flexibility/options for seat choices’, ‘being new to a transactional department and feeling out of my depth during a busy period’, ‘misunderstanding from a partner who then understood their mistake and did not really apologise for it’, ‘starting a new seat and immediately having a lot of work that I was meant to manage myself. Fortunately, the supervisors were really understanding and took the time to listen and explain and my concerns were dealt with’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Fladgate LLP

Fladgate offers trainees a ‘very hands-on experience’ and ‘plenty of opportunity to run with your own matters’. ‘The firm has a reputation of being open and friendly, which has very much turned out to be deserved’ said one respondent. Trainees enjoy ‘lots of responsibility and client contact’ from an early stage and feel that they ‘have more of a core role within transactional teams and on matters generally’. The firm operates a ‘partner-led approach’ and there is an ‘open-door policy where you can feel confident in asking questions’, which ‘provides for great development’. Fladgate is a Future Lawyers Winner for supervisor approachability and work/life balance. Colleagues are good at ‘ensuring that trainees do not burn out, and that they have an enjoyable experience during their training contract’. ‘Our work/life balance actually matters to partners’, explained one trainee. Nevertheless, recruits feel that there is a ‘lack of transparency regarding seat choices’ and that the ‘NQ opportunities are a concern’. Although ‘the IT is improving, it could still do with further investment’. Also disappointing is that ‘the trainee salary is reduced by repayments of the study maintenance loans – I think we’re the only central London firm that makes students pay back the LPC bursary’. On a more positive note, trainees mentioned standout moments such as ‘in my disputes seat I went to court regularly, all of which were real highlights (especially when we won!)’, ‘successfully finding a very helpful piece of law that saved our client a lot of time and money. I was given the freedom to explore this and advise the client’ and ‘completing my first sale – a process that I oversaw from start to finish’. For a ‘small trainee intake and a hands-on, varied training contract experience’, consider Fladgate.

A day in the life of... Jacqueline Holder, third-seat trainee, Fladgate LLP

Jacqueline Holder, Fladgate LLP

Departments to date: Litigation; Real estate

8.30am: I like to arrive early at the office at around 8.30am, though working hours are 9.30am-5.30pm. I walk to work so I normally stop for coffee along the way to ensure I’m well caffeinated for the day ahead. There’s lots of local options – Redemption Roasters is a go-to, but Black Penny is also great.

8.45am: First things first, I like to go through my inbox and create a to-do list for the day. Having some time in the office before everyone else gets in allows me to prepare for the day and finish up any outstanding tasks.

9.15am: While each day is varied, today I’m assisting on a residential property refinance. I am drafting replies to enquiries for our client’s properties, which involves looking through the various title documents and compiling queries and comments for the client to review and approve. Our client, the landlord and borrower, has advised that each property is handled differently depending on the tenant’s needs, so I carefully review the client’s comments against our records before preparing a draft response setting out our client’s position. The partner on the file reviews the documents before they’re sent to the client. I email the draft reply to enquiries to the client and move onto my next task.

11.00am: Another property we’ve been working on is close to completion, so I start to prepare the financial statement in order to receive funds, alongside finalising the lease for signature. I send the lease to the other side’s solicitors and ask for them to confirm once the lease and stock transfer form have been signed. This is the first time I’ve done a financial statement in this seat, so I reach out to one of the legal secretaries for guidance. Fladgate is very collaborative, so it’s easy to ask for help when you’re not sure. I send the statement to my supervisor for review and message the rest of the team to see what the plan for lunch is.

12.30pm: The real estate team tries to eat lunch together most days, work permitting. We often walk to the nearby Seven Dials and bring food back to the office to eat together in the eighth-floor common room. This is a really great way of catching up with colleagues in a more personal and social setting.

1.30pm: Fladgate opens up department-specific training to all the trainees, so anyone can attend if it’s a subject they’re interested in. Today, we’re learning about fake evidence and how to spot it. Although I just finished up my seat in litigation, this sounds like an interesting topic so I join and take a note. You never know when the tips might come in handy! As well as regular training, the firm hosts lunchtime yoga and weekly personal training sessions in nearby Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

2.30pm: Time for another coffee. Residential real estate is fast paced which makes it exciting – there’s a constant onboarding of clients and new properties to look at. My supervisor briefs me on a new file, so I start to review the matter notes and client emails. I put together comments for my supervisor and set aside some time to review with her the following day.

3.00pm: It’s time for our team meeting. This is a chance for us to get together and go through admin topics or questions that have come up recently. It’s an informal way to make sure we’re all on the same page, and also a good chance for anyone to flag if they have any capacity. I let the team know my availability and a few team members mention they have some incoming projects that they’d like my assistance on.

4.00pm: Our client has responded to the draft enquiries I prepared this morning. I review the client’s comments and save the file as a new version, taking into account any amends they’ve made and ensuring the document is correct before sending to the lender’s solicitors. The client has a few questions, so I call them to clear up any enquiries and ask for a few outstanding documents the other side have requested. This is a complex matter as there’s quite a few properties on the go and the documents are varied so they require careful organisation and review to ensure the right amounts and details are captured.

