Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Wilkin Chapman LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It’s the largest firm in the area, and the quality of work and clients this brings with it’, ‘the firm was local to my family home, with a great reputation and good service areas’, ‘close to where I grew up and with a wide range of practice areas’, ‘status and location’, ‘it’s the biggest firm in East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, it has a good work/life balance, good reputation and produces high-quality work’, ‘I grew up in Grimsby – Wilkin Chapman is the largest regional law firm with the main office being in Grimsby’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everybody is approachable. Exposure to high-level work and variety in work’, ‘the environment. The majority of staff are very friendly and welcoming, so you feel able to ask questions and socialise with them’, ‘everyone at the firm strives towards the same goal, which is to give back to those in the local community who need our help’, ‘the clear career progression’, ‘the people – their willingness to help and support’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The pay being lower than at comparable firms’, ‘some trainees haven’t been given laptops and we aren’t allowed to work from home typically – the firm is trying to modernise but it is behind the times on some things’, ‘the pay’, ‘the remuneration/benefits’  ‘the IT systems, although they are currently undergoing improvement’, ‘fewer perks than other law firms, such as inflexible working hours, average annual leave entitlement and not many other perks’

Best moment? ‘Drafting reasoning in a standards investigation report which was validated by external counsel’, ‘assisting on my first big completion’, ‘working with like-minded people to achieve the most ideal results for our clients. It has been rewarding to see the benefit of work when hearings/trials have ended in good results for our clients’, ‘conducting my own mediations with successful outcomes during my first seat in debt recovery litigation’, ‘site visits’, ‘successfully completing on a difficult property transaction’

Worst moment? ‘The lack of support in one seat’, ‘there haven’t been many terrible moments – my first seat was very busy so there were some days when the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and I just needed to get work done, but that’s part of the buzz!’, ‘no specific worst moment – generally poor is the firm’s communication to trainees’, ‘driving to Lincoln daily during petrol crisis with no financial support’, ‘there was one hearing I took part in where, through no fault of the firm, we did not get the result we wanted’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Wilkin Chapman LLP

Wilkin Chapman is the ‘largest law firm in the Humber region (that is East Yorkshire and Northeast Lincolnshire) and has a very prestigious reputation in the area’. This proved a big draw for trainees who wanted to train locally and in a ‘firm that understands the real demand for services in the area’. The training contract is ‘very strong’; ‘supervisors are extremely knowledgeable and approachable’, and ‘the calibre of work we are given and the responsibility to manage cases is great’. Trainees at Wilkin Chapman ‘get given real work and are actively involved in cases’ whilst also being ‘well supervised: the balance of supervision and independent working is very well done’. The firm invests in its trainees for the future, with many current partners having trained at the firm themselves. It follows that Wilkin Chapman is a winner for confidence of being kept on post qualification. There’s a good work/life balance too, with trainees feeling ‘comfortable knowing that providing my work is done, I will not usually have to work longer than a standard 9-5 day’. Criticisms tended to centre on ‘the lack of flexible working for trainees’ and ‘the salary; especially as the working hours can be similar to other (better paid) regional law firms’. There are also a ‘lot less perks’ on offer. Worst moments included ‘going from one seat to the next which can feel like you are starting again at the bottom of the pile with zero knowledge’, and ‘complying with a court deadline last minute – it was a very stressful experience’. Best moments were ‘working on the largest corporate deal Wilkin Chapman has ever dealt with’, and ‘attending a trial and getting to see the client’s reaction when we received a positive result for them’. For a firm where ‘everyone is approachable and willing to lend a hand’, where trainees are ‘treated more like a fee earner and given cases to manage and meaningful work to do’, research Wilkin Chapman.

A day in the life of... Hannah Gamble, trainee, Wilkin Chapman LLP

Hannah Gamble, Wilkin Chapman LLP

Departments to date: Agriculture (first seat); Personal injury (second seat); Probate (third and current final seat)

University: Northumbria University De Montfort University University of Law

Degree: Criminology; GDL; LPC

9.00am: Arrive at the office having driven in from a nearby village. I have a quick catch-up with colleagues on my floor about the upcoming staff social before checking my emails and to-do list for the day. I often receive emails from clients overnight, so I have a quick read of these and note down any additional tasks I need to complete today.

