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Why HFW?

The work we do

Our strategy is to become the world's leading law firm in the aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance and shipping sectors.

We have more than 600 lawyers, including 180 Partners, based in offices across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

We pride ourselves on our deep industry expertise and our entrepreneurial, creative and collaborative culture.

By completing a training contract with us you will gain experience of these sectors in a dynamic international environment. All of our Trainees complete at least one seat abroad, which we consider to be a core part of your development as an international lawyer. You will work with high-profile clients on complex, often precedent-setting cases and transactions. You will gain experience of both litigation and transactional work. Transactional work can involve – for example, working on the financial arrangements for a new fleet of ships or a wind farm; buying and selling a company; or working on the insurance aspects of a corporate deal.

Our sectors:

Our core sectors are at the heart of everything we do as a business, from legal services to pro bono and CSR.

See below for more information on our 6 sectors:

Aerospace

Our market-leading aerospace practice has been at the forefront of legal developments in this sector for over three decades. Our specialist lawyers have unrivalled experience of resolving the most complex claims and advising on aviation safety, economic regulation, finance and leasing, competition and antitrust. We also offer a bespoke aviation mediation service. We were recently named Aviation Law Firm of the Year at The Legal 500 Awards 2019 and the China Business Law Awards 2019.

Practice: aviation liability; transactional and commercial; business and private aviation; competition and regulatory; finance and leasing; disputes.

Clients: airlines; insurers; banks; manufacturers; support providers; owners; operators; freight forwarders; governments; logistics operators; lessors; MROs.

Commodities

We have a market-leading team of more than 90 specialist commodities and dispute resolution lawyers across our global network, including the major hubs of London, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Houston and Sydney.

Our global team comprises experts across all areas of the commodities industry, including physical supply, transportation, storage, OTC and exchange-traded derivatives, finance, digital trade, insurance, operations, compliance, sanctions and regulation.

Many of our lawyers have worked in the industry, giving us unrivalled experience and expertise, including secondments to the legal departments of traders and banks who are active in commodities.

Practice: hard and soft commodities; international sale of goods; trading and trade finance; disputes; freight and FFAs; mining, minerals and bulk construction products; derivatives; renewables; sanctions and other regulatory issues; oil and gas; start-up commodity trading company service; power.

Clients: energy and chemical companies; coal and metal traders; soft commodity trading houses; trade finance banks; governments and agencies; brokers; insurers; trade associations.

Construction

Our global construction team has been instructed on some of the largest and most complex projects across a wide range of international markets and industries, including the energy and infrastructure sectors and, throughout Australia and Asia, the property sector.

We advise contractors, owners, consultants, insurers, property developers, financiers and investors (both private and institutional) on every aspect of the construction process, from project establishment and procurement to claim resolution. We also offer a project monitoring service to support clients on legal and contractual issues.

We have specialist lawyers worldwide, with hubs in London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

We are currently acting on the world’s largest offshore wind project and have advised on more than half of all offshore UK wind farms.

Practice: procurement; risk management; live project advice; dispute resolution; property development, investment and finance.

Clients: contractors; owners; consultants; insurers; property developers; financiers; private and institutional investors.

Energy

Our specialist team advises clients at every stage of the energy chain, including exploration and production, storage and transportation, LNG, refining, trading and sale of oil and gas, electricity generation, and energy management. We also have expertise in renewables, carbon trading and mining.

Many in our team have direct experience of working in industry and our lawyers build long-term relationships with our clients in the sector.

We have added four energy and resources partners in the past six months, and now have 33 partners and more than 90 lawyers across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

Practice: public/private M&A and equity investments; capital markets, including IPOs; joint ventures; commercial and general advisory; infrastructure projects; trading (physical/financial/carbon); dispute resolution; insurance and reinsurance.

Clients: governments; regulators; national/international oil companies; service contractors; utilities; investors; financiers; insurers.

Insurance

Our global insurance and reinsurance practice is recognised as an industry leader, offering a comprehensive range of advisory, dispute resolution, transactional and regulatory legal services to clients across the sector.

We have a specialist team of 23 partners and more than 70 lawyers across our network of international offices.

Our insurance and reinsurance work is high value, likely to be complex and multi-party, and very often international in nature.

Practice: dispute resolution (casualty, construction, energy, financial institutions, income protection, legacy, life, management liability, marine insurance, medical expenses, personal accident, political risk and trade credit, professional indemnity, property, reinsurance, specialty, TMT, IPR, cyber risks, war and terrorism); transactional and regulatory (M&A and asset purchase, capital and debt raising, new product development and policy drafting, complex risk transfer, insurance regulation, commercial agreements, restructuring and run-off, life insurance, tax).

