Veale Wasbrough Vizards was created out of a merger in 2009 between Bristol-based Veale Wasbrough and London firm Vizards Tweedie LLP. Since then, the firm has rebranded, now going by the acronym VWV. This simple name is complemented by its new logo, a red spark which “represents movement and growth”.
Over the past half decade, VWV has seen turnover grow by over 60% to around the £40 million mark, placing it firmly within the top UK 100 firms by revenue. The solid growth is mirrored by staff numbers, which have increased by around 30% in the same period. However, we’re yet to see if the firm’s financials have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The firm, which is entirely UK based, has around 80 partners and more than 430 staff. Its HQ is in Bristol, where VWV has two offices, but the firm also has offices in London, Watford and Birmingham. 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 the commercial firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin in Watford.
The firm has around 20 trainees; it only had 16 about five years before and tends to recruit eight to ten annually. The majority of trainees are based in Bristol and London, although aspiring lawyers can also apply to the Birmingham and Watford offices. 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 included “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 report that the working day generally finishes at around 6pm.
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 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 “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. Trainee starting salaries are £23,000 in Bristol and Birmingham, £28,000 in Watford and from £31,000 in London.
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. Client secondments are not 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.