Meet HCR Hewitsons at the Legal Cheek UK Virtual Law Fair on 5 October 2021
If you want to be a lawyer but long for a proper work/life balance, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that seems like a far-away dream. But there are training options outside the magic circle and US firms that allow this – albeit with considerably lower pay. HCR Hewitsons is a good example of such a firm. Figures from past Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Surveys show the average leave the office time for HCR Hewitsons rookies to be before 6pm. The flipside to this is that trainees earn a comparatively small £24,000, increasing to £40,500 when they qualify.
HCR Hewitsons is the culmination of a long history of mergers with the first dating back to 1933 and the recent taking place in May 2021. In fact, the name ‘Hewitsons’ only emerged officially in 2018, referring to Roy Barker Hewitson who, after distinguished war service, became a prominent partner at one of the firm’s many forefather’s A H Wild in 1946.
In recent times, the firm has undergone a £16 million merger with London-based Moorhead James in 2015, while the 2021 merger with the Cambridge-headquartered Harrison Clark Rickerbys (HCR) has seen the firm recently become ‘HCR Hewitsons’. The tie-up created a new outfit of around 780 staff with a combined turnover of £65 million, and added Northampton and Milton Keynes to the nine offices operated by HCR. The firm usually offers 12 training contracts per year between its Cambridge and Northampton offices with a potential seat placement in the firm’s Milton Keynes or London office.
The firm’s main office is in picturesque Cambridge. Working in this famed academic city is clearly a very different experience to life in London, with one insider pointing out “everyone knows each other in Cambridge, it’s all very chill.” Another adds: “Being in central Cambridge is the best perk” – a tribute to the city’s beautiful scenery and relaxed-lifestyle. The firm has cultivated a client base that is a mix of medium-sized and larger companies. In the former category are businesses which mainly produce work in the agriculture, private wealth and employment sectors. In the latter there are multi-million pound acquisitions and large fund raisings. Gambling.com Group, Nuformix, a pharmaceutical company, and Amino Technologies, an interactive entertainment provider, are all clients.
Trainees at HCR Hewitsons have a chance to really sink their teeth into the work, an opportunity that is not always the case at larger firms. As one rookie explained: “I deal with the same breadth and complexity of work as my supervising partner, which is very challenging but also very interesting.” The training at the firm is also commended, with trainees particularly appreciative of the direct partner supervision. “The partners I was supervised by were top notch across the board and included some inspirational female role models,” one insider explains. Trainees have a decent amount of contact time with partners and are encouraged to ask questions “so that we neither waste time nor cock up” – which makes sense considering the level of responsibility these rookies have.
Helped by its comparably small size, there is a collegiate atmosphere where trainees support one another. “If being supportive means going to the pub together a lot then we are all very supportive,” one quips. Being outside London makes this easier as one interviewee explains: “Can work late when there is a deal on, but in Cambridge everyone lives a short cycle ride from work (and the pub).” As well as being close to the pub, HCR Hewitsons’ Cambridge location has been described as “ideal”, situated at an “equal distance from the river Cam and from H&M” – perfect for scenic lunches or a quick shopping spree. Hewitsons doesn’t have a canteen, leaving trainees to source their own grub. One trainee notes that they’ve been “racking up the advantage card points from all the Boots meal deals”.
What you won’t get at HRC Hewitsons is much in the way of secondments – Legal Cheek understands that client secondments are rare and the firm’s absence of international offices means there are no placements abroad. However, the firm extends its international capabilities as a member of LawExchange, an independent network of law practices in countries across the globe. In addition to being a resource for legal advice across jurisdictions, LawExchange encourages a programme of exchanges between member firms.