Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Kennedys Law LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Kennedys Law LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Because of the type of work the firm undertakes’; ‘the assessment day was relaxed and non-threatening’; ‘the open-plan office means nobody is out of reach and everyone is very approachable’; ‘I’m interested in insurance law and litigation’; ‘the firm’s core values’; ‘high-calibre work’; ‘international offices’; ‘personality, departments, insurance specialism, flexibility’; ‘interesting clients’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The firm’s values genuinely run throughout the heart of the firm’; ‘all solicitors and partners are extremely patient and approachable, providing you with varied work and client interaction where possible’; ‘trainees are positively pushed to enhance their knowledge and progress’; ‘there is no expectation to stay late nor is there a culture of staying late in the office’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Workload can fluctuate quickly’; ‘lack of social events and charity initiatives’; ‘lack of cohesion between offices’; ‘the office space’; ‘London trainees seem to be prioritised over the regional trainees’; ‘the experience can vary a lot from team to team’; ‘the lack of increase between year one and year two salaries’

Best moment? ‘Actively assisting on a Court of Appeal matter leading to the appeal itself’; ‘my positive mid-seat review’; ‘preparing for a week-long criminal trial’; ‘attending a three-week trial with full client contact’; ‘gaining advocacy experience’; ‘attending a two-day hearing in London’; ‘being asked for my opinion by counsel and a client’; ‘receiving positive feedback from a client’

Worst moment? ‘Adapting to a new team following seat rotations’; ‘feeling overwhelmed at the start of my training contract’; ‘driving back from a meeting which lasted from 9am until 9pm’; ‘various administrative tasks that could be handed to paralegals’; ‘the variation between levels of supervision in different departments’; ‘not getting my next seat choice’

The Lex 100 verdict on Kennedys Law LLP

The firm: “We are a global law firm with expertise in dispute resolution and advisory services. We handle contentious and non-contentious matters, and provide claims and coverage advice to insurers and self-insureds for all lines of business worldwide.”

The deals: Assisting Stagecoach South Western Trains with the employment elements of its move out of the South West Trains Rail franchise including TUPE work and redundancy issues; acting for Protector Insurance, the property and liability insurer of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and the RBKC Tenants Management Organisation (TMO), in relation to the Grenfell Tower tragedy; acted for AXA Insurance against Ted Baker in claims arising out of the theft of stock by an employee from its warehouse over a period of years; acting for British Airways and AIG on claims arising from the fire and evacuation of flight BA 2276 at Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport in 2015; represented Esure in a claim by an insurance customer for losses in connection with a motorcycle accident and consequent life-changing spinal cord injuries.

The clients: Aer Lingus; British Cycling; Chubb; Etihad Airways; Great Western Rail; Hilton Hotels; JD Wetherspoon; Ryanair; Travelers; TUI group.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Aviation; Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial property; Construction; Dispute resolution; Employment: employers and senior executives; Employment: employee/union firms; Health and safety; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Personal injury: defendant; Professional negligence; Rail; Shipping

The verdict

With a ‘great reputation’ as a ‘commercial litigation and insurance specialist’, Kennedys presents itself as ‘an international firm with many high-profile clients’. The training contract ‘exceeds expectations’, whilst also providing ‘a better work/life balance’. Trainees feel that they have a ‘good level of work and responsibility, while the hours are better than at some of the biggest firms’. Additionally, many feel that their ‘training contract is definitely more balanced’ and the ‘hands-on experience’ makes them feel like ‘valued members of the team’. What applicants also found appealing was the approachability of solicitors and partners, making the firm a friendly environment in which to work. The ‘laid-back open culture’ at Kennedys is reflected by the open-plan office, meaning there is always someone to ask if you need help. The ‘variety of work and well-known clients’ also impressed applicants, and one respondent was particularly happy with the support and flexibility the firm offered while undertaking the LPC part-time. However, the ‘lack of social, team building and charity initiatives’ was criticised by many, as well as the perceived ‘north/south divide among trainees, and focus on the London office’. On the plus side, new recruits enjoyed ‘being offered an international secondment to Hong Kong’, ‘networking’ and managing and completing a deal from start to finish. Moments least enjoyed were ‘urgently preparing applications to court’ and receiving negative feedback. Kennedys boasts ‘expertise in specialist fields’ and a good balance of high-quality work with client contact. If you are looking for a firm with ‘personality’, then Kennedys may be the match for you.

A day in the life of… Ingrid Hu, trainee, Kennedys Law LLP

Ingrid Hu, Kennedys Law LLP

Departments to date: Liability (with a four month secondment), marine

University: University of Bath

Degree: Politics and International Relations 2(1)

8.00am: I arrive and check my emails, as the marine team deal with many international matters, so items often come in overnight. I review my tasks for the day and if there is nothing urgent I spend the first hour completing shorter tasks that I can tick off to free up my day for more substantial tasks.

9.00am: I pop to the cafeteria and have a quick breakfast (toast provided) with some other trainees.

