With a top-tier offering in family and matrimonial law, it’s safe to say thatthings have turned out more than OK between Goodman and RWK.
RWK Goodman training contract review 2024
While the old ‘opposites attract’ cliché might be a bit much, it remains true that different strengths make a great partnership. When Bath-based Royds Withy King merged with London’s Goodman Derrick to create RWK Goodman in 2022, it brought together the respective firm’s strengths in commercial work (Goodman) and private client (Royds Withy King). So much so in fact, that what they were left with was a firm as suited to work with individuals as it was with businesses: “We are very much a mixed practice,” training principal Caroline Priest tells us, “about 50% of our practice is commercial work, and the other 50% is split between personal injury and private client. So, we are very much focused on both commercial clients and individuals.” This balance is reflected in the firm’s Chambers rankings too, with top-tier clinical negligence practices in the South West and the Thames Valley, alongside top awards for family and matrimonial law in Somerset and Swindon. There’s also a top UK-wide ranking in horse racing & equestrian, as well as strong corporate M&A and litigation rankings in the South West.
RWK Goodman is spread between two offices in Bath and others in London, Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Manchester, Marlborough, and Thame. For prospective trainees, it’s worth noting that the current cohort is split between the offices in Bath, London and Oxford, with the Bath offices on the cusp of being merged into one: “They’ll all be under one roof going forward rather than split between the two sites,” Priest explains. “As part of our current setup, we have the commercial team in a purpose-built office, whereas the non-commercial teams are based in a Georgian building in the center of Bath which has no air con and limited heating! So, it's a much nicer environment that we're looking to provide.”
When it comes to seat allocation at RWK Goodman, “the standard procedure is that someone from HR will do the rounds and speak to senior members of the different departments to identify the need for a trainee,” one of the current cohort explained, “then they’ll circulate a list, and we can state our first, second and third choices from that list.” Of course, while seat options can vary, trainees were generally positive about the firm’s willingness to put them where they wanted to go. While there aren’t any compulsory seats at the firm, “dispute resolution is popular, and they advise that you do one contentious and one non-contentious. But they are pretty open to what you are interested in.” It’s also worth noting that trainees in Oxford might be required to spend some time in either Swindon or Bath “but only once a week for one seat that’s not available here in Oxford.”
As one of the more popular destinations for trainees, a dispute resolution seat at RWK Goodman offers new starters a good mix: “I guess the way to explain it is that if it’s not a real estate, employment or family issue, it falls to us,” one trainee explained, “so it really is a wide range of issues that we cover.” This includes anything from general commercial disputes, contracts and IP disputes to banking-related work. On the commercial side, “that might mean the everyday work with the heads of businesses that are looking to divvy up and part ways, or cases where shareholders might not have been upholding their duties. The cases can be quite small or quite larger, so it is very varied.”
Given Goodman Derrick’s penchant for commercial work, it was clear from the off that the corporate group at RWK Goodman would be one of the departments bolstered by the merger. Covering your standard M&A, capital markets, private equity and corporate governance matters, there is a particular focus on three key sectors at the firm – banking & finance, health & social care, and technology. For trainees, there’s the opportunity to get a taste of everything on the menu: “Of course, mergers and acquisitions-related work probably makes up the biggest percentage,” one told us, “but you might work on share purchase agreements, asset purchase agreements, and general commercial contracts work.” The general consensus among trainees was that it was among the more “hands-on” seats available as a part of the training contract: “You tend to be involved with the whole process from start to finish, so you are kept quite busy.” In one recent deal, RWK Goodman’s corporate team acted for the Nasdaq-listed Digimarc Corporation on its acquisition of £100 million in stock at UK software company EVRYTHNG.
“…you can build quite significant and long-lasting relationships with these clients. It’s great to see them come through the ups and downs, and it’s an incredibly rewarding area of work.”
Work in the compensation protection unit, as you might expect, revolves around personal injury and negligence payouts: “We have a lot of clients that have sustained injuries at birth as a result of the negligence of authorities, which means substantial intermediary payments,” one trainee explained, “but because a lot of these awards are so big, they often have to be managed by a professional.” This is particularly true in cases involving ‘protected parties’, or vulnerable people who have been significantly disabled by their experiences, “so we act as a part of their care team and make sure those funds are going to the right place.” Of course, ensuring that the money is there for these clients as long as they need it is rewarding and fulfilling work: “The highlights are that you can build quite significant and long-lasting relationships with these clients,” one source told us, “it’s great to see them come through the ups and downs, it’s an incredibly rewarding area of work.”
As another of the firm’s headline practices, the private client department encompasses tax, inheritance and wills & probate. “There’s a lot of estate planning work,” one source explained, “which means drafting wills and advising clients on the most tax-efficient way of dealing with their affairs on the event of their death.” For a lot of clients, this involves “making the best of the rates and allowances available to make sure they can pass as much on to their children (or whoever inherits their estate) as possible.”
