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21 November 2018 | Comment | Article by Diane Brooks

Trainee life at Hugh James


We offer a full career path for motivated individuals, meaning students have the opportunity to progress through their career and continue to do so as they gain more experience with us.

There are many questions we are regularly asked about our graduate options but we think it’s best coming from the people who have experienced it first hand.

We catch up with Anna McCarthy, a 2017 trainee, to answer some common FAQs.

Why should I choose Hugh James?

Hugh James has a reputation as one of the leading law firms in the UK. I applied to be a trainee here as I wanted the opportunity to learn from the very best lawyers who are highly regarded within their specialist sectors and to develop the skills needed to follow in their footsteps. I knew that I would have the opportunity to gain experience within different departments and work with a range of clients.

My expectations of the firm have been met and more. In my first year as a trainee, I have completed seats in the Commercial Property and Neurolaw departments. I have worked with clients ranging from large corporate bodies to individuals who have experienced life changing injuries. I have worked with and learnt from lawyers who are recognised as experts in their field and I have developed both personally and professionally as a result.

How will the training contract be structured?

The training contract consists of six month seats in four different departments. One of the big advantages of training with Hugh James is due to its full service offering. There is a wide range of departments which offer seats.

As a first and second year trainee, you will be asked your preferences for where you would like to have your seats. The HR team will take account of these preferences as much as possible, particularly during the second year of your training contract as this is the time that you will be considering the department you’ll qualify in to. Hugh James offers a lot of support during your training contract. During every seat, you will be allocated a supervisor who will oversee your work and be on hand for any queries. In addition, it operates a buddy system whereby a second year trainee is allocated to a first year to answer more general queries about life as a trainee.

Your training contract will contain a number of external courses (Professional Skills Courses) as required by the SRA. There are a number of compulsory modules, but you will also have the opportunity to choose two elective courses based on your interests.

What is the working environment like?

As a trainee, you will move to a different department every six months so it was important to me that the working environment is friendly and welcoming. The environment at Hugh James is both! In my experience, every lawyer from paralegal to partner is very welcoming and are more than happy to assist and answer any queries you may have. The firm has an open door policy emphasised by the open plan office layout and everyone is very approachable.

One very important point about the working environment at Hugh James is its staff facilities. On every floor, there are tea and coffee stations and also a staff café which provides a great opportunity to have a catch up with colleagues.

What is the social life like?

Your social life will be busy! On the first day of your training contract, you are taken out for lunch by the second year trainees and have drinks in the evening with the partners. From then on, there are regular opportunities to socialise.

The average yearly intake is around 10 trainees which provides a great social side to the training contract. With so many trainees, there is guaranteed to be an occasion such as a birthday which needs celebrating or a general drink and catch up in one of the many bars in Cardiff. This is a great opportunity to socialise with other members of your department and get to know people on a personal level.

If you like how that sounds, you may want to explore a little more into life at Hugh James. Why not register for our Open Day, Monday 26 November, to gain an insight in working at the Top 100 UK law firm. Give us a call on 029 2267 5260 or email [email protected]

Author bio

In her role as HR Director, Diane is responsible for the smooth operation of the firm's HR department. This includes implementing HR strategies including talent acquisition, staffing, employee benefits, health and wellbeing, learning and development, succession planning, employee relations and retention.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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