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Living Wage
Work 020 7264 8000
Fax 020 7264 8888
Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Brussels, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong and 10 more

Address: Friary Court, 65 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘International secondment opportunities’; ‘interesting shipping and international trade work’; ‘expertise and reputation in shipping law’; ‘one of the best in international dispute reputation’; ‘small intakes’; ‘industry focus’; ‘friendly vibe at the assessment centre’; ‘recommended by friends and family as a good place to work’ ‘I got the impression the firm was friendly and welcoming from an open day’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘All trainees go to international offices for at least one seat’; ‘good culture’; ‘you’re not driven to work extremely long hours’; ‘friendly associates’; ‘colleagues are easy to get along with’; ‘relaxed atmosphere’; ‘interesting work’; ‘retention rates’; ‘the mix of professionals in the office’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Making everyone’s statistics publicly available’; ‘not very sociable’; ‘we’re not paid enough for the service we provide’; ‘standard of offices’; ‘lack of secretarial support after normal working hours’; ‘no proper catering when working late’; ‘late nights’; ‘can occasionally feel old fashioned’; ‘hierarchical’; ‘teams are fairly segregated (by office location and work-type)’
Best moment? 
 '‘Being involved in a successful defence of a large international arbitration’; ‘getting my first choice location for my overseas secondment’; ‘attending contract negotiation meetings and getting to draft substantial terms in contracts’; ‘attending a big trial with Simon Rainey QC as advocate’; ‘having a partner acknowledge that I was acting at the level of an associate’
Worst moment?
 '‘Writing practice development articles’; ‘missing out a document in a bundle at a freezing injunction hearing’; ‘having to deal with a small amount of office politics in the London office’; ‘weekend bundling and document review’; ‘the wait to hear about seats and retention’; ‘stressful days’; ‘working late covering for another trainee who was on annual leave between Christmas and New Year’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Tintin (The Adventures of Tintin) – a sharp intellect and always on a new adventure to far-flung lands

The verdict

The firm

HFW is renowned for its expertise in transportation law, most notably in the shipping industry, and advises on all aspects of international commerce. The firm’s work is regularly on an international scale and it has offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, South America and, most recently, the US. HFW merged with Houston-based US energy and marine firm Legge Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown in January 2017.  

The star performers

Asset finance and leasing; Aviation; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commodities: derivatives; Commodities: physicals; EU and competition; Fraud: civil; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Insurance litigation: for policyholders; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m-£250m; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Power (including electricity and renewables); Professional negligence; Shipping; Trade finance; Travel: regulatory and commercial

The deals

Represented Lomar Shipping and its insurers in relation to the 2017 grounding and actual total loss of a container ship on her maiden voyage on a coral reef off Noumea, New Caledonia; acted for BW LPG in the merger control aspects of its acquisition of Aurora LPG; representing the Republic of Cyprus in high-profile proceedings before the European Court of Justice concerning the potential free trade agreement between Singapore and the EU; representing Evalend Shipping & Trading and its insurers on the seizure of product tanker and her entire crew by the Libyan authorities; advising Artus on multiple sets of proceedings in France and the US brought by more than 200 relatives of victims of a major aviation accident involving an AirAsia aircraft in 2014

The clients

AEGIS; BP; Chubb; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation; Maersk Group; Meyer Werft; PAO Sovcomflot; Rolls Royce; Singapore Airlines

The verdict

A ‘guaranteed international secondment’ is a huge perk of training at HFW and has earned the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal. Trainees have had ‘amazing experiences’ in Melbourne, Dubai and Geneva. The firm makes the process ‘extremely seamless: rent and bills are paid for and flights, visas and phones are organised’. Whilst the promise of an overseas placement enticed many aspiring solicitors, the firm’s shipping and international trade work were also attractive features of the HFW training contract. HFW’s ‘great reputation in exciting areas such as casualty response and crisis management’ also delighted trainees. Job security is an issue new recruits don’t stress over as the ‘firm does everything it can to retain almost every trainee’ (an effort that has been rewarded with a Lex 100 Winner medal). Social life on the other hand is not the firm’s strong suit: ‘we don’t get many opportunities to interact with others in the office’. But it’s not all bad news, trainees praise their colleagues who are ‘easy to get on with’ and find solace in the fact that ‘the international offices we’re seconded to are a lot more social’. That there’s ‘no proper catering’ and ‘not much secretarial support’ available when working late grated on trainees, and though ‘remuneration is definitely on the low side’, trainees at HFW ‘have a better work/life balance’. ‘Interviewing a key witness in a substantial arbitration and drafting his witness statement on my own’ was a proud moment for one respondent. Others took pleasure in the ‘day-to-day international work – I have always been involved and felt like a real member of the team’. To join ‘a mix of lawyers and mariners’, apply to HFW.

 A day in the life of...

emilie brammer

Emilie Brammer HFW trainee 

Departments to date:  Shipping litigation


9.00am:  I arrive in the office and review emails I have received from other jurisdictions overnight, write a to-do list prioritising tasks for the day ahead and review industry headlines.