Clients: insurance and reinsurance companies; policyholders; captives and mutuals; brokers and intermediaries; managing agencies and MGAs; TPAs and other service providers.

Shipping

We are widely recognised as the world’s leading shipping and maritime law firm and have been serving clients in the industry for over 135 years.

We have more than 190 shipping lawyers and 13 Master Mariners across our international offices, specialising in dry shipping, admiralty and crisis management, and transactional work.

We represent the full spectrum of those involved in the industry, and have a reputation for innovation in service delivery, collaborative cross-office teamwork and in-depth industry knowledge.

Our partner Rory Butler was recently named by trade publication Lloyd’s List as one of the 100 most influential people in shipping, and partner Richard Neylon featured in The Lawyer’s list of the UK’s top 100 lawyers.

Practice: dry shipping; admiralty and crisis management; ship finance; offshore; logistics; regulatory; technology; corporate shipping; ports and terminals, cruise; yachts; marine insurance.

Clients: shipowners and charterers; P&I Clubs; banks; international agencies; shipyards; marine insurance underwriters; governments; brokers.

Our services

Within our sectors we offer a broad range of legal services to our clients in areas such as: corporate, finance, dispute resolution, EU, competition & regulatory, employment, fraud & insolvency, and oil & gas. You would have the opportunity to experience many of these during your training contract.

A Global career

Completing a training contract at HFW is your passport to becoming a truly global lawyer

As a Trainee, almost all of the matters that you work on will have an international dimension. Added to this is our commitment to providing each and every one of our Trainees with the opportunity to experience our international network first-hand.

Working abroad also provides you with the invaluable opportunity to meet and work alongside our international clients. Recently, Trainees have completed seats in Geneva, Piraeus, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne and Perth.

Many of our Trainees choose to move abroad on qualification – in the last 5 years, NQs have relocated to a number of our international offices including Geneva, Singapore, Paris, Piraeus, Dubai and Hong Kong. This global perspective is nurtured throughout your career with our Associates spending time in international locations on secondment and making regular business trips post- qualification. A significant proportion of our senior Partners have spent time working overseas during their careers, illustrating the international nature of a career with us.

Our global reach

The United States

We launched in the United States in January 2017 via a fully-integrated merger with Houston firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown.

Our Houston office advises multinational clients across dispute resolution, transactions and regulation in the energy, oil and gas, shipping, insurance, finance, construction, and travel and cruise sectors.

Practice: energy; shipping, including admiralty and casualty litigation; transactional and commercial work; dispute resolution, including international arbitration; environmental issues; insurance coverage; construction disputes; regulation and administrative law; personal injury and product liability.

Latin America

In June 2018, we strengthened our Latin America offering by hiring Brazil’s top aviation partner, Julio Costa, and entering into a cooperation arrangement with a newly established local firm, CAL – Costa, Albino & Lasalva.

CAL was established by an insurance team from leading Brazilian firm Tauil & Chequer Advogados and has offices in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The combined HFW/CAL team has particular expertise in the aviation sector and advises clients on matters throughout the region. It also handles insurance claims in other classes of business.

Practice: regulatory; insurance claims; liability claims; personal injury; cargo and baggage disputes; shipping disputes; commercial litigation; finance, crisis management.

Clients: insurers and reinsurers; airlines; airports.

Europe

We have had a presence in continental Europe for more than 40 years, having launched in Paris in 1977 – our first international office. We expanded our European network by opening offices in Piraeus in 1993, Brussels in 2008, Geneva in 2010, and most recently Monaco in 2019. We now have 25 partners and almost 80 lawyers in the region.

Our Paris office advises on maritime and air transportation issues, insurance, reinsurance, industrial risks, infrastructure and construction, energy, international trade and commodities, and has built a strong transactional practice spanning corporate, finance and private equity.

Our Geneva practice is an integral part of the commodities trading and shipping market, advising clients on all areas relating to the international sale of goods, including trade finance, corporate, commercial, regulatory, sanctions and compliance.

Our Piraeus office is a market leader in wet and dry shipping, ship finance, corporate and energy, and is also active in Cyprus and Turkey, while our Brussels team advise clients on European Union and Belgian law issues, aviation, insurance, competition, State aid and public procurement.

Our European offices are home to lawyers qualified in France, Switzerland, Brussels, England & Wales, Canada and Australia, and we are able to offer advice in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Dutch and Norwegian.

Practice: aviation; commodities; construction; energy and resources; insurance and reinsurance; shipping; dispute resolution; corporate and M&A; finance; private equity; industrial risk; infrastructure; international trade; sanctions; regulation; compliance; competition; State aid; public procurement.

