Addleshaw Goddard LLP - True Picture

Commercial powerhouse Addleshaw Goddard gives trainees “scope to do complex, high-value work” in a mish-mash of seats.

Addleshaw Goddard training contract review 2021

The Firm

Location, location, location. Kirstie and Phil tell us it’s everything. And Addleshaw Goddard sure knows it, with a national spread of six offices in London, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen (it acquired the Scottish offices in 2017 through a merger with HBJ Gateley). Sticking with the theme of British property shows, Addleshaw Goddard has a place in the sun too – or several places rather, with six overseas offices in the Middle East, East Asia, and most recently in Hamburg, which opened in 2019. There are plenty of options if you have grand designs want to escape to another country (enough - Ed.).

“You are pushed to take on challenging work.”

This was the firm of choice for trainees who “wanted somewhere with impressive commercial experience” that could offer them “scope to do complex, high-value work.” The firm acts for a lot of financial institutions, funds, investors, and real estate clients, as well as businesses in the retail, energy, transport and healthcare sectors. All told, the firm holds around 90 Chambers UK rankings to its name. Outside London, AG is a national leader in banking and finance, corporate/M&A, employment, IT, intellectual property, litigation and restructuring. It shines particularly brightly with top regional rankings in the North West and Yorkshire. Nationally, it’s ranked in as many as 26 practices. Go to for a full breakdown.

BRAND NEW: Virtual vacation schemes with Addleshaw Goddard

In its English offices, the firm recruits around 45 trainees a year, which are split pretty evenly between London, Manchester and Leeds, with London recruiting a handful more. AG also hires trainees in all of its Scottish offices. “The quality of work is really excellent,” one trainee emphasised, “but it's not the kind of place where it's frowned upon if you have to leave the office at 6pm.” That said, “you are pushed to take on challenging work, which sometimes involves long hours.”

The Seats

Trainees do four six-month seats, with no compulsory seats beyond SRA requirements. Seat options vary year to year, but “there are always a few in banking and financial litigation,” as well as litigation, corporate, and real estate. The firm uses a fancy computer algorithm to allocate seats, with trainees ranking their preferences ten to zero. They weren’t quite sure how the algorithm makes its decisions, with one bemused source telling us: “I got my top preference in my first seat, but my next seat was a zero preference.” Sources thought it was mostly fair, but “a lot of people feel it might be better if we chat about what we want” – with a human, we should add.

AG offers secondments to its international offices, and trainees pointed out those who want to do one are likely to get to go, “but you won’t get control on where.” Unlike some firms where trainees have their bags packed and passports at the ready, sources felt that at AG “not everyone wants to do an international secondment.” Clients secondments were much more popular, and more likely – “around half of the trainees have done one.” In addition to local placements for Leeds and Manchester trainees, there were also options to relocate to London for six months.

AG’s real estate department accounts for a big chunk of the firm’s global turnover.It represents real estate investment trusts like British Land, alongside well-known names like Network Rail, Siemens, Asda, and WeWork. AG was recently one of three firms that worked on the £1.6 billion acquisition of commercial assets in the Battersea Power Station redevelopment. In Leeds, the team acted for Channel 4 in connection with its HQ relocation to the Majestic building in Leeds City Centre. The firm also has local authorities clients such as Kirklees Council, which sought the firm’s expertise for the £250 million regeneration of Huddersfield town centre. Like many real estate departments, there are “often a lot of smaller matters like leases, easements, and wayleaves,” which trainees typically run by themselves. They warned “you can be dealing with an awful number of matters all the time – it’s like spinning plates!” On these smaller matters, trainees said they “take complete control of the matter from inception,” and were “drafting documents, negotiating with the other side, and speaking with the client.” Trainees added that there are “opportunities to get involved in larger-scale cases with bigger retailer or landlord clients.” On these matters, “you’re playing more of anancillary role: document tracking and keeping enquiries up to date.” However, there’s “still scope for getting involved on drafting ancillary docs.”

“The context behind the work was fascinating.”

