A firm with an unstuffy culture, Olswang is best known for its expertise in the technology, media, telecommunications and real estate sectors, and is a major corporate and finance player in the mid-tier market.
Dynamic, meritocratic and trendy.
- Wide variety of high profile work with interesting clients
- Where possible trainees are encouraged to contact clients directly
- Unstuffy, friendly and informal culture
- Fee earners are encouraged to spend 5% of their chargeable time on pro bono work
- Supervisors are very good at teaching
- Heated competition for the most popular seats and limited opportunities to do a seat abroad
- Becoming increasingly corporate
- Hours are still tough at times
Established just over 30 years ago, Olswang LLP has swiftly blossomed from a boutique media firm into a robust business law firm; best known for its expertise in the real estate, technology, media, telecommunications and finance sectors as well as its meritocratic and unstuffy culture. The firm has won the praise of its acclaimed clients, and acts for firms including the Guardian, ITV, Lloyds, Microsoft, MTV, Nationwide and Warner Music International.
Olswang is certainly used to dealing with stars, but now the tables have turned and the firm is hiring them. Much to the chagrin of other leading City firms, Olswang has employed an aggressive lateral hire strategy over recent years to augment its core practice areas of litigation, corporate, real estate, finance, IP and commercial.
Olswang was founded in 1981 by Simon Olswang and Mark Devereux. Although initially setting out on a media and corporate bent – focussing on TV, film and advertising – the mid-1980s brought the addition of two new practice areas: litigation and real estate. The firm grew rapidly through the 1990s, and expanded into a full service firm operating in numerous sectors: banking, broadcasting, film, gambling, internet & e-commerce, leisure, life sciences, marketing services, music, publishing, real estate, sport and telecommunications. The firm’s significant presence in the corporate realm is now responsible for over 20% of its total turnover.
In an attempt to ditch the firm’s historically boutique image, Olswang set up a salvo of international links. Offices in Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Munich, Paris and Singapore give the firm an international flavour, alongside a long-established preferred firm network of leading independent law firms across the globe.
Fee-earners at the firm have also expanded Olswang’s online presence with a foray into the blogosphere. Fashionista-at-law details legal and business goings on in, you guessed it, the fashion industry. Posts are by no means under the radar and Fashionista has been invited to several London Fashion Week shows. Elsewhere, +Technology is “developing a network of like minded business people who are concerned with the ongoing impact of technology to their business”. The network’s blog widely revolves around tech news and happenings.
Olswang also looks to shine outside its international offices by getting its people involved in lasting and valuable pro bono and volunteering work. The firm’s Corporate Responsibility programme focuses on education, the environment and local needs and is designed to give everyone the opportunity to make a positive difference in the community by sharing knowledge, skills and passion. The programme is comprised of partnerships with a diverse number of organisations and charities and as there are projects ranging from mentoring to making breakfast for the homeless, there is something for everyone. We do all that we can to make it easy for you to get involved so fee earners can spend up to 5% of their chargeable time and non-fee earners to spend up to 3.5 hours per month working on such initiatives. More information about the programme can be found at: www.wearecr.com.Read all 287 employee quotes
Since its humble beginnings in 1981, Olswang has expanded rapidly in the legal industry and now enjoys an international reputation for its corporate, real estate and media-focussed services. The firm offers training contracts in its Thames Valley office in Reading, as well as in London. A word of advice: if you apply for the Reading office, be prepared to qualify there as it’s unusual to transfer to the City once you have embarked on the training contract.
During the training contract, trainees complete four six-month seats in various departments, one of which will be in corporate and another in litigation. Olswang also encourages trainees to go on a client secondment. ‘There are usually five or six in-house client secondments at any one time’ and secondments available in Brussels and Paris; foreign languages are a real plus that will certainly come in handy if applying for these.
Securing a training contract at Olswang is competitive, hence why it’s so important that you demonstrate you’re a good fit with the firm. ‘It seems that the firm generally seeks to hire confident and friendly trainees’ who will easily blend in with Olswang’s ‘very informal’ culture, trainees tell us. In general, the firm does not hire a certain type, but instead looks for people who are ‘intelligent and have strong commercial awareness’ and ‘candidates come from all over the country and all universities, with all sorts of degrees’ according to a current trainee.
There are still the necessary academic credentials to fulfil, as the firm requires applicants to have achieved a strong 2:1 or above. Furthermore, Olswang looks to recruit those who ‘have a broad CV beyond law’ so if you have any varied work experience under your belt, make sure you mention it in your application. ‘People with strong personalities and often with unusual interests outside of work’ are the ones the firm is particularly interested in, so make sure this stands out in your application.
The recruitment process starts with an online application form and shortlisted candidates will be invited to sit two online aptitude tests. Those who meet the benchmarks on both tests are invited to a competency based interview with HR. Successful candidates then progress to the final stage, which involves a competency based interview with two partners, a commercial awareness exercise and a written test.
Additionally, many of the Olswang trainees get hired after completing a Work Placement Scheme at the firm. Interviews for the scheme are quite similar to those for the training contract and tend to cover your ‘personal background and interests, problem-solving skills and business awareness’. Apply early as places go fast.
Olswang Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment and Development Advisor
Tel: +44 207 067 3143
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Work Placement Schemes: 31st January 2013
No. of employees: Approx 500
Trainee intake: 35
Trainees retained: 64% (2012)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 2,000
1st year trainee: £37,000
2nd year trainee: £41,500
Newly qualified: £59,000
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Great offices in London and Reading. Dress code smart but certainly not stuffy - ties for gents are optional.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Free tickets to events at the 02 are common, subsidised canteen is decent, great subsidised gym memberships.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Quality of its practice across a wide variety of sectors.Second year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Varied, interesting and leaves a lot of doors open.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
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90 High Holborn
London WC1V 6XX
Tel: +44 (0)20 7067 3000
No. of offices worldwide: 8
Thames Valley (Reading)
Leisure (Bars, Restaurants & Clubs; Gambling; Hotels; Leisure Activities; Sport)
Life Sciences (Biotechnology; Medtech, Devices & Diagnostics; Pharmaceuticals, Biologics & Healthcare)
Media (Advertising & Marketing; Digital Media; Film; Games; Music; Newspapers; Publishing; Radio; Social Media; Theatre; TV)
Real Estate (Construction; Development; Hospitality & Leisure; Investment; Management; Occupiers; Residential Real Estate)
Retail (E-commerce; Fashion & Luxury Goods; FMCG)
Technology (Games; Hardware & Electronics; Internet; IT Services; Software)
Telecoms (Fixed & Broadband; Mobile; Resellers & Service Providers; Satellite)