Whether you’re looking to kickstart your legal career or after a change of scenery, these are the top law employers the city has to offer.
Leeds is home to a wealth of outstanding law firms, from global-reaching PLCs boasting star-studded client lists to local disruptors changing the face of the legal landscape. With companies looking inwards and thinking forwards when it comes to diversity and inclusivity, sustainability and social mobility, it’s a hugely exciting time to work in this rapidly-changing sector. Here are the legal employers making waves in the city right now.
Squire Patton Boggs
Squire Patton Boggs is a full-service, global law firm, with a large office in Leeds. Operating across all sectors, they work with everything from FTSE 100 clients, all the way down to startups and local businesses looking to expand. With training programmes aimed at all levels and ample mentorship opportunities available, there’s a solid support network for new recruits and established partners alike, along with plenty of room for career progression. All of this enables employees to thrive, resulting in an incredible company culture.
There’s a big focus on diversity – employee differences are celebrated and people are encouraged to be individual. When it comes to hiring, it’s more about ambition and drive than which school you attended, creating an inclusive employee landscape. From school-leavers to graduates, there’s a pathway for people from all backgrounds to get into law, with 30 training contracts on offer each year, alongside 20 apprenticeships. It’s a great company for female representation, too – almost a quarter of the firm’s partners are women.
Gateley is a national company with a real regional focus. The Leeds team works with some of the leading corporations in Yorkshire, offering a chance to explore topical issues and witness the impact your work has on the local area. As a PLC, company activity has to be shared with the city, and as such, the employees, leading to full transparency over performance. Another perk of PLC status is that all employees have the chance to buy shares in the company, fostering a sense of ownership in employees at all levels.
With an incredibly strong culture throughout the organisation, there’s an importance placed on enjoying what you do. Relationships are crucial, and people at all levels are encouraged to have regular client contact, whether that’s running through legal documents or discussing trends over a coffee – which is why they look for enthusiasm and a personable nature in new employees. Join Gateley, and you’ll be supported from day one. Development of junior staff is paramount, as is a career-long commitment to learning.
Womble Bond Dickinson
Womble Bond Dickinson is a law firm with a large transatlantic presence, but its Leeds branch is a relatively young firm within the city. This allows them to be more dynamic and entrepreneurial than some of their more-established peers. It’s a great place for junior staff, with the chance to work on an exciting mix of local, national and International clients, from within a small team. If you’re looking for a place in which you can get well and truly involved from day one, this could be a great fit and one of the best law firms to work for in Leeds.
There’s a big focus on learning and development, on both a professional level and in terms of softer skills, something that rings true at all levels. An approachable, non-hierarchal structure is another key benefit as it’s a small team within a larger organisation, enabling a close-knit culture to thrive. In terms of sustainability, they’re leading the way. They were one of the first legal firms to commit to net zero by 2030, and their new office refurb had a big part in this – the lighting and air con are both eco-friendly, with recycled furniture used where possible.
A career at Irwin Mitchell offers the chance to work across a range of fascinating cases. Practicing across every area of the law, they have a huge mix of clients, working with everything from charities all the way through to vulnerable people. One key specialism is personal injury – they’re the number one medical negligence firm in the UK. Their innovative work has given them breakthroughs on a number of high profile cases, and they even got breast cancer drug Herceptin licensed, after the government deemed it too expensive.
Everything at Irwin Mitchell centres around people. From the incredibly supportive culture to the outstanding level of client care, putting people first is part of the firm’s DNA. Work there and you’ll receive two days per year to do volunteer work, as well as the chance to work on pro bono cases. They even have their own charitable foundation. A flexible by choice work policy allows you to work where you work best, complete with flexi hours. What’s more, you’ll get the chance to work alongside – and learn from – some of the UK’s best lawyers.
