The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
HFW is renowned for its expertise in transportation law, most notably in the shipping industry, and advises on all aspects of international commerce. The firm's work is regularly on an international scale and it has offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, South America and, most recently, the US. HFW merged with Houston-based US energy and marine firm Legge Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown in January 2017.
The star performers
Asset finance and leasing; Aviation; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commodities: derivatives; Commodities: physicals; Construction; EU and competition; Fraud: civil; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; Insurance litigation: for policyholders; International arbitration; IT and telecoms; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Oil and gas; Professional negligence; Shipping; Trade finance; Travel.
Advising Rolls-Royce and its insurers on an Australian class action case relating to the explosion of an engine on a Qantas flight shortly after take-off from Singapore; represented the cargo insurers in the 'Atlantik Confidence' case which examined liability limitations; enforced a $4.857m award for Chinese steel trader Sinocore International Co. against Reuben Brothers Resources Group; advised Emirates Ship Investment Company, as guarantor, on a Shari'ah compliant financing to facilitate the acquisition of two product tankers to be chartered to ENOC, the UAE government-owned oil company; advised Svenska Handelsbanken, as agent and security trustee of a banking syndicate which provided a $152.5m revolving credit facility to Concordia Maritime.
AIG; Allianz; BP; Cargill International SA; Cathay Pacific Airlines; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Gazprom; Glencore; International Container Terminal Services; Thomas Cook Airlines.
Renowned for its 'strong practice in all areas of international trade', HFW offers trainees 'high-quality work' and 'a lot of responsibility'. Recruits admire the firm's 'focus on being an expert in its selected industries' and are enticed by the prospect of a 'guaranteed international secondment'. For many trainees, completing a placement abroad was 'the best part of the training contract' because they were 'given a lot of freedom' and 'treated more like a junior associate', which has undoubtedly led to the firm securing a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. There is a 'much better work/life balance' at HFW than at some comparable firms and whilst 'trainees are encouraged to work independently', it is reassuring that 'help and guidance is always available'. On the flip side, 'missing after-work plans' and 'being stuck on a long disclosure exercise' caused some recruits to grumble. Praise was reserved for the graduate recruitment team who trainees 'meet with frequently', helping to engender a 'more personal feel'. The 'approachability of all fee earners' at the firm does not go unnoticed; indeed 'the calibre and friendliness of people from senior associate level and down' is described as 'impressive'. It was, however, noted that HFW is 'too often seen as just a shipping firm' rather than a 'firm which has expertise in many different areas, such as aerospace, insurance, commodities and construction', which frustrated trainees. Nevertheless, assignments such as 'helping to rescue a team from pirates' and 'being given an entire small claims arbitration to run in my first seat' ensure that recruits are never bored. To explore a firm with an 'international outlook' and an unrivalled 'sector focus', take a look at HFW.
A day in the life of...
Neil Chauhan trainee, HFW
Departments to date: Fraud and insolvency
Degree:Law and Business, 2(1)
9.00am: I look over the emails I received overnight and amend my to-do list accordingly. I've seen that we have also received a new contract from opposing solicitors, so I update the team's bundles to include this latest version.
9.30am: I sit in on a conference call with our client to discuss strategy for a highly contested hearing next week, and specifically on how to deal with numerous parties who will attempt to make submissions at our hearing. I take a detailed note of the call and write an attendance note afterwards.
10.30am: I have a quick coffee break with another colleague and we chat about his most recent seat in our Singapore office. We will be meeting HR shortly to talk about our next seats, and because all trainees have the opportunity to complete a seat abroad I am keen to understand the options.
10.45am: The partner I work with has asked me to undertake a research task on Berkely Applegate orders, which are court orders that allow liquidators to seek their professional liquidation fees out of assets that are not beneficially owned by the insolvent companies. The partner highlights the client's principal concerns which gives me an opportunity to specifically narrow my focus and research. After reading various articles and practitioner texts, I produce a four-page note on the topic and circulate it to the team for their review.
1.00pm: Another trainee and I grab some lunch from delicious pop-up market stalls by Fenchurch Street and eat on the grass overlooking the Tower of London, which is helpfully only a short walk away from the office.
1.30pm: The partner and I discuss the research I completed earlier today and exchange ideas about the ability of a liquidator to still seek their fees against trust property even where the ownership of that property is contested. I am asked to complete some follow-up research ready for tomorrow morning.
2.00pm: The team and I travel to chambers to meet with counsel to discuss strategy for the trial next week. Last week I attended proceedings which the client is indirectly interested in and so the counsel team has asked me to provide a brief explanation of what happened at that hearing last week.
4.30pm: I review various emails received while I was at chambers, and notice an email has come in from counsel on another matter asking us to prepare an urgent application to the court for an extension of time. With two associates away on holiday, my supervising associate asks me to produce a first draft of the witness statement, outlining why our client should be entitled to an extension of time. I explain in the statement that our client has been faced with a series of brand new claims within the last week alone, which could not have been foreseen and has led to a considerably larger workload.
7.00pm: We have a call with our clients abroad, where it is only 2pm. They wish to know whether they need to fly to London for the hearing next week, and whether we can arrange for a transcript and live audio feed of the proceedings. My supervising associate asks me to collate quotes from various transcribers and then circulate them to the client for their approval.
8.00pm: I have a brief chat with the partner about next week's hearing and the prospects of success. We agree to book a room in the Rolls Building so that counsel, client and HFW can discuss how the proceedings are progressing without being overheard. Afterwards, I head home.
About the firm
Address:Friary Court, 65 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE
Telephone: 020 7264 8000
Senior partner: Richard Crump
Managing partner: Marcus Bowman
Total partners: 170
Other fee-earners: 300
Total trainees: 33
Other offices: Beirut, Brussels, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Kuwait, Melbourne, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Riyadh, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney.
Who we are: We are a sector-focused, entrepreneurial law firm. But there's more to us than that. We have a passion for the sectors we work in - whether we are solving complex issues across construction, aviation and shipping, or providing advice across insurance, commodities and energy. We're people who like to get things done. Our clients say 'less traditional' - 'progressive', even. We say we're specialist lawyers here to add value to our clients.
What we do: Aviation, commodities, construction, energy, financial institutions, insurance and reinsurance, logistics, mining, ports and terminals, shipping, space, yachts, travel, cruise and leisure.
What we are looking for: We look for trainees who are bright, commercially focused and hard working. Strong communication skills and team working skills are a must. In addition, as our training contract is truly international we look for individuals who have a global perspective and an interest in completing international work.
What you'll do:Every year we recruit only a small number of trainees - 15 per year split across a September and March intake. This enables us to give every trainee our full attention, and means that your individual contribution makes a real difference. A training contract at HFW consists of four six-month seats - typically three contentious seats and one transactional seat, with at least one seat spent outside London in an international office. Overall, we aim to provide you with a dynamic, supportive and varied environment in which you are challenged to become the best lawyer you can be and encouraged to contribute to the success of our global business.
Perks: Generous contributory pension; subsidised gym membership; season ticket loan; life assurance; non-contributory medical insurance; cycle to work scheme, dental insurance, free GP service.
Sponsorship:GDL/LPC fees paid and a maintenance grant of £7,000 (£5,500 outside London) is available for each year of study.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 15
Applications received pa: 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £38,000
Second year: £40,000
Newly qualified: £62,000
Turnover in 2016: £143.1m (+3% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £501,000 (+7%)
Apply to:Sarah Burson.
What's involved: Online application form, assessment centre, vacation scheme (if applied for), partner interview.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 31 July 2018.
Spring Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.