The best advocates of our graduate careers are the trainees themselves. Read what four of them have to say about life at AG.
Job title: Trainee
Office Location: Manchester
Current Department: Real Estate
How I got here
I’m a registered Pharmacist, so this is my second career. It was hard to change direction, but I’d reached a plateau in pharmacy and wanted to stretch myself. Commercial law seemed like a sure-fire way to do that. Being based in Manchester, what sold Addleshaw Goddard was its reputation as the best law firm in the city. And it treated its national work just the same as its cases in London.
My first seat
My first seat was in Banking. I worked on several corporate lending deals (acting both lender-side for the major clearing banks as well as borrower-side for large companies), focusing on managing the condition precedent process and the drafting of ancillary documents. My second six months was in Infrastructure, Projects & Energy. Here my focus has been on rail, healthcare and local government matters. This included researching commercial issues as well as legal questions, because the work is truly sector specific.
Feel the trust
I appreciate the fact that trainees are really trusted here. I’ve led client meetings alone, and I’m backed to 'get on' with things. Being the main point of contact for a client on a banking deal towards the end of my first seat was a real highlight. I felt comfortable managing things to ensure they were completed on time, answering client questions throughout. It was a great boost to know that the partner trusted me to assist in the way that an NQ or a junior associate would otherwise have done.
Love the complexity
I worked on a large infrastructure project for a Danish client recently - a €6 billion rail and road tunnel construction between Denmark and Germany. It’s highly complex multi-phase scheme and has huge political importance to Denmark. The drafting is very technical and intricate. I had the opportunity to draft small parts of the documents, and travel to Copenhagen with a senior lawyer to meet the client. You learn so much about a client's key concerns and objectives this way, understanding what’s really important to them. The Danish drafting style is very different to English drafting, which isn't something I never thought I would have to consider during my training contract!
Job title: Trainee
Office Location: Edinburgh
Current Department: Construction, Engineering and Environment
How I got here
Originally from an insignificant but lovely little village in north-east Fife, I studied both the LLB and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Aberdeen.
AG is a firm that acts for large, institutional clients, so a lot of the work is on exciting and fast-moving deals. I’ve been able to act on some incredibly interesting, high-value, and complex matters for global clients. As my confidence has grown, I’ve been able to take a central role in transactions, frequently answering client queries directly and without prior supervisory approval. While this level of responsibility can be daunting, I think it’s indispensable if you’re going to properly 'find your feet'.
Encouraged from day one
In the second week of my traineeship, I remember a chat with a partner following a client conference call: "just fill your boots on this one really," he said. I was surprised at the time, but in a good way. It brought home the exciting challenge of an AG traineeship. You’re encouraged from day one to bring everything to the table. No idea is a bad idea, and no question is brushed off. There’s always room for you to add value as a trainee, and the key is looking for these chances. The same ethos applies with senior team members, always looking for ways to deliver a 'more-than' service. Reflecting on the 'fill your boots' phrase a year on, it’s probably the best piece of advice I could pass on to any aspiring trainee. I adopted it as a bit of a mantra and doing so has paid off in spades.
Throwing myself in
I’ve worked in two departments so far – Business Support & Restructuring and Construction, Engineering & Environment – and I’ve tried to take on the full range of work available. Trainees are encouraged to do this because it allows you to be useful to as many people as possible and quickly learn new skills. I’ve been involved in a lot of work: preparing bundles for court, instructing counsel, fielding calls, drafting contracts, organising e-files, creating inventories, attending client meetings, attending court, drafting briefing notes, writing articles and presenting internally and externally.
No end of support
AG is one of those employers where you don't need to be looking for support to receive it. I’ve received support every day, from any and every avenue.
A friendly bunch
The people here are great! They’re very friendly across all departments and levels. Socials are frequent and we recently had summer parties for each of the offices in very glam venues. There are also brilliant away days for each department.
My most enjoyable moment
My best moment – or my most exciting – came when my article on Brexit and cross-border insolvency law was published by the firm. Aside from the article's content (which I swear is deeply engaging stuff) there was pleasure in knowing the firm supported me in putting across a great deal of research.
