Published on December 8, 2020 by Content admin

As a trainee at Stephenson Harwood, you will be exposed to top quality international work across a range of sectors. You could find yourself working on anything from a high-profile, multi-million pound financial litigation case, to a ground-breaking M&A deal.  Alongside the client work, the firm encourages all of its trainees to get involved in events and activities outside of their typical day-to-day work. Whether volunteering for our charity of the year, buddying a student on our placement scheme, or joining the tag rugby team, the firm hopes that all of our trainees take advantage of the opportunities to do something different, meet new people across the firm and make their training contract their own.

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Stephenson Harwood is particularly proud of our diversity networks and, alongside senior members of staff, some of its trainees have recently taken on a co-chair role, working with the partner sponsor of those networks. We asked River Clarke, Isaac Daughtrey and Francesca Cadoux-Hudson about their experiences as trainees, and their role in our diversity networks:

Stephenson Harwood Trainees

River ClarkeIsaac DaughtreyFrancesca Cadoux-Hudson
Second seat trainee, employment pensions and private wealthThird seat trainee, marine and international tradeThird seat trainee, real estate and projects
Co-chair of the SHARED network
(Stephenson Harwood advancing racial and ethnic diversity network)
Co-chair of the SHout network (LGBT+ network)Co-chair of Enable (disability and neurodiversity network)

What is the best thing about your training contract at Stephenson Harwood?

Isaac: “For me, the most exciting thing about my training contract is the variety and exposure I receive as a trainee on a daily basis. I am fully involved in all aspects of being at the firm, from drafting agreements or correspondence, to organising and chairing a pride week quiz across our international offices! My days are always different and I look forward to seeing what I can get immersed into.

Francesca: “The thing I have enjoyed the most is the high calibre work. Across my seats, I have been given a lot of responsibility, support and quality training. I am currently sitting in the projects team, where the matters are both diverse and really interesting. For example, I am assisting on a project to make energy from waste, as well as the refinancing of a hospital. This variety means that I get to be involved in different types of work; I can build an understanding of different sectors and clients, and what their commercial needs are.”

River: “The small trainee intake means that you get real responsibility very early on. We work in small teams and I am usually the only trainee assigned to a matter, which means there is no getting lost in the crowd. I have even had the opportunity to work on cases with just me and a partner; it is a great feeling knowing that you have been trusted to take on complex work.”

What is the firm’s culture like?

River: “Everyone I have worked with has been really approachable and willing to help out if you have a question. We have a culture where people say ‘thank you’, and I really appreciate that. The partners recognise your efforts and supervisors will let you know when you have done a good job – positive feedback is always really motivating and makes the hard work worthwhile.”

Isaac: “Stephenson Harwood makes a conscious effort to ensure the culture reflects the dynamic, talented and supportive people at the firm. Everyone is engaged and pulls together when required – it is an environment that challenges everyone to perform at their best – but we have fun along the way!”

Francesca: “I really appreciate the emphasis the firm places on creating an inclusive and diverse culture. You can see this not only from the number of diversity networks which exist, but also by their status at the firm. There are regular events run by these networks, for example talks by relevant authors, panels of employees discussing their experiences, and sessions with inspirational people in their field. The prevalence of these events, and the fact that the firm gives a voice to lots of different people, helps to create an inclusive culture.”

What is your role as a diversity network co-chair?

Francesca: “As the co-chair of Enable, the disability and neurodiversity network, my role (and the role of the others in the network) is to give a voice to people with disabilities, or who are neurodiverse, to raise awareness and understanding within the firm, and ultimately to help the firm reach out to talent with disabilities / neurodiversity. We recently hosted an event – in partnership with our LGBT+ network – where Clare Harvey, a Paralympian and inclusion expert, shared her inspiring story and how this translates to the workplace. On a very practical level, we have looked at improvements which can be made to the building in order to ensure it is accessible to everyone. For example, ensuring that the lifts audibly announce the floor that you are on, and that flexible working can be done in an inclusive way.”

Isaac: “As co-chair of Stephenson Harwood’s LGBT+ network, aptly named SHout, I work alongside others to drive forward initiatives to make our firm inclusive. I liaise directly with our diversity and inclusion manager, and we work together on projects where we can increase the understanding of LGBT+ issues, celebrate LGBT+ colleagues and support LGBT+ inclusion in the community. Recently, we have launched a new transitioning at work policy, which has been approved by Stonewall, a leading LGBT rights charity.”

River: “One of my first aims as chair of the SHARED network was to expand the membership. Working with the other co-chair, we contacted people who we thought might be interested in joining, and published posts on our firm’s intranet to spread the word. Since I took on the position, the membership of the group has more than doubled, which is very encouraging, as one of the network’s aims is to create a supportive space in which colleagues can connect, and that is what we have been able to do. Recently, the SHARED network has hosted some really insightful events. One of the highlights was a panel with members of the network, who spoke about their experiences and the impact of micro behaviours both within, and outside of, the workplace. This was attended by more than 250 people across our global offices, and it was a great way to discuss experiences and challenges in a safe and supportive environment.”

How has this role added to your training contract experience?

Isaac: “This role has allowed me to meet people outside my current practice area, and get involved in making a real change to the environment in which I work. I have become well-known in the firm, which will stand me in good stead for developing my career, both in London and our global offices.

River: “Being part of our SHARED network has been one of my favourite things about my training contract so far, and chairing the meetings has helped me build my confidence.

In my current seat, I’m using my involvement and expertise from the network when it comes to my day-to-day tasks – the team really appreciates my input and perspective on this area of law. I’ve helped prepare a presentation on race harassment in the workplace, and I am currently assisting with an employment podcast on the intersection between Black Lives Matter and employment law.”

Francesca: “The role has made me feel like I am having a positive impact on the firm, its direction, and the way in which it is growing. It’s also been a valuable opportunity to get to know people across the firm who have different experiences. The open nature of our meetings has meant that I have been able to get to know my colleagues in a very different way than I would have in any other setting.”


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