Holman Fenwick Willan

Holman Fenwick Willan

Address: Friary Court, 65 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE

Web: www.hfw.com

Email: georgina.callwood@hfw.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘The medium size which would lead to greater responsibility’; ‘the international opportunities’; ‘its sector specialisms’; ‘shipping specialisation’; ‘working in interesting, tangible industries’; ‘first-rate reputation in its core sectors’; ‘vacation scheme was very useful insight of the firm’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘The people within the firm know what they are doing inside out’; ‘colleagues are highly-skilled and enthusiastic about what they do’; ‘the fantastic learning environment’; ‘friendly and collegiate atmosphere’; ‘I get a lot of feedback on my work which is very helpful and useful’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Sometimes it is not clear why certain decisions are made’; ‘the pay is not the best available’; ‘the seat change process’; ‘general building facilities’; ‘the logo is pretty bleak’
Best moment? 
 '‘Settling a claim after negotiations with the other side’; ‘assisting a successful settlement’; ‘attending a five-day trial’; ‘overseas secondment’; ‘working on a highly topical deal and later seeing it in the papers’; ‘working on a high-value oil and gas transaction’; ‘getting deeply involved in interesting projects’
Worst moment?
 '‘Late-night disclosure’; ‘working late to rectify a mistake I had made’; ‘having to deal with a difficult partner’; ‘preparing a bundle for court on a Sunday when all the printers decided to stop working’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting) – friendly, extremely smart and unpretentious

The Verdict

The firm

Holman Fenwick Willan is renowned for its expertise in transportation law, most notably in the shipping industry. The firm’s work is regularly on an international scale, and it offers advice to clients on issues pertaining to trade, commodities, fraud and competition law. Arbitration and commercial litigation are two other areas of strength. The firm recently entered into a formal association with Shanghai’s Wintell & Co, creating a new outpost in an international network employing over 450 lawyers. 

The star performers

Asset finance and leasing; Aviation; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commodities: derivatives; Commodities: physicals; Construction: contentious; EU and competition; Fraud: civil; IT and telecoms; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Professional negligence; Shipping; Trade finance; Travel: regulatory and commercial.

The deals

Advised Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company on competition clearance of the $328m restructuring of two joint-venture companies it had formed with Rolls-Royce and Singapore International Airlines; advised Cargill in a multi-million dollar Supreme Court case; acted for Novae in a matter concerning the liquidation of Glasgow Rangers FC; advised Asia Coal Energy Ventures on its $210m acquisition of Asia Resource Minerals; advised Hoegh Autoliners, Gard Marine & Energy and Gard P&I on the grounding of the Hoegh Osaka in January 2015.

The clients

BP; Cathay Pacific; Citigroup; DHL; Genting Hong Kong; Goldman Sachs; Lucozade Ribena Suntory; Maersk; Morgan Stanley; Nordea Bank.

The Verdict

Current trainees rave about the ‘fantastic and highly-rewarding training experience’ and the guaranteed international secondment opportunities on offer at Holman Fenwick Willan. Recruits can expect to go on ‘at least one international secondment’ during the training contract and the firm ‘tries very hard to support trainees through these seats’. The firm is named a Lex 100 Winner in the international secondment and job satisfaction categories. The ‘international scope’ is impressive, with more than 450 HFW lawyers working across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. The ‘great set-up in the firm’ offers trainees ‘excellent opportunities’ and exposes them to ‘interesting tasks’. Therefore it is no surprise that international secondments top many trainees’ favourite moments so far. Other notable mentions include ‘working on a highly topical deal which made the newspaper headlines’ and a ‘welcome breakfast at the Sky Bar’. The ‘vacation scheme’ proved to be invaluable as it gave trainees a ‘very useful insight into how the firm operates’. As it stands, the ‘training programme is improving’ and trainees receive ‘personalised and trainee-focused contracts’ rather than ‘grunt work on a conveyor belt’. ‘Supportive supervisors devote time to explain things to you’ which trainees really appreciate. Although there is the occasional ‘late-night bundling’, the lawyers mainly keep ‘reasonable hours’. At times trainees say the firm can feel ‘disorganised’ and the ‘pay is not the best available’, but the lack of a ‘face-time culture’ results in a ‘good work/life balance’ and the teams ‘are extremely friendly and hardworking’. Apply to Holman Fenwick Willan if you want to travel during your training contract and work on global deals.

