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… Ellie Floyd, trainee, Hill Dickinson LLP

Departments to date: Commercial property, Commercial Litigation, Employment and Education (all Liverpool seats)

University: Lancaster University University of Law Manchester

Degree: Law (LLB), First Class; LPC MSc, Distinction

I currently work in the office three days a week and work from home the other two days as part of Hill Dickinson’s commitment to agile and hybrid working.

8.45am: I usually arrive at the office around 8.45am as I like to be settled with a cup of tea and have the additional time to socialise with my colleagues before starting work at 9.00am. There are occasions when I have the opportunity to sit in on tribunal hearings, which I will attend remotely or in person.

9.00am: I will review any emails that I have received overnight and update my to-do list with the new tasks. I will then check my to-do list and prioritise the most urgent and important tasks to complete in the morning. I share an office with my supervisor and will keep him updated with my capacity levels and the tasks that I am working on. Sharing an office with my supervisor has greatly enhanced my knowledge and development, as I can ask questions, listen in on discussions with other colleagues, and hear how he converses and gains a rapport with clients.

9.30am: I start working my way through my to-do list, prioritising the most urgent tasks first. My work is very varied and I am exposed to many different caseloads, which has helped me develop a diverse skillset and gain more confidence. My current seat in employment and education is a mix of contentious and non-contentious work, and the tasks are never repetitive. I have drafted settlement agreements and pleadings, including grounds of resistance, as well as being involved in negotiations. I have also been afforded the opportunity to gain experience with investigations in instances where an employee has raised a grievance or is suspected of committing gross misconduct. In respect of education work, I often conduct various policy reviews, legal research and regularly advise the client of my findings in order to assist them with their queries. I really enjoy the client contact and building relationships with the firm’s client base. I have also had exposure to the different types of fee arrangements and appreciate the benefits of each.

11.00am: During the morning, I will go to the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea. I will also take a short break to catch up with colleagues and my supervisor. When working from home, I often take a short ten-minute walk to stretch my legs, which is strongly encouraged by the firm, as mental health and wellbeing has been a priority.

1.00pm: We have flexibility with when we take lunch around our workload, however, I tend to stop for a break at around 1.00pm. If it is a Friday, I will treat myself to lunch out with the paralegal in my team, who has become a great friend. It’s also nice to have a short walk and get some fresh air when getting lunch.

2.00pm: I will check my emails and deal with those that have been sent during my lunch break. I will continue to update and review my to-do list throughout the day, to ensure that I do not miss any deadlines or any urgent tasks that come through my inbox. Partners and associates will contact me throughout the day to give me tasks and new pieces of work to complete. There are often meetings with clients or colleagues during the afternoon, which are great to sit in on and take notes.

5.30pm: I will file all my emails, flag any emails that need to be dealt with the next day and ensure my to-do list is updated. I will also ensure all my time recording is filed and released. I will then leave the office as there is a great work-life balance and flexible culture within Hill Dickinson. It is unusual to see anybody in the office past 6.00pm.

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.