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About Us

Gowling WLG is an international law firm built on the belief that the best way to serve you is to be in tune with your world, aligned with your opportunity and ambitious for your success.

1,400+

Number of legal professionals

1,400+

Focused on key global sectors, including energy, financial services, life sciences, natural resources, infrastructure, real estate and tech

Around the world, our 1,400+ legal professionals and dedicated business support teams apply our deep sector expertise to understand and support your business, and see the world through your eyes.

19

Number of cities with offices

19

Repeatedly recognised as a top employer, and committed to diversity, inclusion and innovation

9,400+

Number of pro bono hours

9,400+

162

Number of individuals listed in Chambers & Legal 500

162

As a Gowling WLG client, you’ll have access to expertise in key global sectors and a suite of legal services. Combined with our presence in 19 cities worldwide and specialised expertise in countries around the globe, we’re positioned to help you achieve your objectives, wherever your business takes you.

129

Number of practices listed in Chambers & Legal 500

129

We're proud to be recognised as a top employer, and actively encourage diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. Not only does this allow us to attract and retain the best talent, it also helps us attract and retain great clients, who know that motivated and engaged people produce higher quality work, approach problems with creativity and ingenuity, and will go the distance to help them succeed.

Innovation

We welcome clients approaching us with difficult issues to solve and are not constrained by the way things have been done before. We have adopted a flexible approach over many years and many projects that has led us to formalise innovation into three main areas:

Legal Innovation - the creative use of law to solve client problems
Business of Law Innovation- structuring ourselves to best meet client demands
Digital Innovation - the creative use of digital technologies to support our strategy

Learn more about careers at Gowling WLG Learn more about working with Gowling WLG

About the founding firms

Gowling WLG represents a natural evolution for its founding firms - Gowlings and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co - who, throughout their histories, have continually adapted to better serve their clients' needs.

Gowlings

With roots tracing back to 1887, Gowlings has grown to become one of the largest and most respected law firms in Canada, with a reputation for innovation in client-focused service delivery.

Building on its early strength in intellectual property, Gowlings has diversified to offer a full suite of business law, litigation and intellectual property services in all of Canada's key industries, including energy, mining, financial services, government, infrastructure, manufacturing, life sciences and technology. Gowlings ranks among the busiest law firms in the world for Canadian M&A, and is known for its deep expertise in client advocacy before courts, tribunals, regulatory bodies and governments in Canada.

Becoming a founding member of an international law firm is a natural progression for Gowlings, which has always operated with an international mindset, forming strong partnerships globally to better serve the needs of its clients. Prior to the combination with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, Gowlings was home to 2,000 people in 10 offices across Canada and in London, Moscow and Beijing.

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG)

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG) was formed by the merger of Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham in May 2014.

The move introduced a new firm to the UK legal market, giving clients access to a broader range of services, increased capability in London and the UK, and enhanced international coverage. WLG is synonymous with outstanding client service and sector knowledge providing advice and solutions based on understanding the commercial issues, challenges and opportunities clients face. The merger created one of the UK's largest real estate practices - a broad-based practice acting for institutions, investors, developers and occupiers - and the UK's number one AIM firm; a position further enhanced through WLG's combination with Gowlings.

WLG has a strong financial services pedigree thanks to its market-leading investment funds practice, award-winning pensions experts and a highly rated private capital team, which advises UK and international high-net-worth individuals. In dispute resolution, WLG brought together Wragge & Co's strengths in intellectual property, construction and commercial litigation with Lawrence Graham's focus on international disputes, particularly in the areas of fraud and asset tracing, contentious trusts and insurance/reinsurance.

WLG can trace its roots back to 1730, when Lawrence Graham became one of the first law firms to register in the City of London. Wragge & Co was founded in 1834. Since then, both have established themselves as major UK firms before embarking on international growth. Wragge & Co opened offices in Germany and China in 2008, a full service office in Paris in 2010 and in Dubai in 2011. Lawrence Graham opened its first overseas office in 2003 in Monaco, followed by Dubai, Singapore and Moscow (the latter by joint venture).

Forming WLG was the first step towards creating a new international law firm. As a founding member of Gowling WLG, the firm offers clients increased international capability, connections and coverage.

