Howard Kennedy. When I first heard the name, my immediate reaction was to envisage two stuffy men leading an old school law firm, sipping brandy whilst coldly scoffing at the little people. As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong. Not only is Howard Kennedy an unapologetically warm and forward-thinking firm, but the people it chooses as part of its workforce are of a different class, creating an environment which is inviting, supportive and, above all, enjoyable to be part of. There was little question for me about where to lay my allegiance after surviving the intense assessment day and follow-up interviews.
I am currently about to start my third seat with the Employment team, having spent the last 12 months in both Private Client and Real Estate (Development & Projects). There is no such thing as a typical day for a trainee – whichever seat you are in, you are truly integrated into the team and are responsible for contributing to the workload from day one, whether it is running an individual file or working alongside others on a larger transaction. For example, yesterday I set up a data room, reviewed proposed amendments to a licence for alterations, researched the applicability of an Act to a transaction, drafted a deed of covenant and exchanged on a leasehold property all in one day!
The support you receive as a trainee at HK is second to none. I have yet to come across anyone who has not been willing to spend the time to run through something with me or answer my questions, and of course we have the formal structure of seat supervisors and training contract mentors as well (who stay with you throughout the two years). My supervisor ensures the workload I get in is varied, appropriate and (hopefully!) interesting, and I grab a bite to eat with my mentor once every couple of months to chat about anything and everything going on, both inside and outside of work.
The beauty of HK’s rotational training contract is the exposure we receive over the two years to a huge proportion of the firm. The trainee in each team is sat right in the middle of the action, which means we can absorb everything going on around us, even if we are not directly involved in a matter. Over the six months we get to know not only everyone on our teams, but pretty much everyone else on the floor as well (normally mutually moaning about crashing printers). HK does a lot to ensure that we are invited and included in all firm events, and we have numerous training and skills sessions purely for the trainees, which is a great time to gather us together to catch-up.
I will admit it is hard having to move every 6 months, normally to a different floor – you just have the chance to really settle in and get into your stride in a practice area and then you’re up and out and have to start all over again with a whole bunch of new faces and new terminology. But that is the nature of rotating seats, and the benefits of getting to know four different teams worth of people by the end of the two years far outweighs the short-term agony of having to up and move (which is all the more painful if you lose a precious window desk in the process!) HK prides itself on having great inter-departmental collaboration, and having come through the training contract we will be in a prime position to work alongside familiar faces in different teams when matters arise.
Reflecting on how far I have come since the nerve-wracking first day, there is no doubt that the firm’s environment harbours growth and productivity at all levels of seniority. Is it this attitude which trickles right down to how the training is structured, and it is a great encouragement and comfort to know that as I build my career, the firm has got my back. So next time you think that HK is just two old men in an office, think again. It may just surprise you....