Nestled amongst the bustling streets of Covent Garden, this firm has opened the Fladgateson non-legal services for high-flying clients.
Fladgate training contract review 2024
“I definitely didn’t want to apply to any of the huge City firms. It just wasn’t the vibe for me,” led one Fladgate trainee. Indeed, Fladgate might not be one of the big players on City’s legal playground, but that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the cool ones. After all, Fladgate has had quite the illustrious past, and was traditionally a favourite amongst families of the aristocracy. Fladgate’s book of business previously included the likes of Winston Churchill and Antony Eden. It was even once instructed by Abraham Lincoln to set up the Smithsonian Institution.
Despite the distinguished clientele, the firm has kept it low-key on the location front, keeping just the one office in London. But there’s been nothing low-key about business at Fladgate in the last few years. With a ten-percent increase on revenue in the 2022/23 financial year, this puts the firm at a revenue growth of 43% in the past two years. Since 2021, Fladgate has also started offering its clients more than just legal services. Its supplementary arm of the business, named ‘Walgate’, provides professional management services to families and debt solutions.
“You’re not at the bottom of the food chain – you’re able to see the light of day.”
Across the board, trainees beamed at the firm’s lean, one-office structure where “you’re not at the bottom of the food chain – you’re able to see the light of day.” Insiders also praised the balance between decent trainee responsibility and “really interesting clients. Entrepreneurial clients are a big part of how the firm brands itself and the development.” Some things never change – alongside its long history of working with high-net-worth individuals, the firm works with start-ups and looks to cover all bases for small businesses too. This is picture echoed in Chambers UK, which hands Fladgate top marks for its corporate/M&Awork valued at £10-100 million and its real estate work valued between £50-150 million. The firm also gets a shoutout for infrastructure, insurance, real estate litigation, and constructionwork. Rounding this off, Chambers High Net Worth shines a light on its family offices and funds structuring practice, as well as immigration work.
“Before you join, they ask if you have any preferences,” one trainee shared about seat allocation. But really, “second years get priority. If they want a seat, it goes to them, not a pesky first year,” the source joked. Though thankfully, we heard “the seats aren’t super niche, so there aren’t really popular ones.” As such, our sources didn’t feel too much competition for positions. Trainees are expected to complete seats in at least two of Fladgate’s core practice areas: dispute resolution, property, corporate and funds.
Dispute resolution – or “DR” to the firm’s initiates – covers both commercial litigation and arbitration, and trainees generally circulate around the team, doing work for everyone. “We do mid-sized commercial litigation,” one trainee outlined, “so the cases tend to be in the low millions, so ten to £50 million.” On top of this, we heard “group actions are a big focus now.” For example, the firm represents hundreds of SMEs in a group claim against Clydesdale Bank and National Australia Bank. It also represents over 100 English and Welsh personal search companies in a group litigation claim before the High Court, to recover payments made to the ten water and sewerage utility companies in England and Wales for access to and for copies of environmental information held by the Defendants. “Those matters go into the hundreds of millions,” one source asserted. Starting off, newcomers usually find themselves bundling, undertaking research and document review. But trainees can also get a taste of more interesting tasks like drafting letters, helping witness statements, and even heading to court on the occasion. A couple of trainees also pointed out that the practices aren’t entirely restrictive, so groups often work between departments. For example, DR also has a family team, “but you only get that if you specifically request it – they get referrals from other places like corporate, and those that are property based.”
“There are smaller matters where it’s okay for juniors to run that.”
Speaking of property, this is one of Fladgate’s larger practices. Trainees praised this group not only for the relatively high levels of responsibility given to them on matters, but also for the slightly different floor layout. “Property is located on the eighth floor in a huge office room with all the associates and partners,” one source mentioned. A layout which some found to be “conducive to better learning. It’s helpful hearing other conversations, how to speak with clients.” The clients in question are typically a mix of investors, landlords and tenants, and the firm often helps with purchase or acquisition of commercial units like shopping centres and warehouses. For example, Fladgate recently acted for Black Sheep Coffee, regarding a series of 19 acquisitions of shops in London and the regions. While partners don’t allow trainees to run away with larger matters, “there are smaller matters where it’s okay for juniors to run that.” We learned some trainees were given their own client list to help drive general negotiations. On the day-to-day, others told us they often drafted documents, statutory declarations, and worked on a mix of landlord and tenant-side matters.
