The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Hill Dickinson is an international commercial law firm with offices in Liverpool, Manchester, London and Sheffield, Piraeus, Singapore, Monaco and Hong Kong. The full-service firm has one of the largest maritime practices, a significant growing presence in the health sector and also earns praise for its commercial, litigation, insurance and real estate work. Hill Dickinson has 190 partners and legal directors in the UK.
The star performers
Banking and finance; Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Commodities: physicals; Corporate and commercial; Crime: fraud; Debt recovery; Education; Employment; Family; Health; Health and safety; Media and entertainment; Pensions; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Transport; Sport.
Represented Bibby Factors North West in two unpaid invoice disputes against Alifast and Highline Cladding; advising Christine Kendall in her case against fashion house Alexander McQueen for alleged breach of copyright in relation to the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress; represented Manchester Ship Canal Company in a dispute with General Motors UK regarding rights relating to drainage; advised Cenkos Securities on a secondary placement for Jaywing to fund its acquisition of Bloom Media UK; advised Chester Zoo on its funding commitments to its final salary pension scheme and on its ability to renegotiate a funding agreement entered before the scheme was closed to accrual.
Contract Vehicles; Dechra Pharmaceuticals; Factor 21; Hitachi Capital; International Cotton Association; Lloyds Bank; National Express; Swift Fire and Securities; Trinity Mirror Group; Zurich.
Hill Dickinson is an 'international firm but with strong North West roots' which offers trainees a 'very varied and exciting workload'. Recent newcomers were attracted by the firm's 'reputation in the health sector' and 'marine work', as well as other commercial areas. An 'impressive client base of household names' also makes Hill Dickinson stand out; one trainee cited going on a 'client secondment which helped the firm secure a place on their panel' as a clear highlight. Recruits receive 'a ton more client contact', as well as 'independent responsibility' which allows them to do 'actual legal work'. However, this does mean that there can be stressful moments, such as 'when something hugely urgent comes up and there's nobody more senior around to help'. Similarly, 'taking on a caseload and not knowing where to start' can be daunting, although 'this gets easier with practice'. Despite reports of occasional long hours, 'late nights are only ever required when absolutely necessary' and there is usually enough 'support from colleagues' when such a situation arises. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner for confidence of being kept on, which is unsurprising when we hear that trainees are 'treated as an intrinsic part of the firm from day one'. Some recruits expressed their frustration that 'you only find out which seat you are going to next a couple of weeks in advance' and that 'some seats in London are hard to come by because of competition'. However, working with 'highly-motivated but down-to-earth-people' in a 'friendly and collegiate' environment makes for a very positive training experience. If a firm which is a 'truly market-leading practice' in its chosen sectors and 'a really nice place to spend your working hours' appeals to you, add Hill Dickinson to your shortlist.
A day in the life of...
Iain Kennedy trainee solicitor, Hill Dickinson LLP
Departments to date: Professional and financial risks (Liverpool), shipping (Singapore)
University:University of Glasgow
The Singapore office offers a great opportunity to get involved with many aspects of maritime and trade law, especially as, at partner level, it contains experts on dry shipping as well as two hugely experienced master-mariners. The office is fairly small, with around 12 fee-earners, meaning it is common to work directly assisting a partner and thereby being heavily involved. However, the spread of staff across all levels means I can always find someone appropriate to ask for help depending on what is required, so the office has a nice balance.
I normally arrive at the office shortly after 8.30am, to avoid the worst of Singapore rush hour. Most staff arrive closer to 9.00am, enjoying a later start than some offices due to the longer working day here. While most days this gives me some time to make coffee and plan for the day ahead in relative peace, the international nature of our work and varied locations of our clients mean that on occasion things will have been developing dramatically during the course of our night and I arrive to a full inbox.
My work as a trainee is fairly evenly split between structured dispute resolution, primarily arbitrations, and assisting partners handle on going or developing situations. It is therefore important to keep on top of my workload and deadlines in order to move between the two as required.
It is hard to describe a normal day in the office as they can vary a lot. The challenges the shipping industry has faced of late, coupled with changes to the legal profession, have somewhat altered the flow of work compared to previous years. While some days offer a less frantic experience than others, occasionally numerous matters come to life at once in something of a perfect storm.
My usual tasks, in addition to the standard trainee printing, bundling and research, involve a lot of drafting correspondence for partners, whether procedural steps in arbitration, pre-action negotiations, or updating and liaising with clients. I also regularly get out of the office to assist at meetings, or to attend industry events and seminars, which provide great networking practice.
I've recently been fortunate enough on two occasions to accompany a master-mariner aboard vessels out at sea following collisions, to interview crew and collect evidence to enable us to negotiate an apportionment of liability for our clients. Thankfully the casualties I've attended haven't resulted in either injuries or pollution, leaving me free to take satisfaction from the opportunity to gain a better practical understanding of the work we are involved in. It can sometimes be easy to forget, as a trainee, that vessels in our cases actually exist, and that detentions or delays impact real people and not just accounting columns. That said, the incredible view of the port from our office window also adds some tangibility.
The end of the working day in Singapore is officially 6.00pm, but closer to 7.00pm is more common, primarily as colleagues and clients further west get busier through the evenings. I'll then head off to a nice cheap hawker centre for dinner on the way home, although a developing situation in, for example, South America can occasionally make my evening and night busier than the day before!
About the firm
Address:No.1 St Paul's Square, Liverpool, L3 9SJ
Telephone: 0151 600 8000
Senior partners: Peter Jackson (CEO), Iain Johnston (COO)
Chairman: David Wareing
Total partners: 190 (including legal directors)
Other fee-earners: 535
Total trainees: 25
Other offices: London, Manchester, Singapore, Piraeus, Monaco and Hong Kong.
Who we are: We're an award-winning, international law firm of around 1,000 people, including 190 partners and legal directors, with big clients, great people and fantastic opportunities.
What we do: We're a full-service commercial law firm, so we cover all areas of law and work across a number of sectors, including insurance, retail, aviation, sports, media, health and marine.
What we are looking for: Academically, you'll need at least a 2(1) and ABB or equivalent. We want our trainees to show a commitment to learning and the insight and awareness to understand our clients' demands.
What you'll do:Due to our small intake (up to 14 trainees for 2020), there's lots of interesting work to go around and you will be given challenges from the start. You'll work four seats and your mentor will be on hand throughout to offer advice, guidance and support.
Perks: As well as a host of fantastic training opportunities, we also provide some pretty good perks: pension, travel insurance, buying and selling holiday entitlement, permanent health insurance and life assurance, season ticket loans, BUPA cover, and we'll even give you your birthday off (paid).
Sponsorship:LPC fees paid and maintenance grants of £5,000 for the north and £7,000 for London.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 14
Applications received pa: approximately 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £24,000 (Northern), £32,000 (London)
Second year: £26,000 (Northern), £34,000 (London)
Newly qualified: Within a range, up to £40,000 (Northern) or £58,000 (London) dependent on discipline.
Turnover in 2016: £103.1m (-1% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £300,000 (+15%)
Apply to:Emma McAvinchey-Roberts, talent and development business partner or Jennifer Hulse, senior talent and development advisor.
How: Online via the website or directly via Apply4Law
When to Apply:Apply by 31 July 2018 for 2020 training contracts.
Whats involved:Online application, Watson Glaser, online video interview, assessment centre, partner interview.
Summer:Apply by 31 January 2018.