The most persuasive advocates of graduate careers at Addleshaw Goddard are the trainees themselves. Read what four of them have to say about life here.
Job title: Trainee
Office Location: Manchester
Department: 1st seat – Banking, 2nd seat – Infrastructure, Projects & Energy, 3rd seat – Real Estate, 4th seat – TBC
How I got here
I’m a registered Pharmacist and have been since 2009, and so this is my second career. It was a hard decision to change direction but I felt I’d reached a plateau in pharmacy and wanted stretch myself. Commercial law seemed like a sure-fire way to do just that.
Being based in Manchester, what sold Addleshaw Goddard to me was its reputation as best law firm in the city – a firm that treated its national work as every bit as important 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 mainly 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 has 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 Im 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 the matter to ensure that it completed on time and 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 – a sign that trainees are given real responsibility at AG.
Love the complexity
I worked on a large infrastructure project for a Danish client recently. It’s a €6 billion rail and road tunnel construction between Denmark and Germany. It’s highly complex and multi-phase, 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 – i.e. understanding what is really important to them and the project. The Danish drafting style is very different to English drafting, which isn’t something that I thought I would have to consider during my training contract!
Job title: Trainee
Office Location: Edinburgh
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 prides itself on acting for large, institutional clients, so a great amount of the work is on exciting and often fast-moving transactions and deals. I’ve been able to act on some incredibly interesting, high-value, and legally and commercially complex matters for large, global clients.
As the confidence of partners and associates in my work has increased and as my own confidence has grown, I have been able to take an often very central role in a transaction – 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 where he concluded the talk with: “just fill your boots on this one really”.
I was surprised at the time, but in a good way. It really brought home to me the exciting challenge that faces you at the start of a traineeship with AG. You’re encouraged, from day one, to bring as much as you can to the table: no idea is a bad idea, and no question brushed off. There are always going to be opportunities for you to add value as a trainee, and the key is actively looking for these chances. The same ethos applies upwards, with senior team members always looking for best way to show AG’s ability to provide a ‘more-than’ service to its clients.
Reflecting on the ‘fill your boots’ phrase a year on, it’s probably the best piece of advice I could pass on to any incoming / aspiring trainee. I certainly decided to adopt it as a bit of a mantra and doing so has paid off in spades.
Throwing myself in
Over the course of the two departments that I have worked in so far – Business Support & Restructuring and Construction, Engineering & Environment – I’ve tried to get involved in the full range of work fielded by the entire team. Trainees are encouraged to do so – it not only allows you to be as useful as possible to as many people as possible, but also facilitates a very wide and steep learning curve.
I’ve been involved in a lot: preparing bundles for court, instructing counsel, fielding calls, drafting/negotiating/reviewing contracts, organising e-files, creating inventories and tracker tables for incoming and outgoing documents, attending client meetings, attending court, drafting briefing notes, writing articles, presenting internally, and presenting externally.
No end of support
AG is one of those employers where you don’t need to be actively looking for support to receive it. Looking back, I have received support every day from any and every avenue.
A friendly bunch
The people here are great: very friendly across all departments and levels. Socials are frequent and encouraged. We recently had summer parties for each of the offices, all of which in very glam venues.
The firm also organises away-days for each department, and these stretch across all of the AG offices.
My most enjoyable moment
My most enjoyable moment – or at least my most exciting – came as I received confirmation that an article I had written on the effect of Brexit on cross-border insolvency law was going to be published by the firm. Aside from the article’s content (which, I swear, is deeply engaging stuff…), it was the pleasure I felt in knowing that I had the support of the firm in putting forth the fruits of a great deal of research and time.
Job title: Trainee
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 combination of high-quality work and brilliantly friendly culture. It was described to me as an “international firm with a northern soul”, which I think is pretty accurate!
Each day as a trainee is different and you never quite know what’s coming around the corner. In Litigation, typical trainee tasks range from drafting letters and documents for court, to meeting with clients, giving training and drafting articles on interesting areas of law. Whichever department you’re in, it’s never dull.
