Prior to commencing the training contract at HFW, I studied Law followed by the LPC. The firm was supportive of the transition from my undergraduate degree to the LPC. For half of the course, I was placed in a class with 12 other future HFW Trainees, which not only allowed us to support each other throughout the course, but also create new friendships as a Trainee group.
My first seat was in Commodities Litigation. I was quickly inducted into the world of international arbitration, assisting with a number of high-profile cases, including a coal transaction, a sophisticated warehouse fraud, and frustration of several multi-million dollar shipbuilding contracts. Sitting in an office with a Partner was one of the most constructive ways to learn during a training contract, as you are able to easily discuss case strategy, learn more about the economics of a law firm, and witness first-hand how Partners bring in business and build their practice. One thing I found instantly noticeable, is the friendly and open nature of the firm. From Senior Associates to Document Services support staff, everyone in the office is exceptionally welcoming, easy to talk to and immensely helpful.
My second seat was in the Shipping team in HFW's Dubai office. One of the highlights of my seat was working on a vessel arrest matter alongside the Arabic-speaking local law experts in our office, which allowed our team to play to its strengths across English law and UAE law jurisdictional issues. The other benefit of a local team is to capture a large proportion of the Middle East market as we have number of multi-national clients who are benefitted by the broad range of skills in the office. Being able to learn about an entirely new culture and sample the Arabic cuisine was an important part of going on an international secondment, which I definitely took full advantage of!
Returning back to London for my third seat required some readjusting, both to the weather and to the busy journeys to work! I sat in the Trade Finance team, working on a number of financings for various metals, commodities and shipping transactions. I was heavily involved in drafting contracts, negotiating terms with counterparties and preparing legal opinions following a comprehensive review of the suite of transaction documents. The team also undertook some interesting and unique work with blockchain and cryptocurrencies, with clients interested in launching ICOs and trading receivables on blockchain-based platforms.
My final seat in Ship / Asset Finance entails the financing of assets such as container vessels, oil tankers, superyachts and private jets. We have a number of large European banks as our clients, and I have been involved in preparing transaction documents, liaising with international counsel and closing various cross-border transactions. HFW is a global firm with the vast majority of our clients being spread all over the world, and as a Trainee, there is vast opportunity to get immersed in the magnitude of an international law firm.