Why Taylor Wessing
I was initially drawn to Taylor Wessing due to its unique blend of practice areas. As a non-law student, I didn't know which areas of law I would enjoy but was interested in both intellectual property and private client. As TW ranks very highly in both these areas, it was a natural fit for me, but TW is a strong full-service firm and offers something for everyone. It also has a wide range of clients and works a lot with techy start-ups as well as established global companies, which means the work is varied and interesting.
On top of this, TW has a fantastic culture. Generally, partners and associates are friendly and approachable, and from my first interview I have felt that people genuinely want you to do well. The hours are good in comparison to other firms – particularly in non-corporate seats, late nights are rare and when you do need to stay late fee-earners let you know that it is appreciated.
TW is known for its focus on tech, and encourage applications from graduates with a science background However, there are a lot of more 'traditional' practice areas and in my intake there are lots of us with humanities and languages degrees – there is no one size fits all approach.
The application process
TW only recruits from the vacation scheme. The process starts with an application form, followed by an online game-based assessment. The next step is the assessment centre, which includes a group exercise and partner interview (including a commercial awareness exercise). I found the interview really enjoyable – it was more of a discussion than a formal interview and involved questions on my extra-curricular activities as well as on commercial awareness.
The vacation scheme normally last two weeks (although last year the virtual scheme was only one week due to Covid), during which you sit in two different practice areas. The scheme enabled me to speak to a variety of people from around the firm, and I felt that it gave me a good insight into life as a trainee and confirmed that TW was the right place for me.
The trainee role
During the two-year training contract, we do four seats of six months' each, one of which must be corporate and another contentious. So far, I have done employment and private client, and am now sitting in tax.
As a trainee, your activities and responsibilities will vary a lot depending on your department. However, typically you can expect to be involved in drafting various documents, researching legal points, corresponding with clients and third parties, and taking attendance notes of meetings and calls. Having said this, one of the great things about my role is that every day is different. For example, during my private client seat I was asked to research the requirements for bringing pets to the UK and to attend a client's flat to supervise building works!
As well as a two-week general induction when you join the firm, in the first month of each seat you are given department-specific formal training. In addition, each department has weekly know-how sessions, where the team meet to discuss recent legal developments and case law updates.
A highlight for me has been the feeling of progression in each seat. Initially, you are closely supervised by fee-earners but I have found that, as I have grown more confident, I have been given more responsibility; so that by the end of each six months I am drafting documents and corresponding directly with clients with less direct supervision from associates and partners. It is great to look back and see how far you have come.
Initially I found it challenging to adapt to working life after so long as a student. It was strange to go from being confident that I knew what I was doing at university to not even knowing how the printers worked as a trainee! Thankfully, the graduate recruitment team are very supportive and always around for a chat, and due to the relatively small trainee intake, we are all very close and can speak to each other if we are struggling. TW is also very proactive about mental health issues, and we all have free membership to the mindfulness app, Headspace.
Overall, I have really enjoyed my first year at TW. The work is varied and interesting and the culture collaborative and friendly, which combine to make it a great place to work.