Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Gowling WLG

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Gowling WLG

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘International, good reputation within the legal sector, broad client base, wide range of practice areas, good reputation for training’, ‘top firm in Birmingham’, ‘work/life balance and culture’, ‘the prestige of the firm along with the reputation for being a firm for team players’, ‘IP practice, international reach, people’, ‘international links and friendly culture’, ‘strong IP team, in particular patent litigation’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Friendly working environment’, ‘the fairly good work/life balance’, ‘the people, and the variety and status of the clients the firm has attracted’, ‘it is very supportive, has an open environment and there are plenty of opportunities to socialise at work events’, ‘the remuneration on qualification and the pro bono offering’, ‘the friendliness of people employed by the firm at the front desks, in the cafe etc. The [Birmingham] office itself is a modern space which makes coming into work a better experience too’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The limited number of qualification jobs’, ‘the differences in culture between teams’, ‘the hours can be long, depending on the team you’re in’, ‘limited social activities’, ‘the difficulty of getting an international secondment’, ‘there are some old-school individuals in the firm with an outdated mindset and who get frustrated at how the newer generations wish to do things’, ‘some teams can engage in presenteeism to an excessive degree’

Best moment? ‘Client contact from day one’, ‘completing on some big matters and seeing all the hard work paying off’, ‘being trusted to lead conference calls and having a client give me instructions on new matters based on my handling of previous matters’, ‘site visits, attending conferences and completion dinners’, ‘completing a transaction which I led/did a significant amount of drafting for’, ‘assisting a high-profile football club with a rent agreement’, ‘going to court’

Worst moment? ‘Two weeks of 11.30pm finishes’, ‘having to duplicate a number of hours of work due to an IT failure with my laptop’, ‘when the cafeteria stopped serving Mars bar cake!’, ‘missing the deadline to file a special resolution with Companies House’, ‘having to ask for work during quiet periods – the ebbs and flows are frustrating!’, ‘being left to make last-minute court filings without supervision’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Gowling WLG

Gowling has a ‘broad client base, a wide range of practice areas and a good reputation for training’. The firm is a ‘significant player in the West Midlands’ and ‘provides the opportunity to work in a large, international firm outside of London’, though the firm also offers training contracts in the capital. Some respondents had previously worked at the firm as paralegals and had ‘experienced the great culture and exciting work’. Others ‘found the vacation scheme enjoyable and interesting’, and commented on the ‘really nice Birmingham office, which made me feel like a ‘real lawyer”. The people at Gowling are ‘generally very approachable and happy to help you’. This includes ‘partners and other seniors’ with whom you ‘can have banter despite their position’ and creates a ‘friendly, open environment’ with ‘no stuffiness’. Trainees appreciate that they get ‘genuine autonomy’, rather than ‘becoming a tiny wheel in a giant legal cog’. The worst things about Gowling are ‘the lack of flexibility for trainees to work from home’, ‘the inconsistency of approach when it comes to management, supervision and expectations across different teams’ and ‘how early the [Birmingham] office restaurant/cafe closes’. Trainees’ worst moments were ‘having lots of urgent work to do for a number of different people when I was ill’, ‘not feeling included within the team and feeling isolated in my first seat’, and ‘making mistakes and feeling stressed while dealing with it’. On the plus side, recruits relished ‘going to the High Court in London for a trial I had been working on’, ‘being given the responsibility to complete substantial property acquisitions’ and ‘working on a patent litigation matter and doing the type of work you would expect of a one or even two-year PQE solicitor’.  For an ‘inclusive, supportive firm with a ‘perfect combination of high-quality work and a very good work/life balance’, research Gowling.

About the firm

The firm: Gowling WLG is a sector-focused international law firm. With more than 1,500 legal professionals in 19 cities worldwide, we provide our clients with in-depth expertise in key global sectors and a suite of legal services at home and abroad.

Our clients have access to in-depth expertise and experience in key global sectors, including advanced manufacturing, energy, financial services, infrastructure, life sciences, natural resources, real estate and tech. We pair this specific industry knowledge with renowned service area expertise to meet each client’s unique needs.

We see the world through our clients’ eyes, and collaborate across countries, offices, service areas and sectors to help them succeed, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Our culture is, above all, about people and teams, based on our belief in the power of relationships in delivering tangible business results.

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The clients: BioNTech, Aston Martin, Weetabix. AstraZeneca, HydrogenOne, Blackstone, TfL, London Underground and the Greater London Authority, The Office Group, Sanctuary Housing, Bloor Homes.

Other offices: Birmingham, London, Leeds, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Paris, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Calgary, Hamilton, Hamilton (King), Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo Region, Brussels.

Who we are: Gowling WLG is an international law firm built on the belief that the best way to serve you is to be in tune with your world, aligned with your opportunity and ambitious for your success.

What we do: Around the world, our 1,500+ legal professionals and dedicated business support teams apply our deep sector knowledge to understand your business and help you succeed.

What we’re looking for: We’re optimistic and excited about the future, so we invest in our business to achieve our ambitions. That applies to our trainees too. We need people with a bright mind and proactive nature when it comes to solving problems. If you’re keen to learn and develop, we’d love to hear from you.

What you’ll do: You’ll complete four six-month seats: real estate, contentious, non-contentious, and a fourth one of your choice. This could be a client secondment, which gives you the chance to step into the shoes of a client, work in their legal team and understand what they expect from their lawyers. There are also opportunities to complete a seat in one of our international offices.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday per year, with the option to buy more; private medical care; life and income protection insurance; pension scheme; £1,000 interest-free loan; childcare vouchers; employee assistance programme; cycle-to-work scheme; season ticket loan; active social club with sought-after tickets for events and a dedicated budget for staff entertainment.

Sponsorship: Prior to your training contract, we’ll sponsor you to complete the Postgraduate Diploma (law conversion course), Legal Practice Course, and/or LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2), as applicable at the University of Law. Our grant provision covers your course fees, in addition to a maintenance grant offered per course, which is £7,000 if you study in London and £5,500 if you study in Birmingham.

Diversity and inclusion

Percentage of female associates (UK LLP): 70.45%

Percentage of female partners (UK LLP): 31.39%

Percentage of BAME associates (UK LLP): 18.21%

Percentage of BAME partners (UK LLP): 8.03%