Across the corporate practice, Fladgate works on everything from start-ups to international corporations, primarily on mid-market deals across technology, recruitment, leisure & hospitality, and real estate. To give an idea of the variety of deals in this team, Fladgate recently advised Zouk Capital, a manager of the £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (set up by the government, in partnership with the private sector) on the sale of InstaVolt, a provider of rapid electric vehicle charging infrastructure. On larger deals, trainees were tasked with putting together ancillary documents and taking board minutes. Though, if you wanted to scale it down a bit, the firm’s smaller teams like tax or private clientgot trainees working on tasks a little more substantial. In tax, with the firm typically advised on a proposed transaction or holding, and trainees were expected to work on drafting tax documents as part of a deal: “It could be anything from advising property on tax implications of a deal to advising corporate entities,” one trainee outlined. Then in private client,we learned “it’s often you and a partner and you’re doing the drafting or background research.” But trainees also helped administer estates of the deceased, worked on trust admin and helped with personal tax advice.
“There is a lot of overlap with how deals fit together.”
Trainees in the funds, finance and regulatorypractice get to sample all three areas. One insider told us it's “a deal team with big ticket values,” so we heard they were run more by the associates and senior associates. Though, one source confirmed that “it’s a good mixture of work.” They added that “you would get borrowers referred from a property partner’s client, general commercial property clients, corporate clients, acquisition finances, venture capital finances and there is a lender side too,” so trainees got to work on both sides. “I wouldn’t say you’re working across departments in this team,” one trainee mused, “but there is a lot of overlap with how deals fit together.” The team were instructed by Scape to act on a £50m loan from Puma Property Finance, to fund a co-living development in East London. The project aims to deliver 2,500 new homes across Build to Rent, co-living, purpose-built student accommodation and build-to-sell.
“I was surprised by the atmosphere at the start,” admitted one insider, when asked about the culture at Fladgate. They went on to say that “genuinely it is very good here, everyone is approachable.” Another noted that “joining was a daunting experience, but everyone from associates onwards makes a real effort.” Praise was also given to the fact that “you can be yourself at work!” This trainee explained that “So long as you’re doing good work and have the enthusiasm, nobody’s going to say anything to you. You can wear jeans to work, like, every day!” Fladgate benefits from a “really close” trainee cohort, as we learned the firm “does a good job of placing people and hiring people who get along together. A lot of us are a bit more mature with some prior work experience.”
“You can wear jeans to work, like, every day!”
As a result, one interviewee quipped that “it’s never going to be a firm where there are hundreds of early twenties who want to go out all the time!” Nevertheless, there are trainee social events on the calendar, with departments booking bars for drinks every-so-often. “People tend to socialise more in departments,” noted one source. The amount of socialising varied depending on the group, many marked the disputes resolution out as being the “most keen” on arranging socials. But other big groups like corporate also had something going on every couple of weeks. Informal drinks appeared to be the more regular post-work wind down: “we tend to organise ourselves and go out for drinks once a week. It’s easy when the cohort isn’t massive.” A couple of trainees also told us about “a monthly dining club that’s risen from a couple of us who like to go out to eat! It’s not an official thing, but it’s partners and associates together.” Importantly, Fladgate’s Covent Garden baseis perfect for the firm’s foodies, as “there are a zillion food options around.”
The office itself is a mix of open plan desks and siloed offices. While the disputes and property teams have their own floors, one interviewee told us that “for the most part, people mingle.” Trainees are allowed to work from homeonly once a week, but this hasn’t appeared to cause an issues as, in any case, we heard that “most of us come in five times a week.” On top of that, trainees were all super happy about their hours. Though they fluctuated depending on the time of year and by department, one trainee beamed that “Honestly? We’ve got a pretty sweet deal.” People tend to arrive anywhere between 9am – 9.30am in the morning, but “by 7pm, the floor is empty.” Even at busy periods, in the more hectic FFR and corporate departments, one interviewee highlighted that “it’s extremely rare that someone will call you late or at the weekend. So you’re not chained to your phone or have that residual stress.” While a number of trainees did note some frustration at having to pay back their maintenance loan for the GDL – “you’re docked up to £6,000 off your trainee salary” – they were positive across the board about the firm compensation, given the hours.
“Honestly? We’ve got a pretty sweet deal!”
Training at the firm was also given a big thumbs up. “At the beginning, there’s a lot of trainee specific trainings,” one insider informed us. They also mentioned that “when we move to a new department we have group specific training too,” followed by “almost weekly” training sessions. In particular, the disputes resolution team hosts a commended training program, where “we have lunchtime seminars twice a week, where barristers and KCs will come in and talk about new developments in the practice.” Property also holds talks and open table discussions. One insider in this team reflected that “it’s a great way to dig into topic material, and all the sessions are recorded so incoming people can pick up on previous trainings.”
All this training leads trainees up to qualification, which sources said is not too formal. While quite a few trainees admitted they weren’t super clear on the process, the firm’s retention rate is typically decent. In fact, in 2023, Fladgate retained six out of seven of its qualifiers. Obviously, “if you don’t get the seat you want at qualification it doesn’t make sense to stay. But I get the sense the firm is growing quite a bit,” noted one interviewee.They added that Fladgate has “a lot of partners who have trained here, one of which who celebrated 30 years here recently! So, I get the sense a lot of people do want to stay on.”
