"The firm's entrepreneurial ethos means no-one takes a back seat."
Faiza: I think it’s really nice to be part of a small team and it was one of the reasons why I applied to Stephenson Harwood because I knew that their intakes are much smaller.
Andreas: You know you get a lot of access to a wide range of people in the department, you’ve always got the option of going to the partners but then again if you want you can go to some of the more junior associates and everyone’s really happy to offer you their time and advice, I don’t imagine you would get that at a larger firm.
Alex: To be part of a small intake rather than an intake of 50 or a 100 where you are feel anonymous and where you’re a tiny cog in an enormous wheel, here it’s totally different.
Sarah : There’s something that really stands out about the firm, it’s something that a lot of lateral hires comment on when they join the firm. When you get to partner level people get to know your name which as a trainee is quite nice, they tend to acknowledge you in the corridor as well, so they are very approachable.
Jennifer : In my current department I get basically one to one tuition with a partner so if I’m working on anything I can get immediate feedback and discussion, which is brilliant.
Faiza: I’ve been quite fortunate in all my seats so far I’ve had a partner as my supervisor, so I have had that interaction from day one.
Lucy: I have genuinely found I know this might sound a little clichéd but there genuinely is an open door policy. In the department I am in at the moment, real estate the doors are genuinely always open.
Jide: Being able to know everyone that is within your intake, everyone that you work with within a certain department. Is always helpful because you’re really part of one team.
Andreas: You get to know everyone that your working with a lot better than I imagine you would in a larger firm.
Faiza: You do feel like a small family, they’re your friends that you have known from day one and you’re with them throughout your training contract.
Alex: I’ve got friends who are at other firms; something they have told me that stands out is that they don’t have the same sort of support or day to day contact. Where that’s certainly not the case at Stephenson Harwood.
Faiza: I’ve been really involved, actually surprisingly more so than I thought when I first joined the firm. I’ve managed my own transactions where they have been smaller cases, I’ve been the main point of contact for clients. I usually get a background for what that transaction is about and then I’m involved from that point forward. I think they allow you to have as much responsibility as you can take on.
Jennifer: When you are involved on a project you are a key player of the actual project so you’ll get real responsibility, you’ll be assigned specific tasks to do and that’s what you’ll be doing, and that is a key part of a large project. So any contribution you make is very important and it’s valued.
Jide: You don’t get tasks that are necessarily trainee roles; you get the exposure that other more senior people might get for instance.
Andreas: More often than not, I’ve been involved in quite tight groups that have afforded me quite a lot of responsibility, you’d have maybe one partner, a couple of associates and yourself acting as trainee, you get quite a lot of autonomy and are trusted to go ahead and deal with things on your own but you always have the safety net of an associate or a partner to go to if you’ve got any problems.
Jennifer: For my third seat I went on a client secondment and I went to Christies, So I was physically in their office for 6 months and literally getting to know the ins and outs of the business and the industry. Which you don’t get that experience in a private practice.
Alex: The fact that the firm offers various secondments to clients and to the overseas offices enables you to gain a broader experience, understand what the firm’s like in London, and what it’s like in the various satellite offices whether it’s Singapore or Hong Kong and you get to know the people that work in those offices. it’s not something that finishes as soon as you come back to London it’s ongoing and it’s a relationship you are encouraged to maintain.
Jide: I think what’s always surprising is moving from dealing with scenarios to actually dealing with real people and real issues. On a ship finance transaction for instance, it was quite a surprise (well not a surprise per se) but it was interesting to know that you were dealing with a real vessel that was about to be delivered in another part of the world and not just a scenario that had been set by your lecturer at university.
Sarah: What’s different about Stephenson and Harwood compared to other firms is that a lot of the senior management here, trained at the firm, they were trainees, they remember it. So there is a real feeling of home growth within the firm and that’s something different to other firms, you get a lot of lateral hires.
Jennifer: If you comfortable taking on more responsibility then Stephenson and Harwood does allow you to do that because partners and associates understand that you want to develop and learn. So if you’re willing to take that step further then they will allow you too.
Andreas: When you are part of a small intake there are fewer trainees to share the workload around. So when it comes to working on deals and transactions the amount of work and quality of work that comes your way is a lot higher. So you get so many chances to showcase you skills. I personally have had chances to meet with clients on a one-on-one basis with no supervisors involved. I’ve had them fire legal points at me, client care questions and you’re trusted and given the skills to be able to deal with that on your own.
Lucy: There are plenty of partners here that I’ve spoken to, that have actually trained here and gone all the way through, senior associates as well. Which shows that there’s the development in place within the firm to make people’s careers progress all the way through from trainee up to partner level.
Faiza: I think it’s really nice to feel like I am part of a firm that is growing. It has a lot of ambition and there is a lot of talented lawyers to fulfil that ambition and hopefully I can remain at the firm and be part of that talent and be a part of that growth and help the firm to grow in the future.
Our current graduates
"The firm offers secondments to clients and to the overseas offices enabling you to gain a broader experience."
"After I qualify I hope to benefit from the various professional and business development efforts which the firm provides."
"A number of our partners started out as trainees. It's always reassuring to have such a direct model of career progression in front of you."
"You really are given as much responsibility as you can handle. You get to be pro-active, use your own initiative, but are never left feeling as if you are on your own."
"Partners are extremely helpful when you have a tricky point which needs explaining. Associates make a real effort to talk you through their instructions and check over your work. And the other trainees are a great sounding board."
"I get to be involved with high quality work and top-level clients without having to compromise a good work/life balance."
"The more I've shown myself willing and capable, the more responsibility I've been given."