The Legal Cheek View

As an upstart northern firm that has relatively recently taken grand office space in London's Walkie Talkie Building, DWF attracts its fair share of sniping. Certainly, some poor recent financial performances haven't helped the firm's cause – with global revenue falling this year by 2% despite continuing expansion.

At the same time, it's impossible not to be impressed by DWF's ambition. Under its chief Andrew Leaitherland – who became the youngest managing partner of any major law firm when he took the helm in 2006 aged just 36 – the firm has been on an incredible journey which has seen it absorb a host of rival outfits and go from being a slightly obscure regional player to a national giant which everyone has heard of.

But now what? Handling such expansion is notoriously difficult. If Leaitherland is to be remembered as a great leader in the mould of former DLA Piper boss Nigel Knowles (the man behind perhaps the most incredible law firm growth story in history), he will have to forge a collective identity out of a host of large regional offices which do a lot of higher volume insurance work with a London base that aspires to go head-to-head with the City's finest on corporate and banking work. Perhaps this is why Leaitherland went out and recruited Knowles himself, bringing in the retired corporate law legend as chairman in September 2017.

Continue reading

Key Info

Training contracts 40
Latest trainee retention rate 66%
Offices 23
Countries 9
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


Average arrival time 9:03am
Average leave time 6:12pm
Annual target hours 1,300
Annual leave 25 days


First year trainee salary £36,000
Second year trainee salary £40,000
Newly qualified salary £59,000
Profit per equity partner £303,000
GDL grant No grant
LPC grant Fees only

The above figures are for London. First/second year trainees in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham receive £26,000/£28,000, while those in Newcastle get £24,000/£27,000 and in Scotland £22,000/£25,000. Newly qualified solicitors in the regions get £38,000; those in Scotland receive £36,000.


UK female associates 53%
UK female partners 23%
UK BME associates 4%
UK BME partners 3%

Universities Current Trainees Attended