There’s definitely a sprinkling of stardust about media, technology and IP specialist firm Wiggin. Its impressive client list is a who’s who of music biz behemoths, Silicon Valley start-ups, gamers, gamblers, fashion brands, sports clubs and publishing houses. It works with all the Hollywood studios — the only law firm in Europe to do so — and even runs its own music festival, “Wigstock”.
If the prospect of advising Gucci, Warner Bros, 21st Century Fox, Manchester United, Nintendo, Sony Music, Netflix or Audible floats your boat then Wiggin is your firm. “If you’re into this area it doesn’t get much better — we work with the best clients doing cutting edge, high-profile work,” says one rookie. “You’re given responsibility as soon as you’re comfortable with it. A lot of what we do is more commercial than outright legal work — you really get to know/advise/negotiate on the practicalities of clients’ businesses.” Another lawyer enthuses: “High-profile international clients and incredibly interesting work underpinned by fantastic subject matter. You can work on a deal one week and see the end result, being a film or TV programme, winning awards the following year.”
Wiggin scores A*s for work, peer support and social life, As for training, partner approachability, tech savviness and perks, and Bs for its office and work/life balance in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey.
The firm has 39 partners and offices in London, Brussels and Cheltenham. In the past two years, it has made several key lateral hires at partner level and continues to expand “with no plans to slow down”. It provides up to four training contracts each year, paying a respectable £39,000 first year trainee salary, £42,000 for the second year and £60,000 on qualification. Those who make it all the way to equity partner can expect to take home just shy of half a million per year. Trainees benefit from a “good mixture of seats, tasks and client exposure”. One trainee describes the training as “very practical and commercially based. Partners and more senior associates have often gone out of their way to take me through documents in detail. Regular sessions organised to cover key areas. Annual career development away residentials. Partners are very supportive of you if there’s an area you want to pursue.”
Practice areas include corporate, tax, finance, litigation, employment and property advice. The firm’s Brussels office also lobbies EU decision makers on issues such as EU copyright, audio visual regulation, data protection, competition policy, trade and e-commerce.
The offices are open-plan with hot desking, which “helps break the barriers”. Unlike some firms, “it’s very normal to chat with partners and to ask questions… there’s no stuffiness”. The firm is “remarkably tech savvy” and has appointed focus groups to keep its lawyers up to date on key areas. Perks include a day off on your birthday as well as the opportunity to “buy” a further five days off, free fruit and (occasional) bacon butties, and industry standard pension, healthcare and gym membership. There are some opportunities for client secondment, while travel has included “three days at Cannes film festival” and “two trips to Gibraltar. May not sound fancy but the hotel was a super-yacht”.
It’s “generally pretty quiet in the office from 7pm” and “there’s no culture of staying late without reason”. While everyone works “damn hard” and will inevitably stay late at busy times, the hours are a breeze compared to the City, according to one lawyer at least, who comments: “Having moved from a City firm, the work life balance is excellent and noticeably more realistic deadlines are consistently set.” Note, however, that City hours are fairly extreme. Wiggin people will be working at evenings and weekends, “not all the time and not necessarily extreme late nights and full weekends, but more than just occasional, and increasingly so”. The reason for this is the firm is “growing fast”, which means “relatively small teams shouldering increasing work loads”.
People at the firm seem to get along well. “Best thing about the firm. Incredibly friendly, smart, engaged people who’re genuinely into what they do,” says one lawyer. “Colleagues will go out of their way to answer questions or take you through a document. I used to work at a big corporate firm and the contrast is stark — there you’d have to suffer silently through whatever nightmare you were dealt, here there’s a lot of communication and a genuinely collegiate effort to share work and to support each other.” Trainees and junior lawyers at the firm say they feel supported and appreciated, with one commenting that “the camaraderie and support provided by my peers at Wiggin is one of the reasons why it is such a special place to work”.
What’s more, Wiggin people “love a night out”. Insiders reveal the firm “prides itself” on its “fantastic” social life. As well as running the aforementioned Wigstock music festival every two years, it throws an annual Christmas party and regular events at its in-house pub, The Wiggin Arms. Cycling is another popular pastime: in 2018, a Wiggin team cycled from Cheltenham to Dublin, and in 2017, from London to Paris. The firm’s football team, the Wiggin Warriors, plays once a week, and there are also ski trips. All in all, there are “endless opportunity to join evenings of social, sport or (non-cheesily) ‘themed’ nights of fun which are well-attended and offer great mingling chances outside of the workplace”.