Life on secondment at Hovis


I am currently in the third seat of my training contract and have the pleasure of writing this from my desk located on the second floor of the Hovis head office. I was very eager to go on secondment during my training. To be given the opportunity to do so with a British brand leader is incredibly exciting.

I was initially unsure of what to expect but, with the continuing support of those back in London at Howard Kennedy and a knowledgeable and experienced team here at Hovis, I have made it to month three with only a couple of speed bumps along the way (mainly IT related)! 

I had been warned that in-house, you are given a lot of responsibility from day one and this was certainly no exaggeration. This is perhaps due to the fact that you do not share an office with around 240 other fee-earners and are by no means perceived as a trainee- quite daunting!

So, what have I been doing?

Being in the broad-spectrum role of trainee legal counsel, I have had a chance to get involved in a huge variety of work. Whilst Hovis has its standard terms and conditions for its supply contracts, purchasers often provide their own set of warranties. As a result, I have had the opportunity to heavily negotiate these documents, making judgments alongside the business as to what is reasonable to accept and which points simply expose the business to unnecessary risk. Whilst legal counsel is not expected to make commercial decisions, advising on the risks and rewards of various contractual provisions means that I am learning first-hand what it means to be commercial.

Other work of note has included drafting and negotiating non-disclosure agreements, IT software contracts and promotion/competition terms and conditions. Everything posted on the Hovis facebook and twitter pages, by the business has to be approved by me from a legal perspective first. The marketing department is keeping me very busy and I am slowly becoming well versed in the UK advertising codes and getting a real instinct for identifying the types of text/images that contain intellectual property rights.

What have I learnt so far?

My colleagues at Hovis have a habit of approaching my desk, contract in hand and asking me “if it’s okay to sign”.  I am therefore learning to strike a balance between thinking on my feet and being resilient enough to ask for the background and support I need to ensure that I am doing my job to the standard that was expected of me throughout my first year of training with Howard Kennedy. 

Experiencing the challenges of everyday business has allowed me to develop an appreciation of the pressures that clients are often faced with. This is naturally going to have an effect on the work carried out by lawyers, both in-house and externally. Gaining an insight into the background and circumstances of a business has influenced how I approach work and the factors that I take into consideration before I start typing an email or drafting a contract.  I am developing a first-hand appreciation of commerciality through the unique position of actually being part of the client involved.

To be continued...

So far, I have loved my time in-house and the constant availability of baked goods has been an added bonus! I will be sure to provide you with an update in 2016!

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