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UK City Firms
Holman Fenwick & Willan (London)
Along with Ince and Co and Clyde and Co, HFW is one of the leading shipping firms in the City. Shipping isn't its only area of expertise - the firm has strong trade, commercial, insurance and energy departments - but it still dominates the practice. HFW has a rather different culture from the traditional corporate firms as a result. An assistant notes that HFW "
benefits from being a relaxed environment in which to work
", and that it has "
a non-hierarchical vibe
Others report that it is "
" and "
even the big punching partners are happy to give up their time to explain things
", which is very sporting of them. As a shipping specialist, the hours tend to be pretty civilised by City standards. Assistants report that on a day to day basis they are in at 9am and out by around 7pm; even the hardest workers leave by 7:30pm.
It's strong litigation practice (providing 82% of revenue) has helped HFW avoid a battering in the credit crisis. Following an amazing year in 2008/09 when turnover shot up by 27% and partner profits by 26%, the firm grew by 1% in 2009/10 to £99.6m. Pretty small growth, but impressive at a time when most firms saw a fall in turnover. Growth seems to be back on track now, and in 2010/11 HFW posted an impressive 13% hike in revenue to £112.6m.
HFW has been expanding its international footprint too, with 11 global offices including three in Australia, plus associations in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. All of which means "
good opportunities for working abroad/secondments
But, no surprise here, the money is not in the top tier (or as one lawyer says succinctly "
salaries are lame
"). But it's not bad; many assistants at larger City factories told us that they would happily sacrifice their recent salary increases for better hours, so HFW seems to be getting it right.
A few moans persist about IT support, which is "
good when it happens, but takes a long time to get there
". And there are complaints about the "
lack of 24 hour secretarial support
", but that's the rub when you work for a smaller firm.
Overall, the work is interesting, the hours are good and the assistants seem pretty chuffed with their deal.
Salary (1st seat trainee):
Salary (Salaried partner):
Typical bonus as % of salary
Grant for GDL:
Grant for LPC:
Training places per year:
% of trainees retained:
RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores
Firm of the year overall score:
25 - 27
Employee contributes 5%, firm contributes 10%
Statutory plus discretionary
24 hour photocopying support:
24 hour secretarial support:
Night secretarial support only if requested.
Explanation and source of figures
Latest partner promotions show women still under-represented in the UK
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The target hours are actually 1600.