10.00am: I attend a client meeting with one of the qualified solicitors in the team. On this occasion it is to take instructions from an executor in relation to their late father. It can be emotional in these meetings if the executor is a relative of the person who has died, so I ensure I am sensitive to their feelings on top of obtaining all of the information I need. We run through details of the estate and I take notes and ask questions to ensure we have a clear picture of the circumstances and what we need to do.

11.00am: I arrive back at my desk following the meeting and type up the attendance note. It’s important to do this straight away so I don’t forget anything that was discussed. Once completed, I arrange for the file to be opened so that we can start work.

11.30am: I start on some of the tasks which are on my to-do list. I manage my own time and task list so it is important to note down and deal with the most urgent tasks first. This can include anything from drafting a will or powers of attorney to paying out legacies to beneficiaries and arranging property valuations. As a trainee in the probate department, I am tasked with all the jobs that a qualified solicitor would have (with the support of my supervisor) so you are given a great deal of responsibility.

1.00pm: I head out for my lunch. I normally like to take a half-hour walk around the town and towards the local park so I can get some fresh air, clear my head and get those all important steps in! I’ll then head back to the office and have some lunch. I like to sit in the lunchroom as it gives me the opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from all over the office while I’m there.

2.00pm: I catch up with my supervisor. She will answer any queries I have and normally allocate me some more work to do. It’s good to get feedback on the work I have done so I know what I need to improve on, and what I have done well.

2.30pm: I go with a colleague for a home visit. In the probate department, our clients are often elderly and sometimes they struggle to leave their own home, so this is a popular service we offer. Having arrived at the client’s home we take instructions for a new will and provide some inheritance tax advice.

3.30pm: After arriving back at the office, I make the team an afternoon cup of tea. It’s not always my job but its important to take your turn at the tea round! I then get to work on an estate file which I have been assisting my supervisor with. We have received all of the valuations from financial organisations so I start on some estate accounts to record the assets and liabilities of the estate. I also prepare the application for the grant of probate and the inheritance tax account.

5.00pm: After checking my emails to ensure there is nothing urgent to do, I log off and head home. Sometimes I need to stay a little late, but in general the firm is really keen for staff to have a good work/life balance so there is no pressure to stay after 5pm. I’ll normally leave the office with a colleague where we will have a quick catch up on our evening plans before driving home.

About the firm

The firm: Wilkin Chapman solicitors is the largest law firm in the Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire regions, with an unrivalled breadth and depth of expertise and experience.

Senior partner: Andrew Holt

Other offices: Lincoln, Beverley, Louth

Who we are: Wilkin Chapman’s position at number 111 in The Lawyer’s Top 200 UK Law Firms for 2021 sees it retain its place as the leading law firm in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire.

We are distinguished by our approachability, innovation and commitment to providing the best service we can to our clients, along with achieving and maintaining quality standards such as Lexcel – the Law Society’s accreditation standard and ISO 9001 in our recoveries department.

We are a people business – we care about what we do, how we do it and we are integral within the communities in which we live and work.

In a fascinating and complex history where the past has shaped the present, one of the constants is our core values which place the client at the heart of the firm. Our values are the bedrock of Wilkin Chapman. They define who and what we are. They underpin everything we do.

We recognise the importance of every individual’s physical and mental wellbeing. To support our colleagues, we offer a range of initiatives to promote good mental health as well as to assist people when their mental health is affected.

What we do: With 50 partners and over 350 members of staff located across a network of legal offices in Grimsby, Lincoln, Beverley and Louth the firm provides trusted legal and insolvency advice to both private and commercial clients who are based locally, nationally and internationally.

What we’re looking for: Candidates should preferably have a 2(1) either in law or another discipline and be able to demonstrate a consistently strong academic record. Our client-focused approach means that we look for candidates who possess excellent communication skills and a high level of commercial awareness, along with a desire to achieve the best possible result for the client.

What you’ll do: Typically, your two-year training contract will provide you with hands-on experience in a number of different practice areas, one of them non-contentious. The training period will be split into four six-month placements.

For some part of your training contract, you may spend time at more than one of our offices in order to give you experience of different types of clients and work. However, we do flex our training contracts to suit the needs of the business, and you as our trainee.

We believe that we can only provide the best service by recruiting and supporting the development of the best people. This is why we place great emphasis on ensuring our training programme is robust, providing you with the best opportunities to develop your career progression to becoming a solicitor.

Perks: Pension scheme, life assurance, concessionary legal fees, health cash plan, car parking.

Sponsorship: LPC/SQE funding available up to £13,500.