9.15am: Back at my desk, I start on an attendance note for a conference with counsel I attended at chambers the previous day. We are meeting with clients next week to provide a plan going forward so there was a lot of detailed discussion and I want to get the note down while it is still fresh in my mind.

10.00am: A new matter has come in. The client has sent through a large number of documents which I review to create an indexed bundle and chronology (a staple trainee task). Creating the bundles for new matters is a useful task as you become familiar with the documents and are then in a good position to provide assistance as it progresses.

11.00am: I receive a response to a letter I had sent disputing liability. I review the letter, discuss the arguments with the handling partner and draft a letter of response. I leave it on the partner’s desk for review.

12.30pm: Usually for lunch, any free trainees will gather in the cafeteria. Today, however, there is a lunchtime seminar on contract construction. Kennedys hold frequent lunchtime seminars on different areas of law and they are both interesting and helpful for future seat choices.

1.30pm: When I return, I make amendments to the draft letter of response following the partner’s review and send it, along with an update, to the client for approval.

1.40pm: I settle down to review and draft a witness statement from a ship Master who had refused to load cargo due to safety concerns. The matter is very technical and it takes a while to review the correspondence and documents to ensure that I am familiar with the events.

3.00pm: I take a break and head to the kitchen for a tea and a chat with colleagues.

3.15pm: One of the things on my list for the day is to research the procedure for service out of the jurisdiction. I first call the foreign process section then do some further research into the relevant regulations, conventions and required forms and send my note to the associate.

4.00pm: Instructions to settle come in on a matter I have been assisting with. We call the other side to inform them that the claim will be settled. As the policy is subject to Spanish law and jurisdiction, I correspond with our Spanish office regarding a draft settlement agreement – one of the benefits of being part of a firm with offices around the world.

4.30pm: We have received instructions to advise on policy coverage for a vessel that has been detained by foreign authorities for suspected breach of sanctions.

5.15pm: My supervisor asks me to prepare instructions to counsel to draft claim submissions for an arbitration we have just commenced. We have a chat about what needs to be in it and I make a start, but it is definitely something on the to-do list for tomorrow.

6.00pm: Kennedys is part of a legal softball league and we have a match in Regent’s Park tonight. I pick up some food and drinks from catering to take to the match and meet with the team to head over.

About the firm

Senior partner: Nick Thomas

Other offices: Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Taunton, Auckland, Bangkok, Bogota, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dublin, Hamilton, Hong Kong, Lima, Lisbon, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow, Paris, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, Basking Ridge, New York, Austin, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Who we are: Kennedys is a global law firm with expertise in litigation and dispute resolution, particularly in the insurance and liability industries. With over 2,000 people worldwide across 38 offices in the UK and Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America, we have some of the most respected legal minds in their fields.

We’re here to make a difference for our clients, and each other, every day. We empower our people to deliver the very best work and reach their full potential.

What we do: Kennedys’ lawyers provide a range of specialist legal services for many industries including: insurance and reinsurance, healthcare, construction, transport, maritime and international trade, rail and aviation.

What we’re looking for: As Kennedys has a vibrant and supportive working environment, we’re looking for sociable and enthusiastic team players with commercial awareness. Minimum required degree grade: 2(1). Minimum UCAS points or A Levels: 120 UCAS points or equivalent.

What you’ll do: Our two-year training contract allows you to develop relevant experience and skills that will set you up in your career as an excellent solicitor. During your training contract, you’ll complete four six-month seats across our core practice areas of insurance and reinsurance, liability and commercial. We also offer exciting secondment opportunities to global offices and UK clients.

You will be given a good level of responsibility early on, dealing with varied areas of work and will be a valued member of the team from the start, working alongside experienced solicitors and partners in a relaxed and open plan environment.

We offer training to ensure that you are supported throughout your training contract. You’ll be given the opportunity to attend in-house and external seminars, while having access to a large array of online skills and technical learning via our internal Learning Management System.

SQE Training Programme: Kennedys are excited to announce we will be introducing a new innovative training programme for graduates. Our programme will prepare you for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), the new route to qualification that is coming into effect from Autumn 2021. The new SQE training programme will take the form of a Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeship and allows you to start working and earning at Kennedys immediately after university, while gaining qualifying legal work experience in one of our teams before sitting the SQE1 and SQE2 exams to qualify as a solicitor. You will also be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate from BPP. Prospective trainees looking to start the SQE training programme must have completed a law degree or the GDL/PGDL prior to starting with Kennedys.

The two year six-month training programme will involve working at Kennedys four days a week and having one day off a week to study at BBP. In addition to a dedicated supervisor at Kennedys, you will have a tutor and skills coach at BPP, to ensure that you have all the support you need at work and with your studies.

Perks: Life insurance, income protection, employee assistance programme, pension, private medical insurance, season ticket loan, gym membership, gym subsidy, eye care vouchers, corporate GP, 25 days’ holiday – increasing to 27 after five years.