Senior / Principal Associate - Pensions (Risk Transfer focussed)

Gowling WLG
South East England
13 Jun 2019
11 Jul 2019
Contract Type
Full Time
About Gowling WLG

We have more than 1,400 legal professionals working around the world. Our offices span across 19 cities in Canada, the UK, Continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East. There's strength in our global presence, we embrace our differing cultures and work together as one team. We also understand the importance of investing in relationships that build knowledge and trust, while we provide legal advice that's tailored to our clients' world.

'Our people and distinct culture are what makes us different. We know this through client and employee feedback and this drives everything we do'' Chris Oglethorpe, HR Director.

There are great opportunities for all our people to flourish. Through training and personal development they can grow in their role. Our people are the cornerstone of our success, across legal, business support and early talent. We care about their happiness and believe in the power of teamwork.

We want them to feel empowered and recognise that by supporting, respecting and embracing everyone's different contributions we achieve more.

Working flexibly, working fairly

Agile working offers people more freedom and flexibility in where, when, and how they work. As technology advances and our workforce becomes more diverse, and with clients often working to a 24/7 rhythm, having extra flexibility is key to helping us balance work and other commitments sensibly and productively.

By supporting people to choose where and when they get their work done, we help them to make a full and fair contribution to their team, while maintaining that all important work-life balance.

Where possible and depending on business needs, we will consider all flexible working options such as part-time working, job sharing, working from home and staggered hours.

If in considering a role with Gowling WLG you favour flexibility in your working arrangements, please discuss this with the recruitment team in the early stages of the application process.

About the Team

Gowling WLG has a multi-award winning pensions law team. We are around 45 pensions lawyers and we distinguish ourselves in the pensions law market by being good people to work with and offering:

Advice which comes off the fence (not just information or legal opinions)

In plain language

Backed by the highest technical standards.

Second-to-none training and development for our lawyers is a key part of our profile as a pensions team (and as a firm). And this is a good place to work. Five members of our pensions team have tried pensions teams in other firms, and then returned to work in this team. It's not just this team: the firm as a whole regularly wins awards for being a good place to work, for its diversity initiatives, and for the way it handles trainees and training contracts.

Pensions operates as a single team across two UK offices, with roughly equal numbers in Birmingham and London. Most of our the larger clients have lawyers from both offices on their client service teams.

We advised (or have done pensions law project work for) employers, trustees, the Regulator, the PPF, NEST, several insurance companies, actuarial firms and other industry players. Gowling WLG (or its predecessor pensions teams Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham) act or acted on cutting edge matters such as:

The legal review of the Regulator's "Tool Box" (online training).

The PPF's review of its socially responsible investment adviser mandate.

The first ever auto-enrolment compliant cash balance scheme (at Morrisons).

BMW's longevity SWAP.

The GBP2.4bn Philips buy-out (the biggest ever in the EU).

NEST's initial website structure and member interactions documentation.

The GBP320m asset backed funding structure using intellectual property assets for GKN.

Many of Rothesay Life's largest buy outs.

Several leading cases including Steria (Court of Appeal on the effect of Booklets) and the current Sea Containers litigation.

Cutting edge public sector pensions work, including rewriting the entire public sector pensions legislation for the Isle of Man and developing the retention of employment model for managing the effects of TUPE in the context of Health Service Pensions.

We have a partner and three PSLs focussed on excellence and making sure our lawyers are the best they can be: fully supported in the market where they operate.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

This role will involve acting for major corporates or trustees of pension schemes providing advice in a wide range of pensions law, including some or all of the following:

Advising clients on how best to deliver their objectives, despite the complexities of pensions law

Drafting scheme documentation (e.g. establishing CARE schemes and deeds of amendment);

Legislative changes including tax simplification issues and the Pensions Bill;

Pension scheme mergers;

Scheme wind ups;

Scheme changes (e.g. reducing accrual or increasing member contributions);

Investment issues, such as investment management agreements;

TUPE issues;

Corporate support.

Pensions investment law.

Pensions disputes and litigation.

Liability reduction exercises.

Working on cutting edge legal developments as they arise.

We like our lawyers to develop their own personalities in the pensions market from the outset - involving themselves in business development and profile raising as well as pure legal work. There are also opportunities for public speaking, within the firm and on a broader stage.

Not all of our lawyers do all of these areas of work: some specialise in (or in other cases, chose not to work on) public sector pensions, pensions disputes, pensions investment issues or the overlap with employment law, for example.

In addition, the team offers lawyers the scope (if they wish) to spend some time working in specialist sub-teams, dealing with very topical issues such as:

SPVs and other new, structured funding solutions;

advising on the new legal issues arising out of Fiduciary Management;

public sector pensions law, especially as it relates to private sector employers;

the future of DC provision;

latest developments in trustee governance;

latest developments in employer-side liability management.


Key skills and experience

The ideal candidate for this role will be a qualified Solicitor with at least 5 years PQE.

Some or all of the following (depending on the level of qualification) would be helpful in a qualified solicitor seeking to join us:

Demonstrable post qualification experience gained in the field of pensions law at a firm / department with a proven reputation in this field

An excellent understanding of the principal provisions in relevant pensions legislation

Experience of taking an active role in building and maintaining client relationships

Experience of participating in client development events

A clear understanding of the importance of accurate and efficient financial management

Experience of assisting partners and associates with a broad range of marketing and profile raising initiatives

Experience of assisting other team members with writing technical articles and the presentation of seminars and other briefing sessions

A developed understanding of the commercial issues impacting on a client's business

We would look for the successful applicant to have:

Solid organisation and time management skills

Experience of working in a team and the ability to develop relationships with colleagues and clients alike

Proven attention to detail and drafting skills

Sound problem solving skills

The ability to adapt to a broad range of situations and circumstances and remain calm under pressure

Proven understanding of technical legal issues in their chosen field

Strong interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills

Equal Opportunities

Gowling WLG is committed both to promoting equality and diversity in the firm and to Equal Opportunities in employment. The firm believes in equality of opportunity regardless of race or racial group (including colour, nationality, ethnicity, national origins), religion or belief, age, disability, sexual orientation, sex, gender re-assignment and gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy, maternity and paternity. This also includes any incidents of perceptive or associative discrimination and harassment.

At Gowling WLG we seek to attract and retain talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, to create an exciting and rewarding place to work. Our aim is to fulfil everyone's potential and together to achieve personal and business goals.