I heard about Kennedys through a client of the firm, who spoke highly of Kennedys as an industry-leader within the Insurance Market. This encouraged me to research the firm’s various practice areas and led to my application in 2014 for the Summer Vacation Scheme. Despite initially being unsuccessful, this did not prevent me from applying for a second time. In 2015 I secured a place on the summer scheme, this involved sitting with two different teams in the firm and exposed me to some of the work that Kennedys do. When I was lucky enough to be informed by HR that I had been offered a training contract, I accepted my offer straight away.
As a trainee you assist other members of the team with the running of their files. This can range from evaluating documents at the notification of a matter to disputing claimant’s costs at the end. This means you gain experience from cradle to grave. Trainees at Kennedys are given the opportunity to attend meetings with clients, draft documents, perform research tasks, and if the fee earner is running a case to trial, trainees are expected to assist with the pre and post-trial responsibilities. Unlike other firms, trainees at Kennedys are given responsibility from the very first day and this exposure forms the perfect foundation for your career in law.
All the work that you do as a trainee is reviewed and amended by a fee earner. This means your work is continuously being supervised by a more senior member of the team and feedback is being constantly provided. This massively helps to improve your legal writing and drafting of documents.
You are also given the opportunity to attend various talks and lectures across the firm which is the perfect opportunity to network with both clients and colleagues alike.
The Kennedys training contract consists of the opportunity to gain experience in four different teams over two years spending 6 months in each. I believe this is the perfect amount of time to settle within the team and understand the type of work that the fee earners do.
During the two years, trainees are expected to do a liability seat and an insurance seat. This keeps the work that we do exciting as it means that trainees are given exposure to new and exciting clients operating within different industries.
The firm also offer secondment opportunities both in-house and abroad. This involves spending six months with a client of the firm, integrating fully into their business and gaining experience in a different setting. This is an incredible opportunity to experience working in-house and to give you an understanding of your clients that others may not have. Alternatively, the firm offer one opportunity a year for a trainee to work in the Hong Kong office. Although competitive, the experience is invaluable and gives trainees the opportunity to develop experience in cross-border transactions whilst living in another country.
During my first seat at Kennedys, I was provided with partner authority up to £15,000 to negotiate claimant’s costs at the end of a matter. This involved meticulously reviewing the claimant’s Schedule of Costs to decipher where points of dispute could be raised. The partner then advised me to undertake negotiations with the claimant’s solicitor over the phone which continued over the course of several weeks. Not only did this experience teach me how to use appropriate questions to understand the processes involved in contentious negotiations but I felt supported by the partner throughout.
In this seat, I was also involved in emergency Court of Protection proceedings which involved preparing documents and attending court to observe a decision which would have far-reaching consequences for the persons involved. I found this experience incredibly interesting as the facts presented a unique set of circumstances for the Court of Protection to grapple with.
I have been lucky enough to go on a client secondment during my first year at Kennedys. This has meant that I have gained first-hand exposure of what our clients want from us as lawyers. It has also meant that I have developed strong relationships with one of the firm’s biggest clients and I hope that these personal relationships will continue for the rest of my professional life. It has been great to gain experience in another job role and I know that the skills I have learnt on secondment will be transferrable to any role that I take on.
As a budding law student, the end goal is always a training contract in a top firm. However, with these aspirations comes self-doubt and as a trainee you are always worried that your work is not up to scratch and you might not get a job.
Having experienced and approachable supervisors throughout means that not only are you continuously supervised but your work is assessed and amended on a regular basis. This is massively useful for your own personal development as you are able to see the improvements being made over time.
In addition, at Kennedys the high trainee retention rate is well-known and the firm celebrate this. Members of staff do their best to assure us that the firm want to keep the trainees on and testament to this is the high ratio of colleagues within the teams who were once trainees at the firm.
At Kennedys it really feels as though the members of staff are chosen carefully so that each individual fits the ethos of the firm. Not only does this create a great working environment but it means your colleagues become your friends. This is massively important as it creates a genuine sense of teamwork throughout the firm. For me, this is crucial to starting your career in law.