The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Hailed as one of the most innovative law firms, DWF operates out of commercial centres in the UK and Ireland, and also has offices in Dubai and Brussels. In 2016, DWF merged with German international commercial law firm Bridgehouse Law, which enhanced the firm’s international capability. The firm has core strengths in corporate, banking, insurance and litigation.
The star performers
Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Commodities: physicals; Corporate and commercial; Debt recovery; Dispute resolution; Energy; Employment; EU and competition; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Health and safety; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; Pensions; Personal injury: defendant; Professional negligence; Property finance; Property litigation; Social housing; Transport
Acted for Tatton Asset Management Plc in its £87m AIM IPO and listing; advising Edwin James Holdings Limited on its £24m acquisition of WT Parker Holdings Limited; acting for City of London Group Plc in its £20m reverse takeover of Milton Homes Limited from Delancey; represented Marks & Spencer at the Inner House of the Court of Session in a long-running dispute with landlord Gyle Shopping Centre General Partners Limited over the interpretation of a commercial lease, and the rights of the landlord to build a new Primark store in and adjacent to the Gyle shopping centre; advising ScottishPower on the £650m 1800 MW combined cycle gas turbine project in Kent
Anglian Water Services; Arcadia Group; Booker Group; Fleetcor; Investec Bank; Keywords Studios Plc; Nimex Petroleum; Prudential Platinum Pension Plan; Trafigura; Vensys Energy
A ‘top law firm’ with its headquarters in Manchester, DWF works for ‘very well-known prestigious clients’ and new recruits benefit from ‘high-level exposure to top-quality work from day one’. The firm operates a ‘less structured training contract’ where recruits learn on the job, but whilst there is ‘minimal hand holding’, supervisors are certainly ‘accessible’ and provide ‘excellent support’ if guidance is needed. Indeed, the ‘working culture’ was consistently lauded, thanks to the firm ‘striking the right balance: it has the culture of a smaller organisation but really punches above its weight in terms of work and clients’. Pleasing was ‘the high number of client secondments available in London’ and the firm’s encouragement of ‘agile working, which provides flexibility for people with families’. New joiners appreciate DWF’s ‘inclusive environment’ and the ‘value placed on trainees’. The ‘limited opportunities to do a secondment abroad’ was listed as one of the firm’s drawbacks, as was the ‘lack of transparency in seat and qualification options’. Unsurprisingly, the workload for a DWF trainee can fluctuate: ‘a series of quiet periods' irked one respondent, whilst, in contrast, other trainees were tasked with 'archiving 100 lever-arch files' and reported that ‘the amount of work just before Christmas was unending’. Standout work moments included ‘processing civil litigation disputes and independently drafting key correspondence and court forms’ and ‘working on the acquisition of a large shopping centre’. Trainees also enjoyed going on client secondments: it was ‘an incredible experience developing both legal skills and a deeper understanding of the client’s business’. To join ‘a challenger firm with a focus on innovation and creative solutions’, apply to DWF
A day in the life of...
Bethany Thompson second-year trainee solicitor, DWF LLP
Departments to date: Real estate litigation and regulatory, compliance and investigations
University:The University of Manchester
8.40am: I arrive at the office after a 40-minute commute. Having checked my emails on the Metrolink, I’ve responded to my supervising partner advising that I have capacity to take on a new urgent matter that’s just come in – I block out my morning calendar.
8.45am: I make a call to the partner (who is travelling to a sentencing hearing) to discuss the urgent task. Our care home client has received a notice of proposal from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to revoke its registration, and if we don’t act quickly, the home could face closure. I take instructions on what I need to do.
9.10am: I begin reviewing the CQC’s inspection report and notice to ascertain which regulations are alleged to have been breached and the evidence supporting those breaches. I flag points of issue that we can dispute and note questions to ask our client for comment on, so as to assist us in drafting a response to the notice.
12.00pm: I have a quick coffee before heading up to the client suite for a meeting with a director client on another matter who is facing potential criminal charges for alleged health and safety breaches, so he is understandably very anxious during the meeting. I take notes while my colleague prepares our client for his interview under caution with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It is important that, as well as dealing with the law and advising him around that, we demonstrate empathy and understanding to this client.
1.30pm: I grab lunch from the onsite bistro and catch up on my sports and social committee emails. I send out an invitation to the next weekly corporate yoga class held at our office, and email my suggestions to the rest of the team on possible venues for the Manchester office’s summer party.
1.45pm: A calendar alert reminds me to start researching into recent case law developments surrounding legal privilege. We’re due to hold a training session next week for a client on how they can utilise legal privilege to protect their position during police and HSE investigations following an accident. I add the findings of my legal research to the presentation slides that I’ve prepared and send them over to my colleague for review.
3.00pm: I check my to-do list and see that we need to instruct an expert in the field of veterinary surgery to produce an expert report – our client (a vet) is due to attend a professional disciplinary hearing. I research online and post on Yammer (our internal social platform) to see if other fee-earners have any recommendations. I then call several suggested experts to obtain their availability for the hearing, fee estimates and details of their expertise, to include in a memo for the instructing fee-earner.
5.25pm: I attend a meeting with my colleague who I’m due to attend a site visit with tomorrow on a case concerning a fatality. We need to review the coroner’s bundle of documents with the client in advance of the coroner’s inquest to obtain their comments on any points of issue or discrepancies in the witness statements and police interview transcripts. I’m tasked with taking detailed notes during the meeting, and photographing the site to assist the coroner’s understanding of the case.
6.00pm: To round off the day, my team and I head over to a gin tasting event at a local barristers’ chambers – it’s a great opportunity to network with other regulatory lawyers and wind down after a typically busy day!
About the firm
Address:1 Scott Place, 2 Hardman Street, Manchester, M3 3AA
Telephone: 0161 603 5000
Facebook:DWF LLP Graduate Recruitment
Senior partner: Carl Graham
Managing partner: Andrew Leaitherland
Other offices: Belfast, Berlin, Birmingham, Brisbane, Bristol, Brussels, Chicago, Cologne, Doha, Dubai, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, Milton Keynes, Munich, Newcastle (Australia), Newcastle (UK), Singapore, Sydney, Toronto.
Who we are: DWF is a global legal business that goes beyond borders, sectors and expectations.
What we do: The business has core strengths in corporate and banking, insurance and litigation, and in-depth industry expertise in eight core sectors.
What we are looking for: We’re looking for team players who are committed to a career in law and respond positively to change.
What you'll do:Trainees undertake four six-month seats and are supported to fulfil their potential through training, practical day-to-day working and in-house learning and workshops.
Perks: Life assurance, pension provision, healthcare and options for a number of voluntary benefits (apple and windows products, retail vouchers, gym membership, cycle to work scheme, season ticket loan, additional insurances and payroll giving).
Sponsorship:DWF sponsors the LPC/Scottish Diploma fees.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 316
Other fee-earners: 764
Total trainees: 84
Trainee places available for 2021: c.40
Applications received pa: 2,500
First year: Subject to location £22,000-£38,000 (excluding Belfast).
Apply to:Sarah Tucker – emerging talent specialist.
What's involved: Online application form, video interview, assessment centre, ‘Meet the senior partners’ event.
When to apply:
Training contract commencing in 2021: By 5 July 2019
Vacation scheme 2019: By 4 January 2019