The firm’s enticingly named global investigations seat offers trainees litigious experience. The team deals with alleged money laundering, fraud, bribery and market abuse. Cases are often high-profile in nature and featured in headlines. Adding a sense of drama, AG keeps its clients strictly confidential. To give you a flavour of the work, trainees told us the team had been working on matters connected to the Manchester Arena bombing as well as the Grenfell disaster. While “the context behind the work was fascinating,” the day-to-day work was “heavily administrative” and not quite as thrilling. “There’s a lot of doc review,” trainees said. On the plus side, a dedicated team is on hand to “do the admin heavy-liftingwith things like bundling. I don’t think I’ve ever had to photocopy or print a thing.” Trainees said they “also drafted a lot of advice notes” in this seat.

Trainees might sit in financial litigation, which acts for big banks like Nationwide and Lloyds. The team recently defended RBS in a £100 million claim brought by a property developer regarding the activities of the bank’s global restructuring group. Trainees got experience with “huge litigations” that were running for as long as a decade. Trainees also reported working on asset finance cases, which might entail “people who’re getting their cars taken off of them.” Trainees felt they were given the “right level of responsibility,” with the team “pushing you to be independent.”

“You’re working on housing developments and large-scale infrastructure.”

AG’s planning seat can also “count as a contentious seat, as there are opportunities to go to Planning Court.” The team splits into two major categories: housing and infrastructure. The firm counts property companies Hub Group and UPP as clients, as well as housing association Notting Hill Genesis. On a recent matter, the team acted for British Sugar in delisting its former headquarters in Peterborough. It also acted for BP in its appeal against the refusal to grant planning permission for a new service station in Yorkshire. Across offices, “you’re working on housing developments and large-scale infrastructure” in transport, energy and airport projects.Trainees in London “mostly drafted due diligence reports and some statutory instruments challenging council opinions.” A Leeds source described a “small, brilliant team – with fewer people to do the work, I was given opportunities to work with partners from all offices.”

In infrastructure, projects and energy the firm works with the Department of Transport, Transport for Greater London, Hitachi Rail, and Merseytravel in Liverpool. AG recently advised Luton Airport on the £200 million development of a dual carriageway linking the main road entrance to the airport with the second terminal. Sources described this seat as “a really technical area,” and likened their experience to “a baptism of fire.” Fortunately, the team is “really friendly,” with “very hands-on training.” Trainees added that it’s “a very transactional, contractual seat, where there are small tasks that feed into a bigger picture.”

Trainee Life

All of our interviewees were required to work long hours when they encountered tough workloads, “like having to prepare a bundle at 10pm on a Friday night, or being asked to review over 75 contracts in two days for a due diligence report.” Corporate, financial regulation and banking were singled out as being particularly demanding, but sources underlined that “the extra hours and stress definitely get recognised and are genuinely appreciated by the wider teams.” As one said, “there is always plenty of support, whether from your supervisor, a paralegal or a partner in the team – even if they’re just volunteering for tea rounds while waiting for others to finish work for final sign-off.”

“The teams vary quite drastically.”

That said, trainee feedback on supervision and training was mixed. “The teams vary quite drastically and this can hit you hard when moving seats,” a Manchester trainee cautioned. “Trainees quickly learn to be very adaptable to new teams and how to work with different people.” Others found that “no question is ever a stupid question, and you are made to feel like you never have to apologise for getting something wrong.” Sources described “unparalleled supervision” in the banking and finance team, while over in the corporate department, “the partners are really hands-on and give weekly training.” Trainees in London added that the corporate department holds “a weekly meeting where associates can air any issues on their mind with the partners. This creates a nice team culture and the partners are really responsive to any feedback.”

More generally in London, trainees found “partners and senior lawyers are approachable, and you learn a lot via osmosis in an open-plan office.” London trainees are also encouraged to attend the firm’s pro bono clinic in Lambeth one evening a month. One trainee highlighted that a client “sent a really lovely email” at the end of a matter, but there were some grumbles that the firm doesn’t pay for taxis home before 9pm. “People finish [at the clinic] at different times, so I’ve been walking at night on my own,” one voiced.

