Securing a Training Contract at WFW: Four Trainees' Insights

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We caught up with four first-first year trainees at WFW to hear their thoughts on securing a Training Contract…


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at WFW

I am a second-seat trainee currently on secondment to Athens. I assist the Assets and Structured Finance team with sale and leaseback transactions, reflagging of vessels and due diligence projects. We also work with buyers and financial institutions to help with financing or refinancing the acquisition of individual vessels and fleets.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at WFW

I am a second-seat trainee in Dispute Resolution. Prior to joining WFW, I worked in various legal roles across London and New York before studying an LLM in International and European Law at the Brussels School of Governance. The role of a trainee varies every day. Some of my favourite tasks have included updating journal articles following substantive changes in law and conducting legal research.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at WFW

I am a first-year trainee currently completing my second seat, in WFW’s Singapore office with the Assets and Structured Finance team.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at WFW

I came from a non-law background, studying languages at university and then completing the Law Conversion Course (GDL) and Legal Practice Course. I'm now a second seat trainee currently sitting in Real Estate. My day-to-day in this seat is quite varied, as the work is a mixture of construction, finance and 'core' real estate work. I also work on a variety of tasks, for example getting involved in research, drafting and transaction management.

What was your motivation behind choosing a Training Contract?

Zsofi: When choosing a Training Contact, the key motivation for me was to work at a firm which gave me international exposure, even as a trainee. Working on deals involving a large number of jurisdictions exposes you to more complex matters and develops a greater skill set. The style of training, whereby trainees share an office with their supervisors, was also important to me. Although I received a lot of responsibility from early on, having close supervision gave me the confidence to run smaller transactions by providing me with feedback and support in real-time when I needed it.

Caroline: I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer so pursuing a Training Contract was always the obvious choice. I chose WFW as I wanted to train at a renowned international law firm that guarantees secondments abroad. I am fortunate enough to spending my next three seats in Athens, Frankfurt and Bangkok.

Mia: I graduated from the University of Bristol with a History degree but with no real idea what I wanted to do with it. I had an interest in Law, but I wanted to be sure that a Training Contract was the best option for me before I started any applications and embarked on the Law Conversion Course (GDL). I completed work experience at a different law firm and as well as finding the work enjoyable, the collegiate and friendly atmosphere amongst trainees appealed to me. These two factors persuaded me to apply for Training Contracts.

Chloe: I chose a Training Contract as I like the structure of the two years of training, being able to rotate around different departments and gaining exposure to a variety of practice areas. It's also great being part of a trainee cohort, as you have other people who are experiencing the same thing at the same time. One of the main reasons I applied to do a Training Contract at WFW was for the international secondment opportunities, and I'm excited to be heading to Paris and Athens during my Training Contract!

How did you feel supported during the first few weeks of your Training Contract?

Zsofi: The support from my supervisor in my first few weeks as a trainee was second to none. She paid close attention to making sure I got as much exposure to deals as my capacity would allow, whilst giving me consistent feedback and support to take on more responsibility as time went on. I was always encouraged to ask questions where I needed clarification, which made the transition to working on complex deals easier than first expected.

Caroline: The graduate recruitment team are fantastic and always on call if any of us need anything. Before we started our Training Contract, we had two weeks of training which taught us everything we needed to know about our two years at WFW. During this period, we were also able to join the firm's 40th birthday celebrations where I was able to get to know all the new faces across the firm.

Mia: Our first 2 weeks at the firm were spent completing the Professional Skills Course at BPP. This was a great opportunity to meet the other trainees in a non-work environment. I have found the other trainees to be my greatest support during my Training Contract alongside my supervisors and the graduate recruitment team. Being a smaller trainee intake (18) we have been able to bond really well (especially over WFW’s free toast in the morning!).

Chloe: The first few weeks were naturally a learning curve, but everybody knows that you're there to learn and are quick to answer any questions. My first seat was in Assets and Structured Finance and during our first week we had training to give us an introduction to the nature of the work and typical trainee tasks. We also had several sessions with graduate recruitment on a variety of topics, such as time recording and working styles, to prepare us for the Training Contract more generally. You have the direct support of your supervisor as well, who is always your first point of contact for any issues.

