Meet Addleshaw Goddard at the Legal Cheek UK Virtual Law Fair on 4 November 2021
“I couldn’t have asked for any more from my training contract — I am a remarkably better lawyer and person since joining the firm,” remarked one truly fulfilled Addleshaw Goddard trainee in response to Legal Cheek‘s latest survey. The commercial firm, renowned for its real estate practice, seems a happy ship right now, rating highly for supportive peers among other categories in the 2021-22 Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey.
The firm has about 1,200 lawyers in 13 offices in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, Paris, Hamburg, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong, and a formal alliance with a firm in Tokyo. As well as big real estate work, AG advises FTSE 100 and other major companies across corporate, commercial, finance and project, and its fast-growing litigation practice area. The firm also has a strong interest in tech, and offers trainees a six-month lawtech seat working alongside lawyers and technologists to develop products in its innovation and legal technology group.
In its latest financial results, released in summer 2021, Addleshaw saw profit per equity partner rebound 23% (from a 5% fall last year) to £849,000. AG’s revenues also completed their eighth year of successive growth, rising 12% to £321 million. Following a pandemic-induced redundancy consultation towards the end of 2020, the firm has rebounded well making 23 lateral partner hires and seeing its litigation practice continue to grow an impressive 20% year-on-year since 2017.
Addleshaw lets trainees get stuck in on proper lawyer work rather than boring tasks. “I am in litigation at the moment and work on a mix of small cases (where I have a lot of responsibility and day-to-day control) and large cases (where I work on elements which don’t appear in the small cases),” says one insider. “Overall every day and every piece of work is varied and interesting. It is rare I have a dull task”.
Another rookie explains, “probably the best part of my traineeship has been getting involved in decent work. There are some admin tasks that could clearly have been delegated to someone better placed to assist but, for the most part, I’ve always been involved in chunky work that has allowed me to challenge myself and learn. I’ve also had many opportunities to engage with clients directly and to take responsibility for important pieces of work, which I know just isn’t the case at other firms”.
Newly qualified lawyers receive £82,000 (London), £50,000 (Leeds and Manchester) and £47,000 (Scotland), and the firm has a reputation for good trainee retention rates. This is perhaps down to the firm’s “really supportive culture”, bolstered by “very friendly” trainee cohorts. “They seem to hire genuinely nice trainees ― there’s no competition or infighting,” says one rookie. Overall, survey respondents’ comments are littered with words such as “friendly”, “sociable” and “easy going”.
This culture also extends to partners. One insider told us: “Whenever I have wanted to speak to a partner, they have made time for me. Every single time. The office is a friendly place, first names of course, and I have never felt like I couldn’t just walk up and talk to someone (or ring them on teams)”.
Prior to each seat, trainees are given at least a day of training to bring them up to speed with the basic concepts involved. Trainees may be given further specific training, and will also attend any training session the department holds. Otherwise, “day-to-day, we learn on the job with clear instructions and feedback,” a rookie reports. One trainee reveals they had “great ‘hands on’ responsibility from the get go – I was drafting and negotiating pretty lengthy & complex deeds of release in my first three weeks of my first seat in Finance with a Silver Circle firm on the other side. Having spoken to the trainee there, they were merely having a read over and sending comments to the associate who’d deal with the substantive drafting whereas I was responsible for the whole doc itself!”
This sense of inclusion is no doubt enhanced by the fact that offices are open-plan with break-out pods and excellent canteens, although the survey did uncover some gripes about the discrepancy between the English and Scottish offices. One spy complained, “the English offices are very impressive but the Scottish offices are lacklustre”. Insiders even claim that, despite recent refurbishments to the interior, there is a lack of catering facilities but the “beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle” partly make up for it.
When Covid-19 struck, the firm’s enthusiasm for technology paid dividends. Adjustment to working from home was “super” and “seamless” – all lawyers, paralegals and support staff were given £350 towards extra kit for working from home and the IT worked “flawlessly”, respondents report.
The firm has three seats each rotation in which trainees can opt to work internationally, with past destinations including Dubai, Qatar and Hong Kong. Client secondments are also fairly common, and are taken with clients from a host of global companies.
Generally speaking, the lawyers considered their work-life balance not bad for a commercial firm of Addleshaw Goddard’s stature. “It depends on the seat. My current department is extremely busy so I take on more work and work slightly longer days but I still have plenty of opportunities to relax and socialise with the team and outside of work,” said one.
One insider offers their experience: “I usually work from 8.30 to 6 and this gives me plenty of time to do stuff in the mornings and evenings. I work late maybe once a month, but 10pm is the latest I have worked so far (but I haven’t done a corporate seat yet). I have only had to work for a few hours on a weekend once. It is a rarity”.
Perks of the job include a £180 gym subsidy, subsidised private healthcare and “really fancy stationery”. The food received particular plaudits, with one trainee confessing “the main perk for me is the cafe, which does really good food (breakfast and lunch and cakes). As I am in twice a week I always get lunch there. Well worth it. I would choose AG again just for the shawarma”.
There is a firmwide drive towards greater eco-friendliness, with the recent introduction of Environment Week, good recycling systems and compulsory seminars on eco topics. Each office now has ‘Environment teams’ who propose and develop initiatives. One junior on the environment committee told us that this “isn’t just virtue signalling” and “AG appreciates that it is now an important part of corporate life”. Nevertheless, many feel they have further to go, with one person highlighting that the takeaway food comes in a polystyrene box and the salads come in plastic tubs, and another noting that, despite the firm’s policy that domestic air travel should only be done with permission, “all Scottish trainees were straight away given the option of flying down to London for the trainee conference”.