Fladgate has been growing fast. Turnover has doubled over the past decade and now stands at £49 million. As a result, the firm now offers six training contracts annually. Expect some fierce competition.
Those who do land one of the coveted spots can expect to progress fast: the training at the London firm comes in for particular praise. “Stellar – all bases covered”, one trainee told us. “Very good – all of the partners are willing to take time to explain”, another says. You don’t get that everywhere, to put it mildly. We do hear that the quality of supervision can vary from department to department, but “the training given centrally (particularly by the Property department) is excellent”.
A lot of the learning is on the job, though. The quality of work that trainees are exposed to is rated highly at Fladgate – if you’re nervous about taking the initiative early on, don’t bother. “A lot of responsibility is pushed down,” says Legal Cheek’s man on the inside, who notes how the lack of a safety net can focus trainees’ minds. This may in part reflect the firm’s medium size – in the grand scheme of London firms – with around 80 partners in total. The result is that you “couldn’t ask for better work at junior level. Much better experience than juniors at larger firms.” You get actual face time with the “open and approachable” top brass, too – it’s “a genuinely open door policy”.
Core business here is corporate, commercial real estate and litigation. You’ll spend three of your four seats in each of these departments, with one six-month stint in a more specialised area. The firm does a decent line in sports law, if you ever fancied advising Gareth Bale, selling Swansea City or buying a T20 cricket franchise.
Fladgate is proud of its posh pedigree: it has acted for two Prime Ministers and one President of the United States (Abraham Lincoln, no big deal). Its Covent Garden office doesn’t have that 1850s feel, though – facilities are modern and generally well regarded by the desk jockeys. About the worst you can say about the facilities is that they’re more utilitarian than inspirational: “functional but with about as much personality as our current Prime Minister”, one insider says. No canteen, either, but the worst of the trash talk is reserved for the tech: “My desktop looks suspiciously similar to Windows 95”. More contented juniors just say “getting better”.
The biggest perk on offer here is actually having a life: you’ll generally be out of there by 7pm, which isn’t bad going. Late nights are “the exception, not the norm. Life feels good here and people respect your holidays”. Otherwise, perks are “few and far between”, although that’s judging by the very high standards of law firms: you do get “private healthcare, phone contract discounts, local discounts, gym flex, mortgage broker services, pension”. At lunchtime, there’s yoga and a personal trainer.
Those communal lunchtime activities are as about as far as it goes for organised fun, though: social life is “almost non-existent”. Even end-of-the-month drinks seem to have petered out, but there is a summer party. Besides, this is London: if you’re relying on work colleagues for a night out, you’re not doing it right.
In fairness, everyone seems to get on: the atmosphere is “very friendly”. One Fladgate newbie says of her fellow trainees/BFFs for life: “We’ve all got on really well, and are happy to help each other out when we switch seats. I hope we’ll stay in touch when we qualify here or elsewhere”. Good thing it’s all smiles and friendship bracelets, as opportunities to escape on secondment are largely reserved for junior associates rather than trainees.