Addleshaw Goddard LLP - True Picture

Brexit schmexit: this impressive national firm is making its first steps in Europe.

Europe’s The One That I Want

Addleshaw Goddard’s national footprint is solid as a rock: if Manchester and Leeds weren’t northerly enough, the firm’s 2017 merger with HBJ Gateley added Scotland to the mix, bringing offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. AG now has a total of six UK offices, and overseas the firm does well in the Middle East and East Asia thanks to outposts in Doha, Dubai, Muscat, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. But there was still something missing… Cue 2019: the firm filled its Europe-shaped hole by setting up shop in Hamburg courtesy of a ten-lawyer acquisition from BCLP. "Like all large commercial law firms our focus is on identifying new growth opportunities which are aligned to our clients' requirements," training partner Garry Elliott tells us. So is Hamburg a harbinger of further international growth? Elliott believes: “The opportunity to open an office in Germany is the right first step for us regarding our plans for continental Europe and may involve other European jurisdictions given the strong preference by many businesses for a fully integrated service."

“We'll potentially look to continue expansion.”

When we interviewed trainees, there were 34 in London, 26 in Manchester, 24 in Leeds and 15 in Scotland. Despite the distance between AG’s UK bases, trainees reckoned there was “no divide” between the North and the South. “The deal I just completed involved people spread across every office, including people up in Scotland,” one source said. “We don’t want to become a London-centric firm where the regional offices don’t feel part of things.” The firm wins dozens of Chambers UK rankings in Yorkshire, the North West, Scotland, London and UK-wide – go to for the full list.

At the time of our research, AG was testing something new for its seat allocation, relying on an algorithm. This computer wizardry took into account trainee preferences, previous rotations and what stage you’re at in the training contract. From there it “worked out the fairest scenario for trainees across the board.” Interviewees announced some "trepidation" about entrusting their fate to this techy flourish, but reckoned “the system will work best once everyone has been using the algorithm for all four seats, so it has all the information it needs.” Others added that with this system, trainees “get the results much faster compared to before.” Whether the firm sticks with this 21st century solution remains to be seen.

Seat options: litigation; finance and projects; real estate; corporate and commercial

Leeds Lightning

Real estate is one of the firm’s largest teams. In London it has some notable high-profile clients: recent matters include advising the Chinese government on the relocation of its embassy in London, advising British Land on the sale of five Debenhams stores for £110 million, and advising WeWork on all UK real estate matters. Outside the capital, clients are just as likely to ring a bell: Leeds lawyers advise Travelodge on all kinds of acquisitions, developments and management issues, and advised Siemens on the acquisition of a £200 million train factory in Goole, in Yorkshire. Manchester lawyers acted for Hermes Investment Management on its role as landlord for Amazon's second UK HQ in Manchester, and advised Manchester Metropolitan University on the creation of a new health science campus in Crewe. For trainees, the work in this seat largely involves “a lot of drafting: leases, certificates of title and reports on title.” One reported having “one or two smaller matters to look at on my own.” For example, an interviewee recalled working on a “wayleave agreement to do with network and internet cabling.” Sources also reported that “as you grow more confident you’re encouraged to run with stuff on your own – which can be terrifying!”

“A lot of drafting: leases, certificates of title, reports on title.”

A real estate finance seat involves “primarily acting for large lenders taking security over commercial properties.” The team mostly represents lenders such as banks as opposed to borrowers, with “the exception of the firm’s emphasis on attracting incoming investment clients from Asia, which tends to be on the borrower side.” For instance, AG lawyers in London, Manchester, Leeds and Scotland recently acted for OakNorth Bank on its loan of £33 million to Mabec Property to finance the development of two student flats in Sheffield and Nottingham. Sources found there was “a lot of project management for trainees,” including running conditions precedent checklists, post-completion and due diligence. Others reported drafting opinion letters and “some of the smaller security documents.” Some trainees also dabbled in social housing finance – a strong area for the firm – which involves “advising lenders or security agents who were taking security over or allocated security over social housing portfolios.”

If lending and borrowing is your thing, you'll be pleased to hear AG's main banking team covers asset finance, leveraged finance, corporate banking and project finance. Clients include the Yorkshire Building Society, US bank Wells Fargo and Aer Lingus (in London); Santander, JD Sports and HSBC (in Manchester); and RBS, Lloyds and Aviva Investors (in Leeds). Manchester lawyers recently advised Allied London on the financing of the redevelopment of Manchester’s Grade II-listed London Road Fire Station, and acted for JD Sports on the refinancing of a £500 million revolving credit facility with four banks. One source recalled “acting for asset finance companies on hiring out or leasing equipment – that equipment can range from beer kegs to aircraft.” (British Airways, Iberia, United Airlines and Flybe are all clients.) Trainees reported the seat is “quite structured – you start with ancillary documents and board minutes, then as you get more confident you’re asked to draft security documents and legal opinions.”  

