It's that time of year when the media focus turns to reviewing the best of 2018. In keeping with that spirit, as we begin 2019, we asked trainees to look back on their favourite work and cultural moments of the last 12 months.
Nikita Sellers, 2nd Year, Real Estate:
Best work moment of 2018 – Completing a pro bono matter that I have been working on with another trainee (now qualified in Investment, Landlord and Tenant) since my first seat. We were acting for a charity and received the instruction from LawWorks. The matter should only have taken a few months to complete but we had a number of unforeseen challenges to overcome. Having persevered for more than a year, the recent completion was very satisfying.
Best cultural moment of 2018 – I started a book club with some friends from the GDL. Our August book was The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, which was released at the start of the year. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about this choice being a bit too distressing for a 'summer read' but I was pleasantly surprised by how hopeful and completely unputdownable this book was. An incredible true story that I now recommend to everyone.
Adam Fellows, 2nd Year, Corporate:
Best work moment of 2018 – This was hearing that an immigration appeal was successful. The client had come to us two weeks before her hearing, as she felt her previous lawyer wasn't on her side. We were aware that it was going to be a struggle to get everything turned around in the short time, and she was very fragile which added a lot of pressure – in immigration, you are very aware that a matter to you is someone else's entire life! This was the first matter I got to run with by myself so I definitely felt the pressure. I got her statement drafted and submitted, pulled together a bundle, and pulled together her skeleton argument. The day of the hearing came and she presented her evidence really well, and the judge liked our submissions. However, you never know until the decision comes through, and nearly two months later, we were notified that her appeal had been successful. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief, and my client was happy.
Best cultural moment of 2018 – This was only earlier in December. I went to go see The Inheritance at the Noel Coward theatre. It's a 7-hour production split into two parts, set among a group of young gay men living in New York in a world after the AIDS crisis. It was utterly sublime, with the title working on many levels: the fear of relationships that wouldn't last due to the spectre of HIV; the loss of a generation of mentors and friends; and on a simple level the loss of an inheritance that was denied by selfish family members. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but if you have yet to see it I am afraid it is only on for a few more weeks!
Charlotte Towerton, 1st Year, Real Estate:
Best work moment of 2018 - This was completing my first construction report. This involves undertaking a thorough review of the building contract, consultant warranties and appointments. It highlights the key clauses in such documents which may be of concern to our client. It is a large task to undertake and as a result I gained technical knowledge and understanding of the key commercial considerations in construction contracts. Without such reports our clients are not able to secure finding for their development and purchase of a site/development. It is the construction equivalent of a property's Certificate of Title.
Best cultural moment of 2018 - It has to be competing for the Great Britain Tag Rugby team at the World Cup in Australia. We narrowly lost to Ireland in the semi-final by 1 point but went on to beat New Zealand 6 -3 in the bronze medal play-off match. 35 nations were represented at the tournament, which was played over three days. Playing four pool matches in 34 degree heat was gruelling work and a far cry from the October training conditions back in London! I have been training in the World Cup squad since April, and made my TV debut when I was interviewed by BBC Breakfast prior to leaving for Australia too! It's been an amazing experience and I'm hoping to gather some interest across the firm to make a HK team!
Owen Griffiths, 1st Year, Real Estate:
Best work moment of 2018 – It was fantastic to join the team in volunteering at Sleep Out 2018. Centrepoint do brilliant work with helping young homeless people and it was a privilege to be able to help them by sleeping out on the O2 peninsula with a range of colleagues from across the firm. The evening was a juxtaposition of early entertainment, including food from the RAF and songs from the cast of the Lion King, with the cold reality of an uncomfortable night in a sleeping bag. Whilst the aim wasn't to replicate homelessness it was a reminder to those attending of the challenges faced by homeless young people. It was a proud moment to see the firm raise over £13,000 for our charity of the year.
Best cultural moment of 2018 – Undoubtedly my cultural highlight of the year was the film Free Solo, a documentary on professional climber Alex Honnold's 3,200 ft ascent of El Capitan, Yosemite; a feat achieved with no safety equipment, ropes or other apparatus. As well as covering the actual historic climb itself, the film is also a psychological study of its protagonist: a funny and intelligent character who only feels truly alive pushing to the very edge of human endeavour. His single-mindedness is humanised by a romantic subtext, as Alex falls in love during preparation for the climb. Viewers share in his girlfriend's rollercoaster of emotions as it becomes clear he will never give up on attempting the seemingly impossible. Rather than a fist-pumping machismo-fest, the film is a thoughtful treatise on the goals we set for ourselves and the consequences of those goals for those around us. As the New York Times remarked it's 'an opportunity for the rest of us to experience what you might call the human sublime'.
2018 has been a great year for trainees at HK, with our team winning Legal Week's LegalTalent competition, as well as contributing to a range of successful fundraising campaigns for Centrepoint through the Charity Committee. Here's to a brilliant 2019!