Wilkin Chapman LLP - True Picture

At premier Lincolnshire firm Wilkin Chapman, trainees can sample both personal and business flavoured seats.

Wilkin Chapman training contract review 2022

The Firm

For those trying to wed a successful career in law with an appealing Lincolnshire lifestyle, Wilkin Chapman should definitely be on your list. “Wilkin Chapman is the biggest and best in the area,” said one of our interviewees, echoing the view of others we spoke to. The firm pulls in high rankings from Chambers UK for its real estate, family and agriculture teams; it also has a Chambers-ranked corporate partner, who is commended for their SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) expertise, especially in the renewable energyspace. This insider also pointed out: “We have a lot of people now working in the renewable sector and we're busy trying to raise our profile in the tourism sector too.” The firm currently has six offices spread throughout the East Midlands and Yorkshire: Beverley, Horncastle, Louth, Doncaster, Lincoln and Grimsby  – the latter is the firm’s HQ. 

“…a great reputation throughout Lincolnshire.”

Our interviewees felt the firm enjoyed “a great reputation throughout Lincolnshire,” with one noting that “we’re always getting referrals from real estate agents and businesses in the local community.” A Grimsbysource was also keen to tell us that “the office, which is in the middle of town, looks like a work of art – it’s very distinguished from other firms in the area.” Most of the firm’s trainees have links to the region, and we were told that the firm "looks for people with a local connection" to ensure trainees stay on when they qualify. A big draw for our trainee sources was the firm’s status as a full-service outfit. “I liked the fact that the firm offered seats in both personal and business legal services,” said one, adding: “It gives you the range to try a variety of practice areas."

The Seats

Movement between offices during the training contract is common. At the time of our research there were five trainees in Lincoln, five in Grimsby and one in Beverley. Trainees submit three or four seat preferences at the start of the training contract: “A lot of it is based on where trainees are needed. Once you’re in a seat, you’ll be asked where you want to go next in your mid-seat review.”Sources agreed that “the firm tries to be as accommodating as possible,” with most typically ending up being assigned two of their preferences within the training contract. There are a few location-specific seats too: for example, if you want to complete a seat in commercial property, you'll have to head to Grimsby or Lincoln, while agriculture is exclusive to Lincoln. Sources highlighted that “it can mean a long commute depending on where you live” and recommended that “you have a driving licence if you don’t want to get the train everywhere.”

"You work on everything from road traffic accidents to incidents in the workplace and public liability issues.”

“There’s a variety of work” within Wilkin’s personal injury team. “Where other firms focus on one area such as asbestos, here you work on everything from road traffic accidents to incidents in the workplace and public liability issues.” The team also houses specialists who deal with claims on behalf of military personnel against the Ministry of Defence. One source explained that “the department handles a lot of road traffic injuries that trainees are able to run themselves.” This enabled trainees to take on the responsibility of client contact in situations that are sensitive and potentially very difficult for the parties involved. One trainee told us: “I’ve been able to discuss the accidents with the client and frequently take their witness statements.” Others spent a lot of time “dealing with hospitals and handling medical records.”

Trainees looked forward to “getting out to some site visits” in the firm’s commercial property department. The firm recently represented Bowbridge – a residential housing developer – during its £3.4 million acquisition of seven residential development sites. Lawyers here also advised the Lincoln Corn Exchange and Markets on the redevelopment of retail units in the city centre as part of the £75 million Cornhill Quarter redevelopment scheme. Other clients include Total UK, Beal Developments and the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park. “I expected to be doing way more photocopying but that hasn’t been the case,”one trainee gratefully relayed. “I feel like property encompasses so much: one day you might be drafting a licence or a lease, and the next you’ll be doing post-completion work and dealing with the Land Registry.”

The seat also has crossover with Wilkin’s agriculturedepartment. “The large majority of my work has been quite property-focused, like working on the transfer of ownership on large farms,”one source explained. However, there’s a range of other work available here too, including EU, subsidy, succession planning, disputes and flood management matters. Trainees here enjoy client contact and are given lots of responsibility in the form of drafting lease transfers and deeds of covenant. Recently, the firm acted for the Trent Valley Drainage Board during its purchase of flood alleviation land, which was critical for the prevention of flooding of nearby housing. 

Wilkin’s familydepartment covers the whole spectrum of matters you’d expect, including divorces and children’s issues. Trainees had gained exposure to different areas but did highlight that “the majority of the work tends to be divorce-related.”Survey respondents gave the seat a thumbs-up for its interest factor and the level of progression that occurs, with this source also praising “the level of support in the department. I’ve consistently got feedback and couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor.”The cases here are all confidential but the department does a lot of work for the NFU (National Farmers Union) Legal Panel, which represents farmers across the country. 

Trainee Life 

The combination of the firm’s size, balanced approach to lifestyle, and “extremely approachable” partners amounted to a culture“that feels like a family,” our sources agreed. It’s unsurprising then that over half our survey participants expressed a desire to make partner, while the rest were ready to stay at the firm indefinitely. “I don’t want to go anywhere, and the other trainees are of the same opinion,” one source confirmed.

Staying at the firm means qualifying – a process that one source neatly summarised for us: “The firm releases an NQ jobs list and we typically have qualification interviews with the department we want to join.”Another was keen to add that “morale is high”as the qualification round approached.This year, the firm didn't disclose how many qualifiers it retained.

