Addleshaw Goddard LLP - True Picture

“There's no one-upmanship,” among trainees at AG, a national firm with a City stronghold and a powerful kingdom in the North.

Going beyond the wall

Contrary to what some may say, the law isn't quite as dangerous a world as that of Game of Thrones. Take Addleshaw Goddard as an example: it's been fifteen years since Manchester's Addleshaw Booth tied the knot with London's Theodore Goddard, and these nuptials have turned out considerably happier than the Red Wedding. “I wanted to work for a firm with a City base, but with a strong regional offering,” a trainee told us. “AG seemed like the obvious choice.”

Read up on...

How to succeed on a vac scheme(sponsored by Addleshaw Goddard)

In the past few years its commanding Northern presence has only been growing stronger: the firm's 2017 merger with HBJ Gateley brought with it offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. To give some idea of how impressive this firm is nationally, Chambers UK identifies AG as a national leader outside London in banking & finance, corporate/M&A, employment, IT, IP, litigation, real estate litigation and restructuring. Pretty much every practice area the firm turns its hand to in Leeds and Manchester earns a top regional ranking. Not bad at all. Competition is understandably tougher in London, and the firm is distinct from the City heavyweights, but AG is still recognised by Chambers for its work in all the areas mentioned above. To complement its national footprint the firm also has bases overseas in Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar, Oman and Dubai, and trainees can spend six months in Oman, Hong Kong or Dubai.

“I was texting my supervisor about going shopping.”

It's an impressive spread of accomplishments, but most trainee insiders felt “the firm's culture is the main selling point. It feels small but does big work for big clients.” Over the years we've heard many stories of newcomers getting chummy with partners; one from the class of 2018 relayed how “just yesterday I was texting my supervisor about going shopping.” Pinning down the Addleshaw model as “people who are down to earth and don't take themselves too seriously,” trainees noted “personality-wise we're all quite similar, though we're varied in terms of background.” Not so the Oxbridge clean sweep here – instead the cohort stem mainly from Russell Group universities, plus others outside the group. London takes the most new recruits – 34 trainees at the time of our calls – but Manchester (28) and Leeds (22) aren't far behind.

The first seat is allocated automatically, but trainees can declare which broad division (corporate and commercial, litigation, real estate, finance and projects) they're interested in. Nonetheless, “you're bottom of the pile at that stage.” Nobody had any real complaints about this – one source declared it “a good way of getting you stuck into something outside your comfort zone,” and all appreciated getting priority later in their training contract. Subsequent rotations require that trainees submit a list of preferences, and trainees can explore their options by talking to different partners at a 'law fair.' Manchester sources revealed “there aren't as many choices here because a lot of the niche departments are in London – things like pensions and regulatory – so getting one of those is pot luck.” Nonetheless, trainees across the firm were largely happy with the system given they nearly always got their first or second choices.


Addleshaw's real estate department has been growing significantly of late – it recently brought in a team of six partners from Irwin Mitchell in Manchester – but it already covers a lot of ground. As well as a 'mainstream' section featuring the retail, landlord/tenant, and sale and purchase matters you'd expect, there are niches including agricultural real estate and infrastructure projects. The firm does a decent amount of public sector-related work: National Grid and National Rail are clients, and AG recently worked on Luton Airport's £200 million rail link project (Luton Borough Council is the majority shareholder in the airport), which also involved advising on the proposed real estate development of the surrounding area.

Away from the firm's larger projects, trainees found that real estate was “quite different to other seats. The fees are lower so you take on more responsibility – there's a certain element of you driving things.” Trainees got behind the wheel drafting leases and licences, reviewing title and deeds of covenant, and negotiating over the phone directly with clients. They found their autonomy “useful for building confidence. Trainees can push forward as much as they want but you're always under supervision.” Among a mix of residential and commercial work, a few international projects pop up – the firm recently advised European developer HB Reavis on the £10 billion acquisition of One Waterloo on London's South Bank.

