Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Howard Kennedy LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Howard Kennedy LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Small trainee intake’, ‘range of practice areas’, ‘not too small, not too huge’, ‘it was a firm which was looking forward and ambitious, and I wanted to be part of that’, ‘as a paralegal I experienced the non-hierarchical and supportive culture and found every member of staff to be highly approachable’, ‘exceptional real estate practice’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people’, ‘the level of responsibility given’, ‘I really like the pro bono work that the firm does and have been involved throughout my first seat’, ‘the balance struck between high-quality work and a personable, inclusive and sociable culture’, ‘a very friendly and relaxed place to work’, ‘nice, approachable and supportive people across the board’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘There aren’t many firm-wide events, e.g. there is no firm Christmas party’, ‘it has quite a rigid partnership structure who seem reluctant to change too much’, ‘the vending machines aren’t contactless!’, ‘not many opportunities for business development and networking for trainees’, ‘limited secondment opportunities’

Best moment? ‘Attending an all-day mediation resulting in a successful outcome for our client’, ‘preparing for a four-week trial at the High Court’, ‘working on the sale of a large development site from beginning to end’, ‘running an appeal for a client and winning; to have that responsibility and to succeed felt fantastic’, ‘presenting to undergraduate design students on IP rights’

Worst moment? ‘The first week in each of my seats – there is no seat-specific training, which means that you either sink or swim’, ‘disclosure for a boundary dispute’, ‘bundling on a Friday evening’, ‘lack of guidance early on in a matter’, ‘working quite late on a document schedule’, ‘on quiet days it is frustrating having nothing to do and on busy days it is frustrating having too much to do!’

The Lex 100 verdict on Howard Kennedy LLP

The firm: “Howard Kennedy is a London based, full-service law firm, providing straightforward advice to entrepreneurial businesses and individuals on domestic and international matters. We simplify what others complicate, giving useful advice in language our clients understand. We look to complete projects and deals quickly and efficiently so they don’t miss out on important opportunities.”

The deals: Advising Galliard Homes on the construction of a 900 unit mixed-use Harbour Central and on the 300 unit forward sale to a US fund; acting for Pandora Jewellery on the strategic acquisition of various concept stores from franchise partners to increase the number of owned and operated stores; acting for KPMG as administrator, on the administration and ultimate sale of HMV to Sunrise Records & Entertainment of the business; advising on a high-profile dispute with Arts Council England on its refusal to provide a permanent EU export licence for a painting attributed to Giotto di Bondone; representing and securing the acquittal of Achim Kraemer and Andreas Hauschild, two German traders, charged by the SFO with alleged manipulation of the EURIBOR.

The clients: Ballymore; Comptoir Libanais; Patty&Bun; Octopus Investments; Deutsche Bank; Everyman Media Group; Forbes Magazine; Granger&Co; Paymentsense; Metro Bank.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Art and cultural property; Civil liberties and human rights; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: development; Contentious trusts and probate; Crime: general; Employment: employers and senior executives; Fraud; Intellectual property; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Partnership; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional discipline; Property finance; Property litigation; Reputation management; Residential property; Sport.

The verdict

‘A firm on the up with expanding departments’, Howard Kennedy has an ‘exceptional real estate practice’ and interesting sector focuses in energy, sports and entrepreneurs, among others. Several trainees had heard of the firm’s ‘friendly and approachable reputation’, something which was confirmed by attending open days and interviews. There is a clear ’emphasis on expressing your personality, rather than conforming to being a particular type of lawyer’, which is doubly encouraging considering that the people at Howard Kennedy are all ‘genuinely lovely, helpful, understanding and patient’. The small trainee intake ‘work very closely with supervisors’ who ‘look out for your wellbeing, as well as your training’. Although there are ‘pockets of good socialising’, generally ‘departments are quite siloed’ and recruits feel that this could be improved with the introduction of an onsite canteen to facilitate ‘more day-to-day interaction among teams’. Another concern is that the firm ‘does not offer too many NQ positions other than in real estate’. Best moments included ‘taking a rock star to have their statutory declaration signed’ and ‘acting on the administration of HMV – I was assigned a great deal of responsibility’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, trainees did not enjoy moving seats, ‘quieter days where it gets a bit frustrating not having much to do’ nor ‘having a client call me every half hour to ask why a deal had not completed’. For a firm which is ‘big enough that the matters dealt with relate to large corporates and high-profile individuals but small enough that you are given high-quality work and plenty of face-to-face time with partners’, research Howard Kennedy.

