Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Hill Dickinson LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Hill Dickinson LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘HQ in Liverpool, range of seat options and big clients’, ‘I chose the firm because of the supportive nature and culture ’, ‘friendly and inclusive culture. The work that the firm gets is very interesting’, ‘I really enjoyed the team dynamic and open culture at all levels’, ‘I already worked at the firm as a paralegal and valued their qualities’ 

Best thing about the firm? ‘The culture’, ‘work/life balance’, ‘the people’, ‘diversity in work and friendliness of teammates’, ‘the teams and people you work with’, ‘the best thing about the firm is how supportive everyone is and the way we work together as a team’ 

Worst thing about the firm?  ‘The salary’, ‘IT equipment’, ‘remuneration’, ‘whilst I appreciate there has obviously been a pandemic, some of the training this year would have been better completed face to face instead of online’, ‘no consistent policy on return to the office across teams’, ‘lack of canteen in the office’ 

Best moment? ‘Being given a high level of responsibility’, ‘attending a trial at the Rolls Building in London’, ‘attending a confidential arbitration hearing’, ‘attending a trial’, ‘going to a completion dinner with the team after completing a reverse takeover for a client’, ‘being trusted to attend court hearings’ 

Worst moment? ‘Working from home all of January 2022’, ‘adjusting to working remotely’, ‘when it gets quiet’, ‘having to do most things online rather than in person’ 

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Hill Dickinson LLP

A day in the life of... Nicole Eustace, trainee, Hill Dickinson LLP

Departments to date: Health litigation; Healthcare and public law; Healthcare commercial and life sciences (all London seats)

University: University of Sheffield University of Law (Bloomsbury)

Degree: Law and Criminology (LLB), First Class; LPC LLM, Distinction

I am usually in the office Tuesday through Thursday with the occasional Monday and Friday dotted in. Hill Dickinson adopts an agile working policy, but I’ve found working in the office beneficial to my learning (and far more social) so I try and come in as much as possible, and always on team days.

8.30-8.45am: I’ll arrive in the office having travelled on a hopefully not-too-busy tube, stopping for a coffee en route. I like to arrive before 9.00am so that I have time to catch up with people in the office and get comfortable before the start of the working day.

9.00am: I’ll review my inbox, file emails that have come in overnight and flag those that need actioning. I’ll review my calendar to ensure I am abreast of the day ahead. I use a quick ticks, tasks and projects method for my to-do list and personally prefer to write things down on paper. I’ll then start building my day into four time blocks around client and internal meetings.

9.15-9.30am: Depending on whether my manager is in the office, we’ll usually catch up either in person (where we share an office) or virtually, prior to him jumping on calls for the morning. We’ll discuss what I’ve got for the day, and he will help with prioritisation of tasks. This also keeps him up to date with my capacity. Sharing an office with my supervisors has greatly enhanced my knowledge and development, as I can ask questions, listen in on discussions with other colleagues, and hear how he converses and gains a rapport with clients.

9.30-11.00am: This is time block 1 of my day. This might be filled with one large project or multiple tasks. In my current team, commercial health and life sciences, we advise on a wide range of contracting, intellectual property, data protection, public procurement, regulatory and public law issues, as well as helping set up new business ventures. Our clients are varied, and the team has worked with technology companies, the NHS, private healthcare providers and academic institutions throughout many technological developments, healthcare transformations and legislative reforms. So, the bulk of my work includes reviewing contracts or drafting contractual documentation.

11.00am: I usually pop out with a colleague at this time for a catch-up over a coffee and some fresh air (I’m currently on a flat white with coconut milk kick).

11.20am-1.15pm: This is time block 2 of my day and usually includes some internal or client meetings. If it’s a client meeting, I am usually tasked with taking a note of the discussion to assist the lead on the matter. I sit in on a call with a client who needs advice about the partial closer of a clinical trial and come away with three actions that I agree to look into by Friday. The client needs to move quickly to understand whether the remaining arm of the trial can continue, whether it has any impact on the clients subcontracts and the cost implications of the same. Given the urgency, we’ll be pulling out all the stops.