Excellent facilities, great surroundings
The facilities and the building are excellent. Addleshaw Goddard have invested heavily in the offices and they’re great surroundings to work in. Their continued investment is a symptom of 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 mainly in Consumer Credit and Payments. I worked with a wide range of financial institutions to ensure their compliance with this highly complex area of law.
I’m currently in Financial Litigation, which is a really exciting and fast-paced department. There’s a wide variety of expertise in the team and I’ve been lucky enough to work on some properly high-profile matters.
Delighting the client
My most enjoyable moment so far has been succeeding in defending an application to set aside default judgement. The client was very happy with the result and it made all the hours of hard work worth it. Great job satisfaction!
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 in the field they work in, but are great fun too. It’s great to feel like I’m learning from the best.
Job title: Trainee
Department: Mainstream Corporate
How I got here:
I studied law at university, had second thoughts and went into retail for a while on graduating. I was offered a place on the organisation’s procurement grad scheme and the irony is that it was this that 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 accepted the offer of a training contract.
I spent my vacation scheme in the Corporate Fraud department and the Corporate department.
Fortunately, while I was here, we were in the midst of the Berezovsky case – so my week in Corporate Fraud was spent helping out wherever I could with that. 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, having been on 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 that I was able to draft various agreements, as well as ensuring that 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 transactional documents, drafted various ancillary documents and Due Diligence reports, and carried out verification of the main public company takeover documents.
I have also been trusted to run completions (physical or digital), and this often involves huge amounts of documentation, as well as guiding the client through signing them.
You never stop learning
Regardless of what stage of your career you are at, you are constantly learning something – you’re constantly being stretched, and it is a firm that takes pride in the development of every single one of its employees. You’re given as much responsibility as you ask for, and this is something that I have really appreciated.
The calibre of clients goes hand-in-hand with the level of work that we get to do here. It’s really exciting to see the work that you have done reported in the press and it is extremely rewarding to see a deal come together. This is even more exciting when you have had a high level of client contact, as you are directly 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 deal team that was advising A&J Mucklow Group plc on their acquisition by LondonMetric Property Plc. This was the first public takeover that I worked on, and it was an extremely eye-opening one as the timeline was extremely tight. After having studied the mechanics of a scheme of arrangement in the theoretical sense from the LPC, it was interesting to see it in action.
Our client was a family owned company, that had grown to be one of the largest property companies in the Midlands. So, from a perspective of achieving the requisite voting percentage to pass the Scheme of Arrangement it was interesting to see the work that the Chairman had to do in order to get his family members on side through irrevocable undertakings to assure that they got to the requisite majority.
I was able to get involved in all of the different streams of work, as we had to prepare the announcement documentation, as specified by the Takeover Code, which meant that we had to ensure that everything that was being claimed was correct and could be substantiated. We also had to prepare the actual Scheme of Arrangement document, which also had to be verified, as well as all of the court documents as this transaction was sanctioned by the Court.
As the timelines are mainly dictated by regulation, it was essential that we were sticking to them and being efficient where we were shortening certain ones. I learned a lot about what goes into a public takeover process, as well as all of the documents that need to be drafted and prepared; as it is very different from a traditional private takeover.
Living the culture
I am always sceptical about a firm that throws “culture” around as a buzz word. However, having worked at Addleshaw Goddard for coming up to 18 months, I’ve realised that they practice what they preach.
As a firm, everyone is very approachable – this includes all of the partners. You work quite closely with partners (who tend to be hands-on during a deal), which means that they are invested in your development as a lawyer. The atmosphere is collaborative and everyone is happy to be here, which contributes to the atmosphere being positive rather than stressful or stuffy. Simple as it sounds, people are nice to each other at Addleshaw Goddard, and it makes it a pleasant place to work (which is essential given that the hours can be quite long sometimes).
Addleshaw Goddard is a firm that is interested in its people, and this comes across in the way that you are treated. People are trusted. There is a huge amount of support for trainees but you are also treated as part of the team that you are in. This goes a long way to making you feel more included, especially during the first couple of months of a new seat which can be a steep learning curve.