“Even if you're not on the matter partners are happy for you to observe.”

The litigation division covers everything from civil fraud, international arbitration and IP to corporate, construction, insurance and financial litigation. The firm “likes to get trainees involved across the field,” but they can dive down a specialist rabbit hole early if they'd like. Clients include GlaxoSmithKline, energy company SSE, BP and drinks giant Diageo (owners of Guinness, Baileys and Smirnoff) whom AG recently defended in a £55 million software licensing dispute. The Road Haulage Association also called on the firm for a €1 billion damages claim it's making on behalf of truck operators affected by the so-called 'EU Truck Cartel'. Otherwise, trainees found “working for banks and pharmaceutical companies was particularly interesting.” During such matters they were writing letters before claim, handling costs, interviewing witnesses and drafting their statements before trial. “You're encouraged to go to hearings,” we heard; “even if you're not on the matter partners are happy for you to observe.”

Business, support and restructuring – “basically insolvency” – is divided into three sub-teams: real estate, corporate and litigation, meaning it provides trainees with contentious and transactional work. On the corporate side one trainee had experienced “a lot of administrations, dealing with the court process, and the business and asset sales which are part of restructuring the business to come to the most suitable agreement.” The London team recently worked with a number of special-purpose vehicles on the effects of the collapse of Carillion, a favourite construction firm for government outsourcing.

Over in commercial you'll find companies doing a little better – clients include HSBC, Sainsbury's, Nationwide and Bupa. “The team's been focusing a lot recently on public procurement work as well as more general private commercial contracts.” Days in commercial involved “a lot of contract drafting and dealing with clients who are coming to us for advice. There's more client exposure available here than in any other seat.” A common example of cross-department collaboration is “helping out the corporate group with due diligence.” The teams recently came together to advise Cyprus Cooperative Bank on a €7 billion joint venture.

The Iron Bank

The firm's corporate team is one of the very best outside of London. The northern team recently represented private equity house Inflexion when it invested £800 million in payment solutions business Radius. The fiercer competition in London means AG doesn't stand out so much, but the firm's admirable mid-market efforts bring in transactions for various FTSE 100 clients across real estate, retail, financial services and energy. Make no mistake, there's excellent work here: BP recently employed AG's services during the $200 million acquisition of a 43% stake in solar developer Lightsource Renewable. The firm also advised on the recent £210 million sale of Yorkshire-pud legend Aunt Bessie's to Nomad Foods, the owner of Birds Eye. A stint in corporate “can be really tough hours-wise but the quality of work sets you up well for practice,” said trainees. The firm's Transaction Services Team (TST) handles much of the menial work often set aside for trainees – instead they can “run due diligence on transactions, take full ownership of reports and draft first takes on a full sweep of ancillaries, from board minutes to Companies House documents.” As well as private equity and M&A work, the corporate department can also see trainees handling AIM work or sitting in a regulatory seat.

The main banking team also “collaborates a lot with corporate,and trainees had got involved in a lot of acquisition financing. A previously distinct asset finance group has been swallowed up into banking as a whole, which trainees found “beneficial because you get a wider insight into the practice.” Wherever they delved newcomers found that “once you gain partners' trust you're given a lot to do. I could run small transactions myself, and even those were multimillion-pound in value.” Trainees were running the conditions precedent check-list, drafting ancillaries, liaising with foreign counsel on deals with an international element and some “held completion alone with the client.” Trainees judged that “what's good is that deals vary not only in value but also the types of facility.” The London squad recently acted for adhesive manufacturer Scapa on a £70 million revolving credit facility provided by Lloyds, Santander and HSBC. Manchester lawyers recently advised health and fitness product manufacturer The Hut Group on a £515 million loan amendment.

