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? ‘Location, reputation, client base’, ‘reputation in Liverpool’, ‘I already worked at the firm as a paralegal and loved the friendly, relaxed atmosphere’, ‘geographical location’, ‘the client base’, ‘I had previously worked at the firm as a paralegal and didn’t want to leave’, ‘down-to-earth working environment and colleagues’, ‘social nature’, ‘good work/life balance’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people’, ‘work/life balance is excellent whilst the work is still better than that of trainees at some other firms’, ‘the willingness of supervisors to expose junior members of the team to clients, getting you involved with their work as quickly as possible’, ‘everyone is approachable and willing to help’, ‘the clients and work are good’, ‘the friendly atmosphere’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘There is no longer a canteen in the Liverpool office – no more mars bar cakes!’, ‘the firm doesn’t organise much in the way of social activities’, ‘the financial remuneration for trainees’, ‘the Newcastle office facilities are not the best’, ‘lack of transparency in terms of seats and qualification jobs’, ‘the pay is lower than that of some competitors’, ‘poor communication’

Best moment? ‘Drafting a particularly uncommon type of witness statement and counsel saying it was good enough to use without amends!’, ‘travelling to conferences and a trial in a case which was all over social media’, ‘attending a client event and making good contacts’, ‘being mentioned in an article for the work I did on a multi-million pound corporate/banking transaction’

Worst moment? ‘A few long weeks with little work to do and time dragged as a consequence’, ‘having to deal with a last-minute piece of work’, ‘doing six months in a seat in which I had no interest’, ‘the first day – not knowing what to expect’

The Lex 100 verdict on Hill Dickinson LLP

The firm: “At Hill Dickinson we understand that our clients, our people and the communities in which we are based 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 deals: Advised EMMAC on Terra Verde acquisition to create largest vertically integrated medical cannabis and wellness company in Europe; advised Elliot Group in deal for Liverpool’s £100m Wolstenholme Square project; partnered with leading AI-powered drug discovery company Insilico Medicine to standardise documentation for the small and medium biotechnology companies and simplify the often-complex partnership process; entered into a three-year partnership agreement with Medilink North of England Ltd, the representative body for the healthcare technology sector; acting as legal advisers for PB Tankers S.p.A in delisting from OFAC sanctions list.

The clients: Axione UK Limited, Baseline Health; EMMAC Life Sciences; Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Hellmann Worldwide Logistics; The NHS; MySupermarket.com; National Express; Sykes Cottages; Thomas Cook.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset finance and leasing; Aviation; Banking litigation; Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial litigation; Commodities: physicals; Debt recovery; Health and safety; Health; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Local government; Pensions; Personal injury: defendant; Property litigation; Shipping; Sport; Transport; Travel: regulatory and commercial.

The verdict

An ‘international law firm with northern roots’, Hill Dickinson appealed to many because it offers training contracts in locations across England. Trainees feel that they are ‘given more legal work’ than peers at some other firms and enjoy ‘lots of responsibility and the opportunity to be client facing’ from an early stage. The northern-headquartered firm is a Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, living up to expectations and work/life balance. Given that ‘the firm wants to retain all trainees as NQs’, trainees are also often lucky enough to enjoy the feeling of job security. There is a ‘relaxed atmosphere’ at Hill Dickinson and colleagues are described as down to earth: ‘from the CEO to security, everyone is treated equally and is as approachable as the next person – it is a very comfortable and happy working environment’. That there is no canteen in some offices annoyed trainees. Others grumbled that the Manchester office is ‘getting rather old and tatty’ and that there is a perceived ‘lack of transparency in terms of firm strategy and recruitment’ when it comes to trainees. Worst moments included ‘driving the Hill Dickinson van to London to serve papers and arriving at 1am’, ‘making a mistake due to taking on work despite being at full capacity’ and ‘working late on a Friday night – because it rarely happens, when it does it’s horrible’. On the contrary, ‘winning a landmark case I worked on with solely a partner’, ‘a client specifically requesting that I deal with their work’ and ‘attending a settlement meeting’ exceeded trainees’ expectations. For ‘great work in a relaxed environment’ in a firm where the ‘attitude is supportive and accommodating’, take a closer look at Hill Dickinson.

A day in the life of… Elizabeth Finnie, who has since qualified as an associate, Hill Dickinson LLP

Elizabeth Finnie, Hill Dickinson LLP

Departments to date: Abuse and social care, banking and finance, property, construction and engineering (all Liverpool office)

University: University of York

Degree: French and linguistics, 2(1)

I chose to spend my final six months in the construction and engineering team, which I believed would be complementary to my previous seats in banking and property. The three teams work closely together and I was confident that construction experience would stand me in good stead for my future career.

The team is spread across Hill Dickinson’s Liverpool, Manchester and London offices, meaning the firm is well-placed to advise and assist clients across the country. As a result I have had the opportunity to work with employers, contractors and funders from all over the UK, as well as several international clients.

I usually arrive at my desk at 8.30am after a 30-minute walk to the office. After checking my emails, unless an urgent query has come in overnight, I can tackle the next job on my to-do list.

The majority of my work comes directly from the three partners in the team, which means I have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the most experienced members of staff, each with a different area of expertise and interest. The senior fee-earners tend to specialise in either contentious or transactional work, the result being that my work is split between dispute resolution (usually adjudication or litigation) and commercial construction projects.

On the transactional side, my tasks often include negotiating, drafting and amending contractual documents such as building contracts, consultant appointments and collateral warranties; drafting correspondence to update and liaise with clients; reviewing suites of construction documents and reporting to clients on their terms. For clients who use a standard form contract or framework agreement, I have been involved in updating the contracts in line with developing areas of law, such as updating JCT 2011 forms of contracts to 2016 forms, and incorporating the Bribery Act 2010 and GDPR.

On the dispute resolution side, I am often tasked with legal research, reviewing correspondence from the opponent, and drafting correspondence to update clients. I take any opportunity possible to sit in on client conference calls and meetings, and have been involved in taking notes for and subsequently drafting witness statements.

Some of the urgent queries I have assisted on include the administration or liquidation of lead contractors, following which concerned consultants or subcontractors request urgent advice. On these occasions I have undertaken a swift review of the contract documents, payment notices and supporting documentation, and drafted initial advice on how to recover the maximum possible sum. I have also considered other contractual remedies for the client, such as suspension of works and termination of the contract.

My working day usually finishes at around 6.00pm when, before heading home, I review my task list and reorganise it ready for the following day.

About the firm

CEO: Peter Jackson

COO: Iain Johnston

Chairman: 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 175 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: 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 insight and awareness to understand the demands of our clients. Academically you will have at least a 2(1) and ABB or equivalent.

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 provide some pretty good perks, including pension, travel insurance, buying and selling holiday entitlement, permanent health insurance and life assurance, 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: LPC fees and maintenance grant of £5,000.