Having no idea what area of law I would like to qualify in, I wanted to train at a firm where I could get a wide range of experience in different departments. This made me look at full service firms and having done my research, I felt that Howard Kennedy is a friendly firm with a good work-life balance. To top it all off, I was really impressed at how welcomed we were (and of course the amazing view over the River Thames) during the assessment day. I felt that it reflected the positive culture of the firm.
A trainee's role differs between departments and I have been eased in every time I start a new seat so that I am not loaded with work that I am unfamiliar with. Typically, trainees will review and draft documents, liaise with clients and third parties by email and telephone, in addition to attending meetings and writing attendance notes. During my dispute resolution seat, I frequently attended court and compiled bundles. We will often have, especially near the end of the seat, conduct over one of the smaller matters with supervision.
There is regular training in every department, normally during lunch times, which provides updates on the area of law in that department. In addition, we have a real estate themed junior lawyers' programme on Thursdays which is very interactive and relaxed. Separately, we have training sessions on non-legal aspects of our career such as business development and setting career goals.
However, most of the training is on the job whereby you are given a task from various members of the team or department, ordinarily with instructions and guidance on where to look for precedents, and you have a go at it. Although it depends on the task and the fee earner giving the task, they will often go through the task you have completed with you or give feedback on the work you have done. Asking for feedback is very much encouraged so that you can see what you did well and/or where you could improve.
I enjoy being in an open plan office as it gives you the opportunity to interact with more people. Sometimes, you overhear people talking about interesting matters (that they don't mind being overheard) and you can learn from listening or ask to get involved. I think it adds to the open culture that we have.
I like having a variety of work and multiple matters running concurrently. Some work is more intellectually stimulating and urgent than others so the fact that they alternate means that you get the time to wind down in between. When you have a particularly busy period or urgent work, the support from the team is great. Your colleagues will offer help and make arrangements to lighten your load.
All in all, I think the friendly and supportive culture of Howard Kennedy is great and people are generally very easy to work with!