Wiggin’s a big’un in the media and entertainment space, working with a host of household names – but that’s not all it’s got to offer...
Wiggin training contract review 2024
Picture your stereotypical City law firm. Sluggish corporate work, gruelling hours and cold, blue-lit offices probably spring to mind. Well, rest assured, this firm flips the script right on its back. Specialising in everything – and we mean everything – media law related, Wiggin offers trainees the opportunity to work on matters that are “actually exciting!” – according to the trainees anyway. In fact, the client list is chock-a-block with impressive names, like 21st Century Fox, Spotify, Vodafone, Premiership Rugby, Disney, Conde Nast, HarperCollins, PinkNews, Bloomberg, The Telegraph.
Showbiz through and through, it’s no surprise that Chambers UK (the Academy Awards for law firms, if you will) consistently sees the firm take home a solid haul of silverware across media law, awarding the firm ten accolades for its work in the space. In addition to its media and entertainment accolades, the firm’s also picked up awards in gaming, defamation, IP, telecoms and corporate/M&A. As training principal Claire Livingstone puts it “We’ve always been a frontrunner in our core sectors and we've never really watered that down.” ‘Nuff said.
“Media is usually just handled by one team at most firms, but it feeds into every single seat here.”
With such a strong specialist focus, it's helpful for applicants to have experience (or a demonstrable interest) in the firm’s sectors. A number of our interviewees had previously worked in the media and IP industries, though the firm stresses that this isn’t essential. Livingstone elaborates on the type of person that thrives at the firm: “The ones who stand out have a genuine passions for our sectors – it's easy to tell because people's eyes light up, they get animated, they're excited. A genuine passion we value very highly." It’s also worth noting that “obviously we are looking for high calibre candidates and part of that is academic, but we're not a Cambridge or Oxford club. You don't need to have a first; we appreciate individuality.” Trainees also had a word to say about the elite industry: “The magic circle gets shoved down your throat, so I had no idea you could specialise in the way Wiggin does.” We’ll take this opportunity to plug our guide! Another source pointed out “media is usually just handled by one team at most firms, but it feeds into every single seat here.”
Wiggin follows the typical four-lots-of-six-month seats, with trainees getting more priority over their destinations as they progress through their training contract. “The first seat is allocated by business need, so you don’t get a say,” but beyond this, “they’re quite open to letting you do the seats you want.” The trainees we spoke with were all pretty positive about the firm’s approach to allocation, especially as they’re given a say over their “non-negotiable” – a seat every trainee is guaranteed to get at some point over their training contract. Secondments are also an option, sometimes as a split seat “you can get to know the industry and clients whether that’s film & TV, betting and gaming, digital entertainment… it can take any form really!” Corporate has been a popular choice in some trainee cohorts,but “it’s a very different kind of corporate – it’s corporate in media, sporting and tech, so no matter the practice you’re always working with those kinds of clients!”
While corporate has grown recently, “the team is still good at looping me into the bigger picture details – you’re not just churning out the standard documents.” Of course, trainees are still tasked with some of your standard newbie tasks – drafting disclosure letters, helping with ancillary documents, due diligence on deals – but the seat is also “very people-oriented which makes it quite personable as a way to practice!” Liaising with clients and counsel is typical for trainees in this seat, where you’re helping set up companies: “it’s mainly in the film and TV, and interactive entertainment sectors – we do lots of work around investments in small seed-type companies.” Clients aren’t all small names though; unsurprisingly, given Wiggins’ reputation in the entertainment sector, household names run abound in the department, including Manchester United and William Hill, and the firm even recently advised the shareholders of Lingo Pictures on the company’s sale to ITV.
“I was working across some of my favourite TV programmes.”
Over in one of the firm’s biggest department, film and TV, trainees found that its popularity and work matched its reputation – “I worked on over 60 productions during my six months, so it’s a constant busy but not magic circle busy!” Similar to the employment sub-team, the department works mainly on employment contracts, but with a focus on director, writer, crew and cast agreements. “You’re getting involved with the meaty negotiations!” one newbie grinned. Liaising with agents and drafting agreements for terms of employment, including specialists like intimacy coordinators, are common. Trainees can also work on the finance side if they push for it, but generally focus on the production side. Given the group’s work with notable production houses, we were told, “I was working across some of my favourite TV programmes; a year later you see them come out and get a named credit – I’d say that’s pretty cool…” For example, Wiggin is currently advising Warner Bros (including HBO) on various TV and film productions including House of the Dragon.
