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.
Hill Dickinson’s revenue sits at roughly £96 million, 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. “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. “Every member of staff is as approachable as the other — a real down to earth and collaborative culture.”
The firm’s transition to home-working also gets a thumbs up. “No issues at all and we have really been able to adapt to it,” an insider explains, “so much so that a lot of people are enjoying it and want it to continue.”
Alongside its support for juniors, Hill Dickinson’s other strong points are quality of work and work/life balance. On the former, one spy tells us this: “The firm works for a huge variety of clients across a number of sectors and so we get exposure to everything from small matters for local businesses to huge matters for listed companies who are household names.” On the latter, a rookie sums it up like this: “Really good work/life balance. No need to stay in the office ‘to be seen’. It’s a case of get your work done and enjoy your life too.” Even at busy times late nights in the office are rare. “Nearly two years in and have never stayed past 9pm!” one insider tells us.
The trade-off is regional salaries that are some way off City of London levels. Having said that, Hill Dickinson’s regional newly qualified solicitor rate is competitive relative to other comparable firms and probably affords a better standard of living in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds than many firms’ remuneration does in London.
Perks are another relative weak point. There is no canteen in most offices and the coffee is described as “awful”. Not that everyone is that bothered: “Would rather have work/life balance than perks!” comments one anonymous trainee. You do, however, get an extra day off on your birthday.
There is a high degree of variation between office buildings, with Liverpool deemed “great”, London “swanky”, Leeds “good” and Manchester “like it hasn’t been touched since the 1960s”. 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.
On the upside, there are some decent international secondments up for grabs — pandemic permitting. Destinations include Singapore, Hong Kong, Greece and Monaco. There are some good client secondments too — to the NHS and easyJet, among others — with over a third of trainees having done one. The firm’s tech, meanwhile, is said to be “getting better” thanks in part to some efficiency boosting IT upgrades.