Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Stephenson Harwood

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Stephenson Harwood

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The smaller trainee intake and the firm’s strong roots in East Asia’, ‘very friendly culture, reasonable working hours’, ‘culture’, ‘variety of work’, ‘reputation, people, sectors’, ‘I wanted to work somewhere where people were nice and supportive of each other’s successes and development – not somewhere where I would feel in constant competition with others’, ‘warm, friendly and approachable culture’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The combination of high-quality work and non-toxic culture’, ‘the people’, ‘the international opportunities’, ‘partners make an active effort to get to know trainees and to support them in their development. I feel totally comfortable going to a partner’s office to ask questions or even just to chat. Essentially I don’t ever feel intimidated by work, which is a real relief when joining a law firm for the first time!’, ‘good levels of responsibility, very friendly firm’, ‘all the trainees are great’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The lack of clarity regarding seat selection and the qualification process’, ‘the capacity allocation process could be improved’, ‘some seats are very quiet and you are not given any work’, ‘the lack of trainee socials and general budget for trainees’, ‘the IT’, ‘the sense of people all trying to muddle along rather than cohering around a single identity or focus’

Best moment? ‘Attending a summary judgment hearing’, ‘I worked on a transaction from beginning to end in a group of three – just myself, an associate, and the partner. Because the team was so small I felt like I could really make a contribution to the work’, ‘positive feedback from a client and my supervisor on my work’, ‘assisting with the preparation for, and then being allowed to attend, a three-day arbitration hearing’, ‘completing a large private equity transaction’

Worst moment? ‘Staying up late on a bundling task’, ‘starting remotely’, ‘I was very quiet for a few months with not much work to do’, ‘an associate going on annual leave and the partner ambushing me for information which the associate did not tell me’, ‘at the end of last year the market was a bit rocky, and as an extra-competitive/ perfectionist trainee lawyer (!) I found it quite hard to cope with having less or little work to do’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has an ‘unusually broad range of practice areas’, from a ‘strong shipping practice’ to a ‘very high The Legal 500 ranking for private client’. The result is a broad training contract with a ‘split between transactional and contentious work’. The international secondment offering also drew in recruits, and has earned the global firm a Future Lawyers Winner trophy in this category. As well as being ‘specialists in their area’, partners and associates at Stephenson Harwood are ‘friendly and willing to help’. Elaborating, one respondent said: ‘I haven’t encountered anyone who’s made me feel inferior or nervous about working with them’. Supervisors are ‘genuinely invested in our career development’; they give trainees ‘direct client contact’ and allow recruits to ‘manage their own tasks within matters without micromanagement’. The work/life balance is also commendable: ‘on the whole supervisors are very understanding when you have pre-existing plans, holidays or otherwise need to take time off’. The not-so-good things about Stephenson Harwood are that ‘the hours can really vary between teams’, leading to an unpredictable spectrum from ‘quiet periods with no work’ to ‘busy, stressful times with competing deadlines’. Trainees would also like more opportunities (and budget) to socialise so that they can get to know each other better. ‘Unexpectedly working until midnight on a Friday night due to a miscommunication by a disorganised partner’, and ‘being left without a desk to sit at for about a month – I felt like my supervisor didn’t care about me!’ were worst moments. Highlights were ‘being taken to Oslo to meet clients’, ‘receiving an offer to stay on as an NQ in the team I wanted to join’, and ‘running a matter with a partner’. For a ‘good mix of transactional and litigation work’, in an environment where ‘people are nice and supportive of each other’s successes and development’, consider Stephenson Harwood.

About the firm

The firm: Stephenson Harwood is an international law firm
with over 1,200 people worldwide. It has eight offices, a variety of sectors to explore and unlimited opportunities for you to develop an incredible career. At the firm, you can expect to work in tight, focused teams alongside associates and partners, where you’ll always be right at the heart of the action.

The clients: The clients that Stephenson Harwood works with are hugely varied. Whether they’re corporations, institutions or individuals, the firm assembles teams of bold thinkers to match clients’ needs and ensure they receive the right advice, from the right person, at the right time. The firm’s experience encompasses corporate, commercial litigation, employment, pensions and private wealth, finance, marine and international trade, and real estate. Specific clients include: Hotel Chocolat Group plc; easyHotel; TyraTech; Transport UK Group (formerly Abellio); China Development Bank; Acadia Healthcare; Al Dahra Group; ENGIE.

The deals:  Advised Schroders Capital in relation to its co-lead investment into G Square’s €500m continuation vehicle; advised Inspired Education Group (Inspired) on Stonepeak’s €1bn investment in the company; advised Elysian Capital, and the management team of the company, on the £103m sale of
Wellbeing Software to The Citadel Group, a company listed on The Australian Stock Exchange; advised Oxford Biomedica, a gene and cell therapy company, on a clinical and commercial supply agreement for Covid-19 vaccine with AstraZeneca; advised Nordea Bank on a US$533m secured revolving credit facility provided to Teekay Tankers group, in relation to the refinancing of 31 vessels across two flag states; advised Mirae Asset Securities (HK) Limited on a US$450m acquisition and financing of three Boeing 777 aircraft, on lease to China Airlines Limited.

Partner in charge: Eifion Morris

Senior partner: Roland Foord

Other offices: Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul, Singapore, Piraeus, Shanghai.

Who we are: The firm’s headquarters are in London, with eight offices worldwide across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The firm has also forged close ties with other high-quality law firms. This diverse mix of expertise and culture results in a combination of deep local insight and the capability to provide a seamless international service.

What we do: We advise a wide range of clients, including listed and private companies, institutions and individuals. Our experience encompasses corporate, commercial litigation and arbitration, finance, marine and international trade, real estate and projects, and employment, pensions and private wealth. We pride ourselves on supporting our people to reach their full potential, so as a trainee you can expect to work in close-knit teams, where
associates and partners will take responsibility for ensuring that you get in on the heart of the action on the matters on which you work.

What we’re looking for: In addition to a 2(1) in any subject area and 128 UCAS
points or equivalent, applicants need to demonstrate strong analytical skills, sound judgement, imagination and meticulous attention to detail, as well as excellent communication skills, drive, determination and a keen interest in business.

What you’ll do: Every seat provides a balance of commercial awareness and practical legal experience, and the flexibility to move between projects and matters. At every stage of the training, trainees will be coached and mentored by a partner or senior associate; they will give regular feedback, advice and guidance.

Perks: We offer a range of flexible benefits including: critical illness cover, cycle to work scheme, dental insurance, give as you earn, gym membership subsidy, 25 days’ paid holiday a year, private medical insurance and health screening, life assurance, group personal pension, private GP services, retail vouchers, subsidised café and season ticket loan.

Sponsorship: We will pay future trainees’ fees for the SQE preparation and assessments and offer maintenance awards of up to £12,000 if you’re still studying.

Diversity and inclusion

Percentage of female associates: 56% (UK)

Percentage of female partners: 29% (UK)

Percentage of BAME associates: 21% (UK)

Percentage of BAME partners: 11% (UK)