HFW Training Contract and Vacation Scheme Application Answers
-Please provide details of your main extracurricular interests and achievements. How have these interests and achievements helped you to develop the skills required by a commercial solicitor? Word count (max. 350 words):
A key personal achievement in my life is helping the homeless through volunteer work for the housing charity Shelter in Cambridge. For one local day centre we brought together builders and developers (providing their services on a volunteer basis) to upgrade existing facilities, some of which were quite dilapidated. I helped by calculating the costs of the project and then assisting the general contractor in subcontracting the work cost-effectively. I also supervised the council planning permission process, which was quite unusual due to the fact that ours was a building for the homeless and those in need. This is one of my greatest achievements because this was the first time I was able to successfully apply my legal knowledge to a complex, real-life issue. My work also improved the social infrastructure and helped the local community.
Outside of work, I greatly enjoy playing squash and rowing. I was chosen to join the university’s squash team during my last year in Cambridge, which I feel is an important achievement given that I only started to play squash in the second year of my degree. My commitment to squash demonstrates my determination to succeed, especially when given new tasks. I also row competitively, and have rowed in the UK, Cyprus and Latvia at both club and national level. Rowing taught me the importance of persistence, discipline and tolerance. Having done rowing for twelve years, I enjoy training people and sharing my knowledge, skills and techniques.
During my studies, I also founded the ‘French Language Society’ at Cambridge University, promoting French language and culture amongst students. Moreover, I very much enjoy travelling and exploring new places. Being a sociable person, I particularly enjoy interacting with people from different cultures and places as I believe that it helps my character development.
-Please list any other qualifications/ skills/ academic distinctions or prizes. (200 words)
I was awarded the ‘Karalius Gytis Scholarship’ for Academic Excellence in 2011 and 2012. For the periods 2009 to 2012, I was awarded with Academic High Honours by the French Ministry of Education. In April 2015, I was the quarter-finalist of the ‘Cambridge University Inns of Court Internal Mooting Competition’. In December 2012, I was the semi-finalist of the ‘Negotiation Competition, University of Cambridge’, sponsored by Baker & McKenzie and Kaplan Law School. In July 2012, I was presented with ‘Excellence in Social Sciences Award’ by the Karalius Gytis High School Social Sciences Department.
I speak three languages: French, English and German.
I am technology savvy and covet a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), LexisNexis and Westlaw. I have exceptionally good legal research skills, both online and offline.
-What specifically appeals to you about working as a solicitor at an international firm and what factors have informed your career choice? Word count (max. 250 words)
I aspire to be a solicitor at an international law firm because I believe every single day will be different and challenging yet appealing. I would like to work at an international law firm such as Holman Fenwick Willan because I am attracted to its global presence. Working for one of these firms will allow me to get involved in cross-border transactions that will leverage my international experience and challenge me to understand the legal and commercial requirements of different jurisdictions. This will help me to build relationships and forge contacts with people all over the world. As emerging markets such as Latvia present new business opportunities, I hope to apply my language skills and cultural empathy to deliver a specialised client service and add value to my work. This will make my work experience unique and appealing.
Another reason that attracts me to a career as a solicitor at an international law firm is the opportunity to work with many types of businesses from different sectors. On a daily basis, I will be required to keep abreast with the latest developments and challenges facing these clients and develop innovative solutions in order to address unique and unprecedented legal and commercial challenges. This will give me the chance to work in integrated and diverse teams with a commercial focus on the problem – an aspect of legal work which I felt was absent from a career at the Bar.
-Why have you chosen to apply to HFW specifically? (250 words)
I have chosen to apply to HFW because I am attracted by the firm’s rich international experience and market-leading reputation for advising businesses operating across a diverse number of industry sectors. I feel that these factors will present me with complex, international and high-value cases that will make my vacation scheme and training contract personally and professionally rewarding and allow me to put my skill set to full use. Whilst operating in a global environment, I will be able to add value to my work through my cultural empathy and innovative thinking.
I find HFW’s relatively small trainee intake to be appealing and refreshing because this will present me with an ability to work closely with market leading lawyers and allow me to make a greater contribution to the matters I work on. I feel that this intimate and closely knit environment as well as the HFW’s friendly culture will present me not only with an excellent exposure to legal cases and give me a platform to learn directly from leading solicitors, but will also make my work environment pleasant and allow me to forge close professional relationships with my colleagues.
Another aspect that appeals to me is HFW’s overseas secondment programme, which allows trainees to gain first-hand experience in understanding legal issues across multiple jurisdictions. I hope to gain a good grounding in different approaches to solving legal problems, which in turn will strengthen my abilities to solve clients’ problems, however challenging they may be.
-Please identify an issue currently in the mainstream media and explain how this is likely to impact the clients that HFW represents and the type of work that the firm undertakes. (300 words)
I found it interesting that, along with other banks, the Russian state-controlled VTB bank is planning to move out from London. VTB bank is considering alternative locations for its European hub including Frankfurt, Paris or Vienna. I have identified this issue because I feel that it highlights the potential consequences on the banking sector of Britain’s exit from the EU. I feel that this issue is of particular significance because the banking (and service) sector is the lifeblood of Britain’s economy. If more banks begin to follow suit and relocate their headquarters away from London, this could see a decline in Britain’s economy and diminish its status as the banking capital of Europe. As many as 70,000 jobs and about £10 billion in tax revenues could be lost from the UK’s financial services sector and its wider support services if severe restrictions are imposed on the UK’s ability to trade with the rest of the EU. Should Britain exit the EU, it should consider ways of retaining banks and financial institutions in London, which I think will be one of the biggest challenges in the forthcoming future. Most banking executives have stressed the need for Britain to maintain access to EU’s single market for financial services. Britain’s exit from the EU will affect HFW’s clients such as banks and financial institutions in the sense that these organisations will have to adapt their activity to a new and uncertain regulatory regime. HFW’s legal team will be required to proactively respond to the latest legal developments as a result of Britain’s exit from the EU and help their clients to adhere to new regulatory regimes, re-structure their operations, tax planning and investment strategies to achieve competitiveness.