Trainees in corporate had “literally covered the entire market: buyer and seller-side work, as well as private equity and trade buyer work.” London lawyers recently advised GVC Holdings on its takeover of Ladbrokes Coral for £3.9 billion, and advised BP on its acquisition of a $200 million minority stake in solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy. Trainees are often tasked with “a leading role in the due diligence exercise and compiling the due diligence report” as well as drafting other ancillary documents. Some even had the chance to “have a bash at the first draft of a share purchase agreement,” followed by supervisors “sitting down with you and giving you constructive feedback on what they’d do differently and why.” Interviewees also emphasised having “a lot of client contact and drafting any forms of communication.”

Look At Me, I'm Lead Trainee

The infrastructure, projects and energy seat covers corporate work specific to these industries. “A lot of it tends to be healthcare-related and public sector work,” a trainee in the North told us. “For example, we are on several NHS panels, so we’re involved in anything to do with NHS hospitals.” Lawyers in London and Manchester recently advised on financing, design and construction for the £335 million redevelopment of the Royal University Hospital in Liverpool. Sources also encountered “a lot of long-term matters like large-scale energy projects and railway franchising.” A Leeds-led team recently advised Hitachi on its £500 million bid to provide new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, while a Manchester-headed group advised the West Midlands Combined Authority on the planned 11-kilometre extension of the Midland Metro tram. Trainees reported doing “a lot of research, contributing to advice notes, contributing to drafts of contracts, and attending meetings with clients or counsel.” The work is sometimes international in nature too: for instance, the firm recently advised the Danish government on the €8 billion Fehmarn Belt Tunnel between Germany and Denmark.

“It was a very stressful week.”

Commercial litigation is another pretty big team and covers a broad range of commercial disputes. Trainees usually get stuck into the type of work their supervisor specialises in, though “you can voice preferences for certain work to partners.” Alongside general commercial work, multiple interviewees had dabbled in IP and IT disputes, which involved “copyright and trade mark infringement, design rights and disputes arising out of IT software contracts.”  Litigators in London and Manchester recently defended Primark against allegations of trade mark infringement over the ‘P.S. Love Your Hair’ tagline used for hair products. Other areas of work include finance litigation, health and safety litigation, competition and data protection. Research crops up a lot in litigation, as well as bundling, attending conferences and going to court. One source was even able to “negotiate a settlement for a low-value case – obviously under supervision! It was a very stressful week, but I felt I was being pushed in my abilities.”

We Grow Together

AG offers regular overseas seats in Hong Kong, Dubai and Oman. Those who had been abroad noted that “the offices are smaller and the teams are much leaner, so you’re often working with just a senior associate or a partner on a deal.”Client secondments are also available, though Northern trainees admitted “a lot of them are based down in London, so it’s a bit hard because it might mean moving.”

Sources were somewhat surprised to find that “AG is just full of interesting but normal people who are also very good at what they do and professional when they need to be.” Interviewees emphasised that “the firm’s very inclusive and you’re encouraged to be yourself.” One source added: “That makes this a really nice place to be, especially when the hours get a bit rough – it takes the edge off a bit.” Indeed, hours can get pretty rough in seats like banking and corporate, with some reporting occasional 2am finishes. That said, sources found “you’re not bored! It’s all systems go, and the time goes fast.” Many also noted that “when it's quiet you are encouraged to go home, usually between 6 and 7pm.” Especially on Fridays, sources noticed “the office is pretty dead by 6pm unless something needs finishing.”

“...really well connected and integrated.”

Socially things “vary from team to team – some are more social than others.” For instance, the banking team in London will “go out for a drink two or three times a week,” while smaller teams may prefer to get their work done and go home. Many people “have external commitments and people are respectful of that.” Each team also holds an awayday, and “litigation is known to throw one of the best in the firm.” These occur across offices, and as such trainees felt the firm to be “really well connected and integrated.” AG holds firm-wide Christmas and summer parties, as well as drinks every quarter.

