Survey Results - Trainee feedback on HFW

The Lex 100 verdict on HFW

HFW’s ‘focus on areas of law relating to international trade’ make it ‘very interesting compared to general full-service firms’. The international outfit is also ‘one of the few firms where an overseas secondment is highly likely, if not guaranteed’, resulting in a Lex 100 Winner award in this category. The people at HFW are ‘very impressive lawyers, but also great to work with; they value work/life balance but still work hard and to a market-leading standard in our key industry sectors’. Better still, ‘partners really want to pass on their knowledge for you to learn’. One of the firm’s more impressive qualities is that ‘it operates on a global level’, which means that trainees (and other employees) have the ‘opportunity to collaborate with clients and colleagues around the world’. Nevertheless, there are some downsides, for example: ‘the pay, in particular the NQ salary, is lower than average for a firm of this size’. There has also been a ‘lack of investment in IT’, especially ‘the laptops, which are old and cannot cope if you’re creating a big electronic bundle (which is a classic trainee task)’! Low points for trainees were ‘disclosure exercises, which are very time consuming and quite monotonous’, ‘sending a letter to the opponents before getting the partner’s approval’ and ‘the unpredictability of the workload, which is challenging at times, but makes us thrive’. On the other hand, recruits rode high on experiences such as ‘handling a piracy hostage situation and attending a vessel’, ‘negotiating an agreement while the partner supervised from the sidelines’ and ‘being asked to run a small matter’. To train at a firm with a unique focus on shipping law where there is an abundance of contentious work on offer, consider HFW.

A day in the life of... Rachael Opeagbe, first-seat trainee, HFW

Rachael Opeagbe, HFW

Departments to date: Insurance/reinsurance litigation

University: University of Southampton

Degree: Law LLB, 2(1)

8.45am: I turn on my laptop, log in remotely and have a quick breakfast to refuel from an early morning workout.

9.00am: I start reading through my emails received overnight, reply to anything that requires immediate attention and make a to-do list for the day.

9.30am: I attend a trainee training session titled ‘Taking Security and Key Clauses of Security Documents’.

10.30am: I attend a bi-weekly catch-up call with other trainees and graduate recruitment to discuss updates regarding returning to the office and how everyone’s seats are going.

11.00am: I start reviewing two separate Covid-19-related insurance letters of claim received by our client and their respective policy documents. We have received a number of these letters this year – they are usually from small businesses who were instructed to close in accordance with government guidelines during the three lockdowns in England and lost revenue. I start drafting acknowledgement letters to counsel for both, confirming receipt and noting that we would respond in due course, and send them via email. I then draft response letters to the claims, responding to each point raised in turn, and send the drafts to my supervisor for sign-off.

1.15pm: I have lunch and listen to a podcast.

2.00pm: I attend a client call with three of my colleagues (a partner, legal director and an associate) to discuss their upcoming mediation, which concerns a half a billion-dollar claim for damages caused during an alleged ‘political uprising’ and take a comprehensive attendance note.

4.00pm: I have a call with my colleagues to discuss the client call and the next steps, including the position to be taken by our client at the mediation and which clauses under the policy are engaged, which remains a point of contention.

5.00pm: I have a couple of calls and email exchanges with my colleagues who I used to work with in the ship finance team as a paralegal to discuss an ongoing matter I worked on and have a general catch-up. It’s nice to have the opportunity to keep in touch and the firm is really collegiate and encourages us to network across teams, and help out each other.

6.45pm: I review and proof-read a draft email to opposing counsel on the mediation and provide comments.

7.00pm: I submit my time entries for the day and log off.

About the firm

Senior partner: Richard Crump

Managing partner: Jeremy Shebson

Other offices: 20 global offices across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

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’re 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 a 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.

Diversity and inclusion

We are committed to recruiting diverse talent and to creating an inclusive working environment in which all of our people can reach their potential. For more information on our diversity and inclusion strategy please visit: