The Legal Cheek View
The firm with perhaps the most unfamiliar name in the Legal Cheek Most List was known until earlier this year as Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co. But following its merger with Canadian giant Gowlings it has rebranded as Gowling WLG. The English arm has gained substantial experience of such matters in recent years, having only just re-christened itself after its two current components – Birmingham-based Wragge & Co and London's Lawrence Graham – hooked up in 2014.
So what does all this mean for trainees at the firm and students who are considering joining it? Well, on the one hand, there's Gowling WLG's newfound combined scale, with 18 offices in 11 different countries in theory offering plenty of opportunities for secondments. And on the other, there's the concern that all these mergers will take a while to bed in and that this may be an organisation in flux.
The Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey suggests that neither of these hopes or fears are as much of a factor as one may assume. International secondments are still rare for trainees, although this may change once further integration has taken place. But the scores for culture are very good, with most rookies reporting a decent atmosphere and impressive training.
If there's a tension within the firm, it's not so much internationally but more between the London and Birmingham offices, which are said to have quite different norms. Expect to work longer hours in the capital, although the upside to this is that you'll get paid significantly more. At the same time, insiders warn against underestimating Gowling WLG's Brummie branch, in which much management power lies.
But look ahead it will be the Canadians who call the shots. What will they make of perks like the heavily subsidised concert and sports tickets? Fears have been expressed, too, about the future of the "legendary Mars bar cakes". And will the A*-rated firm canteen be allowed to continue its delightful regime of "tuna steaks, freshly made salsas and BBQs outside on the patio"? On behalf of Gowling WLG trainees-to-be, we certainly hope so.