The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Independent law firm Wedlake Bell is headquartered in London. The firm is renowned for its family law and private client practice, as well as for its real estate work. Wedlake Bell advises clients ranging from FTSE 100 companies to owner-managed businesses and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
The star performers
Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Contentious trusts and probate; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Employment: employers and senior executives; Family; Intellectual property; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property finance; Property litigation; VAT and indirect tax
Acting for YoBike on licensing arrangements relating to its patented YoBike bicycle rental system and mobile app; advised OKI Europe on the employment elements of the reorganisation of its EMEA operations; advised Warburg HIH Invest on lease transactions with H&M and Sushi Mania at a retail scheme in Cambridge; acted for Taylor Wimpey and Jaynic Suffolk Park in relation to the promotion agreement and construction documents for a 90-acre greenfield site in Suffolk; handled a case for Fresh Wharf Estates Limited. Injunctions were obtained against boat owners who have moored their boats adjacent to the client’s land which is set to undergo a major residential development; assisted Pearson Lloyd Design with contractual negotiations with a major European airline relating to the design of the business class seating and cabin interior of a new fleet of Boeing 777-9 aircraft
Bank of Ireland; Countrywide; Honest Burgers; HSBC; Hugo Boss UK; Kuehne + Nagel; Lacoste; Millennium Hotels; Royal Academy of Arts; Tesco Stores
Wedlake Bell has a ‘thriving private client department whilst also offering great services to corporate/commercial clients’. The small trainee intake and ‘positive experiences during the interview process’ convinced many of the current cohort to join. A Lex 100-winning vacation scheme also won over recruits. ‘Excellent’ was the word used to describe the level of client exposure afforded to new joiners; trainees are frequently ‘given full responsibility to work on a matter’, as evidenced in work highlights such as ‘meeting with a client on my own to sign documents’ and ‘spending the entire day in court with a client’. Having to ‘deal with a difficult client’ is the downside of receiving such high levels of client interaction. The ‘high quality of the supervision’ was praised: ‘there is a genuine intention to ensure that you learn and improve, rather than spending two years as someone’s assistant’. There is also a ‘lack of hierarchy’ and ‘many senior partners take an actual interest in more junior fee earners and support staff and make an effort to ask you about non-work-related aspects of your life’. On the flip side, the remuneration, especially at NQ level, is considered ‘not as competitive as at other firms of a similar size’. Other complaints centred on the ‘certain degree of opacity with regards to the qualification process’. There is, however, a ‘better than typical work/life balance’ and a good social life at the ‘open and friendly firm’. Moreover, the pro bono opportunities are ‘good for a firm of its size: it does outreach work to help law students from disadvantaged backgrounds’. For ‘more client contact and more autonomy to handle matters’, take a closer look at Wedlake Bell.
A day in the life of...
Jack Martin trainee solicitor, Wedlake Bell LLP
Departments to date: Property litigation, private client (current seat)
University:Queen Mary, University of London
8.45am: I arrive at work, get changed into my suit and make a coffee. I review the emails that have come in overnight, update my to-do list for the day ahead and look over my calendar to remind myself whether there are any upcoming appointments or deadlines.
9.00am: I am currently preparing draft wills for a couple based in the United Arab Emirates but domiciled in the UK. The clients have been advised to have wills dealing with their assets in the UK but also separate wills dealing with their assets in the United Arab Emirates. This is because the assets in the United Arab Emirates will usually be frozen while it is determined whether Sharia law applies or not. I therefore prepare four wills for the clients, together with a covering letter explaining the contents of each. I discuss the drafts with my supervisor and finalise the documents to send to the clients.
11.00am: The firm has a monthly chef’s table and this month’s theme is strawberries. I head up to the Hub with some of my fellow trainees to indulge in some of the treats on the table there.
11.15am: I am assisting a partner in preparing a note of advice for a client on whether there is an heirloom trust in place over a family portrait. I review the terms of the will which originally settled the portrait and discuss with the partner whether the wording of the will simply imposes a moral non-binding wish that the portrait be kept in the heirloom trust. I prepare an email to the client informing him that he may dispose of the portrait as he wishes.
12.00pm: An email comes in from a client confirming who he would like to appoint as his attorneys under his lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) for financial and health and care decisions. I finalise the LPAs and prepare a letter sending the documents to the client to approve.
1.00pm: I head out for lunch with a few other trainees and paralegals. It’s a fairly sunny day, so we sit on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral to eat.
2.00pm: I have been asked to attend a client meeting with a partner to help with a contentious probate matter. The client would like advice on whether there is a basis for challenging his wife’s latest will which makes inadequate financial provision for him. Before the meeting, I review the will in question, make note of our client’s interest in the estate and carry out some brief research to determine the terms on which a life tenant under a will trust has the right to occupy the trust property.
4.30pm: Our client, a wealthy businessman, needs advice on principal private residence relief. The client is considering whether to make his property in London his principal residence for capital gains tax purposes. I undertake some research to determine how the relief applies where the taxpayer has more than one residence and prepare a draft advice note for the matter partner to review.
5.30pm: My final task of the day involves me starting to prepare two deeds of retirement and appointment of trustees. There is a trustee meeting towards the end of the week which I am attending and both the retiring and new trustee will be present to sign the deeds.
6.30pm: Before I leave for the day, I update my to-do list and then head out of the office with some of the fellow trainees to grab an after work drink and discuss our respective days in the office.
About the firm
Address:71 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4AY
Telephone: 020 7406 1660
Senior partner: Kim Lalli
Managing partner: Martin Arnold
Who we are: Wedlake Bell LLP is a contemporary London law firm, rooted in tradition with a lasting legacy of client service. We have strong expertise in real estate, private client, dispute resolution and business services. Our driving force is to empower our clients by providing quality legal advice, insight and intelligence that enables them to achieve their goals whether personal or business. We are large enough to advise on the most complex matters, but small enough to ensure that our people and our work remain exceptional and dynamic.
What we do: With 66 partners supported by over 170 lawyers and support staff, we operate on a four practice group model: private client, business services, real estate and dispute resolution.
What we are looking for: Strong technical skills, diligent and hardworking, enthusiastic and self-motivated.
What you'll do:Six-month seats in four different practice areas. Trainee solicitors are closely supervised but have client contact and responsibility from day one.
Perks: Pension, health insurance, life assurance, season ticket loan, corporate gym membership, additional holiday scheme, give as you earn, cycle to work scheme, childcare vouchers.
Sponsorship:LPC funding available, subject to the terms and conditions of any offer.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 66
Other fee-earners: 115
Total trainees: 12
Turnover in 2017: £33.9m (+3% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £372,000 (+12%)
Trainee places available for 2021: 8
First year: £36,500
Second year: £38,500
Newly qualified: £60,000
Apply to:Natasha Rowe, HR manager.
When to apply:By 30 June 2019.
What's involved:Interviews, lunch with trainee committee, written exercises.
Summer:First three weeks of July 2019 (application process opens 1 November 2018; apply by 31 January 2019).