Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams

Address: 15 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2HB

Web: www.wfw.com

Email: uktrainees@wfw.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Guaranteed international secondment’; ‘good hours to pay ratio’; ‘friendly, developing firm to be a part of’; ‘collegiate atmosphere’; ‘the international aspect of the firm’; ‘reputation both as a friendly firm but also the best at what it does’; ‘six- seat system’; ‘consistently high NQ retention rates’; ‘the vac scheme sold me on what I already knew from the open day’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Its quirkiness’; ‘the work-hard-play-hard ethos’; ‘the six-seat rotation so there’s opportunity to try more areas of law and go on more secondments’; ‘the attitude – most people tend to share the same views’; ‘very sociable in an informal way – our trainee intake is actually friends’; ‘the high-quality work where the firm on the other side is often Magic or Silver Circle’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Perhaps because it is midsized, it doesn’t have the same number of perks, like a smart office or a gym’; ‘there is a little bit of a “face-time” culture’; ‘limited training sessions and departmental talks tailored especially for trainees’; ‘the quality of food in the canteen’; ‘disruption of moving seats every four months’
Best moment? 
 '‘A deal closing on the last business day of 2017 in the Athens office, which I had been heavily involved in’; ‘hard work on several deals which closed on the same day being recognised’; ‘being given complex client questions and drafting advice/documents based on my analysis which were actually used and trusted’; ‘handling a closing in the first few weeks’
Worst moment?
 '‘Being the only lawyer in the office working past 2am two nights in a row’; ‘reviewing correspondence files’; ‘settling into a very busy period of a new seat’; ‘staying until 3am when I knew it wasn’t entirely necessary’; ‘work at unsociable hours not being acknowledged’; ‘unexpected late night finishes’; ‘long hours’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Odysseus – he went on epic travels, liked ships and punched above his weight when fighting gods and monsters

The verdict

The firm

Watson Farley & Williams has an impressive network of 14 offices in 11 jurisdictions throughout Europe, Asia and the US. The firm has particular expertise in the energy & infrastructure, maritime, natural resources, real estate and transport sectors. Watson Farley & Williams advises on a wide range of corporate and finance transactions and disputes. 

The star performers

Asset finance and leasing; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: hotels and leisure; Commodities: physicals; Corporate tax; EU and competition; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Immigration: business; International arbitration; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m – £250m; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Power (including electricity and renewables); Private equity: transactions – mid-market deals; Property finance; Property litigation; Rail; Shipping; Trade finance

The deals

Advised Mariana Resources on its £166.85m combination with Sandstorm Gold; advised Velocita on its £191.5m sale of a portfolio of wind farm projects in eastern France to Innergex Renewable Energy and Desjardins Group Pension Plan; acting for Investec Bank on rent review provisions at a solar photovoltaic farm in Wiltshire; acted for Diversified Gas & Oil Plc in its $84.2m reverse takeover of certain oil and gas assets of Titan Energy; advised Höegh LNG on the $230m debt financing for its eighth floating storage and regasification unit currently under construction in South Korea

The clients

BP Pension Fund; Carnival Cruise; Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners; Downing; OakNorth Bank; PKA; Shapadu Corporation; Statkraft; Teekay Wellesley Finance

The verdict

Watson Farley & Williams offers trainees a ‘guaranteed overseas seat’ and the promise of ‘high-level work in niche areas’. The firm is strong in asset finance, boasts a ‘very well-regarded shipping practice’ and has ‘performed solidly over recent years’. International secondments, which are ‘great because they push you and strengthen your confidence’, and ‘great pay’ have earned WFW two Lex 100 Winner medals this year. Indeed, some trainees even have the opportunity to undertake up to three seats abroad thanks to the six-seat rotation. The ‘well-organised and enjoyable vacation scheme’ played a part in selling the firm to trainees, not least because they got to sample the ‘welcoming and friendly atmosphere’ where ‘everyone was willing to assist in whatever way they could’ before committing to joining. Together forming part of a ‘mid-sized intake’, recruits are ‘actually friends’ and ‘work closely together’. Some trainees begrudged ‘unpredictable hours’, which included being subjected to ‘strings of very late nights in the run up to Christmas’. A related gripe was the ‘lack of appreciation for working unsociable hours’ at times. The canteen food was also criticised by some respondents. Although there is ‘less regimented training’ than at some comparable firms, the quality of work is high and WFW regularly ‘competes with the Magic Circle for work’. ‘Working on a large renewable energy acquisition’ and ‘working in a very small team on a mid-sized M&A transaction’ are examples of what trainees get involved with. For a ‘genuinely friendly’ firm which offers ‘broader exposure to different areas of law’ where the work is ‘almost entirely international’, apply to Watson Farley & Williams.

