I thoroughly enjoyed the insight at Gateley as I felt it gave me an accurate overview of the firm. There was a good variety within the timetable of the insight which allowed me to experience the firm beyond simply the work that they do. This was useful in helping me to form an opinion on how suitable I felt the firm was.
During my time at Gateley I felt valued by all the people I encountered and at no point was I made to feel like an afterthought or inconvenience. Those running the insight emphasised that it was as much about me discovering whether the firm was a fit for me as it was them deciding either I was a fit for the firm. As a result people were very willing to include you in anything that was going on to aid this.
The guidance received very much depended on personal preference. I was given a mentor at the start of the insight who checked in several times during the week and who I could email at any point should I have any queries about work or the firm more generally. During the set tasks those sitting around me were willing to answer any questions and help as much or as little as I needed with the work given.
Although I had finished my degree, the insight helped me to apply those skills I had already learned during my studies in a practical way that was appropriate to the tasks at hand. During the insight, alongside the set tasks people might ask you to help them with something else in which case it was important to learn how to prioritise different pieces of work.
The insight was structured in a way that allowed me to spend each day in a different department. I felt this was extremely beneficial as it gave a real variety of experience into different practice areas which required different skill sets. The insight also included an induction day in Birmingham as well as an interview and presentation. The only potential issue was the amount of activities timetabled in for the week which meant preparation time for the assessed elements was limited.
I really enjoyed my time at Gateley and a big reason for this was the people at the firm. The atmosphere is refreshingly different from other firms as you are surrounded by genuinely nice people who are willing to help you wherever they can even if this means interrupting their own work. In the office there was a very good balance between social interaction and work and most people were eager to attend the social event organised during the insight.
During the induction day I was given training on the IT systems at the firm and given my own email for use during my time there. Even though the insight was only a week, I was very much treated as an employee for the duration. From talking to current and past trainees it was evident that the firm took a very personal approach to training with training adapted to the needs of the individual.
I felt the insight was an accurate representation of what it would be like to work at the firm. The hours and social events were typical of what employees experienced. Although the trip to Birmingham was for an induction, it was perhaps reflective of a typical week where an employee may have to travel for training or to a client. Therefore, I feel the week as a whole was a good insight.
The culture of the firm was reiterated throughout numerous aspects of the insight and is something of great importance in setting Gateley apart from other firms. This was especially evident in the Leeds office where a higher number of lateral hires means only the right type of person is hired by the firm, not just someone who is good at their job. The willingness of others to help with work or answer any questions and the understanding of a good work/life balance was very telling of the type of firm Gateley is.
As the insight allowed me to spend a day in four different departments, this allowed for a greater variety in the type of work I experienced. The tasks I was given were often typical of those that would be carried out by a trainee in the specific seat and this helped in getting a feel of that area in practice. There was also opportunity to experience both contentious and non-contentious work which was valuable as this is one of the first decisions to be made in deciding which area to practice in.
The firm was willing to reimburse travel expenses for those who had travelled to Birmingham for the induction day from other offices. This was in addition to travel expenses when attending the assessment day prior to reaching the vacation scheme.
I was paid reasonably well for the placement at Gateley.
This was an aspect of the insight which the timetable was really successful in enabling. There were many opportunities to network with others in all areas and at all levels of the firm. Presentations on a lunch time offered an opportunity to speak to those in departments I did not experience. Two social events organised during the insight allowed me to speak to future trainees of the firm as well as those who had worked at the firm for years all the way up to senior partners. Many encouraged me to stay in touch or feel free to email them should I have any queries in the future.
As already mentioned the social events were a really positive experience. The first social was with future trainees who were currently working in other capacities at the firm, so this was a good opportunity to learn about their journey and how they had been successful in gaining a training contact. However, beyond this it was an opportunity to get to know the trainees in a really relaxed environment.
The second social was open to the whole office so there was a real variety of people to talk to. I found this really insightful.
Although I didn’t partake in any activities during my insight, several of the employees I spoke to informed me of the other activities available through the firm including sports. All of the socials and parties were spoken highly of and there were many charity events backed by the firm. Each department also go on an annual firm-wide ‘away day’ where they take the day off and choose a team building activity to do.
I would highly recommend this placement to anyone thinking of applying. It succeeded in providing an insight into all elements of the firm which is really valuable when deciding whether a firm is right for you.