Why did you choose to apply to Herbert Smith Freehills?
I got the job by attending a vacation scheme at the firm. This involved spending 3 weeks working at the firm, with 2 weeks in HSF's finance division and 1 week in litigation. The vacation scheme provided me with a great opportunity to not only experience the working life of a solicitor, but to also determine whether I was suited to the culture of the firm. I ended up choosing the firm based on my experience of working with genuinely friendly and interesting people who were doing challenging and interesting work. Although it may be slightly clichéd, I felt that HSF was distinct from other firms and companies where I had worked, as they took a genuine interest in the individual and really seemed to care about development. Essentially I felt, and still do feel, HSF is a firm which is focussed on developing their employees' careers.
What does your role involve?
The typical roles that a graduate gets involved in vary depending on the division which they are sat in at the time (with there being four 6 month seats in the training contract). Although there are tasks which a trainee will have to do in every department (which include drafting meeting notes, researching points of law and preparing/compiling document bundles) the tasks which a trainee will be undertaking can wildly vary. For example, a trainee in litigation may be attending court on a daily basis; a real-estate trainee may be negotiating a lease or license for a client; and, a trainee in the corporate division may be drafting contractual terms.
What training did you receive?
In addition to work specific training, I have attended learning and development courses on improving my impact on people, time management, presentation training and research/analysis techniques. Training and development workshops are a common occurrence, and appear to be so at every level of the firm.
How is the scheme structured?
The training contract is a 2 year contact, in which graduates will spend 6 months sat within 4 different divisions of the firm. Trainees are required to complete at least 1 corporate and 1 litigation seat (although there are a number of different groups specialising in different industry areas within the corporate and litigation divisions). It is extremely common for trainees to spend one of their 6 month seats on secondment, either at an overseas office or with one of the firm's clients. Overall, the training contract at HSF provides great scope to work within a variety of industry areas.
What has been your highlight so far?
During my litigation seat, I was fortunate enough to work on a very high profile case. This involved assisting with the drafting of witness statements, court applications and attending court for a case which was being reported in newspapers across the world. Being involved in this work, and witnessing what occurs behind the scenes in such large cases, was a hugely interesting and eye-opening experience.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
What I most enjoy about working at HSF is being involved in work which is stimulating and challenging. I don't think that there is a standard working week, and I enjoy not being able to predict what is going to be happening in the upcoming weeks. I never really wanted to work somewhere where I would be completing the same tasks day-in, day-out, and that certainly isn't applicable to work at HSF. In addition to the work being interesting, my colleagues at HSF are also interesting and fun to be around both in and outside of the office.
What challenges have you faced and what support did you receive to overcome them?
I have found that I am consistently pushed out of my comfort zone, whether this be through drafting a document for the first time or giving a presentation on an area I have researched. However, my supervisors are extremely supportive during any of these tasks, providing advice and suggestions before I embark upon them, and giving feedback once they are completed. In addition to this I have a separate Partner Mentor within the firm who I can talk to at any time should I encounter any difficulties or just need advice generally. Generally there is a great support network within the firm, and there is always someone to talk to if I am unsure as to how a certain task needs to be completed.
What do you enjoy most about working for Herbert Smith Freehills?
In addition to the interesting work and friendly atmosphere, there are lots of internal social and sports events to get involved in. The Friday SSC drinks, which occur roughly once a month, provide a great opportunity to meet up with friends around the firm.