“It’s not a culture of putting your head down and powering through as much as work as is humanly possible in a day.”

We asked our interviewees to expand on what the approach to work-life balance is like. One explained: “You don’t have the pressures of working at a big law firm here – it’s a much less daunting experience when you first join.” Another told us that they’d “been consistently getting in at 9am and leaving at 5pm,” and added that “there has never been an obligation to stay later.” This interviewee concluded that “it’s not a culture of putting your head down and powering through as much work as is humanly possible in a day. Even in the busier departments, you won’t be leaving at 8pm.” But for those rare times when things may get more stressful, our insiders highlighted that “there are wellbeing ambassadors who are very active.”

At the time of our calls, most of our interviewees were eager to return to their respective offices – the main three bases  are all new and open plan in design. “You underestimate how much you learn from overhearing people on the phone,”one trainee pointed out. The past year has of course limited the social calendar, but in more normal times the firm typically hosts two main events: a black-tie dinner each January, and an October social with a different theme each year (recent examples include game show and rodeo-inspired get-togethers). Ride on!

There’s no formal pro bono programme at Wilkin Chapman, which was an area some trainees thought could be improved. However, the firm’s reputation in the local area means there are many opportunities for trainees to get involved in community efforts.

Jetting off 

One of the firm’s more adrenaline-fuelled local events in recent years involved funding and sponsoring two pilots’ jet-packed flights over the Brayford pool as part of the firm’s ‘Evolve’ celebrations.

How to get into Wilkin Chapman


Training contract deadline: 31 January 2022

Vac scheme deadline: 31 January 2022

The interview process

Successful candidates will be invited to attend an assessment centre, which will last approximately four hours. This will include a test, an interview and a case study exercise. Candidates be shown around the office and given an opportunity to partners, lawyers and the firm's current trainees.

The vacation scheme

Placements are structured to allow students the opportunity to spend time in a number of practice areas (typically between three and five) and therefore experience the different types of work that we do.

Candidates are able to work on real client matters alongside the firm's trainees, solicitors and partners. Tasks are likely to include drafting documents, conducting research and meeting clients. In addition, there are presentations on training contracts with Wilkin Chapman and the wider firm.

Wilkin Chapman LLP

  • Partners 44
  • Associates 54
  • Total trainees 17
  • UK offices Grimsby, Lincoln, Beverley, Louth, Horncastle, Doncaster
  • Contacts 
  • Graduate recruiter Angela English HR.Officers@wilkinchapman.co.uk
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa 6
  • Applications pa 80-100
  • Minimum required degree grade 2:1 or other
  • Dates and deadlines 
  • Training contract applications open: 01/11/2021
  • Training contract deadline, 2022 start: 31/01/2022
  • Vacation scheme applications open: 01/11/2021
  • Vacation scheme 2021 deadline: 31/01/2022
  • Salary and benefits 
  • First-year salary: £21,750
  • Second-year salary: £23,250
  • Post-qualification salary: £32,000
  • Sponsorship  
  • LPC fees: No
  • GDL fees: No
  • Maintenance grant pa: No

Firm profile
Wilkin Chapman is one of the largest law firms in Lincolnshire and South and East Yorkshire regions, with an unrivalled breadth and depth of expertise and experience.

We are distinguished by our approachability, innovation and commitment to providing the best service we can to our clients along with achieving and maintaining quality standards.

We believe that this quality, service-led approach is also reflected by the number of accreditations and recommendations that the firm regularly achieves with the UK's leading legal directories, such as Legal 500, Chambers UK and is ranked 111 in The Lawyer UK’s top 200 law firms by turnover.

Main areas of work
Corporate and commercial; commercial property; agriculture; domestic property; family and mediation; private client; dispute resolution; employment; personal injury; recoveries; regulatory and crime.

Training opportunities
4 x 6 months

Vacation scheme
We have 15 one week placements available per year for undergraduate students, which are split across our Grimsby, Lincoln and Beverley offices. Placements take place during the Easter and Summer breaks. Further details of the specific placement dates available can be found on our application form.

Placements are structured to allow you the opportunity to spend time in a number of practice areas and therefore experience the different types of work that we do. You will be assigned a supervisor in each of the departments you spend time in, who will be available to assist you during your placement.

Throughout your placement, you will experience first-hand what it’s like to be part of the Wilkin Chapman team, by working on real client matters alongside our trainees, solicitors and partners. You are likely to be involved in drafting documents, conducting research and meeting clients. In addition, there will be presentations on training contracts with Wilkin Chapman and the wider Firm, with lots of opportunities to ask questions and find out more about us.

Other benefits
Cash Plan, Employee Assistance Programme, Wellbeing Programme, Pension Scheme, Life Assurance, Discounted Legal Fees.

Open days and first-year opportunities
Our work experience programme is open to first year students. 

University law careers fairs 2021
Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield

Social Media:
Facebook: @WilkinChapmanSolicitors
Twitter: @WCllpSolicitors
Instagram: @wilkinchapmanllp
LinkedIn: @wilkinchapman

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Agriculture & Rural Affairs (Band 2)
    • Family/Matrimonial (Band 1)
    • Family/Matrimonial (Band 3)