Trainees can also spend time with in-house legal teams on secondment, doing everything from digitisation projects on apps to customer meetings and contract reviews. BP and Diageo are recent secondment destinations. Past secondees told us: “Lots of people pick clients they've worked with during their seat. There are lots of options but nearly everybody wants to do one so they're always filled.” Most client secondments are in London, but sources in the North applauded the firm for “making sure everybody gets the same opportunities even if that means paying for us to go.” Regional trainees also sometimes visit London for boot camp training at the start of seats, which is common to every department.

They drink and they know things

“It's been peaks and troughs, but mostly peaks,” a source admitted when we talked hours. They tended to differ a lot by department – real estate appeared to be an easier ride than most, whereas corporate “can be really tough.” One source suggested “finishing at 3am and being back in at 7am isn't super enjoyable, but it was character-building...” Even regional interviewees reported they were “consistently in until 9 or 10pm for a few weeks near a closing.” Trainees played this down by stressing that “if you're in late people will notice and send you home early on a different day.” Trainees typically headed home between 6.30 and 7.30pm on average.

In 2017 the Leeds and Manchester teams both got brand new office spaces. “It's quality – how you'd imagine a City firm to look,” one trainee boasted. Londoners said their base was “spacious, but can feel a bit dark in winter because the windows are tinted green.” They nonetheless “really liked the cafeteria, there are long picnic tables we can all sit at to chat.” Every office is open plan: “It can get noisy sometimes” but sources found “the layout is great from a trainee perspective because we can observe and approach senior partners easily.”

“People take dress-down Friday very seriously.”

New arrivals were relieved to find “the culture is exactly as I'd expected –  partners will speak to me at my desk and they expect the same of me.” Nobody noticed any real outliers from this laid-back feel, although corporate was seen as particularly “outgoing – they do quite a lot of events with clients.” AG hosts retreats within each division, Christmas and summer parties and an annual trainee conference. “We'll do organised team things like Crystal Maze but the best stuff is meeting up informally,” one source felt. “When people are free we'll go to the pub and it'll be a bit more relaxed.” CSR events had also included a fashion show and mock X-Factor.

Addleshaw doesn't mess about with qualification: “It's very early compared to many firms, and graduate recruitment are very upfront about everything.” To ensure grad recruitment is forewarned, trainees are informally asked where they're interested in qualifying during their mid-seat reviews. They then make a formal decision a few weeks into seat four. HR circulates a compilation of trainees' seat-end reviews to their department (or departments) of choice. Interviews are usually only held if a candidate is applying for a job in a department that they haven't sat in during their training contract. “The process is relatively seamless,” judged our sources, and 37 of 48 qualifiers stayed on at the firm in 2018.

Following complaints last year about trainees' salaries not matching the market, AG loosened its purse-strings – second-years now get £29,000 (£42,500 in London).


You may also be interested in...

These national firms:

DLA Piper


Eversheds Sutherland

Pinsent Masons

Squire Patton Boggs

These firms with a strong presence in the North West:


DLA Piper



Hill Dickinson

>> A-Z of firms

How to get an Addleshaw Goddard training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2019): 6 January 2019 (opens 1 October 2018)

Training contract deadline (2021): 31 July 2019 (opens 1 April 2019)


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

We value social mobility and understand that not everyone gets to go to Oxbridge,” says head of resourcing Gun Judge. 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.

The Manchester legal scene

Read more about lawyering in the North West.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Milton Gate,
60 Chiswell Street,

3 Sovereign Square ,
Sovereign Street,

One St Peter's Square,
M2 3DE

  • Partners 239
  • Associates 785
  • Total trainees 99
  • UK offices Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester
  • Overseas offices 5
  • Contacts 
  • Graduate recruiter: Erena Pillitteri [email protected]
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 46
  • Applications pa: 2,000+
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or other
  • Minimum UCAS points or A levels: ABB
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 70
  • Dates and deadlines  
  • Training contract applications open: 1 April 2019
  • Training contract deadline, 2021 start 31 July 2019
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 1 October 2018
  • Vacation scheme 2019 deadline: 6 January 2019
  • Salary and benefits  
  • First-year salary: £39,500 (London), £27,000 (Leeds and Manchester), £21,500 (Scotland)
  • Second-year salary: £42,500 (London), £29,000 (Leeds and Manchester), £25,000 (Scotland)
  • Post qualification salary: £70,000 (London), £43,000 (Leeds and Manchester), £38,000 (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

