Become a trainee at the Wilkes Partnership
As a trainee at the Wilkes Partnership you will be given all of the support you need and every opportunity to grow. You’ll be involved in client meetings to help to develop your soft skills, while taking part in the ongoing development programme that’s available to all our professional staff. This will provide the breadth and depth of understanding you’ll need to establish and maintain your professional presence.
Who we’re looking for: Our reputation is built on providing first-class legal advice which we are able to provide through our skilled teams. We want to continue to do this by recruiting the most promising candidates to our trainee programme.
If you have achieved a minimum of ABB at A Level and have achieved, or are on course to achieve, at least a 2.1 classification at degree level there could be an opportunity waiting for you.
If you would like to know more about being part of the next generation of experts at the Wilkes Partnership, please get in touch with one of our current trainees.
Applications for training contracts commencing in 2023 have now closed. If you would like to apply for 2024 positions download the application form below, complete and return via email to [email protected] and [email protected] The closing date for applications is 30 June 2022.
Any questions? If you have any questions about a training contract with the Wilkes Partnership or want to know more about the application process, contact our Training Recruitment Partner, Kate Hackett ([email protected]).
If you’d like to know what your time as a trainee at the Wilkes Partnership would be like, why not contact one of our current trainees?
Frequently Asked Questions
Normally between 4 and 5 each year.
The keys things you’ll find at Wilkes that we think make us stand out are:
Whilst our team is busy, ambitious and work hard, we do not have (or foster) an "excessive hours culture" found in many larger firms doing similar quality work.
We aim to provide flexibility where possible for staff in their working hours and location and support all staff in maintaining a good work-life balance.
Quality of Training
We are recognised as providing some of the highest quality training contracts in Birmingham and the West Midlands, with individuals having the opportunity to work in a wide range of practice areas not always offered at other firms. Our size means that individuals get the benefit of more hands-on experience they may not get at larger firms, balanced with the support of more senior colleagues that may not be the case at smaller firms.
Alongside your day-to-day work, we also provide a number of formal training courses that aim to develop the additional skills you will need as a solicitor, such as networking, financial knowledge and marketing.
At Wilkes, we don’t have the traditional hierarchical feel of a lot of law firms. We are a friendly, down-to-earth bunch and promote the attitude that everyone in the firm is approachable.
Our history is firmly embedded in Birmingham and the West Midlands and as a firm we believe we have a responsibility to make a positive impact on our local community. We encourage all staff to participate in our regular Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives including fund-raising for our nominated charity and participating in organised volunteering events.
We accept applications from applicants from their second year of their degree.
Applications for the 2024 intake are now open and will close on 30th June 2022.
You should complete an application form on our website in which you can set out both your academic achievements, work experience and the reasons you wish to apply to us.
A career as a solicitor is intellectually demanding, and as such we require a high level of academic achievement from candidates.
In general, we ask for:
- A minimum of ABB at A Level, or equivalent.
- At least a 2.1 classification at degree level.
However, we consider all applicants holistically and we will not automatically discount your application if these have not been gained. You should ensure your application form reflects any mitigating circumstances we should take into account when looking at your academics.
If you are offered a training contract, this will also be dependent on you successfully passing your Legal Practice Certificate before starting with us.
As well as a strong academic background we are looking for the following from our trainees:
We want people who can ask questions, who want to understand why something is the way it is, and will persevere in finding out the answers. Our highest performers are people who want to learn and keep learning throughout their careers.
From Day 1 you’ll be involved with cases and meeting clients and will be seen as a key part of the team you’re working in. We therefore need individuals who are self-motivated and take ownership of their work.
Our success depends on how well we work together and so we need people who will always step in to help out colleagues and can juggle their priorities to ensure the team succeeds. We also want individuals who work beyond their own immediate team and become involved in the wider business.
Without our clients, we have no business and so we need people who strive to understand exactly what our clients want from us, and deliver the highest quality of service to them. You will also need to be active in promoting yourself and the firm externally to help ensure the future success of Wilkes.
We pride ourselves on holding ourselves accountable to high standards, as is evident through our Lexcel accreditation. Key to this is that we always have the utmost integrity in everything we do and that we are open and honest with our clients.
Applicants will hear back as to whether they have been successful in obtaining an interview shortly after the closing date.
We don't want our candidates to jump through hoops to secure a role with us. Instead our focus is on getting to know you as an individual, what your strengths are and what you aim to achieve in your career as a solicitor.
We have a single interview day. You will firstly complete a short exercise which aims to help us ascertain whether you have the practical skills needed to be a solicitor. After this you will have a face-to-face interview with, amongst others, our Training Principal, Kate Hackett and another Partner.
Following the interview, we aim to get back to candidates as soon as possible.
We will stay in regular contact during the period from which you receive an offer and you joining Wilkes. You can also contact us at any time during this period if you have any questions about your training contract.
With your permission, we also share contact details of all our trainees so that you can get to know each other before joining, and start to build up links with the firm.
There may be an opportunity for future trainees to work as paralegals within Wilkes before they commence their training contract. We find both the individual and Wilkes benefit from the practical knowledge they gain during these.
On the rare occasion where this happens, each case is considered individually by the firm, but we will only withdraw a training contract offer in exceptional circumstances.
We review our trainee salaries every year to ensure these are in line with market rates. Starting salary for our 2021 Trainees is £22,000 per annum. Salaries are reviewed in May each year. Upon qualifying, you can expect to earn £40,000 per annum
In addition, our benefits include:
- 24 days annual leave plus the option to purchase additional days.