What’s the culture like at WFW?

Zsofi: The culture at WFW has been very welcoming from the beginning. Trainees are given multiple opportunities to network with their supervisors and colleagues before they officially begin their training, which makes the start of the Training Contract less daunting. The firm has a genuine ‘open-door’ policy, making everyone from the support teams to partners very approachable.

Caroline: WFW's culture is very open and unlike other city law firms, there isn't a 'hierarchical' feel at the firm. I was surprised by how much direct contact trainees have with Partners when working on matters.

Mia: As I completed my vacation scheme for WFW online, I didn’t get to experience the culture of the firm first-hand until I started my Training Contract. So I was pleased to find during my first seat in the Assets and Structured Finance team in London that there was a real effort from colleagues to involve trainees in social events, including a monthly drinks trolley, a monthly brunch and an office Christmas decoration competition. In a busy department like Assets and Structured Finance it can be easy to overlook these social events, but they are a great way to feel like part of the team.

Chloe: The firm has a supportive and friendly culture, everyone's very approachable which makes it easy to reach out if you have any questions.

What D&I networks can you be a part of at the firm?

Zsofi: D&I is a key component to how WFW operates, so there are multiple D&I networks anyone at the firm can be involved in, such as We Further Women our global women’s initiative, Proud our LGBT+ allies group and Mosaic our ethnic and racial diversity group. Involvement in these networks is widely promoted and encouraged across all of our offices to raise awareness to issues and help create an inclusive culture.

Caroline: The firm has a Proud (LGBT+ and allies) and Mosaic (Ethnic and racial diversity) group.

Mia: The firm has three D&I networks – Mosaic, Proud and We Further Women that all employees are encouraged to get involved in. The We Further Woman network recently put on a webinar on Imposter Syndrome for International Woman’s Day which in the Singapore office was followed by a thoughtful wider office discussion.

Chloe: We have several networks to get involved in at the firm, for example I've joined the 'We Further Women' network, which is the firm's global women's initiative. The D&I networks put on various events throughout the year, such as a recent a panel event on imposter syndrome for International Women’s Day.

What does WFW have to offer new trainees?

Zsofi: An encouraging environment which promotes your professional development right from the beginning, along with excellent international exposure in terms of both work and travel. New trainees can expect lots of responsibility and guidance to make a valuable contribution to the firm from the start, as well as support from the graduate recruitment team to shape their Training Contract to each trainee’s specific interests and career goals.

Caroline: Aside from the International secondments, the best thing about WFW is the 6-seat training contract which guarantees an insight into many different areas of law. The graduate recruitment team are also very receptive to trainee wishes which means greater control over the direction you chose to steer your legal career.

Mia: If you have researched Training Contracts at WFW it is highly likely that you already know about the guaranteed international secondment that is offered to trainees. Being given the opportunity to live and work abroad is a truly amazing experience and one that I am currently benefiting from!

Chloe: As already mentioned, new trainees benefit from a supportive environment and also a variety of training/introductory sessions to prepare for the Training Contract and working at the firm. More generally, having a six-seat rotation system allows trainees to get broad experience and exposure, especially as at least one seat will be abroad. The learning opportunities are also unique given the strong sector focus of the firm, as it means trainees get to work alongside industry experts.

What advice would you give to someone newly starting a Training Contract at WFW?

Zsofi: Be open to working with different people on different projects to broaden your experiences, which will ultimately increase the variety of skills you possess. Also, do not be afraid of asking for clarification when learning something new because everyone at the firm is keen to help the trainees’ development and will be rooting for you to learn and do well.

Caroline: To be authentic, bold and confident. The best trainees are those which take control of their work and progression.

Mia: I would recommend to anyone starting a Training Contract to be as enthusiastic about your work and training contract as possible. It is likely that you have worked hard to get your Training Contract so try your best to enjoy it and get the most from it!

Chloe: I would say not to worry about starting your first seat, as unhelpful as that probably sounds. Everyone understands that the work will likely be new to you and nobody expects you to know everything straight away!

If you want to find out more about starting a career at WFW, check out their profile and live opportunities here.