Training contracts in Wales — get ready for a spot of hazing

High street law firm newbies kitted out in silly clobber while the skateboarder from Dirty Sanchez takes over business development


Any trainee solicitor can attest to the utter tedium of the job — hour after hour of photocopying, file bundling, note taking. And it’s no secret that trainees need thick skins and a strong sense of self-worth, because they are bound to be patronised by everyone else at the firm from the senior partner down to that irritatingly smug chap who qualified five minutes ago.

But it seems the partnership at Welsh solicitors Watkins & Gunn has taken the ritualistic humiliation/gentle teasing (take your pick) of trainees to unscaled heights by persuading the newbies to parade around its offices in silly outfits labelling them as … trainee solicitors.

And the two-partner, 12-lawyer firm — with offices in Cardiff, Newport and Pontypool — hasn’t stopped with that dose of internal belittling. It has posted pictures of two of its wannabe solicitors in full W&G trainee battle dress on Twitter.

Here we can see Natalie Corten grimacing under the weight of what the firm has described as its own version of a Harry Potter “sorting hat” — presumably to determine whether the next six months of her young life will be spent in the rock ‘n’ roll world of residential conveyancing or the cut and thrust of road traffic law.


And draped head to toe in multiple notices reading “trainee solicitor at work” (just in case distracted department heads fail to get the message the first time round) is Carys Jones. It is unknown whether she has taken the initiative herself to balance that humiliation with the more positive message of being a “Superwoman” trainee — or whether the firm has had something resembling the good grace to do that itself.


Kitting out trainees in ludicrous garb isn’t W&G’s only comedy wheeze. The firm recently roped in the services of renowned Welsh daredevil Matthew Pryderi Pritchard to promote its Gateway2Law client development programme.

Pritchard — the tattoo-covered professional skateboarder who gave grateful telly viewers “Dirty Sanchez”, a programme involving stunts where a group of half-wits drink their own urine or each other’s liposuction fat — is pictured here with some of Wales’s leading legal minds.


The firm maintains on its website that “we constantly challenge ourselves to exceed our clients’ expectations and to offer an unrivalled service”.

Those trainees will be having sleepless nights over the potential prospect of appearing in a forthcoming Dirty Sanchez skateboard-while-you-gargle-upside-down stunt. That would certainly exceed their law school expectations.


Carys Jones

As one of the stars of your misinformed article I wanted to shed some light on the reality of life as a Trainee Solicitor at Watkins and Gunn.

Your impression of being a trainee is very bleak and, in my experience, mistaken. “Photocopying, bundling and note taking”? If this is what your training consisted of no wonder your research skills are so lacking (there are four partners at Watkins and Gunn).

You seem to have the idea that all trainees are tortured by bullying bosses. Whilst there still may be some firms who work that way, Watkins and Gunn is not one of them; they care for their staff. They want us to have the best training possible which is proven by the responsibility and experience we are given. You say that we are “bound to be patronised” but I have never experienced this and the thought of it happening in this firm is laughable.

One of the reasons I wanted to work at Watkins and Gunn was their friendly and fun attitude that was apparent through social media, as well as their strong reputation backed up by many awards and accreditations. I knew what I was signing up for and I could not be happier. We work very hard and are still able to show that we have personalities and are not stuffy, uptight and unapproachable lawyers, which I think should be commended rather than mocked.

I am proud of where I work – I feel valued by my employer. I put on a silly outfit, that I put together with help from another member of staff, for fun for a Twitter picture. You are the one who has tried to humiliate me with your article -you are the bully, not my firm – they wanted to celebrate my success. You know the difficulties young lawyers face in obtaining a training contract, and the hard work which is required, and you tried to make it into something negative.

Thank goodness for that “thick skin” you mentioned. It comes in handy when someone like you fancies publishing a vindictive, poisonous article for no reason using my photograph without even asking me what I think.


Wow, someone got out on the wrong side of bed. It’s a light hearted article, let’s take it in that way.


Thank you for raising that Joe. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that the writer understands the nature of ‘light hearted’ when he has taken the time to write this article about our light hearted photos.

Natalie Corten

Well said Carys.

Maybe if the author of this article put as much effort into their work as they do into putting people down then they would be able to produce credible articles in their own name, and not hide behind a pseudonym. I am proud to be a trainee solicitor and proud to be a member of the Watkins & Gunn team. I have never felt more appreciated in any of my previous roles than I do as a trainee at W&G. That photo was a fun idea to celebrate my success which I chose to ‘share’ and ‘retweet’ for all to see. The suggestion that I am ‘grimacing’ is both inappropriate and offensive. It is so disappointing that rather than celebrate & share in our success someone has chosen to try to ridicule my firm and two young trainees in such a shameful article.

Sian Rachel Gunney

Completely disgusted at this post.
It would be lovely to meet the author of such slanderous, un-researched, uneducated, unwarranted garbage.

In an age where legal companies are seen as intimidating, unapproachable and out of touch with modern society.
Having fun and creating an enjoyable environment in the office to welcome trainees is of upmost importance.

No comment has been made on the quality of work, client testimonials or trainee feedback.
Is this via a competitor, a failed lawyer or a disgruntled law student unable to get work?

Watkins & Gunn are a prestigious independent legal firm that are very much held in high regard and loved in Wales.

Breaking away from the norm of legal offices has actually generated happy staff,
leading to higher quality work and results. Did the author of this article ever ask the staff if they were unhappy? I’m not sure any of the staff would use any of the above words to describe working at this firm ever.

The legal world stigma of dinosaurs stuck in stuffy dusty offices out of touch with popular culture W&G actually obliterate.
W&G embrace the ethos of fun and a forum where staffs personalities are important in connecting with clients.
W&G are proud of their staff who are all great fun and highly personable. Hence why so many clients choose this legal company over any other one in Wales and across the UK.
They certainly stand out in a saturated environment.

Mathew Pritchard the brand “character” maybe famous for stunts and Dirty Sanchez in the same way Jack Ass are in the states.
However Mathew Pritchard the “person” is well read, articulate, an amazing chef, shy, quiet and a true gentleman. Clearly the author has never met him to pass judgement.

Mathew can endorse why the best legal advice is required due to Dirty Sanchez stunts requirement for legal support throughout their TV career.

Mathew with the SWYD brand is great businessman and he has done more for charities in Wales than any other individual.

To be a journalist offline or online. Surely you need concrete evidence, research and approved quotes documented.


The articke is a nasty, Ill judged, poorly researched attempt at humour that has badly backfired on you. Do the decent thing and apologise to the two young ladies Carys & Natalie, and to Matthew Pritchard.


What part of the article would require Legal Cheek to apologise to Matthew Pritchard?!


All the comments on here successfully demonstrating how carefree, fun and grown up the people at W&G are. Oh wait, no they’re not. Stop making tits of yourselves over a joke article.


Not at all – the joke is very much on you at Legal Cheek! Grow up and apologise


Clearly W&G are attempting to prove that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I’d say judging by the marketing language used above they realise that a bit of misplaced righteous indignation isn’t a bad price to pay for some free advertising!

Watkins and Gunn

We are very defensive of our staff & those who we work with. We felt the article crossed the line but the point has been made very well above both for us…& against! So it’s best left there. Well done all who stepped up the plate and commented particularly our fantastic trainees for standing up for themselves – they will go far!


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