As mentioned, our interviewees didn’t see any divide between the firm’s offices. The only differences are the physical spaces themselves: both Manchester and Leeds moved into new buildings relatively recently which are open-plan, which means “you’re more inclined to get up and talk to someone and walk around the office.” Londoners on the other hand felt their office to be “a little tired now – it’s probably time for it to be refurbished.” However, Manchester, Leeds and London did have one thing in common: an “award-winning canteen – it’s not too expensive, and the catering staff are all really nice.” 

Interviewees were also impressed with the firm’s “strong emphasis on pro bono.” Many had participated in legal advice clinics while Manchester sources in particular highlighted “working with the University of Manchester supervising students advising local business people at clinics.” Other pro bono matters come up on an ad hoc basis – “they can be anything from property matters to general commercial advice.”

At the time of our research, second-years were part-way through the qualification process: an NQ jobs list is published, then trainees must “submit a pack which includes your CV and all of your performance reviews,” as well as an application form listing your qualification preferences. Usually interviews are only held if there is more than one applicant for a job or if you haven’t done a seat in that department. Retention is usually around the market average of 80%, and in 2019 36 of 45 qualifiers were retained.

Addleshaw Goddard recruits English law trainees in London, Leeds and Manchester and Scots law ones in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


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How to get an Addleshaw Goddard training contract 


Vacation scheme deadline (2020): 5 January 2020  

Training contract deadline (2022): 31 July 2020  


Each year the firm receives around 2,000 vacation scheme and direct training contract applications combined. At the initial application stage, an HR source tells us, the firm looks primarily at “academics and the passion to pursue law as a career.” The firm chooses vac schemers directly from their application forms. Meanwhile, following a preliminary video interview, around 70 of those applying directly for training contracts are invited to one of several assessment centres. 

The assessment centres include a partner interview, a group exercise, a technical assessment and a proof reading exercise. A current trainee had this to say of the day: “I hadn’t been in an office environment before, but I didn’t feel any undue pressure. Everyone was pretty relaxed and approachable throughout.” From here, training contract offers are made for applicants via this route. 

The vac scheme 

The firm runs summer vacation schemes in each of its UK offices (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester). The Glasgow, Edinburgh and London office also offer an Easter scheme. The Easter scheme lasts for one week and each of the summer schemes lasts two weeks. There are around 80 places available in total. Students are allocated to a different department for each week and usually asked for preferences beforehand. 

Former attendees praised the vac scheme as “an excellent opportunity to experience real, unsanitised work,” with one even telling us their experience was “pretty much representative of the kind of work I do now as a trainee. For example, I got to take a crack at the first draft of a witness statement, alongside bits and bobs of admin.” Our sources' advice for impressing? “Relax a bit, show your personality, and don't be afraid to go speak to as many people as possible, at all levels.” Social activities include dinners as well as outings like pizza-making classes or crazy golf. 

Attending a vac scheme automatically includes an application for the training contract. The firm makes its offers directly off the back of a candidate's performance on the vac scheme. 

Trainee profile 

Sources agreed that being “personable, approachable and sociable” are crucial qualities for prospective trainees. Our HR source emphasises that “candidates need to link their passion for law with why they want to work at this firm over others,” adding that “those who are unprepared certainly don't impress.” Indeed, as one solicitor involved in recruitment remarked: “It's weird when people haven't really researched the firm. They sometimes don't know that we have multiple offices or the kind of matters we work on. The difference is evident between those who have done masses of applications and those who've really concentrated on a few.” 

In addition to its law fair visits at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities, AG holds several open days to meet and greet potential applicants. 

Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Milton Gate,
60 Chiswell Street,

3 Sovereign Square ,
Sovereign Street,

One St Peter's Square,
M2 3DE

  • Partners 248
  • Associates 855
  • Total trainees 99
  • UK offices Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester
  • Overseas offices 6
  • Contacts 
  • Graduate recruiter: Erena Pillitteri [email protected]
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 50
  • Applications pa: 2,000+
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or equivalent
  • Minimum UCAS points or A levels: ABB or equivalent
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 70
  • Dates and deadlines  
  • Training contract applications open: 1st October 2019
  •  Training contract deadline, 2022 start: 31st July 2020
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2019
  • Vacation scheme 2020 deadline: 5th January 2020
  • [NOTE - 2020 spring vacation scheme postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak]
  • Salary and benefits  
  • First-year salary: £40,000 (London); £27,500 (Leeds and Manchester); £23,500 Scotland
  • Second-year salary: £43,000 (London); £29,500 (Leeds and Manchester); £26,000 Scotland
  • Post qualification salary: £75,000 (London); £45,000 (Leeds and Manchester); £42,000 Scotland
  • Sponsorship 
  • LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: £7,000 (London), £4,500 (other UK locations)
  • International and regional 
  • Offices with training contracts: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester
  • Overseas seats: International secondments in Dubai, Hong Kong and Oman
  • Client secondments: Yes