1.15-1.30pm: Just before lunch I’ll try to get some quick tick tasks in. This may include any internal trainee responsibilities, for example the trainee cohort are currently organising the firm’s annual Christmas carol concert at a local church to raise money for our London office charity, Noah’s Ark Hospice. The event was postponed during Covid and we are now bringing it back for the first time. My responsibility has been liaising with the church hosting the event, so I put a call into the church and check the running order for the carols. I also make a note to check with our events team how many people have already signed up to attend and send out an internal email to remind people to sign up. We hope to have the church bursting at the seams.

1.30-2.30pm: We have flexibility with when we take lunch around our workload, however I like to take lunch around 1.30pm. If I am in the office, I’ll usually catch up with colleagues from other teams in the office kitchen. I also try and get out for a short walk if I have time and may treat myself to a hot drink or snack. The London city office is just round the corner from Spitalfields market which has a host of delicious food vendors and market stalls so, depending on the day, a group of us may buy lunch out and browse the stalls.

2.30-4.00pm: Once I’m back at my desk I start time block 3 of my day. This may be reviewing feedback on a piece of advice I have drafted and discussing with a team member or starting a new piece of work for a client. As I said earlier, my manager and I share an office so he may ask me to jump on a call with a client or prospective client. Partners and associates will contact me throughout the day to give me tasks and new pieces of work to complete, so I am constantly reviewing my to-do list to ensure I’m managing the most important tasks and working to deadlines.

4.00pm: I’ll usually grab a herbal tea or fruit from the office kitchen to settle in for time block 4 of my day.

4.00-6.00pm: In the last couple of hours of my day, I will continue to review my to-do list to ensure that I do not miss any deadlines or any urgent tasks that have come through my inbox. I’ll usually check in with my manager to see if there is anything urgent to get out that day and ensure it is sent out to the client before logging off. Depending on the day, I may then join my colleagues for drinks in the office (we have a drinks trolley every other Thursday), or head out for dinner.

About the firm

The firm: At Hill Dickinson we understand that our people, our clients and our communities are at the heart of everything we do. We are an internationally recognised law firm that delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum across the UK, Europe and Asia.

The clients: The NHS; DHL Group; Kuehne & Nagel; Co-operative Group; Health Education England; Peel; Greater Manchester Combined Authority; UK Oil and Gas plc; Juvenescence UK Ltd; Fishawack Ltd; Big Technologies Plc; Emmerson Plc; Agronomics; SigmaRoc; Shakespeare North Playhouse; I Saw It First; Total Swimming Group; Psych Capital; NorthEdge; SysGroup; Parity Medical; Dr. Schär

The deals: The corporate team acted on almost 120 transactions in FY 21/22, with an aggregate value in excess of £3.8bn. This includes advising online fashion retailer I Saw It First on its sale to Frasers Group; advising Big Technologies on £577m stock market float, one of the largest flotations the LSE’s AIM market has seen; advising Emmerson on £5.5m placing and fast-track admission to AIM; advising Agronomics on £62.5m equity fundraise; advising AIM-listed SigmaRoc on £35.5m acquisition of Johnston Quarry Group; acting as the official legal partner to Shakespeare North Playhouse; advising Olympic swimming trio on deal with JD Sports; advising Psych Capital on the medical psychedelic sector’s first UK IPO; advising NorthEdge on life sciences marketing agency investment; advising NHS provider Parity Medical on acquisition by US manufacturer Touchpoint; advising gluten-free market leader Dr. Schär on acquisition of GDR Food Technology; advising Johnson Service Group on its £85m placing on AIM; advising the management team of Fishawack Health on their secondary buyout of LDC backed by new PE investment from Bridgepoint Europe VI, a €5.6bn mid-market fund; advising the shareholders of Naimuri Limited, a leading UK software development and data analytics company providing services to the UK intelligence and law enforcement communities, on its sale to QinetiQ for £25; and advising private equity firm LDC on its investment in Rhino Products, Europe’s leading manufacturer of light commercial vehicle accessories.

