The first ever London Stock Exchange-listed law firm, Brum-HQ'd Gateley continues to boost its practice offering and ever-increasing trainee intake.
Last year we reported that Gateley's share price was just over £1 – a respectable increase on its 95p IPO listing price in 2015. If you'd bought a share then, your 95p would have more than doubled in value to £1.95 by June 2017. Not bad going by any definition of investment success. This summer, perhaps encouraged by Gateley's trail-blazing example, another law firm – only the second ever – went public on the LSE. “Gateley's got an entrepreneurial spirit you don’t see in other firms," one trainee told us proudly, "and a reputation for providing pragmatic and forward-thinking advice.” The firm's decision to become a PLC “shows how ambitious Gateley is, and that we’re not afraid to make those bold moves in the industry. It also makes you feel like you have a vested interest in the business right from the beginning.” Happily for trainees, Gateley's share scheme is open to junior employees as well as partners and associates, another thing they felt “sets the firm apart.”
Since its game-changing IPO, Gateley has been busy deploying its new capital. This includes acquiring a tax boutique called Capitus as well as Gateley Hamer, a specialist property consultancy. It’s also recently created a pension platform called Enplan with advisory giant KPMG. By becoming a diverse professional services group, Gateley is growing in different directions, helped by lateral hires across departments as well as organic expansion. The biggest offices are in Birmingham and Manchester, so a large proportion of trainees are split between these two locations, but there are also training opportunities in Nottingham, Leicester, London, Leeds and Reading (which is recruiting its first trainees in 2019). Until recently, Gateley had a Scottish affiliation, HBJ Gateley, which wasn't part of the flotation and has now merged with Addleshaw Goddard. Gateley does, however, have an office outside of England in Dubai, which occasionally offers a secondment.
Gateley's Chambers UK rankings show it to be a bit of a star in the mid-market. Highlights include: national leader outside London in banking and finance and restructuring; top dog in intellectual property in the North West (and prizewinners in lots of other areas); and gongs in the Midlands for practices including employment, tax, litigation, real estate and corporate. All trainees have to do a corporate, property and contentious seat. “Usually the choice seat is your third,” one reckoned. “I like the system because by that point you understand what it’s like to work in a law firm and you have enough skills to hit the ground running in your second seat.” Out of the 14 trainees who qualified with the firm in 2017, 12 were kept on as NQs.
Gateley I’ve been thinking
Gateley’s real estate team has clients including house-builders Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Redrow. It recently secured eight shopping centres for HSBC in eight weeks, in a deal worth over £25 million. It’s enjoyed 15-20% growth for the past five years and trainees had enjoyed their time in this seat: “You hear horror stories from other firms, but you get proper work here so you can get stuck in and have loads of responsibility while being part of the team.” Another added: “It gives you a taste of your life to come as a qualified solicitor.” Interviewees were quick to praise the variety of work on offer, saying: “I’ve done things like residential conveyancing, sales and purchases, landlord/tenant work, land acquisitions and registrations. You’re encouraged to take control of smaller matters which is great for developing your confidence.” The group covers a variety of specialisms under the umbrella of real estate and feeds into things like pensions, banking and corporate. “I enjoyed the transactional, procedural nature of the work, and I liked having ownership and getting an understanding of the process from start to finish.” Other work included drafting leases for airports and shopping centres, which involves post-completion work like stamp duty land tax registrations and lease reports. Finally, trainees said: “You get to do the nitty-gritty like drafting as well as having loads of client contact, so it’s a really well-rounded seat.”
The corporate team at Gateley specialises in mid-value acquisitions and disposals, and insiders told us: “I’ve been involved with strategic land businesses, land acquisitions, logistics and a lot of work with the employment team.” Lawyers recently acted for Roxhill Developments (the leading specialist industrial and distribution developer in the Midlands) in a joint venture with SEGRO, a real estate investment trust (REIT). “As a trainee, you’re involved as much as you want to be – the sky’s the limit. I’ve been involved in several transactions on the buyer and seller side from start to finish, right through to post-completion.” Interviewees enjoyed the amount of client exposure they got in corporate: “What struck me was the amount of telephone conversations I had with clients, instead of just emails.” Trainees also reported being involved in private equity as well as public companies work. Typical tasks include drafting board minutes and resolutions, due diligence exercises, file management, client meetings, and trainees are also encouraged to get involved in more company secretarial work. One added: “The team is brilliant and I’ve learnt a lot just working alongside them. There are usually two or three people on each level of a transaction.”
"It’s a very specific kind of writing that’s unlike anything else you’ll come across."
The commercial dispute resolution team works with clients in the Midlands and across the country in areas including manufacturing, retail, sports, charities, pensions and recruitment. Due to the litigious nature of the work done, there aren’t many publishable work highlights, but we can tell you that West Ham United FC is a client, as are big names in the building industry. In contrast to a non-contentious seat, research tends to take up more trainee time than drafting. “I’ve had the chance to go to the High Court in London quite a few times. It’s a lot of work, but seeing it play out is really interesting.” Another told us: “Trainees are given smaller matters to run because there are so many fee earners on one case.” In terms of paperwork, there are claim forms, witness statements, contracts and warranties to get stuck into. “It’s a very specific kind of writing that’s unlike anything else you’ll come across, which is why it’s good to have to do at least one contentious seat.”
The banking team at Gateley has specialists in asset finance and consumer credit, as well as experience in complex and cross-border transactions. Clients include Lloyds Bank, HSBC and RBS. The team recently acted for Santander on the management buyout (MBO) of Panther Warehousing, a leading white goods distribution businesses. “We work for all the major banks and there’s a large focus on real estate finance, hotels, funding, borrowing and acquisition finance,” one trainee told us. “I got a lot of responsibility in banking and was given the opportunity to manage my own matter.” Typical tasks include ancillary and corporate documents, board minutes, resolutions, conditions and facility agreements. “You have to be very on the ball but it’s a great experience: you’re constantly learning and there’s a lot of overlap with corporate work.” Another interviewee added: “Litigation is sometimes the last piece of the puzzle so you have to quickly get up to date with cases. There are tight deadlines and there’s loads of opportunity for client contact.” Trainees were also keen to point out the amount of cross-border work involved in a banking seat: working, for example, with lawyers in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and Luxembourg.
"There are tight deadlines and there’s loads of opportunity for client contact."
You don't have to be mad about football to enjoy secondments at Manchester City or Everton football clubs. Gateley's commercial team recently drafted construction documents for the redesign of the West Stand at the Etihad Stadium, which includes the installation of a glass tunnel allowing fans to see their idols air-boxing, throat-clearing or whatever players do as they make their way onto the pitch. In the past the firm has advised Everton on redevelopment work at Goodison Park and the construction of a new training complex at Finch Farm. They also advised on the official betting partnership with bookies William Hill. “I worked across the team on a wide variety of things including non-disclosure agreements, consultancy agreements, contract drafting and sponsorship agreements.” Trainees who managed to bag a secondment were full of praise, saying: “I loved every minute. There was a lot of responsibility but I was closely supervised and formed some great networks.” In one work highlight, “I worked on the foundation side while they were trying to engage more fans through Facebook, so I had to do research into IP as well as security and data protection.”
The Great Gateley
“They’re a friendly bunch for a corporate law firm,” said a London-based insider. “Everyone’s really approachable and I’m usually sat next to or opposite heads of department.” Another chimed in, saying: “There’s no strict hierarchical structure here, you’re usually close to people at the top of the tree.” One Brummie recruit told us: “We’re not afraid to give pragmatic advice. Solicitors can have a reputation for over-complicating things, so we try to simplify complex issues for clients.” Trainees praised the firm’s culture across its offices: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a new starter; everyone’s got the time of day for you.” In addition, trainees were keen to add that Gateley ensures there’s plenty of cross-office networking, especially for trainees. “A good work/life balance is really important at a regional firm. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to train here.” On average, most interviewees reported leaving work between six and seven, although in seats like corporate and banking a couple of trainees had experienced working into the small hours, although they assured us: “That’s really the exception rather than the rule.”