Gowling WLG Structure

Around the world, our member firms operate and provide legal services to clients as separate legal entities under the common brand of Gowling WLG.

Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and Gowling WLG (UK) LLP are members of Gowling WLG International Limited, a company limited by guarantee registered in England. Gowling WLG is the name and brand under which the members of Gowling WLG International Limited and their respective affiliates provide services around the world. However, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and Gowling WLG (UK) LLP operate and carry on business as independent and autonomous entities. They are not one international partnership and the members of Gowling WLG International Limited are not legal partners with each other. Gowling WLG International Limited does not provide legal or other services to clients. Rather, its purpose is to act as a coordinating entity for its members. Our structure is explained in more detail on our Legal Information page.

Learn more about the structure of Gowling WLG

Corporate Responsibility

We take our responsibility to our people, our environment and our communities seriously. Trust and transparency are embedded in everything we do and impact every business decision we make.

For us, corporate responsibility (CR) is all about making connections and making a difference. Not just to benefit the not-for-profits, individuals and suppliers we work with; but for the wellbeing and personal and professional development of our people and to strengthen relationships with our communities, clients and suppliers.

There are three elements to our corporate responsibility agenda: community investment (pro bono, volunteering and charitable giving), diversity and inclusion, the environment. And wrapping around all of these things, collaborative working - engaging with others to increase the impact we can have.

While the law is what we 'do', there's much more to us than that. As people, and as a firm, we believe we have a responsibility to help those around us, to make a positive difference in the local and wider community, to support our people and enable them to flourish and to minimise our environmental impact as much as possible. This isn't just good business-sense, it's good people-sense too.

Read on to find out more, or visit our CR Twitter feeds:

More Women - our diversity initiative that aims to increase the number of women in senior roles at the firm. Follow us @GowlingWLGWom.

OpenHouse - our network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and straight allies. Follow us @GowlingWLGLGBT.

Lorna Gavin - Head of Corporate Responsibility, @lornagavin1.

Collaborative working

The way we conduct our business relationships with clients, suppliers and key community partners is part and parcel of our approach to CR.

Sustainable business is good business and we comply with appropriate ethical and professional standards. Integrity, transparency and teamwork underpin the way we operate.

We welcome opportunities to collaborate with clients and other businesses in responsible business projects. For example, in conjunction with Lloyds Banking Group and PwC, we bring together a group of young professionals from across Birmingham every other year to create a project that meets a specific local need. Most recently, this led to the creation of Suited for Success - now a registered charity in its own right, providing interview clothing donated by business people, to those who are unemployed and trying to get a job.

We are members of the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, a collaboration of law firms and in house legal departments providing quality work experience to pupils from deprived backgrounds.

We encourage suppliers to follow practices consistent with our values and CR aims. We have helped a key supplier develop its CR programme from scratch and the same supplier has worked with us in providing work placements for homeless people.

As a Living Wage employer we pay the Living Wage to our own people and our regular onsite contractors.

In 2016 we held our first Responsible Business Suppliers Forum, bringing together the firm's key suppliers to share information about our respective CR programmes and identify opportunities for further collaboration.

Partners

We are proud to be a member of these organisations:

Community Investment

Investing in the communities in which we live and work is a key part of our corporate responsibility ethos. Our community investment programmes focus on three priority areas: pro bono, volunteering and charitable giving.

For nearly 20 years we have had a dedicated corporate responsibility programme, drawing on the skills of our people and the resources of our firm to support our local communities. We provide support through pro bono legal advice, volunteering (prioritising homelessness, education and inner city needs) and charitable giving. Last year we invested more than £1 million in community activities.

Pro bono

We are one of the founding signatories of the Law Society's Pro Bono Charter and the provision of free legal advice directly to charities and community groups, as well as through legal clinics, plays to our core strengths. Last year, we provided more than 4,500 hours of pro bono advice to more than 30 different charities and community groups.

Our pro bono work sees us regularly support the Birmingham Legal Advice Clinic and dozens of charities - ranging from small, local charities such as SIFA Fireside, Roshni and Spitalfields Crypt Trust, to national charities like The Big Issue Foundation and the NSPCC, and NGOs such as Oxfam and The British Red Cross Society.

