We caught up with Violet, a first seat trainee at HFW to hear their thoughts on securing a Training Contract.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a first seat trainee at HFW, currently sitting in the Commodities department. Before joining HFW, I studied English and French at university, and I also worked as a editor in legal publishing. Outside of work, I enjoy playing badminton and squash, jogging and reading.
Describe your journey into becoming a trainee at HFW.
At school, I remember being quite unsure of what career path I wanted to pursue. Coming from a state secondary school, and a background where neither of my parents attended university, I was unsure what university degree to apply for – law seemed quite daunting and very different to anything that I had studied before. I ended up studying English and French, which I really enjoyed. Whilst at university, I learnt more about both journalism and law as potential future careers, and during my year abroad I worked as an intern in a translation company – which was where I learnt how exciting international work is. I was lucky enough to carry out work experience placements in both law and journalism during my final year of university, and I found that I was particularly drawn to the problem-solving and team-oriented elements of work in a commercial law firm. After graduating from university, I worked as an editor before undertaking the PGDL and a vacation scheme at HFW, where I was lucky enough to be offered a training contract. What stood out to me about HFW was the firm's strong litigation practice, and its international outlook. The guaranteed overseas secondment particularly appealed to me because I love languages and learning about different cultures.
What is the culture like at HFW?
During my HFW vacation scheme, I found everyone I interacted with was friendly and approachable - and they were all very happy to answer questions to help me to understand what life as a trainee at HFW would be like. Since starting as a trainee, I have found the culture to be really friendly and welcoming – and I feel really well supported in my work. I also think there is a good balance between the level of responsibility given and the support offered when it comes to the type of trainee work that I have undertaken so far at HFW.
What has surprised you most about being a trainee?
The variety of tasks that I have been able to get involved with has surprised me – I wasn't expecting to be involved in such a wide variety of matters already, in what has only been a short space of time. By working on a range of disputes, I have found it interesting to learn how different commodities are governed by unique and specialised requirements that need to be considered by the buyers/sellers.
What’s been your favourite project/thing you’re most proud of from your time so far?
I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in an in-person mediation within my first few weeks in my seat, which was really exciting. I was responsible for certain tasks which gave me real insight, and I could make a practical contribution to the day. I also learnt a huge amount very quickly about the process and formalities involved in a mediation, and about managing client relations and expectations.
What top tips would you give those wanting to secure a Training Contract?
I personally found some aspects of the TC application process, such as interviews, harder than others (such as written tasks). I found that practice definitely helps with feeling more confident; I asked family and friends to ask me specific questions so that I could practise being in an interview setting on a regular basis in the run-up to interviews, and that helped to calm my nerves on the day.
Another top tip is that if you are enthusiastic about a particular area, or specialist aspect of law, don't be afraid to ask questions about it in interviews/vacation schemes. Showing enthusiasm for a firm's work is key, and questions with specific direction will likely be welcomed.