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What we look for

Our Recruitment Process

We have two application routes – you can apply for a vacation scheme or you can apply directly for a training contract. Our vacation schemes are important to us, and a high proportion of our training contract offers are made to individuals who have completed a vacation scheme with us. Notwithstanding this, we recognise that some individuals will not be able to complete a vacation scheme, so we do still make offers through the direct route.

The recruitment process for vacation schemes and for training contracts is the same. We ask all applicants to firstly complete our online application form. We receive a very high volume of applications for both vacation schemes and training contracts so we encourage you to really tailor your application to us, and to provide detailed examples of the skills and experiences that you have developed that will be relevant to your future legal career. We assess applications on a rolling basis.

The next stage of our recruitment process is an assessment centre, comprising of a written exercise, a group exercise, an interview with Associates and a critical reasoning task.

If you are applying for a vacation scheme you will find out whether you have secured a place on a vacation scheme after the assessment centre. During the vacation scheme you will complete a number of assessed exercise as well as a final round Partner interview for a training contract. You will find out whether you have secured a training contract after the vacation scheme.

If you apply directly for a training contract, the recruitment process is assessment centre followed (if successful) by Partner interview. The Partner interview takes place on a separate date to the assessment centre, usually within 1 week – 10 days of your attendance at the assessment centre.

See below for further details on the different stages of our recruitment process.

The application form

In the application form we ask you to supply the following information:

  • Details of your academic track record - GCSEs, A Levels (or equivalents) and a breakdown of your results for your university modules. We look for you to be succeeding at 2.1 level at university or, if you have already completed your degree, for you to have obtained a 2.1 or above. We consider extenuating circumstances when reviewing your results.
  • Details of your work experience – legal and non-legal. This enables us to see the skill that you have developed to-date.
  • Your answer to a short question relating to your extra-curricular activities and achievements. You should try to relate these to the skills needed by a commercial lawyer, and explain why your achievements are relevant to your application.
  • Your answer to a question exploring why you want to be a lawyer in an international firm and why you have applied to HFW. You should aim to give specific reasons for your application.
  • Your answer to a short commercial essay question. With this question we are looking at your ability to articulate an argument/viewpoint, as well as at your communication skills and commercial acumen.

How can I stand out?

  • Do your research on the firm – find out about our practice areas, recent deals, what industry publications say about us. Think about where we are placed in the legal market and how we differ from our competitors.
  • Think about the skills that a commercial lawyer needs. Try to provide evidence of having developed these skills in your academic and extracurricular activities. Central to this is showing how your experiences have enabled you to develop useful transferable skills that will help you in the legal world.
  • Ensure that your answers are free from spelling and grammatical errors. One of the things that we really focus on is your attention to detail - this is a key skill for lawyers, and your application form should show that you can draft clearly, succinctly and accurately.
  • Don't be afraid to show some personality. We want to recruit people who can gel with our clients and who are interesting and interested. Being good with clients is about being able to connect with people and build rapport, so try to provide us with examples of times when you have done this.
  • Think about the international nature of the firm and our clients. Why are you drawn to work at an international firm?

Can I obtain feedback on my application?

Due to the volume of applications that we receive we are unable to provide specific feedback on your application form.

The assessment centre

The second stage of our recruitment process for vacation schemes and training contracts is an assessment centre at our London office.

The assessment centres typically last for five hours and we invite up to 12 candidates to each assessment centre. During the assessment centre you will take part in the following:

  • A written exercise: In the written exercise, we test your communication skills and your analytical skills. You are given a short document to look at, and are tasked with writing a short letter of advice to a fictitious client. We are not testing your legal knowledge in this exercise, rather we are looking at your skills of comprehension, close reading and at your attention to detail and your clarity of expression.
  • A group exercise: In this exercise, we are looking at your ability to build rapport with your colleagues, at your oral communication skills and at your listening skills. As this is a commercial scenario we are also assessing your ability to think on your feet and to provide commercially viable ideas and suggestions.
  • A competency-based interview – either with two Associates, or a member of HR and an Associate. We use your application form as the basis for this interview. You should expect to answer questions about your interest in commercial law, why you have applied to HFW and your transferable skills and interests. We will also ask some competency-based questions designed to explore certain skills such an analysis, problem solving and performance under pressure.
  • An online ability test: In this exercise we are looking at your critical thinking and reasoning skills

Can I obtain feedback on my performance?

We are happy to provide feedback to all assessment centre attendees, and ask that you email to arrange a suitable time for a feedback call. We are unable to provide written feedback.

The Partner interview

The Partner interview is the final stage of our recruitment process for Trainees.

This interview is with two different Partners from two different industry groups – for example one Partner from shipping and one Partner from insurance and reinsurance.

The interviewers will have a copy of your application form, so do make sure you familiarise yourself with your application before you come to the interview. In this interview, the Partners will ask you some questions around you interest in law and HFW as well as questions relating to your skills and interests. You should expect a more commercial interview than the assessment centre interview – make sure that you are abreast of current news stories and that you are thinking about how any recent world events might impact HFW and our clients. The interview will also include some questions designed to test your analysis and problem-solving skills, as well as some professional ethics questions.

Can I obtain feedback on my performance?

We provide detailed interview feedback to all final round interview attendees, and strongly encourage you to obtain this. We ask that you email to arrange a suitable time for a feedback call. We are unable to provide written feedback.

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