What does it mean to be a lawyer. Home, HFW Graduate Recruitment

The work we do

By completing a training contract with us you will gain experience of our market-leading sectors in a genuinely global environment. Our seat options include shipping, commodities, energy, insurance, construction and aerospace, as well as areas such as fraud & insolvency, corporate, EU/competition and regulation, and financial services regulation.

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. Lawyer job outlook 2020.

See below for details of work we have been involved in across our sectors:

Vauxhall (London) helicopter crash

HFW's London aerospace team was appointed to represent the lead insurers in relation to the high profile Vauxhall helicopter crash in January 2013, in which two people were killed when an Agusta 109 on route from Redhill Aerodrome to Elstree struck a crane in central London. Our lawyers have also been involved in responding to enquiries in relation to the various investigations and seeking to settle claims.

HFW advises Ecom Agroindustrial Corp Ltd on the acquisition of Armajaro Trading Ltd

A combined team of commodities, corporate and competition lawyers worked on this high profile transaction, which brings together two highly regarded companies focused on the sourcing and supply of cocoa, coffee and sugar on a global basis. The deal received significant press coverage and our work was praised by the CFO of Ecom Agroindustrial Corp Ltd, Mark Dendle, who commented: "I have been involved in dozens of transactions during my career and this is one of the quickest I have seen to completion. I have been most impressed with the HFW team, whose combined team of commodities, corporate and competition lawyers has shown real commercial savvy and demonstrated impressive speed of action, responsiveness and intelligence in their approach to this deal.”

London Array offshore wind farm

The London Array (off the UK's Kent coast) is the largest offshore wind farm in the world and is made up of 175 turbines (capable of generating 630MW of power - enough energy to power nearly half a million UK homes). Our construction team acted for the contractor on the contract for the design and installation of monopiles and transition pieces which make up the foundations for the London Array. As well as the construction contract, we have provided ongoing project management advice to the 'live' project, including in relation to various disputes arising between the contractor and the employer, and between the contractor and its subcontractors.

Privatisation of DEPA Group

Our team of energy lawyers continues to advise the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund in an international counsel role on the M&A aspects of the privatisation of the Greek gas trading, distribution and transmission companies that comprise the DEPA Group (effectively the Greek equivalent of pre-privatisation of British Gas and the National Grid). In 2010, the DEPA Group announced sales of €1.22 billion. A 66% stake in DESFA (the gas transmission grid operator) has been agreed to be sold to SOCAR, the state oil company of Azerbaijan for €400 million. This privatisation takes place in the context of the Greek government’s programme of privatisations designed to raise €50 billion by 2015, in order to alleviate the debt burden resulting from the economic crisis.

Fraud in financial services

We have an international team of lawyers advising Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSE (ADCB) on a matter which is among the largest – with potential claims of approx. US$600 million – and most complex fraud cases in the financial services field currently ongoing anywhere in the world, and which has received enormous amounts of press coverage worldwide. The case arose as a result of the loan of money by ADCB to various corporate conglomerates. In 2009, these loans ran into difficulties as the borrowers defaulted. The conglomerates had also borrowed from 118 other local, regional and international banks. It is submitted by many of the banks that the loans that are now in default were obtained via the use of false signatures. HFW was instructed to bring actions in the UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as to identify assets against which future judgments may be enforced, and other work has been ongoing in the Cayman Islands and the US. We have already been successful in recovering a considerable amount of money for our client.

(Re)insurance claims in relation to catastrophic events

HFW acts for many of the major insurance buyers and sellers in international markets, focusing on high-value, multi-layered cross-border insurance and reinsurance matters, both contentious and non-contentious. The team has also built an outstanding reputation advising major international insurers on claims arsing from both man-made and natural catastrophes on a global basis. These have had a significant impact on the insurance and reinsurance industry in recent years. HFW's international insurance and reinsurance team has been closely involved in advising on claims arising from these catastrophic events, including the Queensland floods of 2008 and 2010/2011; the Victorian bushfires of 2009; Christchurch and Japanese earthquakes; Thai Floods; Hurricane Katrina; the riots in Pakistan following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; and the World Trade Centre terrorist attack.

Insolvency and general liens

Our team of logistics specialists won a landmark decision during the height of the financial crisis when high street retail insolvencies were a common occurrence. Liens, which give rights over a debtor’s property when in the possession of a creditor, became headline news with the Re La Senza case. The administrators for La Senza had initially demanded that Uniserve, who handled the carriage of goods bought from overseas by La Senza, deliver up goods with a value of about £2.2 million, without an indemnity for third-party claims or the immediate payment of Uniserve’s charges. However, the ruling gave Uniserve permission to enforce its general lien and sell La Senza’s goods in accordance with its terms and conditions. Uniserve's MD praised the work of the HFW team and commented: "HFW did an excellent job to defend Uniserve against the unnecessary challenge by the administrators on Uniserve's legitimate legal position."