Commercial media litigationis “quite a small team, but we work across any commercial and tech litigation which is really amazing!” Mainly defendant-based, trainees in the group work on lots of defamation and privacy cases for big newspapers and publishers. For example, the team has been defending The Guardian against £10 million claims brought by Noel Clarke, known for Doctor Who and Bulletproof, concerning articles the paper published about allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct: “you’re protecting freedom of expression, so it’s really important work.” In typical trainee manner, “bundling is obviously a part of it, but you’re also writing letters to the other side and join conferences with counsel – there’s material involvement, you’re not just working on admin tasks!” We were told that even newbies can get the chance to go to court several times over their stint in the seat. The firm is also currently acting for Lucasfilm in an unjust enrichment high court action related to the use of Peter Cushing’s image in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – so pretty cosmic stuff!
Interactive entertainment, video games, consumer, sports and music matters can all be found under the umbrella of digital commerce and entertainment, a seat where trainees can find themselves acting on everything contentious or commercial. It’s essentially “anything that’s not film, TV or data protection” one insider explained, so as a pretty broad and large team “they’re very good at asking you what work you want to get in the seat.” Newbies often hop onto matters involving contract review across jurisdictions and can push for more regulatory style work on research into things like rights contracts across the sporting world including the Bundesliga and F1.
Betting & gaming’s nine-strong team reflects its “niche” content matter. A lot of the work is research-based, learning betting and gaming regulations across the world and finding what workarounds there are to them. In fact, the group has been advising Cyrpus-based video game company Wargaming.net on UK and EU issues, like withdrawal from the Russian Federation and Belarus. Trainees are tasked with keeping up with significant legislation in the space and drafting up business development articles on what any new proposals mean for the industry. “On a few occasions I was dealing directly with clients, providing updates on different jurisdictions,” one trainee explained; “we’re experts in consultancy,” so clients have high expectations of the group – “things can be urgent and time sensitive so there’s a lot of conducting business over the phone.”
On brand with the firm’s flashy clients and (!) work, Wiggins’ newly renovated office is “very snazzy.” Split over two floors the firmincorporates a rooftop bar and café with 9th floor views just off Tottenham Court Road – something we heard was “great for spending all your money on nice lunches!” Trainees are expected to go into the office at least three days a week, and though it does vary slightly by team (corporate likes trainees in four days a week), “there is flexibility if you have other stuff going on – they’re quite chill with you working from home when you need to.” Hours-wise, sources were pleased to report “there’s no expectation of silly hours.” According to our survey, Wiggin’s trainees put in 38 hours a week on average – six hours less than the market norm. In terms of the salary, first-years take home a cool £46,000, which increases to £49,200. While the firm's NQs earn £79,000.
“There are bar snacks, plenty of drinks and of course, beer on tap!”
Those we spoke with did tell us there’s a decent buzz to the office when going in, so all-in-all “you’re not just a forward-facing professional.” One event in particular, “The Wiggin Arms,” saw its fair share of praise from respondents; “every last Thursday they open the bar in both the London and Cheltenham offices – there are bar snacks, plenty of drinks and of course, beer on tap!” There’s also your typical Christmas party, and a solicitor’s dinner in Cheltenham before starting your training contract, but trainees told us Wigg-Inc – the firm’s diversity group – also puts on a lot of events for different diversity initiaves. “To help promote diversity and get other voices to be vocal, we highlight cultural events like Eid and Chinese New Year,” one trainee told us, adding, “for Black history month we had a movie night and discussed the content, and we have meetings on goals every two weeks,” so the group does have substantive purpose. Wiggin also allocates £1.75 million in hours to its pro bono services it they recently advised the not-for-profit Ndlovu Youth Choir on its transition to becoming an international recording and touring outfit.