Middle East

We have operated in the Middle East for more than 13 years, opening in Dubai in 2006.

We now have 17 partners and more than 50 lawyers – including 28 Arabic speakers – in four offices across the region, making ours one of the largest practices of any international law firm.

We have offices in Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait City and a new office in Abu Dhabi, which launched in October 2018. We are one of only two international law firms with a presence in Kuwait.

We advise clients throughout the GCC region on dispute resolution, transactions and regulation across a number of industry sectors.

Our unique alliance with Salem Al Maddfa enables us to handle local litigation in the UAE courts. We are the third most active law firm in the DIFC courts.

We have added eight new partners in the Middle East since April 2018, and recently entered into an association with Mohammed Alkhiliwi in Saudi Arabia.

Practice: aviation; construction; corporate and M&A; commercial; insurance and reinsurance; international trade; projects and infrastructure; real estate; ship finance; shipping litigation; capital markets; compliance and regulatory; dispute resolution; energy and resources; family business and wealth management; foreign direct investment; ports and terminals; telecommunications.

Asia

We were one of the first international firms to open an office in Asia, launching in Hong Kong in 1978. We now have 130 lawyers across the region, with additional offices in Shanghai, Singapore and Jakarta.

Our specialist teams provide expert advice across our core sectors and services, with market-leading practices in aviation, commodities, construction, energy, insurance, shipping, corporate and dispute resolution.

Our offering is further enhanced by local associations in the PRC, Indonesia and Singapore, which enable us to provide clients with on-the-ground expertise in Chinese law, Indonesian law and permitted areas of Singapore law.

Our Global Senior Partner, Richard Crump, has been based in Singapore since 2014, underlining our commitment to the region.

We have added seven new partners in Asia since 2018, and recently relocated Fraud & Insolvency and Commercial Litigation head Noel Campbell to Hong Kong to spearhead the growth of both practices in the region.

Our practice has received widespread industry recognition, including top-tier rankings in Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500, and awards from Asian Legal Business, China Business Law Journal, The Asian Lawyer and Lloyd’s List. Singapore Business Review recently named three of our lawyers among the 20 most influential young lawyers in Singapore.

Practice: aerospace; commodities; construction; energy and resources; insurance and reinsurance; shipping; banking and finance; capital markets; commercial; corporate and M&A; dispute resolution; employment; intellectual property; international trade; mining; project finance; private wealth.

Australia

We were one of the first international law firms to enter Australia, establishing an office in Melbourne in 2006.

We now have 24 partners and more than 70 lawyers across three offices in the country, having launched in Sydney and Perth in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Unlike the majority of international law firms, which established themselves in Australia by merging with or acquiring a local firm, we have built our practice through a combination of organic growth and strategic lateral hires.

We added five new partners in Australia during the last fiscal year: Stephanie Lambert (construction), Simon Shaddick (shipping) and Brendan McCashin (insurance and reinsurance) were promoted in April 2018, and in January 2019 we launched an Australian workplace relations practice with the hire of a specialist eight-lawyer team in Sydney and Melbourne, led by partners Mark Sant and Brendan Milne.

Our Australia revenue has increased by more than 60% in the past three years, with our Perth and Sydney offices growing more than 20% in the last fiscal year alone, and we have ambitious plans to double the size of our practice over the next few years.

Practice: aviation; finance and leasing; commodities; construction; real estate; property development; infrastructure; energy and resources; corporate and M&A; competition and regulatory; mining; renewables; insurance and reinsurance; dispute resolution; shipping; offshore; logistics; workplace relations.

Our people

Views from the inside

There really is no typical HFW employee. Read our profiles to find out more about the experiences of our Trainees, Associates and Partners.

Your success Our success

Becoming the best lawyer you can be

At HFW we believe in our entrepreneurial spirit, our creative expertise and our collaborative partnerships. As Trainees, this means that you will be encouraged to develop your commercial instincts, challenged to think laterally and relied on to work together with lawyers from across our global network.

You will need to be prepared to work hard, and to throw yourself in to every opportunity. But it's not all one way - in return we will provide you with a supportive environment, and first-class training and development opportunities enabling you to become the best and most rounded lawyer that you can be. When you join the firm you will have a comprehensive induction during which you will learn about the firm and our industry sectors, hear from representatives from our business support functions and you will complete our bespoke IT academy for Trainees. You will also complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC) which is SRA requirement for all Trainees.

