RWK Goodman, an ambitious and growing firm forged by successive mergers, is not one to be overlooked by aspiring lawyers seeking a TC at a regional firm. With three mergers in the last decade, the group now have offices in London, Bristol, Oxford, Swindon, Marlborough, Thame, and Bath (which houses the firm’s HQs and a second office). Building on a strong practice of injury and medical expertise, the successive acquisitions have added experience in private client, family, and business matters. The firm is also unique in having a specialised French-speaking team based in London, dealing with a wide range of international issues, and in being a (founding) member of Interleges, the international association of independent law firms.
Successful recruits can expect to be part of an annual cohort of around seven, with applicants able to select their preferred offices — although London seems to be the most sought after (and competitive) choice. Whilst there are no international or client secondments available, the quality of training is high, nonetheless, with the majority of respondents to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-2024 rating it excellent, or nearly excellent. The reason for such success is, according to one mole, the “great responsibility” given to trainees, allowing the future associates to take the lead on cases, engage in frequent client contact, and practise drafting exercises.
Having completed their four seats across the range of RWK Goodman’s practice areas, fresh faced associates will be joining a firm of 95 partners with 600 staff nationally, bringing in an annual turnover of just over £50 million, up over 10% on the previous year. Since a good work/life balance is prioritised by the firm, most trainee and junior informants have a typical working day of 9-6. But this also means that salaries do not reach the astronomical heights of leading City firms. As a trainee outside of London, recruits can expect to bring home £28-30k, with a new associate receiving between £46-55k. Within the capital, this sum is raised to £34,500-36k during training, and £62k when newly qualified.
Matters of money aside, we’re told there is a broad range of interesting and stimulating work up for grabs. One insider reports feeling “truly involved in all work within the teams, being given responsibility to carry out a wide variety of tasks”, with another noting the “extremely stimulating” nature of the “complex and high value” cases that come across their desk. Whilst for both trainees and juniors there are typical murmurings of administrative tasks, we’ve been assured that most of the work is “intellectually challenging and engaging”. There aren’t many better words to describe some of the firm’s most recent highlights, representing four banks in a $133 million (£104 million) dispute with Essar Group’s Cypriot subsidiary, and advising software company Oxford Metrics plc on a £52 million sale.
Rookies also report that both peers and superiors foster a supportive environment and culture, no doubt aided by the firm’s many social and charitable events. “All members of the teams, from legal assistants to partners, will make time to talk you through work and answer any questions you may have”, states one jolly junior, with another adding that “the firm creates an open environment”. Generally, both peers and partners receive a near unanimous highly, or very highly, supportive score.
Beyond the salary, hours, training, and comfortable environment, the perks offered to juniors are more limited. The newbies gave only an average rating for additional perks, and think that the office quality is variable from place to place. Whilst some were cheerier about the firm’s recent Oxford relocation, and further renovations underway, the facilities overall are reportedly nothing to write home about. The same is true in relation to the legal tech on offer — in line with many other regional firms, juniors were not particularly blown away. One associate does confirm, however, that “there has been a lot of progress over the last year or two with a lot more upgrades scheduled in the near future”. It is also worth noting that the firm pays the full SQE fees for new recruits, a real benefit that should not be overlooked.
Although in the post-Covid era the general expectation for trainees in most firms is total office attendance, RWK Goodman maintains a more flexible approach. Rookies report that they are required in the office a minimum of four days a week, something that is welcomed, allowing recruits to make the most of their training and benefit from the work environment.