Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors Limited

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors Limited

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Because of its specialisms: personal injury, civil liberties and employment’, ‘I paralegaled here for two and a half years; I joined because of the civil liberties department and stayed because the people are so nice’, ‘it was one of a handful of firms which practised in these areas and also allowed trainees to train in the same areas’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The training opportunities, events and very approachable and social staff’, ‘the inclusion of women is great: I have always worked for women and had two female heads of department. The firm is also managed by a woman’, ‘high-profile, interesting and complex work’, ‘ethos of helping vulnerable people’, ‘the type of work’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The pay’, ‘the salary is not as high as at some other firms’, ‘the pay is quite low compared with some other firms. There have been some increases over the years but people who train at HJA don’t come here for the pay, they come for the work and the reputation that the firm holds’

Best moment? ‘Training in an area of law I had never practised before’, ‘attending complex, high-value cases in the High Court’, ‘being given lots of responsibilities and learning a lot from my supervisor in the clinical negligence department – I would consider a double seat’, ‘attending a final hearing in family proceedings where the other party was very entertaining during cross-examination’

Worst moment? ‘Preparing bundles for nine infant approval hearings which all happened over an eight-day period – that’s 33 lever arch files! It is unusual to have to do that much bundling though; usually most of it is done by the legal clerks’, ‘feeling worried about certain tasks’

The Lex 100 verdict on Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors Limited

The firm: Hodge Jones & Allen was founded in 1977 by Henry Hodge, Peter Jones & Patrick Allen with offices based near Euston, London. To this day the firm remains committed to providing first-class legal help to individuals and organisations alike, based on a strong set of ethical values that permeate throughout the firm. Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors comprises of 230 employees including 112 lawyers practising in over nine distinct areas of law. We have been on the forefront of the legal sector – changing lives, making headlines and advancing the law.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Administrative and public law; Civil liberties and human rights; Clinical negligence: claimant; Court of protection; Crime: general; Employment: employees/unions; Employment: employers and senior executives; Family; Fraud: white-collar crime; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Social housing: tenant.

The verdict

‘Leader in claimant work’ Hodge Jones & Allen offers the opportunity to undertake seats in areas such as civil liberties, personal injury, crime and clinical negligence. Trainees tended to agree that ‘getting some form of justice for seriously disabled clients is incredibly satisfying’. Several recruits had previously worked at the London firm as paralegals and had been won over by ‘the ethos and the work undertaken’, as well as the people, who are ‘nicer than everywhere else’. Trainees get a lot of responsibility and client contact; they ‘frequently visit or phone clients unsupervised to take witness statements’ and are given ‘cases to essentially run’. Four Lex 100 Winner medals have been awarded to HJA for client contact, social life, approachability of supervisors and work/life balance. Elaborating on the latter award, one respondent appreciates that ‘there is no pressure to stay after 5.30pm because there is a tacit acknowledgement that we are not paid enough to do that. I frequently stay later because I enjoy what I’m doing, but it’s not expected’. Recruits feel that the worst thing about the firm is the pay but also pointed out that the ‘social side and culture of the firm is great’. ‘Settling a case for which I had responsibility in the firm’s multi-party action regarding the Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine’ was an unbeatable highlight. The firm’s ‘inclusion of women in all respects’ is also greatly appreciated. As perhaps is to be expected, trainees get involved in pro bono activities, such as the ‘free evening clinics at the local CAB, which is great experience’. To work at a firm where the work is ‘high-profile, interesting and complex’, apply to Hodge Jones & Allen.

A day in the life of… Shakti Bhagwansingh, second seat trainee, Hodge, Jones & Allen

Shakti Bhagwansingh, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors Limited

Departments to date: Family, personal injury

University: LSE

Degree: Law 2(1)

9.15am: I arrive at the office and have my breakfast with a coffee while checking through my emails. I double-check my Outlook calendar for any meetings or upcoming deadlines, then consider my to-do list for the day in light of any emails received since I left the office the evening before. We have settlement meetings coming up on a major multi-party action relating to a defective product where the claimants all have a serious brain injury. These settlement meetings require a lot of preparation and ongoing tasks, so I expect to work on these for part of the day.

9.30am: We have received an expert medical report from the defendant in one of the multi-party cases since I left the office yesterday. I review the report and then add it to my bundle for the meeting. My supervisor has also reviewed the report and we discuss it. I share a room with my supervisor, which is great because it means we can easily discuss cases as soon as there are any developments. He then emails the report to our client for her comments.

10.00am: I have been working on a judicial review claim where our client is challenging a decision by the NHS to refuse to fund life-saving treatment. Recent developments mean I need to reconsider the existing papers, additional documents received from the defendant and some additional policy documents before I start drafting the letter before action. As I review the new documents I make detailed notes, and flag up any queries to discuss with my supervisor.

11.00am: Tea break! I meet another trainee from a different department in the kitchen and we have a good chat while making our tea.

11.10am: Back at my desk, I continue work on the judicial review case. This claim involves a child with a serious genetic condition and a number of comorbidities. Before I start drafting the letter, I do some research into our client’s medical condition and add it to my note, in order to bolster our arguments in the letter before action.

1.00pm: I have a free lunch today with my mentor! Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) operates a fantastic mentoring scheme where trainees are allocated solicitors as mentors who trained at HJA and qualified into the firm. My mentor offers me some sound advice on my next seat choice.

2.00pm: Back at my desk, I have received an email from a client regarding some changes she would like to make to her witness statement. I call the client and we talk through the amendments on the phone. The client is beginning to worry about the settlement meeting as it is fast approaching. I reassure her on the phone; she seems to be calmer and is happy with the amendments to the statement and so I send it to her to sign.

2.45pm: I continue work on the judicial review case from this morning. I have finally finished reviewing the documents. These letters are pretty complex in technical legal terms and medical terms, so I talk through the queries from my attendance note with my supervisor before I begin drafting.

6.00pm: Our civil liberties team have organised internal training in our basement bar at HJA. Barristers from a set of chambers we often instruct are giving the training on anonymity orders. People from a number of departments in the firm attend. Aside from learning about recent legal developments, the training provides a great opportunity to network with both barristers and people within the firm. After the training finishes people hang around in the bar for a drink.

About the firm

Senior partner: Patrick Allen

Managing partner: Vidisha Joshi

Who we are: Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors (HJA) offers award-winning personal legal services. The firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.

What we do: HJA has experienced, top-tier teams of solicitors who specialise in personal injury, medical negligence, criminal defence, wills and probate, mental capacity, dispute resolution, employment law, family law, civil liberties and human rights, housing and property, financial crime and regulatory, and public law.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for trainees who are committed to providing the highest standards in legal services and share our values.

What you’ll do: Trainees will complete four seats over two years across different departments. Trainees generally share an office with their supervisor and enjoy a high level of responsibility and client contact.

Perks: Life assurance, group income protection, pension, holiday, additional paid leave for birthdays, volunteer days and Christmas office closure, season ticket loan, Cycle to Work scheme, on-site subsidised bar.