Every year in September our new intake of bright-eyed trainee attorneys join us and start on their journey through to qualification and beyond. We do throw them in at the deep end somewhat – they start the HLK Academy during their first week with us. Our trainees come from all our offices across various teams and disciplines, and the Academy is a great way for them to get to know and collaborate with their cohorts who they will be starting their HLK journey alongside.
As with many things, the pandemic has changed things slightly. Pre-pandemic we held the bulk of our Academy sessions in-person in our biggest office space in Bristol, rotating to some of our other offices to the vary the experience and allow our trainees to network with colleagues they might not often see in person. We held a big ‘welcome’ lunch onsite on the first day of the Academy, inviting our tutors involved in the training sessions, the trainees’ training principals, and other attorneys, trainees, or anyone who wanted to pop along and say hello to the new faces! This was scaled back last year, but for our 2022 intake this September our big welcome will be back. We will also be bringing back our Academy Festive lunch and our ‘graduation’ drinks, a celebration for our trainees after the 10-month Academy run comes to a close. And of course, our trainees who missed out due to the restrictions of the past couple of years will be invited along too!
During the pandemic, we held some of the training sessions in-person and some over Microsoft Teams, depending on what was workable at the time. We still believe that nothing can beat in-person training, and we are working back towards holding as many sessions in-person as possible – but we recognise that flexibility is important too, especially in the new age of hybrid working. So, despite the pandemic shaking things up, let’s remember that a shake-up is not always a bad thing.
In terms of content, the modules covered in the Academy vary a lot. As well as covering all the subjects needed for the examinations, there is an IT ‘tips & tricks’ session, and a session lead by our Formalities and Support colleagues, which gives the trainees a chance to ask all their burning questions about the inner workings of HLK and what makes us collaborate so well together as colleagues – a key component of our success! There are also practical sessions and mock-client meetings, as well as our much-loved Festive quiz at the close of the first ‘semester’ in December. There are plenty well-deserved study and learning consolidation breaks too.
The HLK Academy remains a selling point of HLK that we are incredibly proud of since we launched it in 2013 (almost a decade old – celebrations will be in order next year!), it is one of the things that gives us a competitive edge against other firms in the industry when we are recruiting our next intake of talent. The Academy has evolved and changed a lot during this time. In 2018 we introduced additional training for our Trade Mark trainees, and we are looking to creating a dedicated Trade Mark training programme. As HLK continues to grow the Academy will evolve with it, and there are already exciting plans in the pipeline to expand to include post qualification training which we will be able to share with you soon!