Survey Results - Trainee feedback on HFW

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on HFW

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘The firm focuses and excels in the sectors I am interested in e.g. aerospace, shipping and insurance’; ‘international clientele equals international work’; ‘opportunity to train abroad and on matters from different jurisdictions’; ‘firm focus on litigation’; ‘it is the top shipping firm and guarantees international secondments’

Best thing about the firm? ‘A relatively small trainee intake, approachable partners, interesting and good quality work’; ‘the people’; ‘the international secondments’; ‘everyone is treated equally plus the lack of hierarchy’; ‘the firm has a strong culture of knowledge sharing’; ‘the working environment is rather relaxed and the firm encourages employees (and especially trainees) to ask questions’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Remuneration feels low compared to our competitors’; ‘since it has grown from a traditional shipping firm, it can come across as a bit conservative’; ‘our IT could use an upgrade’; ‘opaque and slow seat allocation and NQ job process’; ‘work allocation can sometimes be very linear’

Best moment? ‘Running a strong case in a criminal trial resulting in the prosecution deciding to offer no evidence and the clients being acquitted’; ‘going on secondment to Singapore’; ‘being sent to a client meeting at their office as the only HFW/legal representative’; ‘the opportunity to draft claim submissions on a very high-value, complicated matter’

Worst moment? ‘Being caught up in unnecessary politics between partners’; ‘being made to stay late in the office for no real reason’; ‘working on a matter for approximately six months in the lead up to trial, but being unable to attend trial itself due to other commitments’

The Lex 100 verdict on HFW

The verdict

A maritime law specialist, HFW attracts trainees with its excellence in the aerospace, shipping and insurance fields, and its litigation and commercial presence. Trainees highlight that they chose the firm ‘because it is a widely-recognised international law firm, with an appealing training environment, as well as for its reputation, status and leading position in commercial matters and especially in shipping’. The firm’s ‘international clientele guarantees international work’ and the ‘opportunity to train abroad and on matters from different jurisdictions and the firm’s focus on litigation’ are other draws. HFW makes the most of its international scope with guaranteed international secondments, a major attraction for most of its trainees, and which translates into HFW being a Lex 100 Winner for international secondments. In terms of the training itself, respondents describe it as ‘solid, productive and meaningful’ and ‘supportive on a day-to-day basis’. One trainee adds that her ‘supervisor regularly checks in with my capacity and ensures that I am only taking on tasks/a workload I can handle. This support generally means I do not feel overwhelmed and, in turn, means I progress at a good pace’. There is a sense that the male:female ratio could be improved and the firm can feel ‘very niche’. But there is praise among trainees for the ‘relatively small trainee intake, approachable partners, and interesting work’ as well as the ‘lack of hierarchy’. Trainees also have compulsory pro-bono work and ‘more client contact, especially at social events’. HFW is a must for any potential maritime law trainees and is worth a look for anyone, regardless of sector, interested in international opportunities.

A day in the life of… Gian Marco Zuccarelli, third seat trainee, HFW

Gian Marco Zuccarelli, HFW

Departments to date: Ship Finance; Commodities; Shipping Litigation

University: University of Bologna University of Paris Nanterre

Degree: French and Italian Law, 2(1)

9.15am: I arrive at the office and start reading my emails to get a rough idea of the work I will be carrying out during the day. I draw up a to-do list and start responding.

9.30am: Today we are transferring title to a yacht from the shipyard to the buyer (our client). The transfer of ownership will take place in Naples, Italy before the notary. We will not be attending the meeting, so I need to make sure that our Italian local representative has all the necessary documents. I check the file and send our instructions.

10.00am: Quick update on the refinancing of a vessel: the borrower wants a subordinate mortgage. This request is slightly unusual, so we will need to discuss solutions with our client, the bank.

10.15am: My colleague and I join a conference call with the Russian lawyers of a buyer who wants to novate (transfer its rights and obligations to a third party) its shipbuilding contract.

10.45am: I receive a call from the shipyard’s Italian lawyer in Naples who informs me that the bank is not issuing the new refund guarantee because the buyer’s Maltese representative failed to return the original copies of the existing refund guarantees. This is preventing us from transferring title and making the payment for the fifth instalment.

11.00am: I speak to the Maltese representative, prepare an affidavit and a declaration stating that the original copies of the guarantees have been lost and ask him to have the documents signed, legalised and forwarded to the bank in Italy.

11.30am: My supervisor and I go down to the reception to meet with a client who is buying a 65-metre superyacht from an Italian shipyard. We welcome the lawyers from the other side and start the contract negotiations.

1.00pm: We have lunch with the client in the meeting room.

1.30pm: I exit the meeting and quickly go back to my desk to check how matters are progressing with the transfer of title in Naples. The Italian lawyer informs me that they are awaiting the bank’s confirmation that it will issue the refund guarantee for the fifth instalment upon receipt of the affidavit and declaration.

2.00pm: I draft an email for the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry asking them to preclear some security documents we prepared in relation to a deal. This is essential as we need to ensure that the security for the loan is enforceable in the relevant jurisdiction.

2.30pm: I liaise with the borrower’s lawyers in connection to the same finance deal and ask them to provide some of the necessary conditions precedent for the loan. I check our condition precedent report and make sure that the file is in good order.

3.00pm: I speak to one of the senior associates and start preparing a legal opinion on some of the security documents for the loan facility. I check our precedent and make sure that all the necessary documents for the transactions are duly covered.

6.00pm: I receive confirmation from our Italian local representative that the transfer of title was successfully completed. I draft an email for the client and instruct the Maltese local representative to release the funds for the payment of the fifth instalment.

7.15pm: I send an update to my supervisor on the work carried out during the day, enter my time and leave the office to go to my boxing class on Old Street.

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.