Firm profile

We are a premium international law firm with an exceptional breadth of services. Our reputation for outstanding quality is built upon long-term relationship investment and a deep understanding of client markets. This, together with our high-calibre expertise, straight-talking advice and collaborative team culture, means we are here for our clients, whenever and however they need us; from everyday queries to high-value strategic advice, we are proud of the consistently excellent, relevant and focussed service our people provide. 

Main areas of work

We have a broad client portfolio, which is testament to the strength and expertise of our people. It includes financial institutions, public sector bodies, successful businesses and private individuals. We are a leading advisor to FTSE 100 companies and a market leader across: corporate, commercial, finance and project, real estate and litigation business divisions; specialist fields such as private capital; energy, financial services, health and life sciences, real estate, retail and consumer, and transport sectors.

Training opportunities

We require ABB at A level and a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent). But what will really open doors to an outstanding career here is the real you. At Addleshaw Goddard, we’re looking for original minds and collaborative spirits alongside motivation, drive and commercial awareness. We’re constantly delighted by the diverse backgrounds of our best lawyers, and we’re open to law and non-law graduates alike, as well as those looking to change career.

We are more than just exceptional lawyers here. We attract sparkling people from all backgrounds, who bring their own unique qualities, along with a collaborative approach, professional drive and a commitment to every client’s success. This is just one of the reasons we’re sure you will enjoy working with us. As a trainee, important cases will come your way from the get-go. You will work on everything from multi-million-pound deals to high-profile fraud cases, employment disputes to complex technology contracts. Our success is intrinsically linked to yours, so we’ll always have your back and help you realise your potential.

Training contracts are four seats long, with opportunities to spend time in another of our offices as well as on secondment with clients. During each six-month seat, you will have regular two-way performance reviews with your supervising partner or solicitor. He or she will help you develop the skills you need to deal with the demanding work you will come across every day. As well as learning on the job, you will also have access to high-quality in-house and external training, a buddy scheme in your first seat, and a mentor throughout your training contract and beyond.

Work Placements

We offer week-long Easter work placements in Edinburgh and London, and two-week summer work placements in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. And because everyone is an individual, we make sure each placement is a valuable experience for each individual student.

While you are here, you will get to know the everyday life of an Addleshaw Goddard trainee. You will be allocated a department to sit in and, if you are part of the summer scheme, will swap into a new department in your second week. You will be supervised by an experienced solicitor, who will welcome you to the department and allocate work. A trainee buddy will be on hand to help throughout your placement.

This is a scheme as unique as you are. As well as informative sessions, group exercises, assessed work and plenty of time at your desk, you will attend social events with a range of people across the office. It’s a real chance to get to know our people and our culture. We offer training contracts to successful placement scheme students, so we’d encourage you to apply.  

Social media


This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance: Lenders: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 3)
    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 4)
    • Competition Law (Band 4)
    • Construction: Purchaser (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 4)
    • Information Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation (Band 3)
    • Planning (Band 4)
    • Real Estate Finance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Big-Ticket (Band 3)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Pensions (Band 1)
    • Professional Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 1)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Employment (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Litigation (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 4)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Shipping (Band 2)
    • Social Housing (Band 2)
    • Sport (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 1)
    • Competition Law (Band 3)
    • Asset Finance: Rail Finance (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: AIM (Band 2)
    • Commercial Contracts (Band 3)
    • Consumer Finance (Band 1)
    • Defamation/Reputation Management (Band 4)
    • Employee Share Schemes & Incentives Recognised Practitioner
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory Recognised Practitioner
    • Financial Services: Payments Law (Band 1)
    • Fraud: Civil (Band 4)
    • Health & Safety (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Hotels & Leisure (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Mainly Policyholders (Band 3)
    • Local Government (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Partnership (Band 1)
    • Partnership: Large International Structures (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
    • Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 3)
    • Public Procurement (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Retail: Corporate & Competition (Band 2)
    • Social Housing: Finance (Band 1)
    • Transport: Rail: Franchising (Band 2)
    • Transport: Rail: Projects & Infrastructure (Band 2)
    • Transport: Rail: Rolling Stock (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market and Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 3)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)