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HFW Training Contract: Remi

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

We caught up with Remi, a third seat trainee at HFW to hear their thoughts on securing a Training Contract.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am 24 years old and come from a state school background. I am the first of my family to go to university and have no prior connections to the legal industry. I have been at HFW since March 2022 and I am a current third seat trainee, sitting in ship finance. My previous seats have been commodities litigation and shipping litigation. Outside of work, I enjoy (sometimes) watching Manchester United as well as training K-1 kickboxing.

Describe your journey into becoming a trainee at HFW.

I decided to go straight to university from sixth-form to study law. In my final year at university, I decided that I wanted to work at a firm with a focus on shipping and international trade. I already had a prior interest in shipping due to its hidden, but global nature, but an international trade law module during my final year at university confirmed my desire to work in the industry. Being a competitive person, I decided that I wanted to work at a global law firm that ranks amongst the best in the sector – leading me to apply to HFW. After passing the application and assessment centre stages, I secured a vacation scheme place in 2019. I sat in the shipping department for a week and managed to turn my vacation scheme into a training contract offer. I then worked in insurance for a year, before studying the LPC during COVID-19. I started as a trainee in March 2022.

What is the culture like at HFW?

The culture is really friendly at HFW with a great open door policy. By and large, most people are hard workers, want to see trainees succeed and, importantly, do not take themselves too seriously. It is not uncommon to see a mix of business services, TAs, paralegal, trainees, associates and partners at a pub on a Thursday evening.

What has surprised you most about being a trainee?

Two things stand out. Firstly, the culture at the firm has been an overall positive experience. Coming from a state school background, with no connections to law, I was concerned that the culture would be highly competitive, with a distinct lack of supportiveness. Instead, I work in an environment where a partner is just as likely to have a 'normal' conversation with a trainee as they are with another partner. I have also found the trainee cohort to be a friendly group, who are more than willing to help each other out. Secondly, I did not expect as little micro management as I have received. The fee earners I have worked with are more than happy to let trainees 'own' certain tasks, and trust us to be able to manage whichever aspect we are in charge of. It is not uncommon for calls / meetings to take place where I am asked to provide an update on an element of a case or transaction. Whilst the task is obviously one of the smaller ones, I still did not expect to have this level of responsibility so early on.

What’s been your favourite project/thing you’re most proud of from your time so far?

My favourite cases have been ones with a shipping element. We had a lot of charterparty disputes arising out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which were fascinating to work on – with legal issues changing day by day. These problems also crossed over into HFW's Complex Environments team, which allowed me to work on issues ranging from charterparty disputes to distressed asset sales. I also enjoyed a major LMAA arbitration; it was great to work as part of a team and observe all the little tricks of litigation. Lastly, one of my seats involved an opportunity to pitch for a major new client – it gave me a real insight into how fee earners win new business and, fortunately, we managed to secure the client.

How did Bright Network support you in securing your role?

I attended a Bright Network event during university and I was a Bright Network member. You get what you put into these things. I found there was a wide range of resources at my disposal and that the event I attended was very well run, but with hindsight I should have utilised Bright Network further.

What top tips would you give those wanting to secure a Training Contract?

Experience is such a major part of applications and unfortunately, it is easier for some to gain it than others. If I had to apply again, I would take advantage of every single opportunity I could – whether it is messaging people on LinkedIn, using university initiatives, or joining networks such as Bright Network. Even if you want to work in a City law firm, but cannot get experience (which until my vacation scheme I could not), then I would suggest trying to get as much legal experience as possible through local high street firms, for example.