When it comes to hard training, most of the learning is done on the job. Of course, know-how sessions do take place within each individual team once a fortnight to keep individuals in-the-know about their practice. Praise was mostly heaped on the WIT Academy which covers managing expectations, interpersonal skills, and managing deadlines: “It’s less about hard training and more about personal development,” to be useful. Refreshingly, “there isn’t a set structure to the sessions, so they kind of let you lead it… you’re in control of the training and not just sat through a useless lecture – and afterwards we all go out for dinner, which is really nice!” When it comes to supervision, trainees get lots of structured scheduled catch-ups. They also have a seat buddy who is either a second-year trainee or an NQ.
“I was blown away by every seat!”
For qualification, the firm typically releases a jobs list around May or June. It’s typically a fairly informal affair, but if multiple people apply to a role there is an interview process. Always a positive sign, all the trainees we spoke with were pretty set on staying at the firm with one noting that, “while everyone who has a raison d'être for coming here I was blown away by every seat! Even if I did want to move on I know my experience here opens the door for other opportunities out there.”
Winning at Wiggin: All three qualifying trainees were retained as NQs in 2023.
How to get a Wiggin training contract
Training contract deadline (2025): 31 May 2024
Wiggin receives around 465 online applications a year. The firm expects all future trainees to have passed SQE 1 & 2 before they begin their period of qualified work experience. Applications are made via a cvMail link on the firm’s website. HR told us that gaining an insight into an applicant beyond their academic and professional background, and that having “more than one string to their bow” is seen as a plus for prospective candidates. Because the firm works exclusively with media, entertainment, tech and IP sectors, candidates should be able to talk confidently about the commercial dimensions to these practices.
Come assessment day candidates give a presentation that has been prepared in advance. Candidates also undertake drafting exercises, a group exercise, and an interview. During each candidate’s individual interview with the Training Principal, a Partner from the firm and the Head of HR, the firm looks for candidates to demonstrate confidence, commercial awareness, decisiveness, critical thinking, and attention to detail.
Wiggin’s open days are run through an organisation called My Big Career, and they focus on schools close to the firm’s Cheltenham and London offices.
Trainees typically only choose Wiggin if they are passionate about the media, technology and IP landscapes, and are interested in the commercial aspects of these practices as much as the legal dimensions. Work experience in a law or media/tech environment is useful, but the firm acknowledges that not every applicant will have the privilege to experience this. They do stress however, that your ability to talk animatedly about these will get Wiggin’s attention just as much as work experience!
Interview with Claire Livingstone, training principal at Wiggin
Chambers Student: How would you describe the firm? How would you describe its position in the market?
Claire Livingstone: We’re definitely market leading in media, technology and IP. We’ve always been that frontrunner in our core sectors, and we’ve never really watered down that.
CS: Are there any highlights from the last year you think it would be helpful for our readers to know about?
CL: We moved back into our proper London office after major refurbishment work, we’re really really happy to be back, everyone has really enjoyed that.
CS: How would you describe the training environment/culture that you have aimed to create at the firm?
CL: We’ve always valued culture really highly. I’ve been here since I was a trainee in 2009 – it’s not hierarchical, the partners aren’t Gods you can’t approach. It has a very friendly collegiate atmosphere. It’s open plan so we’re always talking to each other. There’s a real streak of fun, it’s not a deathly quiet, deathly serious oak panelled law firm. I hope our current trainees echo that. We try to be very supportive, we have a door is always open policy, and it’s a little harder now we have flexible arrangements, but we use tech to talk to each other as much as we can and support each other. As soon as they’re ready we allow them to have client contact – they’re not tucked in the back room – we bring them into the really nitty gritty of the work, take them to events.
CS: What’s the current set up with remote working for trainees? Is there a set number of days where trainees are expected to come into the office?
CL: There’s not set number of days – we’ve tried a few things. Currently we don’t have an enforced number of days, but we ask people to aim for at least three days in the office. On the whole trainees like to come in – more contact means greater ability to absorb. There was a period we had a set number of days but that didn’t make people happy or comfortable. We maintain pleasant office environments – in the Cheltenham office it’s quite large for the people who are regularly there, so we’ve rearranged it to make sure people feel they’re in company. We try to maintain a culture where people want to come in – we don’t dangle a carrot, people aren’t paid more to come in!
CS: What sort of person thrives at the firm? How can a candidate really impress at interview?
