Boutique firm Wiggin is quite the bigwig in the world of media, tech and IP law.
Picture this. You’re out for dinner with your old law school mates and one of them starts regaling the table with tales of the part they played in a carpet company’s tax filing. At the other end of the table, someone else mentions their firm had a hand behind Netflix’s hit series Sex Education. Who has your attention? Very few firms provide trainees with the possibility of working on the legal puzzles behind films and TV shows (such as His Dark Materials, Dracula and Rocketman), but Wiggin is one of them. Of course, we should point out that trainees aren’t mingling with Hollywood stars, but with clients like Netflix, Paramount, HBO, Amazon, Disney and Warner Bros on the list, “there’s never a boring day!”
“There are definitely no robots at Wiggin!”
Wiggin’s three core focuses are media, technology and IP. Chambers UK awards the firm top media and entertainment rankings for its film/TV and publishing expertise. It’s also highly ranked for its gambling work. According to training principal and corporate head Ben Whitelock, “a lot of the firm’s founders came from big City firms attracted by the idea of creating a specialist firm with an entrepreneurial culture." Our trainee sources affirmed this vision. “It's totally different from your average corporate law firm,” they felt. “Everyone is encouraged to bring their own personality to the team – there are definitely no robots at Wiggin!”
Wiggin has a miniature intake of just two to three a year, and at the time of our interviews, all trainees were based in London – the firm does recruit for its Cheltenham office too. Wiggin actually relaunched its training contract in 2018 after a three-year hiatus. In response to calls from trainees for a bit more structure in the relaunched contract, the firm is soon to implement a formal learning and development programme, which will include a two-week induction course plus training sessions at every seat rotation.
First seats are automatically assigned and from there, “we have a chat with HR about our preferences. Since there’s only two of us, the firm is pretty accommodating.” We heard everyone does a stint in either commercial litigation or IP. There are also occasional client secondments with companies such as Vodafone, Telefonica and Warner Bros.
“…interacting with production teams to convey their needs to the associates.”
Wiggin’s film and TV expertise attracts gigantic film companies like Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox Film, as well as online streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. Within the team there are finance and production subgroups. As trainees detailed, “we handle a little bit of the selling [distribution] of films and TV shows, but we mostly work on production.” The firm recently advised Eleven Film on its production of Sex Education for Netflix, for example. Trainees told us: “We work on location contracts and extras contracts, we draft crew agreements and director agreements, and on a day-to-day basis we’ll be interacting with production teams to convey their needs to the associates.” On the finance side, “we represent banks and investors in big film productions.” For example, the team recently acted for Coutts, a private banking company, on the banking arrangements for Dracula. Interviewees reported a reduction of work due to Covid-19; “however, there has been a rise in online streaming platforms as they’re still commissioning a lot of work.”
The corporate team works across the firm’s key sectors, advising on investments, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and private equity deals. The team recently advised Toadman, a Swedish game developer, on its acquisition of UK-based Antimatter Games. The firm also advised private equity fund Clairvest on its £27 million investment in FSB Technology, a sports betting platform. As a trainee, “you do a lot of the basic documents that are part of the transaction, whether it’s writing the board minutes or reviewing shareholder certificates.” Interviewees liked working on smaller deals, “since you’re typically working alongside only a partner and legal director, so we have more responsibility.”
In litigation, “a lot of the cases centre on defamation and privacy claims,” including cybersecurity breaches, GDPR compliance and data collection. The team does a lot of defence work for news organisations facing defamation allegations. It recently represented Associated Newspapers against defamation allegations brought by the former technical director of the parent company of the manufacturer of insulation used on Grenfell. The claimant alleged that a MailOnline article defamed him by implicating him in the disaster. Trainees got plenty of exposure to defamation cases, as well as injunction applications. “It’s a real melting pot of everything,” they praised, with one sharing: “I felt trusted to communicate with counsel, clients and opposing solicitors,” but as is typical in litigation seats, “there’s less client contact since everything you do has to be very precise.” For one, “some of the best days involved running down to the courts to file documents ahead of hearings!”
“Carrying out trademark searches is a big trainee task.”
The IP teamhandles a lot of trademark protection and online copyright disputes, as well as designs law, licensing and commercial IP matters. Wiggin recently represented Warner Music and Sony Music Entertainment in copyright infringement claims against TuneIn Inc, an audio streaming service. It also acted for Vans in High Court litigation against Primark relating to lookalike shoes. “Carrying out trademark searches is a big trainee task,” sources explained. “You basically go through a list of trademarks and compare those to what your clients want and see if it would infringe.” Elsewhere, “there are bits and pieces of trial work like putting together bundles and evidence prep.” Another interviewee pointed out that “there’s less client contact” than some other seats, “but you’re encouraged to sit in on calls with partners.” It’s a complex area of law, but the team holds bi-weekly training sessions to learn about “any articles and new cases that have come out, plus updates on AI and tech.”
