There’s definitely a sprinkling of stardust about the 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. “Work is almost always highly stimulating and interesting,” says one rookie. “People will generally join Wiggin to do media law and quickly it becomes evident that the firm is an international leader, unrivalled in so many areas. It’s genuinely exciting to be working for such renowned clients whether they be major Hollywood film studios, online gaming giants or Premier League football clubs.” Another rookie enthuses: “A good range of work across the broad spectrum of the Film and TV industry from development through to production. The client base is second to none, a who’s who of players in the Film and TV business.”
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.
Not surprisingly, given its media focus, Wiggin’s adjustment to lockdown was “handled incredibly well, with good communication about what is going on and lots of people making sure that everyone is doing okay”. The technology “worked flawlessly” and everyone “adjusted to using Teams very quickly”. The firm even provided “little surprises, such as a bottle of prosecco sent to each of our homes during lockdown and permission to buy ice cream on our corporate cards. The firm has arranged for monitors, chairs etc to be sent to our homes”. One newbie praised the “fantastic leadership”, while another noted the “help that people have had to work from home in ways that suit the individual. Mentors chat to associates whenever they’re needed (at the very least) and people feel looked after and able to make the necessary adjustments to working from home with full support and daily contact”.
The firm also attracts praise for the quality of its training. According to one lawyer: “Having trained at a City firm before moving to Wiggin as an NQ, there are definitely more opportunities to attend technical and industry focused training sessions, the attendance of which is by all levels of seniority (including partners). Each year we go on an overnight stay in Oxford for training which involves the partners leading specific training sessions on their area of expertise.” Another lawyer enthuses: “Wiggin’s various experts are clearly high flyers who know their stuff and this rubs off in the approach to training which is comprehensive and inclusive.”
The firm provides up to three training contracts each year, paying a respectable £39,000 first year trainee salary, £42,000 for the second year and £65,000 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. It has 41 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.
Perhaps its expansion accounts for the fact that, despite “great” views across the Capital, the centrally located London office, just off Tottenham Court Road, is “cramped” and “very small”. This should not cause too much alarm, however. It’s a temporary problem as the office is being fully refurbished and “has recently taken more floors in the building”.
Wiggin lawyers work hard but the office tends to be fairly quiet by 7pm and there is no routine weekend working. There are “naturally long days involved from time to time but there is not a culture of working late for the sake of it which I have seen at other firms,” says one rookie. Another busy bee explains: “The hours were less than expected when I started, but it does have very busy periods which coincide with production peaking in the spring and summer months in the UK. There is no face time culture and you are not expected to work at weekends.” Having said that, one lawyer complains of “consistent long hours that aren’t disclosed upfront on joining ― billable hours target is 1,500 but irrespective there is a lot of dumping huge amounts of work and a ‘we did the hours, you do the hours’ culture”.
Recent secondments have included three months at a sports media company during the traineeship, six months at Vodafone, and a couple of months at a TV channel. One rookie spent three months at the firm’s Brussels office but international travel and secondment is generally rare.
It’s a sociable and non-hierarchical firm ― the offices are open-plan with hotdesking ― and the partners are “all incredibly nice and fun”. One lawyer who moved from a City firm recalls being “surprised at how friendly and approachable the partners are, the biggest difference for me moving from a City firm”. Another lawyer says the partners are “very approachable, take concerns on board and deal with issues quickly”. This makes a refreshing change, says yet another lawyer: “Unlike many law firms where a rigid hierarchy can hold people back and stifle innovation, Wiggin’s management actively seek the opinions of the entire firm and it never seems like merely paying lip service either, there’s genuine encouragement (via easy channels) for even the most junior people to get involved and contribute to the firm’s strategy and vision.”
Peers are also supportive albeit with “a few sharp elbows as is usual in law firm environment”. Lawyers rave about the “great atmosphere” and “great feeling of togetherness”, with “very few egos”. People “unconditionally step up to help each other at the drop of a hat” and the supportive nature of the firm is one of its “greatest strengths”.
What’s more, Wiggin people enjoy a good night out. While the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to put a fairly large spanner in the works, insiders reveal the firm takes prides in its social life. As well as running the aforementioned Wigstock music festival every two years, it has traditionally thrown an annual Christmas party “which involves a show by new joiners”, a solicitors’ dinner “which gets pretty messy and typically ends around 5am” 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.