VWV

The Legal Cheek View

Veale Wasbrough Vizards was created out of a merger in 2009 between Bristol-based Veale Wasbrough and London firm Vizards Tweedie LLP. The firm has recently rebranded, now going by the acronym VWV. This simple name is complemented by its new logo, a red spark which “represents movement and growth”.

With revenue of £36.8 million (up 14%) and estimated net profit of £6 million (up 11%) in its most recently disclosed financial results, the firm is currently ranked 77th in the top UK 100 firms by revenue. Over the past five years, VWV has seen turnover grow by 65%. This rising year on year revenue is mirrored by staff numbers, which have grown by 32%.

The firm, which is entirely UK based, has over 80 partners and 430 staff. Its HQ is based in Bristol, but it also has offices in London, Watford and Birmingham.

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VWV clearly has a growth strategy: in January 2017 it merged with healthcare boutique Lockharts, and in June 2017 it announced a collaboration with Seabourne Lawleys, a private client firm based in Northwood. This was only a year after acquiring most of commercial firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin in Watford.

The firm now has 22 trainees; it only had 16 five years before and tends to recruit 8-10 annually. The majority of trainees are based in Bristol and London, but the firm did recently take on its first Birmingham trainee. London and Watford are where Jason Prosser, the training principal, sees the greatest opportunities for growth.

The social life at VWV is highly regarded, with trainees reporting a “great mix of socials”. Events include “theatre trips, cheese and wine nights” and even “watching cricket at The Oval”.

Meanwhile, the work/life balance is decent. Trainees “never work lunch” and “the office clears out by 6pm usually”.

As for the work itself, VWV is one of many firms now using “a sector focus” in an attempt to differentiate itself. The chosen sectors include education, charity and healthcare, among others. Major clients include UCL, airbus, EDF energy, Oxford City Council and PwC. Although trainees are given the “occasional dogsbody task”, overall they were able to “experience a wide range of different matters”, describing their training as a “hands on experience”. They spend time in transactional and contentious seats across VWV’s business, but tend to be drawn to the firm’s specialist areas. Legal Cheek understands that the charities seat (only available in Bristol and Birmingham) is very popular.

The culture at the firm screams friendly. There is a noticeable lack of hierarchy, with trainees feeling “very friendly and very comfortable” with colleagues of all ranks and trainees “never being made to feel embarrassed or stupid”. In general, people feel very “happy and open”. This seems to accurately reflect two of the firm’s core values: teamwork and collaboration.

How do you get in? It sounds like no easy feat — the firm encourages prospective applicants to apply for the summer vacation scheme (which is, disappointingly, unpaid, running for a week in Bristol, London and Watford) and encourages you to work as a paralegal prior to training. The firm seems to recruit exclusively from these two groups of people.

Despite this difficult entry route, trainees praised the “fantastic training opportunities” and commended the firm’s “individual one-to-one training from partners” once they had joined.

Although there are no international secondments, you’ll get the chance to move around the UK — seats are rotated by location — so you could be in London for six months and then Bristol for the next six. Secondments did not seem to be plentiful, but there is a week-long stint at a barristers’ chambers in London.

As for technology, VWV does do work in the technology sector, but the firm is no AI wizard when it comes to its own work. The internal IT system is summarised by one trainee as “Kafka meets the Flintstones”.

In December 2018, VWV moved its London office to King William Street at Monument station on a site *fun fact* located on top of a graveyard. One trainee praised this “beautiful new open plan” office — with “views of the Monument, London Bridge and the Shard”. Another merely called it “boring but functional” acknowledging that the “location is very good”. There is no canteen, but there is a “great kitchen/ eating space” which helps to “improve relationships between teams”. The site also boasts a secluded garden — a nice place for trainees to hide away in the summer months.

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
B
Quality of work
A
Peer support
A
Partner approach-ability
A
Work/life balance
C
Tech
D
Perks
B
Office
N/A
Canteen
B
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2019–20 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Money

First year trainee salary £31,000
Second year trainee salary £32,000
Newly qualified salary £50,000
Profit per equity partner £300,000
GDL grant No grant
LPC grant £2,000

The trainee figures above are for London and Watford. Newly qualified (NQ) solicitors in Watford earn £45,000. First year trainees in Birmingham and Bristol earn £23,000 in their first year and £25,000 in their second year, while NQs in these locations are remunerated £40,000.

Hours

Average arrival time 08:55
Average leave time 18:15
Annual target hours Undisclosed
Annual leave 25–28 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2019–20 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Secondments

Chances of secondment abroad 0%
Chances of client secondment 6%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2019–20 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

General Info

Training contracts 10
Latest trainee retention rate 66%
Offices 4
Countries 1
Minimum A-level requirement No minimum
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

UK female associates 56%
UK female partners 41%
UK BME associates Undisclosed
UK BME partners Undisclosed