When it came to diversity and inclusion at the firm, some thought AG was “proactive” in all facets of D&I, pointing to the number of women partners particularly, which sits above the national average at 28%. Others thought “the firm could do more to hire and retain a diverse workforce” and wanted to see more action from “non-diverse” attorneys. “Most trainees are white and middle class,” observed sources, who found the disparity more noticeable within the senior ranks. Some wanted to see the firm do more to address the numbers of BAME partners specifically. The firm does have an AG BAME Sponsorship Programme which was established with a view to attracting and retaining ethnic minority talent. It is also worth noting that AG makes efforts to support social mobility, taking “extenuating circumstances” into consideration when it reviews applications, and several of the trainees we spoke to came from less privileged backgrounds. AG  also funds the LPC for its trainee hires.

“They’re the type you'd want to go to the pub with after work.”

Trainees thought that Addleshaw Goddard “tends to hire friendly, open, supportive people” at all levels. “Even the cleaners are chatting along with everyone.” One source described their colleagues as “normal people.” Meaning? “They’re the type you'd want to go to the pub with after work.” Another agreed “it's not a stuffy, old-fashioned place. You can crack a joke with the partners and chat to them.” Teams are often spread across offices, but trainees reported partners from other offices visiting every now and then, “so you get to meet people who you work with on a daily basis.” There were regular lunches and drinks on the social side, and occasional away days “for a whole day of networking” with the office. Overall, every one of our survey respondents felt they had joined the right firm, and (almost) everyone was happy with their lot. This year’s qualification process deviated slightly from the normal procedure due to Covid-19 upheaval, but ultimately the firm retained 44 of 50 trainees in 2020.

AG OGs: Several sources had worked at the firm as paralegals before deciding to commit to the training contract route.


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How to get an Addleshaw Goddard training contract 


Vacation scheme deadline (2021): 5 January 2021  

Training contract deadline (2023): 31 July 2021  


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. 

Virtual vacation schemes with Addleshaw

2020 and Covid-19 have however thrown a spanner in the works and without an office to go to, many have been undertaking ‘virtual vac schemes’, with firms attempting to recreate the typical work experience scheme in an online setting.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP

Milton Gate,
60 Chiswell Street,

3 Sovereign Square ,
Sovereign Street,

One St Peter's Square,
M2 3DE

  • Partners 269
  • Assistant solicitors: 882
  • Total trainees: 108
  • UK offices: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester
  • Overseas offices: 6
  • Contacts  
  • Graduate recruiter: Erena Pillitteri,
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 50
  • Applications pa: 2,000+
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 or equivalent
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 70
  • Dates and deadlines 
  • Training contract applications open: 1st April 2020
  • Training contract deadline, 2023 start: 31st July 2021
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 1st October 2020
  • Vacation scheme 2021 deadline: 5th January 2021
  • 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 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.
We require 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.

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, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance: Lenders: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 3)
    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 4)
    • Competition Law (Band 3)
    • Construction: Contentious (Band 3)
    • Construction: Non-contentious (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Employment: Employer (Band 3)
    • Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 3)
    • Information Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation (Band 3)
    • Planning (Band 4)
    • Real Estate Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Big-Ticket (Band 3)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • 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 2)
    • 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 2)
    • Banking Litigation (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Data Protection & Information Law (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Litigation (Band 4)
    • Planning (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate Litigation (Band 4)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Shipping (Band 2)
    • Social Housing (Band 2)
    • Sport (Band 2)
    • 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 2)
    • Consumer Finance (Band 1)
    • Defamation/Reputation Management (Band 5)
    • Employee Share Schemes & Incentives (Band 4)
    • Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Financial Services: Payments Law (Band 1)
    • Fraud: Civil (Band 4)
    • Health & Safety (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (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)
    • Information Technology (Band 1)
    • Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
    • Employment (Band 4)