CL: It sounds cheesy but it’s true – the ones who stand out have a genuine passion for our sectors – it’s easy to tell because people’s eyes light up, they get animated, they’re excited. A genuine passion we value very highly. Obviously we’re looking for high calibre candidates and part of that is academic, but we’re not a Cambridge or Oxford club. You don’t need to have a first; we appreciate individuality. We would like to see people’s personalities come through and we have a big drive for people to be their true selves.
CS: And finally, do you have any advice for those thinking about pursuing a career in law?
CL: The thing I often say goes back to that passion bit – the law has so many things on offer. The first step is to try and understand where you would want to end up. I can think of areas of law where I couldn’t think of anything worse! You’ll be more successful if you can find the bit that makes you feel excited.
We’re a law firm that specialises in media, technology and IP. We help our clients realise the value of their ideas in a digital age.
Our specialists predict the legal challenges that arise from the wealth of new ideas and technologies that the digital world is constantly creating.
From Hollywood studios to early stage tech businesses, games developers to leading brands, we understand our clients’ needs and give informed advice. We don’t just tell our clients the risks – we give our opinion in a jargon-free, real-world context, so they have the freedom to do what they do best, creatively and commercially.
We advise and support our clients on the financing, exploitation and protection of their creative and commercial assets. Alongside our specialist commercial expertise, Wiggin also delivers a full legal service across corporate, tax, finance, litigation, employment and property.
Our Brussels office lobbies EU decision makers on our clients’ behalf – on everything from EU copyright, audio visual regulation, data protection and competition policy, to trade and e-commerce, in addition to providing expert legal support. We’ve also built an informal network of trusted overseas law firms – with a similar media, technology and IP focus to our own – to ensure our clients get the advice they need in all key jurisdictions.
4 roles with 4 x 6 month seats
• Group personal pension
• Long term illness insurance
• Private Medical Insurance
• Death in service cover
• Annual gym membership loan scheme
• Holiday buy / sell scheme
• Cycle scheme
We want Wiggin to be an inclusive, safe and inspiring workplace, committed to providing equal opportunities and participation for all our current and future people, proactively tackling and eliminating discrimination. This benefits our people, wider society, the business we run and the clients we serve.
There’s no such thing as a typical Wiggin person. We don’t hire people who dress or think a certain way or come from a certain background; all we ask is – are you interesting, do you have ideas, do you want to shape what excellence is?
This has resulted in the eclectic collection of enthusiastic people that is Wiggin today. Everybody has a passion outside their work. We’ve got musicians, athletes, graphic artists, podcasters – even a successful novelist among us. Diversity, inclusion and participation are critical because the sectors we work in are full of people who are diverse in thought, perspective and experience. We need to match that in order to give them the very best advice and service.
Inclusivity, personal development and a focus on the wellbeing of those around us helps us to create a place where we all want to work and to continue to attract, retain and develop the most talented people.
We are committed to increasing diversity within the firm and holding ourselves to the inclusion and diversity commitments we make. We recognise that words and statements must be accompanied by concrete and meaningful action – our partnership board works with our diversity and inclusion committee work to ensure we have both short term and long-term plans in place to address these issues. These currently include initiatives such as:
• increasing the gender balance in our partnership
• increasing ethnic diversity
• supporting our employee support networks
We have active support networks, including Pride of Wiggin (LGBTQ+ people network), Wigg-inc (ethnicity and cultural heritage people network) and Women of Wiggin (raising awareness of gender-based issues) which assist in providing a focus for those who identify with different groups and helps us to continue to improve diversity.
We’re proud to be a Stonewall Diversity Champion, and we’re putting in place measures to ensure equality and increase diversity, inclusion and participation in Wiggin. And we know it’s not just about who we hire, but how we work, because we recognise that people perform at their best in different ways.
Work takes up most of our waking lives, so it’s important to embrace our differences. If we had to try to be anything other than our own authentic selves, we wouldn’t enjoy it as much and could never be at our best.
We don’t just view our commitment to our people, inclusion and diversity as a commercial driver – it is fundamental to why we at Wiggin choose to work here, and the advisors we strive to be.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Corporate/M&A: £10-100 million (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Law Firms With Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys Spotlight
- Defamation/Reputation Management (Band 2)
- Gaming (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Film & Television (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Games, Interactive Entertainment & Social Media (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Music (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment: Publishing (Band 1)
- Telecommunications (Band 4)