 A day in the life of...

harry osborne

Harry Osborne first-year trainee, Watson Farley & Williams 

Departments to date:  Litigation and asset finance (London), asset finance (Greece)

University:University of Exeter 
Degree:Geography 2(1) 

8.30am:  It is a Wednesday, so I wake up a little earlier than usual and head to the weekly neighbourhood farmers’ market. It is a riot of bright fruits, vegetables and fish. I stroll around and buy seasonal cherries, apricots, peaches and a melon – essentials to counterbalance my otherwise souvlaki and gyros-heavy diet!

10.00am:  I get a taxi to the Liberian Shipping Registry in Piraeus for a closing. Our client, a bank, has lent money to a shipping company to assist them with the acquisition of three oil tankers. I ensure that the shipping company has signed all the requisite documents then phone the associate dealing with the matter to check that we are ready to proceed with the closing. Upon her instructions, I authorise the registry to register new mortgages over the three vessels in our client’s favour, protecting their position. On the way back to the office I grab a takeaway freddo espresso. Greeks take their cold coffee very seriously. It is already 35° outside so this is just the ticket.

12.00pm:  When I return to the office I collate, witness and date the documents from the closing, before circulating them via email. I also email the various insurance brokers who have arranged cover for the vessels. As security for the loan, the borrower assigns the benefit of the vessels’ insurances to the bank. I email the insurance brokers to inform them that pursuant to the closing of the deal, the borrower has assigned their rights to the bank.

2.00pm:  I still haven’t got used to the comparatively late lunch in Greece, so by now I am starving! Today I have ordered gemistas from a local taverna. When my order arrives, I eat in the canteen with other members of staff, who are always full of recommendations for which island to visit next!

2.30pm:  I return to my desk and respond to any emails that arrived while I was away. My supervisor briefs me on a new matter that has just come in – deals move very quickly here! We discuss the deal and its context. I feel very able, and encouraged, to ask questions, and the team are keen to help me learn as much as possible, which is great. I start drafting the corporate authorities for the new matter.

5.00pm:  I head to the kitchen to make coffee and discover a mountain of sweets and ice creams. Greeks like to celebrate birthdays, name days, work anniversaries and even their children’s name days by bringing in treats for their colleagues!

5.10pm:  I start preparing security documents for the new matter. I draft a general assignment and a manager’s undertaking, working from the firm’s precedents. I discuss the drafts with my supervisor, noting where I need to make amendments.

6.30pm:  Like almost all of the deals I have been involved with at WFW, the latest one is multi-jurisdictional. I email foreign lawyers in WFW offices abroad to offer background to our latest instructions and request their assistance with foreign law aspects of the deal. This one features a Liberian borrower and Maltese flagged ships.

7.15pm:  Before leaving the office I tidy up my email inbox and write a to-do list for the next day.

7.30pm:  I head to Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre with the other WFW trainee to watch the evening’s World Cup match. The cultural centre is an incredible contemporary building perched atop a huge artificial hill, designed by the same architect as the Shard. We meet up with trainees from other international law firms, set up camp in front of the big screen, and crack open cold beers.

About the firm

Address:15 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2HB

Telephone: 020 7814 8000

Fax:020 7814 8017




Managing partner:  Chris Lowe

Managing partner:  Lothar Wegener

Other offices: Athens, Bangkok, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome, Singapore. 

Who we are: WFW was founded in 1982 in London. It has since grown to over 150 partners and a staff of over 800.

What we do: WFW is a distinctive law firm with a leading market position in international finance and investment, maritime and energy. We also specialise in natural resources, transport, real estate and technology.

What we are looking for: You will need a 2(1) or above. We also ask for at least ABB from A-level results, or their equivalent. As well as academic achievement, we particularly value applicants with initiative, drive and commercial awareness.

What you'll do:At WFW we deal with training and ongoing development in an individual way. During each seat, we discuss with you plans for the next one, encouraging a two-way conversation about areas you are interested in. Each trainee undertakes six four-month seats, sitting with a partner or a senior associate. Trainees spend one of those seats in an overseas office.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday, income protection scheme, life assurance, employee assistance scheme, group personal pension scheme, annual interest-free season ticket loan, £250 contribution towards a sports club membership or exercise classes of your choice, private medical insurance, flexible benefits scheme.

Sponsorship:Fees paid for both the GDL and the LPC, depending on the point of offer, plus a maintenance grant.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 160

Other fee-earners: 440

Total trainees: 36

Trainee places available for 2021: 18

Applications received pa: c600 

Percentage interviewed: 30% 


First year: £43,000

Second year: £46,000

Newly qualified: £70,000

 Application process

Apply to:Lucie Rees, graduate recruitment and development manager.

How: Online application form.

When to apply:By 15 July 2019 for 2021 training contracts.

What's involved:Online application form followed by a video interview, an assessment centre and a partner interview.

 Vacation schemes

Spring:1-12 April 2019 (apply by 14 January 2019).

Summer:10-21 June 2019 and 8-19 July 2019 (apply by 14 January 2019).