"The British Red Cross cannot thank Gowling WLG enough for the fantastic support they give us both in terms of legal advice and meeting space. Everyone who has helped us has provided highly professional, timely and very user-friendly advice and the fact that this is pro bono means that we can concentrate even more of our resources on delivering vital services to our beneficiaries."
Andrew Napier, Head of Legal, The British Red Cross

A copy of the Gowling WLG (UK) pro bono policy is available here.

Volunteering

Each year our people give a huge amount of time and energy to projects in our local community - focusing on the key issues of homelessness, education and inner city needs.

Homelessness

The best way out of homelessness? Employment. By providing workshops on drafting CVs and interview preparation, work placements and one-to-one job coaching, our people are helping homeless and disadvantaged members of the community to build their confidence and employability skills. Since 2001 we have provided more than 100 work placements as part of this programme and in some instances have gone on to permanently employ individuals who successfully completed the their programme.

Other practical support we provide includes preparing and serving festive lunches, hosting summer BBQs, raising funds through sponsored sleep outs, providing pro bono advice and donating clothing and food.

Education

If we had to sum up our education programme in one word, it would be "aspiration": helping underprivileged children of all age groups to believe they can achieve their true potential when they leave school. Every week, volunteers visit primary schools in Kingstanding (Birmingham) and Southwark (London) during their lunch-hour to help children learn to read.

We are members of the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, a collaboration of law firms and in house legal departments providing quality work experience to pupils from deprived backgrounds.

In partnership with Enabling Enterprise we invite groups of primary and secondary school children to spend a day a day in our offices, gaining an insight into law and mixing practical learning with enterprise skills.

We fund an anti-homophobic bullying programme in partnership with Diversity Role Models in Holyhead School in Handsworth (Birmingham).

We also sponsor a TeachFirst teacher in Holyhead School.

More than 100 of our people have become school governors through our partnership with the School Governors One Stop Shop.

Inner city needs

Poverty, racial tension, unemployment, gang violence and isolation of the elderly are just some of the challenging issues being faced by communities within half a mile of our offices. We are supporting a number of charities and community organisations in tackling these issues.

We have food and clothing banks in each of our UK offices; food is donated to the Trussell Trust; clothing for the homeless is donated to SIFA Fireside in Birmingham and Spitalfields Crypt Trust and St Giles Trust in London.

We have funded family sessions at allotments in Southwark Park (London) for parents and pre-school children to learn more about where food comes from and to encourage healthy eating.

We support Free@Last, a charity helping the children and young people of Nechells, one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham, with pro bono advice, funding towards courses for young dads and workshops for young men aimed at giving them leadership and life skills to play a positive role in their community.

Charitable giving

Alongside practical help, we provide financial support to charities in a variety of ways.

Our people nominate and vote for three charities of the year, one national and two local to our London and Birmingham offices, as set out in our Charity of the Year Partnership Policy. The chosen charities benefit from staff fundraising throughout the year and, where possible, pro bono and in kind support; to the extent that they often become lasting community partners.

Our 2017 charities of the year are Young Minds, Bede House and Birmingham St  Mary's Hospice. Previous charities of the year include Beyond Food, Bliss, Help Harry Help Others, Dogs for the Good, KidsOut, Auditory Verbal UK, Macmillan, Alzheimers Society, Friends of the Elderly and Make-a-Wish.

Choir

Our award-winning choir supports the charities of the year by raising money at concerts held throughout the year.

Charitable Trust

The firm's Charitable Trust makes small grants throughout the year to charities registered in England and Wales and also provides matched funding for our people's fundraising efforts in aid of a wide variety of UK charities.

Payroll giving

We operate a payroll giving scheme, facilitating direct donations from our employees' salary to charities of their choice.

An Inclusive Workplace

Creating an inclusive workplace where our people can be themselves, and celebrating the fact that we're all individuals, are top of our agenda. Chairman Andrew Witts is the firm's Diversity Champion and is an active participant in our diversity forum which ensures we deliver on our commitment to attract and retain talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Our diversity and equal opportunities policy

All job applicants, employees, partners, clients, other lawyers, barristers, third parties and suppliers will not be treated less favourably than others because of race or racial group (including colour, nationality, ethnicity, national origins), religion or belief, sex (including gender identity and re-assignment, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity and paternity), disability, age or sexual orientation and whether or not they work part-time, flexible hours, or on a fixed-term contract. This also includes associated or perceptive discrimination.