A day in the life of… Jack O'Shea, first-year trainee, Howard Kennedy LLP

Jack O'Shea, Howard Kennedy LLP

Departments to date: Real estate, dispute resolution and commercial development

University: Cornell University University of Law

Degree: BA History, with a minor in English, GDL (Distinction), LPC LLM (Distinction)

9.00am: I usually arrive at the office around 9am, having checked my emails on my work phone on my walk into the office. I then update my to-do list and make myself a coffee in the kitchen.

9.30am: Our office is open plan, so I chat to my colleagues as they come in and catch up with them after a busy week. The Commercial Development team, where I’m currently sat, is extremely social. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all the different characters in the team over the past four months.

10.00am: We act for an institutional lender that finances developments throughout the UK. I have a catch up call with the client to update them on the progress of the latest transaction, before carrying out my title review and raising enquiries for the Borrower’s solicitor.

11.30am: A developer client is acquiring a significant site in the Manchester area, which requires extensive due diligence. The associate I sit opposite asks for my assistance, which requires analysis of deeds and indentures dating back to the 1800s. The Real Estate department acts for a variety of clients, which means you gain experience in all the aspects of a property transaction.

12.30am: My supervisor stops by my desk for a quick chat and to see how my work capacity is. The solicitor that I sit next to will be spearheading a significant HMO Portfolio acquisition and we discuss the steps involved to complete the transaction.

1.00pm: I head to Borough Market for lunch with some fellow trainees. Having Borough Market so close is the perfect lunch destination and a great benefit of the firm’s location. During the summer we enjoy our market food sitting by the Thames.

2.00pm: Howard Kennedy has a fantastic pro bono programme which trainees are encouraged to get involved with as much as possible. I recently attended Toynbee Hall Free Legal Advice Clinic to advise a client by myself for the first time. I draft a follow up letter to confirm my advice. I have a quick call with the head of the Pro Bono team to discuss the letter, before sending it to the client. One of the best parts of working at Howard Kennedy is that you are encouraged to get involved with all aspects of the firm, whether that is pro bono, business development or sports teams.

4.00pm: My supervisor asks me to carry out some urgent research into a very niche area of property law that a client requires assistance with. I spend half an hour researching the issue and discuss my findings with my supervisor, before calling the client to advise them of their options.

4.45pm: A client calls me, asking if a tenant in one of their properties is entitled to assign their lease and the mechanisms for doing so. I quickly check the lease for the relevant provisions, before confirming they are able to do so. I then draft the licence to assign and go over it with a solicitor in the team.

6.00pm: Another trainee and I have been preparing a brochure with the Business Development team for a potential new client to showcase the services we could offer them from across the firm. We sit down in the break-out area to discuss our progress and objectives moving forward.

6.45pm: After checking my emails to see if anything more is required, I log off for the weekend and join some of the trainees and solicitors for drinks.

About the firm

Managing partner: Craig Emden

Who we are: A London based, full-service law firm, providing straightforward advice to entrepreneurial businesses and individuals on domestic and international matters.

What we do: We offer diverse seats in real estate, corporate, dispute resolution and private client & family. Work spans top-tier mid-market transactions, specialist advisory work and ground-breaking litigation.

What we’re looking for: We know that there isn’t just one path into the law. We consider applications from those with previous experience, both in and out of the legal world. We strive to hire people from a diversity of backgrounds, based on their merit and attitude.

What you’ll do: We aim to provide a rounded training contract. From embedding yourself within teams to get to know our sector offering and legal specialisations, to taking part in our internal training programme and increasing client exposure and responsibility over time.

Perks: 25 days annual holiday, Private Healthcare, Income Protection, Life Assurance, Interest free Season Ticket Loan, Pension Scheme, Employee Referral Scheme, Cycle to Work Scheme, Discounts Platform, discounted gym membership, free fruit, yoga classes, monthly breakfasts, regular social events, volunteering leave and Employee Assistance Programme.

Sponsorship: LPC fees.