 A day in the life of...

Margarita Kato trainee, Holman Fenwick Willan 
Departments to date:  Commodities

9.00am:  I get into the office and re-read several emails I received earlier in the morning. As we have a lot of clients based in Asia, we often receive emails overnight that I need to review in the morning. I then write a to-do list for the day.

9.30am:  I receive a call from an associate based in the Singapore office in relation to a client who visited the London office the previous day and who had provided me with a large number of documents in relation to an ongoing arbitration. The associate asks me to work through them and pull out the emails flagged by the client and scan them to her so that she is able to review them in preparation for a call with the client. The time difference means I can work on them during the day and have them ready for her when the Singapore office opens the next day. I spend the next couple of hours locating emails on the itemised list provided by the client. I check their contents to ensure that the emails correspond to the list. The emails are to be used for drafting witness statements and submissions so the client has explained why she has flagged them and it is easy to double-check their contents.

10.30am:  I take a break to read the ‘Commodities News’ bulletin that is sent to all fee-earners in the commodities department.

11.00am:  Counsel has come in for a short internal meeting to discuss disclosure on a large mining case that we have been working on. I attend to give him an update on how matters are progressing and stay as the meeting turns into a discussion on strategy and the various applications that we will need to file in court.

1.00pm:  I grab some lunch from the canteen and read the news before getting back to work as I have a busy day.

1.30pm:  My supervisor asks me to undertake a research task in relation to using a third party debt order against a party who is not paying out against an award that has been given in our favour. He provides the background to the issue so that I can focus my research. I spend a few hours researching the matter and drafting an email summarising my research.

4.30pm:  I send the research to my supervisor and we discuss. He queries an assumption that an arbitration award has to be turned into a judgment in order to obtain a third party debt order. He asks me to double-check this as well as the conversion procedure with the dispute resolution professional support lawyer (PSL). I speak to the PSL and explain the background and my research. She agrees with my conclusions and I revert to my supervisor. He summarises the research in a short email and sends it to the client.

7.00pm:  I finalise the email task that I had been working on earlier in the day and produce a single PDF of all the emails that were flagged by the client. I double-check the PDF and spot a few mistakes and ask for assistance from the document production team to make amendments and then I send it off to the associate in Singapore for her to review.

7.45pm:  After checking my to-do list and clearing away my papers, I head home.

About the firm

Address:Friary Court, 65 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE

Telephone: 020 7264 8487




Senior partner : Richard Crump

Managing partner : Marcus Bowman

Other offices: Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Piraeus, Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and São Paulo. Associations: Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait, Riyadh, Shanghai, Singapore, Tianjin.  

Who we are: We are an international law firm with over 450 lawyers worldwide and a market-leading reputation for advising businesses operating in a number of industry sectors, including aviation, commodities, construction, energy, financial institutions, insurance, mining, ports and terminals, shipping, space, yachts and travel, cruise and leisure, all of which are integral to the way international commerce works.

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 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. Trainees are involved in a combination of workshops, departmental know-how sessions, mentoring by experienced lawyers and on-the-job training. 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.

Perks: Private medical insurance, subsidised gym membership, season ticket loan.

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

Trainee places available for 2019: 15

Applications received pa: 1,000  

Percentage interviewed:  10% 


First year: £37,000

Second year: £39,000

Newly qualified: £61,000

Total partners: 161

Other fee-earners:520

Total trainees:30

 Application process

How: Online at www.training-contracts.com/Grad-Rec-Home

When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for 2019 contracts

 Vacation schemes

Apply by 14 February 2017.

Apply by 14 February 2017.