DWF is a global legal firm with a thriving office right here in Leeds. Working across a range of sectors, from occupational health to real estate, they complete headline-grabbing work that really makes a difference, and are one of just 12 firms who act for central government. A career with DWF will see you take on exciting projects and big responsibilities from day one, which is a fantastic way to learn. Thorough and regular training via the DWF Academy ensures you’re constantly up to date with new legislation and policies.
As a PLC, everyone at DWF can join the employee share scheme, giving them a stake in the business. There’s also a huge focus on charity and giving back – the DWF Foundation has given over £1 million to good causes, and staff receive two days to take part in causes that matter to them. Looking to join this high-flying team? There are plenty of avenues into the business, including apprenticeships and grad schemes. If you’re an imaginative go-getter looking to join a vibrant firm and make an impact, this could be a great fit for you.
If you’re looking for a local firm to work for, look no further than Blacks. This commercial law firm works with a mix of national brands and well-known Yorkshire names, providing a range of services including employment, corporate and property law. On the more niche side of things, there’s a newly-founded music law team, headed up by musician turned lawyer Pete Bott. As Pete himself did, team members are encouraged to share new business ideas and ways of working, with all suggestions taken into consideration.
There’s a strong work-life balance at Blacks, with plenty of community events and hybrid working based out of an open plan office environment. Social mobility is a priority too. In fact, Blacks was one of the first firms to introduce the apprentice solicitor scheme, removing the traditional barriers that stand in the way of getting into law and opening up the career path to people from all backgrounds. By teaming up with BPP, they provide thorough training to transform school-leavers into qualified legal practitioners.
Walker Morris is a Leeds-based commercial law firm that well and truly puts its people first. Fantastic benefits include a unique solicitor sabbatical scheme, where staff can accrue holidays and use them all in one big chunk for longer trips, and a family leave scheme, which features 20-weeks of full-paid leave for both parents. You’ll get the chance to work alongside exciting clients including Next, Unite Students and Wrexham FC, providing lateral thinking to help these big name brands unlock key business challenges.
It’s a great place if you’re just starting out, too – juniors are involved in the whole client deal, which is hugely important for learning and development. That focus on development continues throughout your career – all staff at every level receive weekly check-ins as well as annual career conversations, ensuring they’re heading in a path that suits them. Employees are given freedom to ‘forge their own path’, and the company’s focus on sustainable growth helps to put employee wellbeing front and centre.
Clarion is a Leeds-based legal firm with an international reach – working with businesses across the UK and in over 75 countries. With expertise in a wide range of sectors including energy, leisure and retail, the firm works with businesses and high net worth individuals to provide a blend of commercial and private legal services. As an employer, Clarion prides itself on doing things differently. By putting diversity front and centre, each and every team member is given the full support to thrive and be their authentic selves.
An open and transparent management style along with a flat hierarchy has resulted in a fantastic culture, where teamwork, collaboration and relationship building are always front of mind. It’s led to Clarion picking up numerous awards, including being named as the best law firm in to work for in the UK by The UK’s 100 Best Companies to Work For initiative. With a focus on learning and development and ample opportunity to progress and evolve into different roles across the business, it’s a fantastic firm in which to grow a legal career.
International law firm Addleshaw Goddard offers a great opportunity for those looking to embark a legal career at the highest level, right here in the region. With extensive local knowledge and a history in the city that stretches back to 1775, its Leeds office is a fantastic place to work. Land a job at this esteemed firm and you could be advising some of the world’s most recognised and respected companies, providing legal advice as well as a range of supporting business services.
With a focus on inclusion and diversity, everyone at the firm is encouraged to be themselves. What’s more, a collaborative approach to work makes it easy to have your voice heard, no matter what level you’re at. Regular career check-ins help to keep everything moving in the right direction, while ensuring that your own individual needs are being met. Agile working, life assurance and a solid parental leave policy are just a few of the outstanding benefits on offer, with social events and CSI initiatives adding plenty to do aside from your day to day.Cover image credit: Blacks