The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Name: Matthew Wilmshurst Firm: HFW Location: London University: De Montfort University Undergraduate degree: Law

container lines was crippled by a cyberattack, so it’s very real. Companies are looking at their crisis management plans, whether they have the correct insurance in place, and changing their contracts to cater for these events so as to avoid or minimise liability.” Technology also has the ability to enhance – and disrupt – daily lawyering: “In terms of how we practise, tech is creeping in, with many more firms using automatic contract review programmes and so on. I’m slightly sceptical, as a lot of what we bring to the table is strategy and not pure law, but the tech certainly has the potential to make our lives easier on some fronts. For example, the client that dumps eight folders of documents on us: tech can sort that out more efficiently than we can!” There is also a trend among shipping lawyers for many to have had a career in another, related industry: “We’re seeing more people come to us who have had a previous career, often in insurance, or with a shipowner or operator, and as a result they understand the work that we do and what clients need. It’s taken as given that everyone is good at law – that’s a small part of what we do really – but it’s all about how we can help clients.” Matt offers a few tips on how to stand out from among the hordes of others seeking training contracts: “Everyone has straight As and has done their volunteering, so when it comes to standing out on paper, I’m impressed by the slightly off-the-wall answers to the questions about what the future might hold for the profession or the firm. It’s preferable to reading the same thing over and over again, often simply regurgitating what is on our website. Then, once you’re at the assessment centre, it’s always a good start if someone comes in smiling and is personable. You also then need to be able to do well in the exercises, follow instructions and try not to show off!”

sharing the cost involved with getting goods to their destination. I’m also involved in a claim that centres on damage to parts of large oil pipes that occurred in transit, and a series of cases relating to high-value designer clothing, which was being transported by road, where interesting arguments are being raised including whether some of the drivers were gassed while sleeping and whether others may have been involved in the theft.” Matt also sees some collision work, much of which involves intense crisis management: “We’ve had situations where a big vessel comes into a container terminal and fails to stop, knocking down cranes and worse! I have been involved in cases where vessels collide and sink, where they ground themselves on an island or a beach and where they have suffered an explosion. These types of case require working non-stop for a few weeks, dealing with the fallout.” As you’d expect, it is very international work: “The main region I deal with is the far east, which has a lot of container lines and is where most of the goods we consume here in the UK come from, but other colleagues focus on different geographies.” Matt notes that one of the best parts of the job is the excellent people he works with: “Generally speaking, lawyers who work in shipping are passionate about it – I’d even say borderline nerdy; I know a lot of people with Lego ships! So we all enjoy what we do, which creates a great atmosphere in the team.” Riding the tech wave In terms of how shipping law and its practice might change, Matt cites Blockchain and technology generally as the developments that are likely to have the greatest impact. He says: “Every week there’s a seminar on Blockchain and tech, including autonomous vehicles or going paperless. It has the potential to change everything. Cyber issues are also becoming more and more common. Last summer one of the world’s biggest


Sign up to


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online