We asked some of our current trainees the questions that are most frequently received from applicants.
What opportunities have there been for you to get involved with business development?
Jonah Cohen: Trainees are afforded a lot of opportunities to get involved in business development, particularly from the get-go of the training contract. Some examples of include assisting on client pitches and client target groups, attending networking events, attending discussion panels, and assisting with a number of events hosted by the firm, including this year's Meritas conference. Another valuable opportunity to get involved in business development is through the firm's key sectors; trainees are assigned to one of the firm's key sectors and are afforded every opportunity to assist with the delivery of the business development plans for each of those sectors.
What has your supervision been like?
Jonah Cohen: The supervision at Howard Kennedy is extremely hands on. Each trainee is given a direct supervisor in each of their seat rotations with whom they can discuss anything from work tasks, to workload capacity, to opportunities to get involved. Most trainees often schedule weekly catchups with their supervisors. In addition to having department supervisors, each trainee is also given a mentor – who will stay with them for the duration of their trainee contract. Your mentor is there to answer any questions you may have independent from your day-to-day responsibilities. Finally, each trainee is given a trainee buddy from the previous intake of trainees who are there to answer any questions you may have about life as a trainee.
It goes without saying that all of the supervisors at Howard Kennedy are super-approachable, friendly and have your best interest at heart. They are always there to help whenever it is needed so do not be afraid to ask!
How have you found working from home?
Jonah Cohen: The transition to working from home has been quite seamless. Team calls have become the norm and the firm still encourages groups to have informal coffee sessions (either in person or via Teams), to go for dinners and to remain as connected as possible, even if working remotely. Moving forward, the firm has committed to an agile working policy with the expectation being that fee earners will be working from the office 2-3 days per week – subject to specific team and business requirements. I have received excellent supervision when working remotely as well as in the office.
Are there any opportunities to get involved with pro bono work?
Annie Long: We have partnerships with Toynbee Hall's Free Legal Advice Centre and LawWorks. With Toynbee Hall, trainees can sign up to provide free legal assistance to members of the community. It is a great opportunity to develop new skills, such as interviewing clients over the phone which, as trainees, we wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do. Through LawWorks you can sign up to assist Not-for-Profits with ad hoc tasks, for example I recently drafted an employment contract for a client. This also enabled me to meet a colleague in the Employment department and to get experience in an area of law that I was interested in sitting in.
What is the work place environment like?
Annie Long: One of the reasons I applied to train at Howard Kennedy was because of the culture, and I haven't been disappointed! Everyone is friendly and supportive. Colleagues at all levels have shown an interest in me individually and my training and development. I haven't yet met a partner who I wouldn't be comfortable approaching or asking a question to.
How much responsibility are trainees given?
Annie Long: We are given a lot of responsibility which is great from a training perspective. I have enjoyed being involved in matters consistently (as well as completing ad hoc tasks) as it has given me a great overview of various processes and what it would be like to work in each department. There is also a focus on ensuring that our training is varied – I am currently sat in Media Disputes Resolution and have attended a mediation, CCMC and trial. I have been encouraged to draft complex documents and letters etc., and to research complex points of law, and the feedback I have been given has enabled me to progress throughout each seat. I have also had great supervision, so I have never felt out of my depth.
What is the social life like?
Rosalind Moore: Covid-permitting, the social life is good. Howard Kennedy puts on a variety of events throughout the year with particular highlights of the firm's summer party and the firm-wide Christmas dinners. Trainees also get the opportunity to organise their own social events to get to know each other better which most recently included a trip to Flight Club in Victoria.
What's it like in the office?
Rosalind Moore: London Bridge is a great location to work with amazing views from the office and its close proximity to Borough Market if you're looking to expand your palette at lunch. Although a little less busy than in pre-COVID times with the adoption of an agile working policy, the friendly atmosphere hasn't changed and Howard Kennedy is still investing in its offices to provide a new communal and social space. The firm has provided some breakfasts and lunches which have given us the opportunity to meet colleagues and catch up.
How did you find the assessment centre?
Michael Hatchett: I was nervous going into my assessment centre with all sorts of ideas and theories about the task that we would be set and the way I wanted to come across. All of which was made worse by the fact I had not done a virtual assessment centre before. However, when I got put into my team and started the task, it was easier to remember that my assessors weren't trying to trip me up. By focusing on the task we'd been given, instead of thinking about how I was coming across, I felt much less self-conscious and eventually, I was able to relax and enjoy working with the other candidates.
How was your induction/training?
Michael Hatchett: The Howard Kennedy induction is definitely a thorough process and it typically lasts about a week. The induction was engaging and it was a great opportunity to meet people throughout the firm. We had training on the different systems that we use, how we can get involved in business development, drafting, risk and compliance and on the resources we can take advantage of.
Howard Kennedy provide ongoing training throughout your training contract. The training sessions relate to key practice areas, such as Dispute Resolution, Corporate and Real Estate – I particularly enjoyed the mock meditation held by the Dispute Resolution department. As most sessions are hosted by colleagues, it is another great opportunity to meet people and make new connections. On occasion, the firm also provides external training courses, which are usually very valuable (and often quite fun).
What is the work life balance like?
Michael Hatchett: As with any training contract, your work life balance will vary from seat-to-seat and season-to-season (the run up to Christmas is invariably busy). That being said, I have found the firm respects that we all have a life outside of work, and compared to some larger City firms, the work life balance at Howard Kennedy is great. On occasion I have had to work late, but generally this is because trainees are given plenty of responsibility at Howard Kennedy.