Richard Strub – Partner, Shipping
Law – Southampton
I studied carriage of goods by sea as part of my law degree at Southampton and from then on I was hooked. In my biased opinion, shipping law/carriage of goods by sea is by far and away the most interesting area of law for any litigator. The majority of cases that have shaped and developed the common law are shipping cases. The issues are complex, the facts interesting and the characters colourful. If you want to litigate, you want to be a shipping litigator; and if you want to be a shipping litigator, you want to do it at HFW.
HFW focuses on and leads the field in its areas of expertise. You work alongside and learn from experts in their chosen area of law who have the experience to provide the right advice and the right guidance.
I joined HFW as a Trainee in 2002 and qualified in 2004. Whilst the firm has grown and evolved hugely since that time (when I started there were six offices, now there are 13 not including alliance offices), the work fundamentally remains the same. I advise shipowners, charterers, insurers, buyers and sellers on a wide range of contractual and tortious issues. A "typical" day for me depends entirely on my case load and the stage reached in any ongoing arbitration or litigation, but a lot of time is spent in correspondence with opponents and clients moving cases forward to a resolution. If I had to pick the bits I enjoy most about my role, it would either be drafting the first advice on the legal position and merits of a claim, or when taking a case to mediation and putting your case forward and negotiating a settlement. Those are the occasions on which you can particularly show your worth.
Whilst I did not do a seat abroad during my training contract, HFW now certainly offers a "global" training contract and a seat abroad is guaranteed. Since qualifying, however, I have travelled quite a bit both for developing client relationships and for cases. As you would expect, this has been to the main shipping areas: Singapore, New York, Istanbul, Athens, Copenhagen and Rotterdam, amongst others.
Importantly, HFW is and has always been a friendly place to work. It does not feel like a giant corporation, it is not stuffy and it is not impersonal. There are no top tips or magic bullets to getting a training contract here, but if you are smart, diligent and enthusiastic about an international career, you are well on the way.