Howard Kennedy LLP

Howard Kennedy LLP

Address: 1 London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘I had previously completed work experience at the firm and really enjoyed it’; ‘the firm is on a positive trajectory’; ‘media litigation team’; ‘strength in real estate’; ‘medium-sized firm’; ‘variety of clients’; ‘work/life balance is valued’; ‘open and friendly nature’; ‘strong reputation’; ‘approachable senior staff’; ‘clients in the retail sector’; ‘responsibility is given at an early stage’; ‘an entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Non-hierarchical working environment’; ‘high-quality work’; ‘decent remuneration’; ‘welcoming atmosphere; ‘personable individuals’; ‘questions are encouraged’; ‘you’re made to feel part of the team’; ‘office views’; ‘having in-house training sessions is really helpful’; ‘good support from supervisors’; ‘the level of responsibility trainees are given’; ‘work/life balance is definitely better here than at other comparable firms’; ‘you get credit for the work you’ve completed well’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘The pressure to hit targets’; ‘retention rates’; ‘lack of communication regarding newly-qualified roles’; ‘lack of social life’; ‘no canteen’; ‘trainees don’t sit near secretaries which is a shame as they have a wealth of knowledge’; ‘slow computers’; ‘lack of community between teams’; ‘no confidence in being kept on’; ‘the Christmas bonus is a hamper from Borough Market’; ‘not many people want to hang out after work’
Best moment? 
 '‘Receiving praise from senior colleagues’; ‘running my own matter in commercial litigation’; ‘the adrenaline of my first completion’; ‘working on multi-million pound acquisitions’; ‘preparing a research note for my supervisor and having my conclusion accepted by counsel’; ‘the thank you drinks put on by a client’; ‘giving a presentation to university students on intellectual property rights’; ‘helping to achieve a six-figure settlement for a client’
Worst moment?
 '‘An extensive audit process relating to historic matters’; ‘a late night in the office preparing for an application for court to be filed in the morning and all the printers broke’; ‘feeling out of your depth’; ‘being given tasks with no clear instructions or guidelines’; ‘feeling unsupported’; ‘stress when multiple deadlines arise’; ‘not enjoying one of my seats’; ‘having to spend a Friday evening preparing bundles for a hearing’'

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

Asterix the Gaul – looks small but is smart, feisty and can be relied upon to get the job done well

The verdict

The firm

Howard Kennedy has undergone huge change over the last few years, encompassing two mergers and culminating in a move to stunning offices on the Thames at No.1 London Bridge. The firm provides support to corporate and personal clients on both a national and international scale, advising on matters of real estate, retail and leisure, and TMT. The firm’s principal areas of work include corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, employment, private client and family and real estate.  

The star performers

Art and cultural property; Civil liberties and human rights; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: development; Contentious trusts and probate; Crime: general; Employment: employers and senior executives; Fraud; Intellectual property; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Partnership; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional discipline; Property finance; Property litigation; Reputation management; Residential property; Sport

The deals

Acted for Democratic Press SA in defence of a libel claim brought by Israeli businessman Mr Sabby Mionis; acting for Patty&Bun in relation to its restaurant expansion strategy; assisted Micad Systems UK on the acquisition of software company Integrated Handheld solutions; advised Greene Light Stage on the fund raising for a joint venture with Elton John’s production company, Rocket Stage; doing advisory work for Microsoft, LinkedIn and Yahoo

The clients

Arbuthnot Latham & Co; Ballymore; Condé Nast International; Coutts & Co; Design Artists Copyright Society; Foxtons; Galliard Homes; Octane Capital; Pandora, Santander

The verdict

A ‘medium-sized firm with West End heritage’, Howard Kennedy boasts a ‘great media litigation team’ and ‘strength in real estate’. Trainees were drawn to the firm because of its clients who include entrepreneurs, retail and leisure businesses. Recruits are given ‘responsibility at an early stage’ and get to work on ‘high-quality work while still being able to maintain a good work/life balance’. Trainees ‘prepared a research note for my supervisor and had my conclusion accepted by counsel’ and ‘assisted on the acquisition of three multi-million pound leisure facilities’. ‘Regular in-house training sessions’ speak volumes about Howard Kennedy’s ‘focus on trainee development’ – there’s a ‘weekly real estate seminar’ for example, which trainees are encouraged to attend. It’s also encouraging that ‘supervisors offer ‘support and are happy to see you do well’. The ‘pressure to hit targets’ weighed on trainees. ‘No canteen area’ and ‘slow computers’ were also complained about. A ‘lack of communication about NQ roles’ led trainees to have ‘no confidence in being kept on’, and that some people are ‘not very sociable after work’ disappointed those looking to build connections. Nonetheless, we’re told that there are ‘very personable individuals’ at Howard Kennedy and the ‘atmosphere isn’t stuffy or hierarchical’. Highlights from the training contract included ‘the thank you drinks given by a client at the end of a project’ and ‘the adrenaline of my first completion’. Others cited ‘presenting to a large group of Masters students at Central St Martins and teaching them about their IP rights’ as a stand-out moment. If you want to work in a ‘welcoming environment’ where ‘you get credit for the work you’ve completed well’, investigate Howard Kennedy.

