Hill Dickinson

The Legal Cheek View

Liverpool’s global law firm has shifted away from insurance work in recent years, developing stronger footholds in areas including healthcare, real estate and banking, as well as continuing to grow its highly rated shipping practice.

A key milestone on this journey was Hill Dickinson’s sale of its non-marine insurance business to Keogh’s in 2018, which saw 17 partners leave the firm. Another encouraging sign is Hill Dickinson’s expanding Leeds office, which launched in autumn 2017 following the hire of a team of specialist healthcare lawyers from Capsticks — a signal of the new direction that it is heading in. 

Most recently, in the summer of 2022, the firm set up its sixth UK office in Newcastle marking its entrance into the Toon alongside the likes of Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright. Notably, however, this is not just a legal outsourcing centre like many City firms’ Newcastle outposts but, headed up by former DAC Beachcroft legal director Andrea Proudlock, will offer legal services like all its other UK offices and will take on trainees too.

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Hill Dickinson’s revenue sits around the £100 million mark, according to the most recent set of financial results available, while profit per equity partner (PEP) comes in at around £370,000.

The mood within Hill Dickinson is pretty good, with the firm again scoring well in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022-23. Expect to be working with “some of the most down-to-earth, approachable, friendly and outgoing peers” and partners who are “very willing to offer insight into the work they do and eager to get you involved.” 

“A great group of peers who are friends too”, one trainee gushes, “everyone just gets on well”. Another, echoing this view, explains how rookies “will frequently turn to each other for help and support”. The solid support continues up the ranks. “Partners are extremely approachable” and adhere to the firm’s open-door policy “at all times”, our sources tell us. “No hierarchy here”, another proclaims, adding: “I never feel like I can’t ask a question which is a necessity when training.” 

This culture is especially impressive given the fact that rookies need only go into the office twice a week. The firm, which houses trainees across Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London, offers “a lot of flexibility” as well as £200 to spend on office equipment. However, the legal tech “could do with some work”. “Remote working is set up well and has been for some time, but time recording systems and other software is clunky and overall there is a need to modernise. Work phones spring to mind, where most firms provide as standard the ‘bring your own device’ policy seems an awkward way to save money,” explains one insider.

This flexibility and supportive culture make Hill Dickinson’s work/life balance “perfect”. One spy explains: “Hill Dickinson really supports flexible working hours, for example, I am allowed to leave to get a more off-peak train and am entrusted to fit my work in around this which I really appreciate.” Another provides this overview: “Some teams work very long hours in the firm, but on the whole there is a very good approach to logging off if you do not have work that needs to be done, and allowing all staff to work where and how suits them and their team.”

Plus when you are undergoing a more intense period of work, it’s normally pretty interesting stuff. “Individual teams and supervisors are excellent at involving trainees in high quality work, a feature that is consistent across all the teams I have worked in,” says one spy. Another reports: “ I have my own caseload and also assist my team. This means I have a varied workload and am constantly learning how to complete different tasks.”

The trade-off is regional salaries that are some way off City of London levels with trainees starting on £28,000 in northern offices and £39,000 in London. The same is also true of Hill Dickinson’s regional newly qualified solicitor rate which has fallen behind comparable firms in light of recent pay rises in the City and the regions.

Perks are another relative weak point. There is no canteen in most offices and, although there are biscuits in the office, the “coffee game needs work” (though lawyers are known for being a pickier bunch when it comes to coffee!). Not that everyone is that bothered: “Would rather have work/life balance than perks!” comments one. You do, however, get an extra day off on your birthday which is widely appreciated.

There is a high degree of variation between office buildings, with Liverpool deemed “great”, London “swanky”, Leeds “good”, whilst the Manchester office feels “like working in a 70s police station”. Some renovation works to the Manchester office have been appreciated, amid rumours that a move to fancier premises in the city could be on the cards, but as of yet nothing has materialised.

On the upside, there are some decent international secondments up for grabs. Destinations include Singapore, Hong Kong, Greece and Monaco, though they are relatively rare with one hopeful jet-setter saying “it would be good if Hill Dickinson did have more international secondment opportunities.” There are also some good client secondments too — to the NHS and easyJet, among others — with almost a third of trainees having done one.

Deadlines

Training Contract

To commence January 2026
Applications open 01/11/2022
Applications close 31/01/2023

Insight Scheme 2023

Summer 2023
Applications open 01/11/2022
Applications close 31/01/2023

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
A
Quality of work
A*
Peer support
A*
Partner approach-ability
A*
Work/life balance
B
Legal tech
B
Perks
C
Office
A*
WFH
B
Eco-friendliness

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022–23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Money

First year trainee salary £39,000
Second year trainee salary £41,000
Newly qualified salary Undisclosed
Profit per equity partner £370,000
GDL grant N/A
LPC grant N/A

The above figures are for London. First year trainees in the regions earn £28,000, and second years £30,000. From 2022, Hill Dickinson will be adopting the SQE route via graduate apprenticeship, meaning that it will cover the cost of fees and will be offering trainees an apprentice salary during their studies.

Hours

Average start work time 08:45
Average finish time 18:15
Annual target hours Undisclosed
Annual leave 25 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022–23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK. There are also 2 corporate responsibility days, and employees can take their birthday off work, in addition to the 25 days of annual leave. Although Hill Dickinson does have annual target hours for trainees, the focus is more geared towards their learning and development.

Secondments

Chances of secondment abroad 0%
Chances of client secondment 30%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2022–23 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK. Please note that due to COVID-19 secondment probabilities are lower than in usual years.

General Info

Training contracts 25
Latest trainee retention rate 100%
Offices 10
Countries 5
Minimum A-level requirement ABB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

UK female associates 70%
UK female partners 26%
UK BME associates 9%
UK BME partners 3%

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words