A standard day for trainees started between 9 and 9.30am and wrapped up by around 7pm. “I mean, there’s been a couple of late nights until 11pm when working on a big matter,” one trainee shared, “but it’s not usual.” Trainees in both offices start on a £39,000 salary which rises to £65,000 on qualification, which is largely in line with Wiggin’s competitor firms. There’s no formal NQ process at Wiggin; “it just comes down to whether your area of interest has capacity or not.” Retention rates have been strong in recent years, as training principal Ben Whitelock notes: “Since we restarted the training contract, we’ve never let anyone go.” The streak continued in 2020, when both of the firm’s qualifiers were kept on.
“There’ll always be someone making a cup of tea in the kitchen.”
Trainees felt “the firm definitely reflects the culture of the clients” when it came to dress code. “There are certainly no suits to be seen in Cheltenham,” they said, while “London is a tad more business casual.” In the open-plan London office, “non-legal chats and laughs between different teams are a common occurrence.” During lockdown, “the partners have been trying their best to keep us in good spirits with funny firm-wide quizzes.” Wiggin’s social calendar usually consists of events like a Christmas party alternating between London and Cheltenham and organised coffee breaks. And when you can’t make the coffee meet, “there’ll always be someone making a cup of tea in the kitchen.” We heard in both offices, “everyone knows one another, and if they don't, everyone will introduce themselves!”
In terms of diversityand inclusion at Wiggin, sources thought the gender balance was quite equal across the firm (and all of the trainees at the time of our interviews were women). “Wiggin is also very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and we have a Wiggin Pride Week,” an interviewee pointed out. “The firm is also aware that it needs to do more in recruiting more ethnically diverse candidates.”
Gettin' Wiggy wit' it
The firm recently set up a pro bono committee “allowing people to get involved in all sorts of interesting work for various organisations, including youth choirs, homelessness charities and film charities.”
How to get into Wiggin
More about Wiggin’s betting and gaming seat
Trainees may also sit with the firm’s betting and gaming practice, which is top-ranked by Chambers UK. The team handles the regulatory, corporate and commercial matters for companies in the gambling industry. The team recently advised bet365 on several matters, including the restructuring of the company in response to Brexit. It also advised private equity firm Bridgepoint as the leader of the consortium which acquired Cherry AB, an online gaming and digital marketing group.
- Partners: 40
- Associates: 55
- Total trainees: 6
- UK offices: Cheltenham, London
- Overseas offices: 1
- Graduate recruiter: Grace Walton, [email protected], 01242 224114
- Training partner: Ben Whitelock, [email protected]
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 3
- Applications pa: TBC
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 6th January 2020
- Training contract deadline, 2022/2023 start: 30th May 2021
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £39,000
- Second-year salary: £42,000
- Post-qualification salary: £65,000
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant: £7,000
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: Cheltenham, London, Brussels
- Overseas seats: Brussels
- Client secondments: yes
Wiggin focuses exclusively on media, technology and IP. They advise clients on the financing, exploitation and protection of their creative and commercial assets in these sectors.
Main areas of work
Alongside its specialist commercial expertise, the firm provides a full legal service across corporate, tax, finance, litigation, employment and property. Wiggin’s clients range from leading businesses in digital entertainment, film, television, video games, music, sport and esports and publishing through to platforms, content retailers, gaming and technology companies and early stage entrepreneurs. The firm’s Brussels office provides legal support and lobbies EU decision makers on behalf of clients on a wide range of matters, including EU copyright, audio visual regulation, data protection, competition policy, trade and e-commerce.
4 x 6 months
• Group personal pension
• Permanent health insurance
• Death in service
• Corporate gym membership
• Holiday buy / sell scheme
• Cycle scheme University law careers fairs 2020 Attending virtual law fairs.
Email: [email protected]
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing:
To help our clients meet their most important challenges, we strive to build the very best legal and support teams, comprising people from a range of backgrounds, who are nurtured and developed in an inclusive environment that allows them to express who they are.
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
• supporting a work/life balance that works for individuals
• increasing ethnic diversity
• supporting LGBTQ+ employees
• promoting social mobility
We have active support networks that provide a focus for those who identify with different groups and that help us to continue to improve diversity.
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, 2020
- Corporate/M&A: Lower Mid-Market (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Law Firms With Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys Spotlight Table
- Defamation/Reputation Management (Band 3)
- Gaming (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Film & Television (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Gaming, Social Media & Interactive Content (Band 2)
- Media & Entertainment: Gaming, Social Media & Interactive Content (Band 2)
- Media & Entertainment: Publishing (Band 1)