The current cohort at RWK Goodman were quick to highlight that supervisors were “fantastic at making sure trainees get prioritised,” whether it was “getting us to attend something just to see how it works, or getting involved with things that are quite tangential, just because it would be good for us to get exposure to it.” According to Caroline Priest, this is by design rather than accident too: “It’s mostly partner-led. We've got a few senior associates who also supervise trainees, but our aim is to let trainees have hands-on experience of the cases the partners are dealing with. We want people to experience what being a solicitor is like, and that includes getting involved in transactions as they move forward.” This is supplemented by mid and end of seat reviews, where supervisors can present trainees with more formal feedback and let them know how they are getting on, “but you aren’t given a score as such.”
Trainees at the firm are required to be in the office four days a week, with the freedom to work one day from home. As one trainee put it: “From a learning perspective it makes more sense because it’s just easier to ask questions when you are in front of people.” What’s more, Priest adds, the approach of the firm is that working from home can be a mixed blessing: “When you start a new job – any sort of new job, let alone a training contracts – it can be very isolating if you're just working from home. So, we want to avoid all of that and get people into the office as much as we can.” The one gripe among trainees, however, was that there were several mentions of IT systems at the firm being in need of an update! That being said, the firm is currently a little way through a three-year project implementing a suite of software programs called Peppermint.
“…greatly appreciated when it was needed, but there’s not a culture of ‘more is more’.”
According to our survey, hours at the firm are slightly lower than the market average, with most trainees finished by 6pm on a standard working day. According to trainees, working longer hours was “greatly appreciated when it was needed, but there’s not a culture of ‘more is more’.” This meant that while the current cohort did describe the salary at the firm as “comparatively low,” this was balanced with the fact that “it is a bit of a trade-off with having a great work/life balance.” Come qualification time, it pays to put some feelers out early: “The careers team will have a conversation with you to find out what interests you, and then speak to partners to see if there is a business need,” one explained, “and that’s followed by an application process with an interview.” If there is competition for seats, it’s worth noting that further interviews aren’t unheard of. In 2023, the firm retained four out of seven qualifiers.
Putting the ‘personal’ back in personal injury work:
When it comes to token gestures, RWK Goodman is top of the pile. Whether it’s an ice cream van handing out free ice creams in Oxford or a firm-wide Easter egg: “It might seem small and silly, but they are little tokens of appreciation that add a little personality to a corporate business.”
How to get an RWK Goodman training contract
- Vacation scheme deadline: TBC but likely end of March
- Training contract deadline: TBC but likely end of April
Each year the firm receives around 600 online applications for its training contract and vacation scheme. For the vacation scheme, which runs in April and lasts for four days, candidates who are selected from the online application will do a video interview. The four successful candidates spend four days at the firm, sitting in four different departments, one each day.
For those interested in the training contract, candidates are invited to attend an assessment day where they can expect to do a written exercise, a group exercise and an interview. What is the firm looking for? “Someone that demonstrates our values and is proactive,” HR tells us.
The firm runs a blind screening process, advertises on diverse platforms, and “also targets under-represented groups,” we heard.
5-6 Northumberland Buildings,
Established in 1873 RWK Goodman is a progressive UK top 100 Law Firm with the combined expertise of over 500 staff. Their reputation to advise national and international clients has allowed their lawyers to rank highly in their industry’s most well-respected guides to law; the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. As a firm RWK Goodman pride themselves on delivering first class client service, but are only able to do this through nurturing, motivating and developing their people.
The firm are a composite practice known for their commercial, private client, medical negligence and personal injury work. The firm’s lawyers advise individuals and businesses on local, national and international matters. The firm operates in a number of specialist sectors, including retail and leisure, international banking, technology, private wealth, charities, health and social care, sport and racing and bloodstock.
The team are committed to the firm's core values – living these core values is an essential part of working life at RWK Goodman. All employees are valued for their efforts, personality and contribution and they play a major part in the continued success of the firm. The firm is looking for trainees that can bring to life their ability to respond to clients’ needs, demonstrate commercial understanding, build networks with others and contribute to their wider community.
Main areas of work
Residential Property, Farms and Estates
Trainees are provided with a full and comprehensive induction programme including a buddy to support them during their first seat at RWK Goodman. During the training contract trainees will receive support and guidance from supervisors as well as regular meetings with the firm's training principal.
The firm's trainee programme is made up of four seats, each lasting six months, allowing trainees to gain experience in a broad spectrum of legal work. You will work within partner-led teams sharing the workload and getting stuck into client matters. You will also have mid and end of seat reviews to provide clear and constructive feedback. The firm look to retain its trainees as NQs as you are the future of the firm. Many of the current partners and senior lawyers, including the managing partner trained at RWK Goodman.
If you would like to be considered for a four-day work placement with RWK Goodman please visit our website to find our work experience application form. Applications can be submitted online and are open until the end of February. If successful, your work placement will be in the spring.
Day off for your Birthday
Buying and Selling Annual Leave
And many more!
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Real Estate: £10-50 million (Band 3)
Oxford and surrounds
- Family/Matrimonial (Band 2)
- Family/Matrimonial (Band 1)
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
- Construction (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: £5 million and above (Band 3)
- Litigation (Band 4)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
Swindon and surrounds
- Family/Matrimonial (Band 1)
- Clinical Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Claimant (Band 1)
- Personal Injury: Mainly Claimant: Industrial Disease (Band 2)
- Sport: Horse Racing & Equestrian (Band 1)