Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Hill Dickinson LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Hill Dickinson LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It has an exceptional reputation’, ‘the culture and the commitment to training future solicitors’, ‘the positive and supportive culture I experienced during the vacation scheme’, ‘sector specialisation’, ‘good reputation and approachable staff’, ‘I had a former colleague who rated the training and work very highly’, ‘I worked here as a paralegal and was interested in the health work’

Best thing? ‘The people’, ‘work/life balance’, ‘the culture and the people’, ‘the culture – everyone I have met is so friendly and down to earth’, ‘the amount of client contact’, ‘you are given responsibility from the outset, ‘the respect I get as a trainee’, ‘quality of work and responsibility’

Worst thing? ‘The salary’, ‘the Manchester office isn’t very nice’, ‘the lack of formal seat allocation and qualification processes’, ‘the pay’, ‘the IT systems’, ‘the paper payslips’, ‘that there is no canteen anymore in the Liverpool office’, ‘the Manchester office is far worse than comparative firms, and the firm’s other UK offices’, ‘opaque qualification process’

Best moment? ‘Attending an out-of-hours urgent Court of Protection hearing’, ‘finding the silver bullet on a case’, ‘attending Admiralty Court’, ‘multiple social events’, ‘being invited to spend time with one of the firm’s biggest clients to see their side of a transaction’, ‘attending the Royal Courts of Justice with counsel and the client’, ‘attending a hearing at the Court of Appeal’, ‘completing challenging work with the support required to ensure I was able to succeed’

Worst moment? ‘I have experienced long and difficult days where I had to undertake challenging tasks’, ‘not having much to do at the start’, ‘starting online wasn’t easy’, ‘furlough’, ‘changing seats’, ‘not being able to meet colleagues face to face’, ‘quiet periods’

The Lex 100 verdict on Hill Dickinson LLP

Market leader in the North West, Hill Dickinson also has an office in London, as well as an ‘international presence’. The firm has ‘strong ties with the marine sector’ and also specialises in ‘health-based matters’. ‘High-calibre commercial work’ is on offer and trainees are ‘encouraged to take early responsibility and make a real difference’. The best thing about Hill Dickinson is its people; ‘everyone I have met, from the CEO to the training principal to my supervisor have been very approachable and willing to help’. Colleagues are ‘friendly and down to earth’ and ‘supervisors are very trusting’. Hill Dickinson is the deserving recipient of four Lex 100 Winner awards this year, having come up trumps for job satisfaction, quality of work, social life and work/life balance. Trainees are ‘happy to put in long hours where necessary, but there isn’t a ‘jacket on the back of the chair’ atmosphere at all’. There were some complaints about the Manchester office, which ‘isn’t as nice as comparable firms in the area, or the firm’s other UK offices for that matter’. There is also a perceived ‘lack of clarity around NQ jobs’. Recruits were proud of ‘assisting with a high-profile and complex case relating to ship arrest, counter-security and wrongful arrest damages’, ‘reviewing a large suite of construction documents and drafting a report to the client on the same’ and ‘attending a mediation in my health litigation seat’. ‘The initial transition from one business group to another when changing seats’, ‘not being able to meet colleagues face to face because of Covid’ and ‘experiencing long and difficult days when I had to undertake challenging tasks’ were much more stressful. For an ‘international firm with a local feel and culture’, consider Hill Dickinson.

The firm: At Hill Dickinson we understand that our people, our clients and our communities are at the heart of everything we do. We are an internationally recognised law firm that delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum across the UK, Europe and Asia.

The clients: The NHS; DHL Group; Kuehne & Nagel; Co-operative Group; Health Education England; Peel; Greater Manchester Combined Authority; UK Oil and Gas plc; Juvenescence UK Ltd; Fishawack Ltd.

The deals: Advising Johnson Service Group on its £85m placing on AIM; advising the management team of Fishawack Health on their secondary buyout of LDC backed by new PE investment from Bridgepoint Europe VI, a €5.6bn mid-market fund; advising the shareholders of Naimuri Limited, a leading UK software development and data analytics company providing services to the UK intelligence and law enforcement communities, on its sale to QinetiQ for £25; advising private equity firm LDC on its investment in Rhino Products, Europe’s leading manufacturer of light commercial vehicle accessories; appointment to all major NHS/public procurement frameworks including NHS Commercial Solutions, NHS Shared Business Services, Crown Commercial Services, Health Trust Europe and NHS CPC; provided multidisciplinary legal support on many Covid-19 response matters, including the establishment of three Nightingale Hospitals, the NHS Volunteering Programme, NHS Resolution’s clinical indemnity scheme and the Integrated Covid Hub North East; advising on two major NHS mergers and acquisitions and the establishment of five pathology networks; supporting Health Education England to develop its new national education contract for undergraduate training in the NHS; appointed as one of two legal providers to Milford Haven Port Authority’s legal framework for a period of five years; advised on more than 100 yacht transactions, equating to over €5bn in value.

A day in the life of… Charlotte Wood, trainee, Hill Dickinson LLP

Departments to date: Marine personal injury, yachts, shipping, commodities (all London seats)

University: University of Hertfordshire University of Law

Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB), First; LPC MSc, Distinction

This feature describes a typical day in the office prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

9.00am: I usually arrive at the office around 9.00am, although many colleagues arrive earlier or later in line with our agile working policy. I head straight to the kitchen and make my breakfast, which normally consists of fruit with yoghurt and a cup of tea (unless it is a Friday, when I treat myself to an almond croissant). I eat my breakfast at my desk while reviewing any emails that I have received overnight.