You will complete 4 x 6 month seats, including at least one international secondment. During each of your seats you will be supervised by an Associate or Partner and you will gain practical hands-on experience. You might attend a hearing, arbitration or mediation, deal with a ship arrest or casualty or help on the financing aspects of a deal. You will have a mid-seat appraisal and an end of seat appraisal with your supervisor for each of your seats. The appraisal process is designed to build on a culture of continued feedback, and to provide you with an idea of your strengths, weaknesses and goals for the remainder of each seat and going forwards. You will also attend structured training run by our Learning & Development team – in both core litigation and transactional skills, as well as in valuable "soft" skills such as time management, networking and presentation skills.

Our aim with all Trainees is to help you to develop into the best and most rounded lawyer that you can be, so we encourage our Trainees to gain experience in a range of different industries and legal areas, both on transactional and contentious work. Before each seat change you meet with the Graduate Recruitment Team to discuss your seat choices and career aspirations, which we then consider alongside the firm's business requirements.

What we look for

Applying to us

We look for Trainees who are pragmatic, can rise to a challenge, and who are motivated to work hard and learn from every opportunity. Our Trainee intake is diverse, with Trainees coming to us from a variety of universities and disciplines, some having had previous careers and others joining straight after their studies.

We look for Trainees who have an interest in our industry sectors, and in doing international work, but you don't need any technical knowledge of our sectors – we can teach you that.

Each year we recruit approximately 50% law and 50% non-law students. To apply to us you should be at least a penultimate year law student or a final year non-law student, although we also welcome individuals who apply at later stages.

Recruitment overview

We are committed to recruiting Trainees from a wider range of backgrounds with different perspectives and experiences. During the application process we assess candidates on a "CV blind" basis. This helps us to ensure that individuals are selected on merit alone, and details such as the name of the school/university that you attended do not form part of our selection criteria. By doing this, we aim to remove unconscious bias from our selection process and to ensure that decisions are made entirely on merit.

As a part of our commitment to social inclusion, we have partnered with Rare, a multi-award winning diversity company, to integrate their Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) into our recruitment process. We understand that not every applicant’s achievements look the same on paper, and the CRS enables us to further understand the context in which applicants’ experiences have been gained. The CRS helps us to open access to the legal profession, and recruit the very best people from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Our partnership with Aspiring Solicitors is also very important to us because we are both committed to increasing diversity in the legal profession. We are very proud to have won the Aspiring Solicitors All Star Firm: Improvement in Diversity and Inclusion 2018 award, for our commitment to diversifying our Trainee intake. 53% of our successful Trainee recruits in 2018 were Aspiring Solicitors members; this figure was 42% in 2017.

Our recruitment process consists of an online application, a half day assessment centre, the vacation scheme (if applied for) and a final round Partner interview. We assess applications for our vacation schemes and training contracts on a rolling basis.

Requirements

We have moved away from having strict academic criteria as we prefer to assess individuals' achievements in the round. We are committed to recruiting Trainees from a wider range of backgrounds with different perspectives and experiences, to reflect the diversity of our clients. Where our Trainees are alike is that they are all hard working, ambitious and globally minded.

Meet Us

Each year we visit a number of university law fairs to enable you to meet our lawyers and find out more about HFW.

We also run open days in our London office throughout the year, during which we provide an overview of the firm and our industry sectors, as well as networking opportunities and a chance to see our office and meet our people first-hand.

Choosing the right firm for you is very important, and we know that talking to us directly and meeting our people will help you to make an informed decision. Come and meet us on campus, or attend one of our events to gain an deeper insight into our culture, our international network and the market-leading work that we do.

Apply Now

Training contracts and vacation schemes

Applications for our 2020 vacation schemes open on 1 October 2019 and close on 31 January 2020.

Applications for September 2022 / March 2023 training contracts open on 1 October 2019 and close on 31 July 2020. 

Videos

The HFW recruitment process

Practical advice and guidance on the different stages of the HFW recruitment process, with Training Principal Nigel Wick and Sarah Burson, HR Manager

The HFW Recruitment Process

My international secondment

Hear from Rosie, Henry and Gordon about their experiences on international secondment

My International Secondment

The work that I do

Understand more about the work that our trainees are involved with, and tasks that Daniel, Rosa and Cecilia have undertaken during their seats

Daniel Li Construction

Rosa Pritchard Insurance & Reinsurance

Cecilie Rezutka Shipping

HFW from the inside

Stephanie, Celia and Christopher share their insights on the recruitment process, the culture of the firm, and the pathway to qualification as a solicitor.

Stephanie Koh HFW from the Inside

Celia Richardson HFW from the Inside

Christopher Birks HFW from the Inside

Diversity and Equality at HFW

Kathryn Hull, Corporate Responsibility Manager, explains the importance of diversity and equality to HFW and how this plays out in the graduate recruitment process

Kathryn Hull Diversity and Equality at HFW

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