The Legal Cheek View
Financially Olswang has been having a tough time of late, with revenue down 11% this year as rumour mergers continue to swirl around the firm. At the time of writing Olswang was in talks with CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro about a potential three way tie-up. So it’s fair to say that there is a bit of uncertainty surrounding the firm right now – and students should obviously bear this in mind as they make their training contract applications.
In its current form, though, Olswang remains a very good place to train. The “genuinely practical approach to training” can “vary from department to department”, but, report current trainees, each seat “provides classes and seminars which assist you in the day to day work performed which is supplemented by plenty of responsibility in the departments.”
Like at most City firms, the junior level work is a mix of mundane and stimulating . An Olswang insiders sums it up like this: “Obviously it ranges but I would say that on balance the work I do is more 'interesting' than 'not interesting'”. While another adds: “[The] majority of the time the work throws up unique issues, but bundling really isn't fun.”
Fellow trainees are nice. Apparently “no one's bitchy” and “you don't often feel alone”. And Olswang partners, despite having a lot on their mind right now, are said to be at the more human end of the City law spectrum. An Olswang rookie tells us that “I've not come across a partner that isn't happy to take a few minutes to explain a task or if you have some follow questions re a client or matter they will be happy to give you some context and take you through everything.”
But you’ll be asked to work hard. Expect to be in the office until around 7pm each evening, although working weekends is rare. This insider sums up the firm’s attitude to work/life balance: “Don't join a City law firm if you want to go home at half five every day – work life balance doesn't mean partying like a student, it means being able to make plans in the evening and mainly keep them. Olswang is good for this and you will generally know when it's appropriate to make plans and when it isn't. If you let people know you really have to leave for something, they will understand. Long hours are inevitable sometimes, but the weekend is almost always protected. Those who wanted to leave early always could – but if you're willing to put the hours in this will be noted and acknowledged accordingly.”
Happily the office is a pretty stylish place, although has suffered from upheaval recently as the firm moves to an open plan set up (and there may be further upheaval round the corner if that aforementioned merger comes off). The new “snazzy sit/stand desks” get the thumbs up, the “terrible IT infrastructure” not so much. An “overpriced, but healthy and fresh" canteen is generally highly-rated. Head up to the roof and there’s a garden with lots of beehives, where Olswang-branded honey is made.