History – Southampton
I completed HFW's spring vacation scheme whilst studying the GDL in London, before starting my training contract in March 2015. The one-week scheme provided invaluable "hands-on" experience of the type of work in which the firm specialises. In particular, I was drawn to HFW's expertise in engaging and fast- paced sectors such as energy and shipping, as well as the cross-border aspects common to the vast majority of the firm's work. HFW's growing international presence also provides unrivalled opportunities to work overseas, whether through the guaranteed international secondment or beyond.
I began my training contract in the Energy & Resources department. During this seat I assisted the offshore disputes group in a number of high-value arbitrations arising from the cancellation of shipbuilding contracts. The relatively small size of the team meant that I was required to take on significant responsibility from the outset, including co-ordinating a disclosure exercise and assisting with the drafting of witness statements.
My second seat was in the corporate group, focusing specifically on the oil and gas industry. The group advise on a variety of transactions across the sector and I had the opportunity to assist on a range of different matters, including a multi-billion dollar services agreement with an oil major, the development of a new private port facility in West Africa, and a debt security listing in Luxembourg. This work demanded a very different skill set than that required in my first six months, however I particularly enjoyed engaging with the commercial considerations driving each deal. The stand out experience of the six months was attending a week-long oil and gas contracts masterclass, focused on developing negotiation skills through various case studies.
I am currently on secondment to our Singapore office. I primarily work with the corporate team, though as one of only two trainees in the office I am expected to contribute across all teams where required. As a result, I have gained exposure to a mix of quality contentious and non-contentious work; I often go from attending an arbitration hearing regarding an oil trading dispute one day, to drafting the heads of terms to a mining acquisition in Mongolia the next. The culture of the Singapore office has been both challenging yet rewarding. As a Trainee, you are required to go beyond your "bread and butter" responsibilities and actively contribute to every matter, whether this be through liaising with clients directly or taking ownership of an draft advice or document from the outset. Outside of work, Singapore is a fantastic place to live (the pool at the Trainee flat is certainly a bonus!) and the Trainee mailing list is a great way of meeting other secondees. I am set to spend my final seat back in London with our Shipping department and I am looking forward to getting involved in a new area of law.