9.30am: Having read my new emails, I review and update my ‘to do’ list. I have a quick catch up with my supervisor about the tasks I have on for that day. The trainees in the London City office usually share an office with their supervisor, which I find beneficial as this makes it easy for me to ask my supervisor questions. I also learn a lot from hearing my supervisor on the phone and from listening in on case discussions with other members of the team. If I have capacity that day, my supervisor provides me with some more tasks to work on.

9.45am: I start working my way through my ‘to do’ list, starting with the most urgent tasks. No two days are the same in terms of the type of cases I may be working on. In the shipping team, for example, I have worked on a number of large and complex shipping litigation cases as part of a wider team, whereby I have been involved with time-consuming tasks such as reviewing disclosure and preparing hearing bundles. I have also had the opportunity to run some of my own small charterparty disputes, whereby I have communicated directly with the client and opponents to reach a settlement. From my experience, the trainees are trusted with good case responsibility from the outset.

11.00am: I normally stop at some point around mid-morning to make a cup of tea, in order to have a break from my computer. I make my tea and have a quick catch up with some of the other trainees or paralegals in the kitchen or open plan area.

1.00pm: I aim to stop for lunch around 1.00pm. If it’s a nice day, I eat my lunch outside in Exchange Square and go for a walk with one of the other trainees. On other days, I squeeze myself around the table in the kitchen to join the trainees and paralegals that are gathered in there. Lunch in the London office is a very social time. Unless I am extremely busy or working to a tight timescale, I always try to take my lunch break away from my desk.

2.00pm: I continue working through the day’s tasks. Various partners and associates in my team approach me throughout the day and ask me to take on new tasks. I find out the urgency of the tasks and add them to my ‘to do’ list. The type of tasks I undertake on a daily basis are varied, such as: drafting pleadings, advising clients, drafting instructions to counsel, attending meetings and telephone conferences with counsel and/or clients, drafting articles for publication on the Hill Dickinson website and attending hearings.

5.30pm: I make sure that my emails have been filed, submit my time recording for the day and update my ‘to do’ list.

6.00pm: I aim to leave the office around 6.00-6.30pm, as Hill Dickinson likes to ensure we all maintain a good work/life balance, however this depends on how busy the day has been and whether I have completed all of the tasks that need to be dealt with that day. On a Monday evening, I head over to Shoreditch for a netball match; the London office has a team that is part of a netball league.

About the firm

CEO: Peter Jackson

COO: Iain Johnston

Chair: Jonathan Brown

Other offices: Manchester, Leeds, London, Piraeus, Singapore, Monaco, Hong Kong.

Who we are: We are an internationally recognised law firm that delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum across the UK, Europe and Asia, with more than 850 people, including 185 partners and legal directors.

What we do: We offer the full range of commercial legal services, from employment, property and construction to corporate, commercial and dispute resolution. We have strength, experience and presence in a number of market sectors, including marine, transportation and logistics, retail, public and private health (including life sciences), international trade, education, banking and financial services.

What we’re looking for in a trainee: We want our trainees to have a passion for law, together with the motivation and desire to learn and succeed. We need our trainees to know what is expected of us as a notable law firm and have the insights and awareness to understand the demands of our clients.

Academically, you will need at least a 2(1) and ABB or equivalent, however we are sure to read each application in full before making a decision and consider any relevant extenuating circumstances for those who may not have met this requirement.

We also recognise the value of having a diverse workforce and want to recruit the best people from every background, so are proud to be using Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System (CRS). We understand that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper, so Rare’s CRS allows us to consider your achievements in the context in which they were gained.

What you’ll do: You will do four six-month seats throughout your two-year training contract. Our small intake ensures that each trainee has our full attention and means we have the resources to give you as much support as you need when beginning your career. You will be given immediate responsibilities and challenging tasks as you become a valued member of our team.

Perks: We have a dedicated programme offering a variety of activities and benefits to support you and we also offer some great perks, including pension, travel insurance, buying and selling holiday entitlement, permanent health insurance and life assurance, bike to work, season ticket loans, BUPA cover and we’ll even give you your birthday off (paid). We want our people to have a good work-life balance, encouraging an agile and flexible approach to working.

Sponsorship: From 2022 we will be adopting the SQE route via a graduate apprenticeship, meaning we cover the cost of your fees and you will receive an apprentice salary while you study.

We are pleased to be working with the University of Law to design a tailored SQE programme, ensuring that you get the best start to your legal career and are ready to deal with high levels of responsibility from the moment you start.

The programme is focused on equipping our trainees with the skills they need to be successful lawyers of the future, with modules including project management and innovation.

Diversity and inclusion

At Hill Dickinson we understand that our power as a firm comes from empowering our people. And that by encouraging and enabling individuals to be themselves at work can we benefit from their rich and varied strengths.

We have developed a diversity framework, which covers six pillars, to help us break down any assumed barriers to recruitment, progression and retention, and offer equal opportunities to all: gender; multicultural; accessibility; health and wellbeing; LGBTQ+; social mobility; age.

This framework guides our activity and each pillar has its own networking group – colleagues meet regularly to ensure we’re acknowledging, celebrating and supporting all of our people.

In addition, we partner with a number of organisations to help guide our diversity and inclusion strategy.