This year Gateley took last year's Tour de Gateley – done on exercise bikes in the office – to the next level by cycling across the Midlands for real. The tour started in London and was done in legs between Reading, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and Manchester before finishing in Leeds. The whole venture was in aid of Help for Heroes, and one trainee said: “I cycled between Manchester and Leeds, which was amazing. It was a fantastic opportunity to network and build relationships.” Trainees were keen to highlight the firm’s emphasis on corporate social responsibility and social committees, which they are encouraged to get involved in.
Every couple of years Gateley hosts a firm-wide party, which includes the Dubai office too. The most recent soirée was a Great Gatsby themed 1920s event in Manchester: “Everyone dressed up, including the partners. We were up until 4am! It’s a great reward and everyone really appreciates it.” Other dos have included a Harry Potter-themed party (“with an actual owl”), and many more office-specific events: “The trainee-led social club organises things like escape rooms, pizza parties and cocktail-making classes.” In addition, we heard about a new young professional’s night among other networking sessions. “We go to Birmingham throughout the year for PSCs and go on trainee away days, so there are plenty of chances to catch up.”
“Gateley manages to maintain a small-firm attitude even though there are offices across the country. It’s kept its ethos even though it’s grown into something much larger.”
How to get a Gateley training contract
Apply for training contract via vac scheme
Application and assessments
Aspiring Gateley trainees should apply for vacancies by completing an application form via the firm's website. This lets them specify the top three offices where they would like to be based.
Vacation scheme applicants who make the shortlist are then invited to attend a half-day assessment over Easter. This involves some group and individual exercises, plus an interview with HR and a partner. This interview covers the candidate's application form and the reasons why they're interested in the firm. During the scheme, students complete a research and presentation exercise, and undergo another interview.
Vacation schemes take place in June and July. Schemes are run in the Leicester, Leeds, Manchester, London, Reading, Birmingham and Nottingham offices. Each summer placement lasts two weeks. Everyone gathers in Birmingham for some administrative wrangling and initial training before dispersing to their assigned offices.
Vacation schemers spend their visit in a single department where they “tackle genuine work rather than irrelevant tasks,” current trainees told us. As one reported: “I drafted a letter to a client and later found out the team had included part of my work in the final version.” Vacation schemers also attend presentations from other departments to get a sense of what's happening across the firm.
A 2:1 degree and ABB at A level are the firm's starting criteria for recruitment. Relevant work experience is also desirable. According to our sources, networking and business development are “a huge part of the job.” As such, candidates need a decent level of commercial awareness and familiarity with how the firm runs from a business point of view.
Finally, an eagerness to get stuck in – to legal work or CSR initiatives alike – is necessary. Check out Gateley's Talking Trainees blog for more advice on how to stand out.
The Birmingham legal scene
- Partners 120
- Total trainees 32
- UK offices Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Leeds, Nottingham, London, Reading
- Overseas offices Dubai
- Graduate recruiter: Dawn Gillard
- Training partner: Victoria Garrad
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 17
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or equivalent
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: ABB
- Vacation scheme places pa: circa 40 nationwide
- Dates and deadlines
- Easter vacation scheme applications open: 1 November 2017
- Easter vacation scheme 2018 deadline date: 15 January 2018
- Summer vacation scheme applications open: 1 November 2017
- Summer vacation scheme 2018 deadline: 12 February 2018
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £27,000 (outside of London)
- Second-year salary: £28,000 (outside of London)
- Post-qualification salary: £40,000 (outside of London)
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant pa: offered during the LPC
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Leeds, Nottingham, London, Reading
- Client secondments: Various high profile client
Gateley is also committed to the regional communities in which it is based and actively supports a number of causes both nationally and regionally. Gateley Plc has an enviable reputation as a friendly and sociable place to work and is committed to equality and diversity throughout its offices.
Main areas of work
We also offer seats in the following areas; banking, commercial, commercial dispute resolution, construction, employment, residential development, regulatory, restructuring, pensions, private client and tax.
We also have a number of client secondment opportunities for our trainees which can be applied for.
We are accepting applications from students to all of our offices and would welcome applications from candidates in their second year of a law degree, and their third year of a non-law degree and beyond.
University law career fairs 2017
• University of Warwick
• University of Birmingham
• University of Nottingham
• University of Leicester
• University of Leeds
• Manchester Law Fair
• University of Lancaster