After some yo-yoing recent financial results, Addleshaw Goddard has impressed the market with a strong year that saw revenue rise by nearly a quarter and profits surge by 36%. The firm appears to be well on track to meet its goal of £250 million revenue by 2021 (it’s currently on £242 million). A decent performance in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 suggests the mood internally is good too.
Alongside the rosy financial results, an open plan office regime introduced last year is said to be a major factor in the positive vibes. Apparently it has “helped a lot” in breaking down barriers. As one rookie tells us: “It’s an open plan office so I’m constantly talking with associate and partners around me. If you have a question it’s very easy to ask if someone has a minute and sit down and over things.”
Another adds: “Relatively low number of crazy partners. People are generally very approachable and happy to help.”
The new open plan offices are part of a major refurbishment of Addleshaw’s Manchester and Leeds bases which have elicited rave reviews. “The new offices in the North are great places to work,” one trainee tells us, while of Manchester in particular we’re told “it is a lovely office and gives a premium feel to a so called premium firm’”. Watch out, Addleshaw management, the firm’s London lawyers are taking notice, with one complaining that the firm’s headquarters in the capital is “beginning to look dated” in comparison.
Meanwhile, the new canteens sound delightful. “The food is amazing,” enthuses one trainee, while another gushes: “Shwarma Thursday is the best day of the week (it’s infamous and brings all trainees together on a Thursday)”. Did they mean “famous”? Anyway, you get the picture. There is a daily vegetarian option, themed days (Mexican is a particular favourite) and every Thursday in Manchester is pancake day for breakfast. However, Addleshaw’s Scottish offices are canteen-less.
The culinary positives come amid the firm’s consistently good scores for quality of work and peer support. Although it apparently comes with a bit of a “thrown in at the deep end” ethos, the work often carries high levels of responsibility. “I have consistently been given NQ + level work, and my commercial judgment is trusted more senior members of the team,” reports one rookie. The vibe among the “amazing bunch of trainees”, meanwhile, is nice and friendly – and mutual support makes up for the perceived slight lack of formal training.
This is the sort of challenging yet rewarding culture of elite firms. And the salaries are starting to match. Having risen from £62,000 to £65,000 in London last year, NQ pay went up again in August 2018 to £70,000.
The firm’s wider perks regime seems to have improved too (it got a B, up from a C, in this category of this year’s Legal Cheek survey). While they “could be better”, there is a gym subsidy, private health care, a good pension, after hours taxi travel, a late-working food allowance, and things like dress down Friday over the summer and occasional employee discounts for events.
Secondment opportunities are also on the rise – roughly 12% of rookies did an international placement this year while around 24% did a client placement. The firm’s Middle East offices are the main location for the former, while destinations for the latter include British Airways, Barclays and Ted Baker.
Work/life balance is reasonable: the average arrive time across the firm is 8:44am and the average leave time 6:58pm. But those figures disguise the sort of sharp variation found at most firms. One insider tells us:
“Depends on the department, time of year, type of work etc, but overall [work/life balance is] not that bad. Could be room for improvement as many departments seem under resourced at the junior level. There are definitely seats which are notorious for terrible hours, so you may as well accept that you won’t see sunlight for a while there. But there are others which are nowhere near as bad. People encourage you to do social things with the trainees in the firm, and I have had partners and managing associates tell me to go home sometimes when it’s been a particularly bad period. The firm are also very on board with flexi-working.”
The positive attitude to flexi-working is part of a wider pro-tech mindset. Indeed, there’s real excitement internally at Addleshaw’s investment in new technology. A recent IT upgrade has apparently “made a huge difference”, while Addleshaw’s deal volume arm are “using all sorts of AI and data platforms to streamline work processes” as part of the firm’s AG Intelligent Delivery project. Trainees are also encouraged by the firm’s impressive roster of “specialists in fintech, payments, outsourcing and general techie areas”. What’s more “the horrendous Windows phones” given to employees are set to be replaced with iPhones!