Disposal of ReCapital Group's entire stake in Bumi plc

A team of corporate and mining specialists acted for ReCapital Investment Group on the sale of its 13% stake in mining firm Bumi plc with a market value of over £90 million. The transaction was part of a highly controversial proxy battle for control of the plc and we were the lead advisers on the transaction. The stake was sold to two separate investment funds and a company (Flaming Luck Investments) owned by Hary Tanoesoedibjo, one of Indonesia’s richest investors. In addition to the size of the transaction, it was also notable for the tight timescale under which we operated. Key to the sale were HFW's submissions to and meetings with the UK Takeover Panel, and obtaining its consent to each of the individual sales. Our integrated international HFW team worked with the many interests involved in Bumi plc to secure the Takeover Panel's approval.

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HFW advises COSCO on €230m million investment in Piraeus Port

A multi-jurisdictional team from Hong Kong, Brussels and London advised COSCO, one of the world's largest shipping groups, in relation to the proposed expansion of Pier III of the Piraeus container terminal in Greece. Following an international tender run by the Greek government in 2008, COSCO Pacific Limited won the right to construct and operate Pier II and the eastern part of Pier III of the Piraeus container terminal for a 35-year period. The right is provided through a concession agreement entered into between COSCO Pacific, its subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal SA (PCT) and the Piraeus Port Authority SA. Subject to approvals, the deal will enable PCT to construct the western part of Pier III, and further develop Pier II at an estimated overall cost of €230m. It will also construct a new oil jetty on the southern part of Pier III on behalf of Piraeus Port Authority.

Wreck removal – a limitable liability? The BALTIC ACE Judgment

Within the shipping industry, one of the largest risks now faced by an owner and their P&I insurers is the cost of wreck removal in the event a vessel is involved in a serious casualty. The BALTIC ACE was a Bahamian-flagged car carrier that sank in the North Sea in December 2012 following a catastrophic collision in the North Sea with CORVUS J, a container ship. Following the collision, the vessel sank with the unfortunate loss of 11 crew members and the ship's cargo of cars. This is a high value matter, and an HFW team has been acting for the owners of BALTIC ACE since the incident occurred, dealing with complicated questions involving jurisdiction, limitation, oil pollution and wreck removal. During 2013, the team won an important point on jurisdiction, having set up a limitation fund in the Isle of Man (domicile of the BALTIC ACE owners). The lawyers for the opposing vessel challenged this and we successfully opposed this challenge before the Manx Court.

Cyber security

In recent years there has been growing awareness of the risk of collisions in space and the vulnerability of space systems to threats posed by space debris in particular. However, the risk of "interference" in its various forms is very real and yet has, by comparison, received little attention. Our market-leading space team has been chosen to advise on some of the largest insurance matters the industry has seen, including how to deal with all the latest issues relating to satellite jamming and hacking.

Total loss of the YOGI

Our reputation as one of the world's leading shipping firm's carries through into the yacht sector, where we have adapted our commercial shipping expertise to the specific requirements of this market, where the ultimate customers are high net worth individuals and where issues of confidentiality are of paramount importance. In this particular matter, we assisted the owners of a 60 metre mega-yacht, which sank in the Aegean Sea, in relation to a claim against the hull underwriters.

Flight delay claims

In 2013, our travel team advised on a large number of airline clients what approach they should adopt in relation to flight delay claims following the major ECJ judgment on this issue in October 2012 and a more recent ECJ judgment in March 2013 relating to missed flight connections. Our work has also encompassed general strategic advice on airline obligations under the applicable EU legislation – Regulation 261/2004. This regulation contains very broad liabilities for airlines which have been expanded further by several high profile ECJ cases. It is therefore crucial for airlines to understand their obligations and to devise strategies for handling claims under this developing regime. The focus of our work has been on devising strategies to help our clients cope with these changes in the law, and also how to deal with possible new developments in the legislation, which is set to change over the coming months.

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.

Applying to us

We look for Trainees who can rise to a challenge, who have a pragmatic outlook and a hunger to learn. 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.

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.

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Recruitment overview

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.

Our recruitment process consists of an online application, an assessment centre, the vacation scheme (if applied for) and a final round Partner interview.


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.

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