Addleshaw Goddard is a premium international law firm with an exceptional breadth of services. Our reputation for outstanding quality and service is built upon long term relationship investment and a deep understanding of client markets combined with high calibre expertise, straight talking advice and a collaborative team culture. By delivering what clients want wherever they need it, from high value strategic advice, to the everyday, we pride ourselves on a service which is high quality, focused, relevant and consistently excellent. The firm is an FT Innovative Lawyers Award winner and is pioneering new ways of delivering legal services, through its Intelligent Delivery approach, which brings added efficiencies and value for clients.

Main areas of work

The firm’s client portfolio is testament to its strength and range of expertise, and includes financial institutions, public sector bodies, successful businesses and private individuals. It is a leading advisor to FTSE 100 companies, and a market leader across its business divisions — corporate and commercial, finance and projects, litigation and real estate — as well as in specialist fields such as private capital, and across its chosen sectors: digital, energy and utilities, financial services, health, industrials, real estate, retail and consumer, transport.

Training opportunities

At Addleshaw Goddard we are more than just exceptional lawyers. We attract smart and energetic people who are committed to our clients’ success and believe in team-work and professionalism combined with a personal touch. A real meeting of minds. It’s one of the reasons why we’re sure you’ll enjoy working with us.

As a trainee, you’ll work on everything from multi-million pound banking deals and cross-border mergers and acquisitions to the most high profile fraud cases, complex technology contracts, employment disputes and transformational construction assignments. Because we understand that our success is intrinsically linked to yours, you can expect constant support to make sure you realise your potential.

During each six-month seat, there will be regular two-way performance reviews with the supervising partner or solicitor. Trainees may have the opportunity to spend a seat in one of the firm’s other offices and there are a number of secondments to clients available. Seated with a qualified solicitor or partner and working as part of a team enables trainees to develop the professional skills necessary to deal with the demanding and challenging work the firm carries out for its clients. Practical training is complemented by high-quality training courses provided by both the in-house team and external training providers. A trainee buddy programme is in place with the trainee predecessor for the first seat. All trainees have a mentor for the duration of their training contract and beyond.

Vacation scheme

At Addleshaw Goddard, we endeavour to make each work placement scheme a valuable experience for our students. We offer a week long Easter scheme in Edinburgh and London, and two week Summer schemes in Edinburgh/Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. During the scheme you will experience life as a trainee at AG. Students are allocated a department to sit in and swap into a different department in the second week (if undertaking the Summer scheme). During your time in the department you will be supervised by an experienced solicitor who will welcome you to the department and allocate you work. You will also be paired up with a trainee buddy throughout the duration of the scheme who will be on hand to help. We offer training contracts to successful placement scheme students and encourage applicants to apply for our scheme.

Other benefits

We provide all trainees with a substantial and competitive range of benefits. These include dental cover, gym allowance, season ticket loan, interest free loan, bonus scheme, pension and private healthcare.

Social media

Twitter @AGgrads

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2018

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance: Lenders (Band 4)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 3)
    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 3)
    • Competition Law (Band 4)
    • Construction: Purchaser (Band 3)
    • Construction: Supplier (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 4)
    • Information Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation (Band 2)
    • 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 3)
    • 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 2)
    • Shipping (Band 2)
    • Social Housing (Band 2)
    • Sport (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 1)
    • Competition Law (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 3)
    • Health & Safety (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Hotels & Leisure (Band 4)
    • Local Government (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Partnership (Band 1)
    • Partnership: Large International Structures (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 3)
    • Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 3)
    • Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 4)
    • 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 3)
    • 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)