The Legal Cheek View
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. “If you’re interested in media & entertainment law, the work does not get better than at Wiggin. The firm is unarguably a leader in the media & entertainment space,” says one rookie.
Reflecting on how stimulating the work is on offer at Wiggin, one insider simply tells us: “Very!” Fortunately, another offers this more detailed insight: “In the first few weeks of my first seat I was pretty amazed to be doing work for Microsoft, for example! Now, in my Film & TV seat, the contracts I’m working on are filled with star-studded cast names and big film studios, which (as far as commercial contracts go) is very cool”.
Another rookie enthuses: “The work is cutting edge stuff. The firm is more often than not in the vanguard of the latest global media story, development or transaction and the subject matter that underpins the legal work is exciting, high profile and often pretty newsworthy.”
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 and tech focus, Wiggin’s agile working capabilities attract high praise. The firm allows lawyers to work away from the office 50% of the time, we are told, and “provides everything you need whether it’s monitors, desk chair and desk” to help facilitate this.
Another area where the firm excels is training, according to Legal Cheek’s spies. “Training was excellent with regular meetings, appraisals and a wide variety of work,” one former rookie explains. “Certain teams are better than others for training, however, as some teams are not as used to getting trainees, it can take a little time to bring you in on matters. Once working on them, however, the work is always interesting and far beyond normal ‘trainee level’ work.” We are also told the firm is in the process of developing and implementing “a series of training sessions throughout the year for trainees”. But another warns the lack of formal introductions can make the start of each seat “pretty sink or swim”.
And there is a real sense of camaraderie across the firm, thanks in part to the firm’s trainee intake of just four. “Couldn’t ask for more,” one well-supported rookie gushes. “The other trainees, paralegals, and juniors are all really supportive, open to questions, and genuinely try to help each other out.”
This sense of comradeship helps foster a “down-to-earth culture”. One insider explains that “senior lawyers at Wiggin really are experts in their field, so you have the opportunity to learn from the best”. But this certainly does not mean that they are unapproachable, in fact, trainees frequently work closely with partners on a 1-1 basis. The firm is very sociable and non-hierarchical, a fact best showcased by the annual Christmas show put on by trainees, which pokes fun at all of the partners. “If there were any intimidating characters, that brings them down to size in the minds of new joiners!” points out one. Another told Legal Cheek that “people get on famously with natural, honest, supportive collaborations on projects”.
But it’s not all back-slaps and bright smiles. One insider cautions that partner approachability “really varies” and some senior lawyers “could definitely do more to communicate with trainees”.
That said, “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”. Consensus is that the firm’s IT is “good”, with one rookie pointing to the “quality laptops” and “handy” contract review software.
Away from the legal work, trainees and juniors can take advantage of the firm’s lively social and sporting scene that helps foster a healthy atmosphere of team players. As well as running the aforementioned Wigstock music festival every two years, Wiggin traditionally throws an annual Christmas party featuring the aforementioned show put on 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, with a group of the firm’s lycra-clad lawyers completing trips from Cheltenham to Dublin, and from London to Paris in recent years. The firm’s football team, the Wiggin Warriors, plays once a week, and there are also ski trips.
Wiggin’s office in London is currently undergoing a major refurb, so for now lawyers find themselves working from temporary digs. That said, one respondent reveals the “very swanky” revamped space will boast a roof terrace, “good social spaces” including a bar as well as “living walls made of moss on the client floor”. A move-in date of late 2022 is said to be in the diary. Elsewhere, the firm’s Cheltenham office boasts “beautiful views” of the historic spa town.
The firm provides around four training contracts each year, paying a respectable £46,000 first year trainee salary, £49,200 for the second year and £77,000 on qualification. Those who make it all the way to equity partner can expect to take home around half a million per year. It has around 40 partners and offices in London, Brussels, Cheltenham and Edinburgh.
Wiggin lawyers work hard but the office tends to be fairly quiet by 7pm and there is no routine weekend working. One source tells us the hours vary considerably between practice areas “but overall I can’t complain”. They continue: “I think everyone expects to work relatively long days if you come into law, but it’s never been really excessive crazy hours during my time at the firm. It would be very unusual for me to have to miss something I’ve planned outside of work due to needing to stay late.”
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 on weekends.”
Recent secondments have included three months in the commercial team of Warner Bros Studios and six months at US gaming company Take-Two Interactive. While in the past some rookies have reported spending time in the firm’s Brussels office, international opportunities are generally rare.