Transnational Legal Studies – KCL
Prior to commencing my training contract in September 2015, I had completed a few vacation schemes, including one at HFW. This insight into the firm revealed how dynamic and international the firm and its people are, as well as showing me the high-level responsibility and quality of work awarded to Trainees.
HFW's business is uniquely structured, with an industry focus. This provides Trainees with the legal and commercial exposure necessary to develop the key skills of an international commercial lawyer. By way of example, during my first seat in shipping litigation I was involved in a plethora of different matters, from charterparty disputes, vessel explosions and arrests to warehousing frauds. The technicality of the legal points which arose in each of these matters was in itself a real challenge and the legal points were varied in substance, ranging from contract law to anti-bribery regulations. I also actively participated in client meetings, attended client lunches and a business development trip to India which enabled me not only to understand our clients' legal needs but also to see the wider picture and objectives of their business.
I have just returned from an international secondment in Paris. This was a unique professional and personal experience, which pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Aside from working in a wholly bilingual environment, I also had to adapt to the needs and expectations of a different client portfolio and had the opportunity to explore this new culture over client meetings and lunches. The Paris office is smaller, yet services all of the firm's sectors. I was involved in commodities disputes and arbitrations, both in the English and French courts/tribunals, usually acting for cargo interests, but also transactional work such as amendments to the financing documentation for 12 cruise vessels and "wet" shipping disputes subject to French and English law. The guarantee of at least one international secondment is an invaluable professional opportunity at this early stage in our careers and increases our understanding of the firm's global expertise and internal business model.
I am about to start my third seat, back in London, in the firm's ship finance department. I look forward to returning to the London office and reuniting with my fellow Trainees, many of whom have become very good friends.