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 other? ‘It seemed to strike the correct work/life balance, which I felt was an important factor in the long-term’; ‘a smaller trainee intake and excellence in key practice areas, including shipping and commodities’; ‘international firm with good reach within UK – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, London. Excellent reputation’; ‘focus on health sector’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The teams are extremely friendly. The partners are all very approachable, which makes workflow quite smooth’; ‘the people’; ‘the trust placed in you, plus work/life balance’; ‘welcoming, knowledgeable, sociable and our clients know it too’; ‘good quality of work and a small trainee intake which means decent partner contact’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Communication from internal support departments’; ‘the offices are old and outdated’; ‘the pay’; ‘lack of subsidised canteen’; ‘pay could be improved’; ‘unclear how international secondments are allocated’; ‘at a trainee level, seat rotation time – seats are announced too late, less than two weeks before seat moving day, causing tension amongst the trainee group’
Best moment? ‘I got to do my own advocacy at the Manchester County Court’; ‘attending the Admiralty Court’; ‘going to a three-day trial that we won! I saw all the witness statements I assisted with being used’; ‘seeing matters that I have taken a lot of responsibility for come to completion’; ‘being trusted to conduct a Case Management Conference’
Worst moment? ‘Not being prepared for certain questions on the details of a case when I ought to have been!’; ‘no worst moment, but I’ve made small embarrassing mistakes in the first weeks of joining a team (bundling/filing errors) which knocked my confidence, but were not very consequential overall’; ‘verification late on a Friday night!’
The Lex 100 verdict on Hill Dickinson LLP
The firm: Hill Dickinson understands that its people, clients and communities are at the heart of everything it does. It is 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; advising ADES Group on its acquisition of four onshore drilling rigs and associated assets in Algeria from Weatherford International; 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; three-year partnership agreement with Medilink North of England Ltd, the representative body for the healthcare technology sector; legal advisers for PB Tankers S.p.A in delisting from OFAC sanctions list.
The clients: The NHS; Baseline Health; Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Hellmann Worldwide Logistics; JLA Group; Stobart Group; UK Oil and Gas plc; Juvenescence; ADES; Fishawack Limited
An ‘international firm with good reach within the UK – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and London – plus an excellent reputation’ and a focus on ‘shipping, commodities, commercial and healthcare sectors’, Hill Dickinson is a favourite among trainees. It offers regional reach, ‘smaller trainee intake’ and an ability to ‘strike the correct work/life balance’. Trainees feel that the firm’s training offers ‘a lot of autonomy when drafting documents and not too much photocopying and administrative work’, plus opportunities for advocacy and travel. Highly praised across the board, the firm is a Lex 100 Winner in six categories: overall job satisfaction, living up to expectations, overall quality of work, work/life balance, social life, and inclusiveness of workplace environment. These awards reflect the firm’s reputation for trainee development. One trainee says that ‘the training and support are superb in addition to the great people who work here’. Indeed, ‘support’ and ‘approachability’ are common themes in feedback: ‘the teams are extremely friendly. The partners are all very approachable, which makes workflow quite smooth’. Another writes that ‘people, trust, and work/life balance’ are key to the firm. There are complaints about the pay scale and the ‘outdated’ offices but these are outweighed by the support for the firm’s CSR programmes and the quality of work entrusted to trainees. Highlights include the ‘opportunity to attend the Admiralty Court’ and doing ‘my own advocacy at the Manchester County Court’. Hill Dickinson’s wide array of strengths makes it a very attractive place to train.
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
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 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: 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 need 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 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.
Diversity, inclusion and employee wellbeing
We recognise the value of having a diverse workforce and want to recruit the best people from every background. We 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. We are also proud to be working with Aspiring Solicitors, who are ‘committed to increasing diversity and inclusion across all underrepresented groups in the legal profession’. For more information on what we are doing to build an inclusive culture, please visit hilldickinson.com/diversity-inclusion-and-employee-wellbeing.