The firm has also seen appointment to all major NHS/public procurement frameworks including NHS Commercial Solutions, NHS Resolution, NHS Shared Business Services, Crown Commercial Services, Health Trust Europe and NHS CPC; provided multidisciplinary legal support on many Covid-19 response matters, including the establishment of three Nightingale Hospitals, the NHS Volunteering Programme, NHS Resolution’s clinical indemnity scheme and the Integrated Covid Hub North East; advising on two major NHS mergers and acquisitions and the establishment of five pathology networks; supporting Health Education England to develop its new national education contract for undergraduate training in the NHS; appointed as one of two legal providers to Milford Haven Port Authority’s legal framework for a period of five years; advised on more than 100 yacht transactions, equating to over €5bn in value.

CEO: Peter Jackson

COO: Iain Johnston

Chair: Jonathan Brown

Other offices: Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, London (City and St James’s), Piraeus, Singapore, Monaco, Hong Kong.

Who we are: We are an internationally recognised law firm that delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum across the UK, Europe and Asia, with more than 950 people, including more than 200 partners and legal directors.

What we do: We offer the full range of commercial legal services, from employment, property and construction to corporate, commercial and dispute resolution. We have strength, experience and presence in a number of market sectors, including marine, transportation and logistics, retail, public and private health (including life sciences), international trade, education, banking and financial services.

What we’re looking for: We want our trainees to have a passion for law, together with the motivation and desire to learn and succeed. We need our trainees to know what is expected of us as a notable law firm and have the insights and awareness to understand the demands of our clients.

We understand that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper, so instead of having minimum academic requirements, we are proud to use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) to consider your achievements in the context in which they were gained.

We recognise the value of having a diverse workforce and want to recruit the best people from every background, so read each application in full before making a decision.

What you’ll do: You will do four six-month seats throughout your two-year training contract. Our small intake ensures that each trainee has our full attention and means we have the resources to give you as much support as you need when beginning your career. You will be given immediate responsibilities and challenging tasks as you become a valued member of our team.

Throughout the two years you will be supported not only by your supervisor, but a dedicated trainee committee of partners, legal directors and senior associates across our locations and business groups.

Alongside your technical, legal training you will also have the opportunity to attend a programme designed to enhance your business skills and personal effectiveness, ensuring you have the foundations you need to continue to grow in your career.

Finally, being part of Hill Dickinson is about more than the work you do in each of your seats, and our trainees are actively involved in our corporate responsibility agenda, social committees and diversity and inclusion networking groups. By continually working with and listening to our people, we can make Hill Dickinson a supportive and inclusive workplace for everyone.

Perks: We offer an extensive range of benefits that are designed to help meet your personal and social needs, as well as your professional needs to encourage a healthy work/life balance.

We regularly review our benefits to ensure that they are both competitive and relevant to our people, however at present these include pension, travel insurance, buying and selling holiday entitlement, permanent health insurance and life assurance, bike to work, season ticket loans, BUPA cover and we’ll even give you your birthday off (paid).

Sponsorship: We are pleased to have signed an exclusive partnership with the University of Law to deliver a tailored, block-release graduate solicitor apprenticeship programme for the SQE.

This means that we will cover the cost of your programme and exam fees, all while paying you a salary while you study.

The programme will incorporate all aspects of SQE 1 and 2, as well as our sector-focused ‘Hill Dickinson Plus’ programme, designed to prepare you for your chosen practice group.

Diversity and inclusion

At Hill Dickinson we understand that our power as a firm comes from empowering our people. And that by encouraging and enabling individuals to be themselves at work can we benefit from their rich and varied strengths.

We have developed a diversity framework, which covers six pillars, to help us break down any assumed barriers to recruitment, progression and retention, and offer equal opportunities to all: gender; multicultural; accessibility; health and wellbeing; LGBTQ+; social mobility; age.

This framework guides our activity and each pillar has its own networking group – colleagues meet regularly to ensure we’re acknowledging, celebrating and supporting all of our people.

In addition, we partner with a number of organisations to help guide our diversity and inclusion strategy.

Our ED&I policies are enforced throughout the firm and across all senior leadership roles with board-level commitment. We promote our values in all that we do and ensure that we are challenging unacceptable behaviors in order to shape a truly inclusive culture.