Job title: Trainee
Current Department: Finance Litigation
How I got here
I studied Law with European Studies at the University of Leeds. What attracted me to AG was the high-quality work but also the brilliantly friendly culture. People say it’s an "international firm with a northern soul", which I think is pretty accurate! Each day is different and you never know what’s coming around the corner. In Litigation, typical tasks range from drafting documents for court to meeting with clients or giving training and drafting articles on interesting areas of law. Whichever department you're in, it's never dull.
Excellent facilities, great surroundings
The offices are excellent, and the investment reflects the firm's success and growth in recent years, which only seems to be continuing.
Highly complex work
My first seat was in Financial Regulation, which involved working in Consumer Credit and Payments. I worked with a wide range of financial institutions to ensure their compliance in a highly complex area of law. I'm currently in Financial Litigation, which is really exciting and fast-paced. There's a lot of expertise in the team and I've been lucky enough to work on some very high-profile matters.
Delighting the client
My proudest moment so far has been successfully defending an application to set aside default judgment. The client was very happy with the result and it made all the hours of hard work worth it!
Learning from the best
It's really inspiring working with a group of dynamic people who are not only at the top of their game but are great fun too. It's good to feel like I'm learning from the best.
Job title: Trainee
Current Department: Mainstream Corporate
How I got here
I studied law at university but had second thoughts and went into retail for a while after graduating. I was offered a place on a procurement grad scheme and the irony is that it reignited my interest in the legal sector! During this time, I took part in a vacation scheme with Addleshaw Goddard and really enjoyed it, so I accepted the offer of a training contract.
Doing the vacation scheme
I spent my vacation scheme in the Corporate Fraud department and the Corporate department. While I was here, we were in the midst of the Berezovsky case. It was an extremely exciting case to be involved in and I ended up following it as it progressed.
Trainees are trusted
As a trainee, I’ve been given quite a bit of responsibility, including a client secondment in my second seat. I was trusted to manage a legal stream whilst on secondment and given ownership of that area. It meant drafting various agreements and ensuring the business was up-to-speed on the weekly updates from the Advertising and Standards Authority. I’ve also helped to negotiate key contracts, drafted key documents and Due Diligence reports and carried out verification of the main takeover documents. I’ve also been trusted to run completions, and this often involves huge amounts of documentation, as well as guiding the client through signing them.
You never stop learning
Regardless of your level of seniority, you’re constantly learning something and being stretched. AG is a firm that takes pride in developing all of its employees. You’re given as much responsibility as you ask for, and it’s something I really appreciate. The calibre of clients is also impressive. It's exciting to see the work that you’ve done reported in the press and it’s rewarding to see a deal come together. This is even more exciting when you’ve had a high level of client contact, as you’re in touch with the people who are running the process from a commercial point of view.
An eye-opening deal
I was recently part of a team advising the A&J Mucklow Group plc on their acquisition by London Metric Property. This was the first public takeover that I worked on, and it was extremely eye-opening as the timeline was extremely tight. Having studied schemes of arrangement in theory, it was interesting to see it in action. Our client was a family owned company that had become one of the largest property companies in the Midlands. It was interesting to see what the Chairman had to do to get his family members on side and get the requisite voting percentage to pass the Scheme of Arrangement. I got involved in many different streams of work, as we had to prepare the announcement documentation as specified by the Takeover Code, which meant ensuring was correct and could be substantiated. We also had to prepare the actual Scheme of Arrangement document as well as all the court documents. Timelines are dictated by regulation, so it was essential we stuck to them while being efficient. I learned a lot about the public takeover process and the documents that are required – it’s very different from a traditional private takeover.
Living the culture
I’m always sceptical about firms that throw ‘culture’ around as a buzzword. But having worked at Addleshaw Goddard 18 months now, I know they practice what they preach. Everyone is very approachable, including all of the partners. You also work closely with partners, which means they’re invested in your development as a lawyer. The atmosphere is collaborative, and everyone is happy to be here – it’s not stressful or stuffy. Simple as it sounds, people are nice to each other at AG and it makes a big difference. AG is a firm that’s interested in its people, and this comes across in lots of ways. People are trusted and there’s a huge amount of support for trainees, but you’re also treated as part of the team. This makes you feel more included, especially during the first couple of months of a new seat which can be a steep learning curve.