6.00pm: I check in with my supervisor and ask if there’s anything else I can help with. We catch up on what I have planned for my to-do list the following day and I head into nearby Soho for some shopping ahead of drinks with friends – the upside and downside of working in a busy part of London is the desire to go out!

About the firm

The firm: Fladgate LLP is one of the UK’s top 100 law firms, with a strong reputation for both commercial and private client work. It delivers highly personal service for entrepreneurial, ambitious and fast-moving clients with complex needs that are often international.

The clients: Conde Nast Publications; Ocado; Yo Sushi!; Red Tiger Gaming; London Wall; Fox Networks; Random House Group; the street artist Bambi; Credit Suisse; Blockchain Worldwide; Close Brothers; Monster energy; Major Baseball League; Guild Esports; Zouk Capital; 23 Capital; The National Portrait Gallery; Headspace; Patron; over 100 of the world’s influential families, leading entrepreneurs, celebrities, sports people and 80+ family offices.

The deals: Our deep-seated focus in these markets has culminated in significant client wins and key deals, recently including: advising Ocado Retail Ltd on the development of sites for Zoom by Ocado; Quintain on its site sale at Wembley Park to Greystar; and a crucial role in Oneiro Energy PLC’s commencement of trading on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Furthermore, our partnership with Tripledot Studios, the fastest-growing company in Europe; Yoo Capital on its acquisition of a site in Kentish Town, earmarked for transformation into a ‘mini Hollywood’; and BeyondPlay’s oversubscribed €5m funding round demonstrate our commitment to some of the most exciting growth sectors in the market.

Senior partner: Sunil Sheth

As senior partner of the firm, I am acutely aware that our vision and values are built around the word personal. We are a people business dependent on brilliant client relationships. Inclusion and diversity objectives are therefore not ‘soft’ business aspirations, they are fundamental to our success.

Managing partner: Grant Gordon

Who we are: Fladgate LLP is an innovative, progressive and thriving law firm which prides itself on its friendly and professional working environment. We are based in modern, attractive offices in London’s Covent Garden.

What we do: Fladgate has a broad skills base that covers a wide spectrum of legal services across the business lifecycle, and is shaped to operate collaboratively to move fast and flexibly:

  • Dispute resolution: which includes regulatory, corporate governance and investigations, banking and financial services litigation, international commercial arbitration, insurance, contentious trusts and family, civil fraud and asset protection.
  • Corporate: including private capital, capital markets, M&A, tax, restructuring and employment.
  • Real estate: including planning, construction, real estate finance and real estate litigation.
  • Funds, finance and regulatory: including investment funds, private equity, fund managers, asset and investment managers, promoters, sponsors and investors; alternative finance providers, banks and debt funds, family offices, owner manager businesses, private equity funds and corporate borrowers FCA applications, advice on UK regulatory frameworks, fund related advice.

What we’re looking for: We look for the best. We value academic ability, previous work experience and relevant extra-curricular activities. We seek candidates who demonstrate high levels of commercial awareness and business acumen, enthusiasm and leadership potential. We value individuality and strive to create an environment where our employees can truly be themselves at work.

What you’ll do: Our two-year training programme is divided into four seats of six months and combines a first-class education programme with real hands-on experience and client contact. The nature of our business and small intake of trainees each year mean you will be given exposure to high-quality work with lots of responsibility from an early stage.

Perks: A generous holiday allowance of 26 days, staff introduction bonus, life assurance and access to the YuLife wellbeing app, group income protection, private medical insurance, employee assistance programme, free online GP service, contributory pension, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership loan, cycle2work, private dental, eye test vouchers and free weekly personal training and yoga sessions. We also have a ‘dress for your day’ policy which allows smart-casual wear in the office to suit your schedule when you have no external meetings. We also currently operate a hybrid, remote working model that trainees are able to take advantage of.

Sponsorship: GDL, LPC and SQE course fees sponsorship, maintenance loan of £6,000 (£5,000 outside London) for those studying a sponsored GDL, LPC or SQE.

Diversity and inclusion

Our focus: We know that to achieve our inclusion and diversity objectives we need to focus on a number of areas:

Developing a diverse leadership: We have a mix of different ethnicity and genders on our leadership groups. We are working hard to improve the gender balance of our partner team and in the last 18 months four out of nine people joining the partnership were women.

Attracting a diverse work force: This means adopting a properly personal approach when connecting with those interested in joining our team including: ensuring fairness in our processes; working with those, like recruiters, who help us in this; a commitment that you will always meet male and female talent in our recruitment interviews.

Engaging with everyone in our team to ensure they are heard, supported and understood. Encourage everyone to develop their own voice in shaping our culture, their future and our service to clients. That might be working flexibly or that might be a specific career programme – everyone needs different things at different times.

Helping all our people in all roles to achieve their full potential. We provide training, coaching, internal mentors and buddies, whatever works for each individual and their own personal development path.

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Percentage of female associates: 67%

Percentage of female partners: 25%

Percentage of BAME associates: 15%

Percentage of BAME partners: 12%