9.15am:  My supervisor arrives and we chat about the darts event we attended the previous evening. I review my notes from an arbitration appeal hearing I attended a few weeks previously, in preparation for the handing down of judgment which I am due to attend at the Rolls Building today. Having worked on this case since the start of my seat, I am excited to find out what the outcome will be.

9.30am:  I attend our weekly team coffee meeting where we discuss new cases the team is working on, practice development events and travel plans for the week ahead, and receive updates from our know-how team. This is a great opportunity to understand the range of work the wider team is involved in.

10.00am:  I briefly liaise with counsel to ensure he has all the information and documentation he requires for court today, before leaving the office and making my way to the Rolls Building. Here I bump into another HFW trainee who has been working on a busy trial over the past three weeks. I meet counsel outside the court room and sit in on the handing down of the judgment.

1.00pm:  I arrive back in the office and report to the case partner on the outcome of the appeal.

1.15pm:  After a busy morning, I head downstairs to our cafe to eat lunch with other trainees. There is a BBQ on in our garden area with live music so we take advantage of the good weather and eat outside, discussing which international seats we are interested in sitting in as we prepare for our seat rotation.

1.45pm:  Following my earlier discussion with the partner, I draft an update on the handing down of judgment to be circulated to clients.

2.45pm:  I receive an email from a senior associate asking me to research whether there are any reported judgments assessing whether Paranagua is an ‘unsafe port’. We discuss the results of my research and consider how these findings impact the position of our client.

4.00pm:  I attend a meeting with clients and counsel to discuss the overall strategy to be adopted in a long-running case the department has been working on. We consider the merits of the case and likelihood of success at trial, as well as the potential advantages in settling the claim.

5.30pm:  Following the meeting, I have a catch up discussion with the case team. I am asked to draft a witness statement for a specific disclosure application. I start work on this, reviewing disclosure received to date and considering the reasons we require the documents we are requesting.

7.00pm:  My supervisor has just received urgent instructions in relation to an alleged collision between a containership and a fishing vessel. We have a number of master mariners in the department who attend vessels in order to collect evidence. As both a senior associate and master mariner, my supervisor explains that she intends to visit the containership when it comes into berth tomorrow evening. She asks me to attend with her to assist with the interviews of crew members and evidence gathering. I am excited to have the opportunity to board a containership and see the law ‘in action’.

7.40pm:  I head downstairs to meet other members of the firm’s netball team and we walk to our weekly netball match.

About the firm

Address:Friary Court, 65 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE

Telephone: 020 7264 8000


Senior partner:  Richard Crump

Managing partner:  Marcus Bowman

Other offices: Beirut, Brussels, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Kuwait, Melbourne, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Riyadh, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney. 

Who we are: We are a sector-focused, entrepreneurial law firm. But there’s more to us than that. We have a passion for the sectors we work in – whether we are solving complex issues across construction, aviation and shipping, or providing advice across insurance, commodities and energy. We’re people who like to get things done. Our clients say ‘less traditional’ – ‘progressive’, even. We say we’re specialist lawyers here to add value to our clients.

What we do: Aviation, commodities, construction, energy, financial institutions, insurance and reinsurance, logistics, mining, ports and terminals, shipping, space, yachts, travel, cruise and leisure.

What we are looking for: We look for trainees who are bright, commercially focused and hard working. Strong communication skills and team working skills are a must. In addition, as our training contract is truly international we look for individuals who have a global perspective and an interest in completing international work.

What you'll do:Every year we recruit only a small number of trainees – 15 per year split across a September and March intake. This enables us to give every trainee our full attention, and means that your individual contribution makes a real difference. A training contract at HFW consists of four six-month seats – typically three contentious seats and one transactional seat, with at least one seat spent outside London in an international office. Overall, we aim to provide you with a dynamic, supportive and varied environment in which you are challenged to become the best lawyer you can be and encouraged to contribute to the success of our global business.

Perks: Generous contributory pension; subsidised gym membership; season ticket loan; life assurance; non-contributory medical insurance; cycle to work scheme, dental insurance, free GP service.

Sponsorship:GDL/LPC fees paid and a maintenance grant of £7,000 (£5,500 outside London) is available for each year of study.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 173

Other fee-earners: 300

Total trainees: 34

Turnover in 2017: £179.1m. Profits per equity partner: £542,238

Trainee places available for 2021: 15

Applications received pa: 1,000 

Percentage interviewed:  10% 


First year: £38,000

Second year: £40,000

Newly qualified: £66,000

 Application process

Apply to:Sarah Burson.

How: Online at

What's involved:Online application form, assessment centre, vacation scheme (if applied for), partner interview.

When to apply:By 31 July 2019 for 2021/2022 contracts.

 Vacation schemes

Spring:Apply by 31 January 2019.

Summer:Apply by 31 January 2019.

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