 A day in the life of...

nikita sellers

Nikita Sellers first-year trainee, Howard Kennedy LLP 

Departments to date:  Residential development sales, residential real estate, media litigation

University:University of Bristol, Guildford School of Acting, University of Law  
Degree:BSc Geography 2(1), MA Music Theatre (Distinction), GDL (Distinction), LPC MSc Business, Law and Management (Distinction) 

6.00am:  I wake early to make the most of my gym membership at Third Space where Howard Kennedy staff are offered a discounted rate. I have tried a variety of classes but hot vinyasa yoga is my favourite, and I feel calm for the rest of the day.

8.30am:  I walk along the river and usually arrive at my desk between 8.30am and 9.00am. Our office is in a great location and I am lucky to have a window seat with amazing views over the city.

8.45am:  Our office is open plan so I chat to some of my colleagues and then review news bulletins and events invitations in my inbox – I RSVP to an invitation from chambers to their summer party and I read an interesting article on AI and human rights.

9.30am:  We have a number of international clients and emails from them have come through overnight. I handle those first, forwarding documents and sending instructions to counsel preparing draft pleadings.

10.00am:  I receive approval to file a claim on a debt recovery matter which I am handling, update interest figures/dates on the claim form and particulars of claim, print and take these to the relevant fee-earner for signing. I draft a cover letter and send the documents to the court for sealing.

11.00am:  I am given a brief on a new defamation matter. I review the potentially defamatory article, summarise the social media backlash and discuss the client’s position and chances of success with my supervisor.

12.00pm:  I am sent documents ahead of a consultation with a client regarding the assignation of copyright to review and consider answers to the questions that have been posed. I ask the client partner a few questions about the background of the matter as we were first instructed before I started working in the department.

1.00pm:  We have a Lunch & Learn session on mediation tips and best practice. These sessions take place once a month on different topics of interest to dispute resolution lawyers – there are others on offer too, but the popular tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches are all gone already!

2.00pm:  I have a pre-consultation meeting with the partner to discuss the findings from my earlier research and my queries regarding the expert reports.

4.30pm:  I dictate an attendance note from the consultation.

5.00pm:  I draft an urgent engagement letter for a new client, which the head of department has just taken instructions from.

5.30pm:  It is the last Friday of the month and I hear the drinks trolley being wheeled into the eighth floor kitchen. I update my schedule of live matters (to keep track of the work that I have been assigned) and submit my time entries before enjoying a couple of glasses of wine with the rest of the dispute resolution team.

6.30pm:  I am rushing to catch a train to Wales so have to miss out on drinks with the other trainees at The Mudlark this week. I go back to my desk, jot down my blog title to consider on the train and log off for the weekend.

About the firm

Address:1 London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG

Telephone: 020 3755 6000

Fax:020 3650 7000



Managing partner:  Craig Emden

Who we are: An approachable, professional, commercial and responsive law firm providing excellent value and support to our clients, both domestic and international.

What we do: As a full-service law firm, we have particular expertise in real estate, dispute resolution, private client and corporate, with a diverse range of clients.

What we are looking for: We look for a diverse range of trainees to bring a wealth of experience and skills, and who can work collaboratively with their colleagues.

What you'll do:We offer a comprehensive trainee development programme encompassing sessions on both commerciality and business skills, as well as sessions designed to improve your legal knowledge.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday per annum, private medical insurance, pension, life assurance, income protection, retail discounts, travel loan, Cycle2Work scheme plus other voluntary benefits.

Sponsorship:Sponsorship for LPC if not already completed prior to offer, provided that the candidate uses our preferred supplier (University of Law). Maintenance loans during LPC not provided.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 52

Other fee-earners: 134

Total trainees: 16

Turnover in 2017: £51.2m (+1% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £286,000

Trainee places available for 2020: 8-10

Applications received pa: 330 

Percentage interviewed: 15% 


First year: £36,500*

Second year: £38,500*

Newly qualified: £58,500*

*September 2018 rates; subject to annual review.

 Application process


What's involved:Online application form, Watson Glazer assessment, video interview, full day on-site assessment centre.

When to apply: By6 May 2019 for training contracts commencing in 2020.