D&I at Flad
The firm partners with IntoUniversity to reach diverse students across London, selecting five students for a week-long summer placement.
16 Great Queen Street,
Our strategy is to combine brilliant teamwork and a truly personal service; connectivity and understanding across our clients’ worlds; and high quality specialist expertise and products that meet their needs.
For a relatively small firm to deliver the quality of work that we do, the range of expertise that we have and the depth of our relationships with clients are contributing factors that set us apart from our competitors.
Main areas of work
Corporate: including capital markets, M&A, tax, private client, restructuring, commercial, sports and IP and employment.
Dispute Resolution: which includes regulatory, corporate governance and investigations, banking and financial services litigation, international commercial arbitration, insurance, contentious trusts and family, intellectual property, civil fraud and asset protection and contentious construction.
Funds, Finance and Regulatory: iincluding investment funds, private equity, fund managers, asset and investment managers, promoters, sponsors and investors ; alternative finance providers, banks and debt funds, family offices, owner manager businesses, private equity funds and corporate borrowers FCA applications, advice on UK regulatory frameworks, fund related advice.
Real Estate: including planning, construction, real estate finance and real estate litigation.
Typically, you will complete four six-month seats across our core and specialist areas. Each seat will bring you into contact with new clients and colleagues, and you can expect to gain real hands-on experience of a variety of deals and projects, both large and small. In each seat you will work alongside senior lawyers who will supervise your development and ensure you are involved in challenging and interesting work.
In addition to on-the-job training, each department has a comprehensive training schedule of seminars and workshops covering a range of legal and skills training. The firm has a modern culture and an open-door policy where trainees are given early responsibility and encouraged to achieve their full potential.
Seat options include Corporate; Dispute Resolution; Real Estate; Funds, Finance & Regulatory; Commercial, Sports & IP, Construction, Private Client and Real Estate Litigation.
Fladgate recruit Trainees solely through the vacation scheme, which launched in 2020. Fladgate holds two one-week vacation scheme placements across June/July.
The vacation scheme provides graduate students – our potential future trainees – an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and a good understanding of life as a Fladgate trainee. Participants will be assigned a supervisor, usually an Associate, as well as a Trainee buddy.
Vacation scheme candidates will have the opportunity to attend departmental introductions, technical presentations and Q&A sessions with various Partners, Senior Associates and experts at the firm. Alongside these sessions, vac schemers will be engaged in discrete tasks, group work, BD activities and networking and social sessions, providing them with an insight into our practice areas and the trainee role within them.
At Fladgate we run our business in ways that promote equality of opportunity and respect for diversity. Ours is a business that thrives on bringing together people with different perspectives to address our clients’ challenges, so we value and encourage diversity, both internally and externally. Furthermore, the firm recognises the importance of the health and wellbeing of all our people and that it can play a part in promoting an environment which allows everyone to flourish and reach their full potential.
Promoting inclusivity and diversity is a key element of our commitment to being a great place to work, enabling us to attract and retain the best talent, and we take our responsibility to this seriously. We care deeply about creating an inclusive culture and are committed to the fair treatment of everyone and to ensuring that each individual is valued and respected. The Firm has an Inclusion & Diversity committee, formed of volunteers across the business, which is chaired by our I&D Partner and who reports to our Board regularly. As signatories to The Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter, we were delighted to have scored gold in five categories and be awarded an overall ‘gold’ status.
We are committed to broadening access to the legal profession and are part of the PRIME social inclusion initiative, which aims to provide fair access to meaningful work experience within the legal sector for school-age students from less-privileged backgrounds. Students and staff alike find these initiatives valuable and rewarding and the success of our Insight Days and our PRIME work experience reflect our continuing commitment to a more diverse legal sector.
We also uphold a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility, dedicating fundraising to two nominated charities per calendar year.
We care deeply about the wellbeing of our people and have a strong commitment to employee wellness. Our wellbeing programme consists of four key pillars: physical health, mental health, financial health and social & CSR. As part of our programme we offer a range of benefits to staff and provide regular updates and seminars on health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the firm has run various mental health seminars, led by internal champions and external experts such as Mind and LawCare, encouraging staff to feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work. We were delighted to be win the "Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative" entry at the People in Law 2020 Awards, recognising our efforts and commitment to encouraging and support the wellbeing of our people.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Construction: Contentious (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: £10-100 million (Band 1)
- Family/Matrimonial Finance: High Net Worth (Band 4)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 4)
- Real Estate: £50-150 million (Band 2)
- Fraud: Civil (Band 5)
- Infrastructure: PFI/PPP (Band 3)
- Insurance: Mainly Policyholders (Band 3)
- Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 4)