- Matching 4% pension contributions.
- Life Assurance of 4X base salary.
- Discounts on personal conveyancing and wills.
- Corporate discounts on gym memberships, restaurants and days out.
- Annual flu jabs.
During your training contract, you will generally complete four 6-month seats that give you the chance to experience issues from private client to commercial litigation, and business recovery to personal injury and clinical negligence.
The exact seats will be determined according to business requirements, but could include:
- Corporate & Commercial
- Real Estate
- Business Recovery
- Commercial Litigation
- Property & Probate Litigation
- Private Client
- Personal injury and clinical negligence
We aim to take an individual’s preference into account as far as possible.
By joining Wilkes, you will benefit from the opportunity to have much more involvement with work than you may at other larger firms.
Typical work completed by a trainee:
- you can be required to draft various documents from Wills to Corporate Agreements, Court documents such as Part 36 Offers and Witness Statements;
- you will attend client meetings, whether that be via telephone, zoom, teams or in person; and
- you may have the opportunity to attend trials, hearings, mediations and conferences with Counsel.
Our training seats will either be in our Birmingham City Office, or our Stanton Office based in Shirley, Solihull.
You will always be supervised by a qualified member of staff who will provide you with support and guidance in your day-to-day work. You will also have regular meetings with our Training Principal, Kate Hackett, to discuss your progress and address any concerns you or the firm may have.
You will have access to online webinars that cover a wide range of skills and knowledge areas. We also provide a Junior Fee Earner programme that provides you with training in the key soft skills needed by solicitors, such as networking, negotiation, etc.
We pride ourselves on attracting quality candidates and aim to retain as many as possible at the end of their training contracts.
We will have regular discussions with you throughout your training contract to understand your preference in the area of law you wish to pursue. Any available newly qualified (NQ) vacancies are notified to trainees as soon as they are known. Trainees can apply to any team with a vacancy, whether or not they have done a seat in that team.
You can email [email protected] with any questions you have on the application process or how our training contracts work. Sophie Raybould, Danielle Blavins or Para Vegad (some of our current trainees) would also be happy to answer your questions on what life as a trainee is really like at Wilkes. Please contact them via our website.
Top Tips from a current trainee
by Simran Bains
I am a second seat Trainee at The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors and I will be sharing some of my key pointers for making the most of your training contract based on my experience so far. I hope that this will be beneficial for any future (or even current) trainee solicitors reading this blog!
Before I go into my top tips, here is a little a bit about me…
I obtained my training contract at The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors in September 2018 and then went on to complete my LPC at the University of Law. I was asked to join the firm as a Paralegal in July 2019, upon completion of my LPC, in the Private Client department. I then started my training contract with the firm in January 2020 in the Business Recovery and Insolvency team.
I am now currently in my second seat in the Real Estate department.
I can say without a doubt that I have really enjoyed my training contract so far and have learnt so much already through a combination of early responsibility and effective supervision.
Now onto my top 5 tips…
Moving to a new seat (even as a second seater) is a daunting experience. I kept at the forefront of my mind as I moved into my second seat that whilst I was no longer a “newbie” to the firm, I was moving to a completely new area of law with a completely new team. No one expects you to be an expert straight away and it is important to remember that it will take you time to adjust and adapt not only to a new area of law, but also to the way a new team works and operates.
You should, however, try to take steps to prepare – I read up on Practical Law, review my LPC notes and materials and most useful of all, I ask questions to people in the team and to previous trainees. Everyone in your team genuinely wants you to do well, get stuck in and will appreciate you asking questions and showing that you are keen to learn.
You have worked hard to get this position and are no doubt more than capable of doing well.
At The Wilkes Partnership we are very keen on corporate social responsibility and have a dedicated committee of which I am a member. As part of this, I have been involved in quite a range of events. Two of my personal highlights have been dropping off supplies to a food bank in Solihull before Christmas and also a charity walk that we did for Alzheimer’s (our current charity of the year) from our office in Solihull to our office in Birmingham.
It is so beneficial to get involved in initiatives (as well as work socials) like this, as you get to mix with your colleagues outside of a work environment.
Try to avoid going into your training contract with pre-conceived ideas of particular areas of law. Be open minded to try different areas, as you may well be surprised! I have spoken to countless people who have said that prior to starting their training contract, they had completely written off a particular area of law. They have then ended up doing a seat in that area and loved it so much they have qualified there.
I can speak from my own experience and the misconceptions I had about paralegalling in Private Client, which I did not think consisted of much more than drafting Wills. I could not have been more wrong and I ended up enjoying it far more than I could have imagined. The breadth of work and client exposure I got during my time there was amazing and truly set me up for my training contract.
Try to make the most of each seat. While you are only going to qualify into one area, you should embrace each opportunity to learn and develop your skills.
It goes without saying that you will have to be organised to ensure you stay on top of things as a trainee, effectively plan your day and manage your workload.
I prepare a handwritten to do list each day so I can set myself clear goals for that day and mark things off as and when I complete tasks. I also make use of my diary to diarise key dates like court deadlines, meetings with clients, internal meetings and so on.
Most important of all, I would say make sure you enjoy your training contract!
I would be lying if I said it is not an intense and stressful two years, but it is also a very rewarding time and will be over before you know it.
Make sure you take as much as you can from each experience, enjoy building relationships with clients and networking and developing the skills and knowledge to become a successful lawyer.