Some of our diversity highlights

  • Our Women initiative comprises a number of projects aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in our partnership and management.
  • Working in schools with high black and minority ethnic populations and a high proportion of pupils on free school meals to promote inclusion in the profession - including our 'Day in the Life of a Lawyer' programme which incorporates a work placement (with us and a client as part of the Legal Society Mobility Programme), and a 12-month mentoring and skills development programme. Our ultimate aim is to broaden access to the legal profession for people from all backgrounds.
  • OpenHouse is our network for our LGBTA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allies) staff, which is co-sponsored by chairman Andrew Witts and head of corporate responsibility, Lorna Gavin. We are also a Stonewall Global Diversity Champion.
  • Enable is our disability and wellbeing network. Led by volunteers from around the firm, Enable organises events, gives access to training and one-to-one support for employees.
  • Our bespoke working policies support our employees' needs and enable us to provide working arrangements that work for the individual as well as the business as a whole.
  • For working families we offer an enhanced maternity package; support for staff going through fertility treatment and childcare vouchers for working parents.
  • We have prayer/contemplation rooms in our London and Birmingham offices for people of any faith to use.
  • We celebrate International Women's Day by hosting events and raising awareness each year to mark the day in each of our offices.
  • We have rolled out online diversity training to all UK employees.

Environment

In a world where increasing consumption places ever-greater demands on our natural resources, finding ways to reduce the impact of our business on the environment is a priority. Our biggest priorities are saving energy, reducing the consumption of natural resources, minimising waste and reducing carbon emissions.

All of our environmental initiatives are carefully managed as part of a comprehensive Eco programme which focuses on continuous improvement.

ISO 14001 and 50001 accredited

Building on the work of our Eco Team and our Eco Champions, we have created an environmental management system (which we call 'ECOsystem') which underpins our work to reduce our environmental impacts. Our ECOsystem is accredited to the internationally recognised ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 standards in the UK.

Energy

Our offices at Two Snowhill in Birmingham, and 4 More London, have strong environmental credentials and have been built to BREEAM excellent and very good standards respectively. We monitor our electricity and gas consumption on a monthly basis to track performance and identify energy saving opportunities. At 4 More London, where we have operational control of the building, we purchase green energy.

Eco Champions across the firm encourage our people to follow best practice in their day-to-day activities, including suggesting simple measures that add up to responsible behaviour, such as switching lights and PCs off when not in use, cutting out non-essential printing, recycling all waste appropriately and so on. Suggestions like these have led to significant reductions in many wasteful habits.

Natural resources

We use paper that is Forestry Stewardship Council approved, meaning it has come from forests that are managed in an environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable manner. All of our waste paper is recycled.

We have also introduced technology such as dual screens to review documents side by side, a sophisticated search engine tool (which means paper files are no longer as important) and duplex, follow-you printing.

These initiatives helped us to achieve a 42% drop in paper consumption in the last six years.

Waste

We are proud to be a zero waste to landfill organisation. Paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and cans are all recycled. Food waste is sent to an anaerobic digester, where it is converted into natural fertiliser and biogas. The fertiliser is used to help grow crops and the gas is captured and used to create electricity. Nothing is wasted and everything helps to replenish or sustain the environment.

When we relocated our Birmingham office in 2014, items of office furniture were donated to charities and community groups and more than 99% of the waste was recycled.

Carbon emissions

As a firm, we measure our carbon footprint annually. Last year our footprint was 3.6 tonnes of CO2e per employee.

We offer cycle to work and season ticket loan schemes to encourage our people to get to work using pedal-power or public transport.

We offset emissions from all business flights and train travel. The 919.9 tC02e generated by flight and rail travel last year has been offset entirely.

Our carbon offsetting projects for 2015 were:

  • Guatemala, Latin America - providing safe drinking water through the use of Ecofiltro water filters and the distribution of fuel-efficient cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa - facilitating the supply of clean drinking water to small rural communities through repairing and drilling new boreholes, and providing water, sanitation and hygiene training.