The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Berwin Leighton Paisner is renowned for its real estate expertise, encompassing commercial property, construction, property litigation and planning work. The firm also offers high-quality commercial and private client services. BLP was nominated for Real Estate Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2017.
The star performers
Commercial contracts; Commercial property; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Employment: employers; Environment; Financial services (contentious); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Gaming and betting; Infrastructure (parliamentary); Licensing; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property finance; Property litigation; Real estate funds; Social housing; VAT and indirect tax.
Advised Aviva Investors on the development constraints (including rights of light issues) surrounding an office space on Fenchurch Street; assisted China Life and Brookfield with the £346m acquisition of the corporate structure owning Aldgate Tower; acted for the second and third claimants in Isaac Moussa Salem & Ors v Faraj Moussa Salem & Ors in a partnership dispute relating to a multi-billion dollar African trading business and a Mayfair property portfolio; assisted on a project jointly directed by the World Bank and the IFC with the creation of a report regarding the privatisation and regulation of the water sector in the Philippines; acted for Secure Income REIT Plc in a secondary placing of ordinary shares.
Canary Wharf; Derwent London; Deutsche Bank; Dowager Duchess of Marlborough; British Property Federation; Qatari Diar; Shore Capital Stockbrokers; Tesco; Thames Water; Westfield Shopping Towns.
'The focus on commercial real estate' was motivation for most current trainees to apply to Berwin Leighton Paisner - the 'the biggest and most respected “built environment” firm in the country'. The 'outstanding' training is 'very hands-on throughout the training contract and at law school' and trainees enjoy 'frequent access to high-quality work', as well as 'earlier exposure to more complex tasks'. One trainee described their experience in the corporate finance department as 'comparable to a seat at any Magic or Silver Circle firm'. Encouragingly, the 'mentoring scheme is very effective' and there is a real 'desire to make sure trainees are doing well'. Departmental training is also 'very good', in particular the 'workgroup training and specialist trainee training' in the tax department. Less favourable feedback included complaints about the 'mixed messages regarding seat choices' and there was visible concern among many trainees about recent 'low retention rates'. On a more positive note, work highlights consisted of 'working on a large-scale acquisition of a real estate asset with a corporate wrapper from start to finish' and 'handling a large client account on my own for a week'. 'Late nights' were a common gripe, although some trainees conceded that because 'everyone is helpful, you don't mind being stuck in the office with them if you have to work late'. Indeed, recruits love the 'collegiate atmosphere' and welcome 'the balance between City prestige/reputation' and the firm's 'decent attitude towards life outside of work'. For a 'Goldilocks firm - not too big and not too small' with a 'strong real estate practice' complemented by the 'friendly attitude of people on all levels', apply to Berwin Leighton Paisner.
A day in the life of...
Adrian Kwok third-seat trainee, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
Departments to date: Structured debt and capital markets; corporate finance and structured debt (Goldman Sachs secondment)
University:King's College London
Degree:Hispanic Studies with English
8.45am: I usually get to the office early to check emails that have come in overnight and review my to-do list. I then head down to Alibi (the firm's canteen) for breakfast with fellow trainees.
9.30am: I receive an email from a partner regarding an issuance of variable funding notes. I have been asked to update the documents list and prepare revised drafts of the transaction documents. I look through the briefing note, which is useful for learning about the transaction structure and what the transaction documents set out to achieve. I then work on the documents for the rest of the morning and sit down with the partner to discuss what I have prepared. This is a great learning experience as I am able to appreciate the subtle nuances of the transaction from her comments on the documents. After revising the drafts, the documents are ready for circulation to the client.
1.00pm: It is a sunny day today so I have made plans with trainees and associates in my department to go to Borough Food Market for lunch and coffee.
2.00pm: We have been instructed by a lender in a real estate financing project. As the project approaches completion, it is my responsibility to update the conditions precedent checklist on a daily basis so all parties are clear about the status of each item on the list. I will now join a partner on a call with the borrower's legal counsel to negotiate provisions of the security documents and discuss outstanding items on the list. Afterwards, I review the notes I took during the call to discuss the next steps with the partner and draft an email to update the client.
4.30pm: I will be assisting a partner and an associate on several ISDA negotiations over the next few weeks, and the partner has arranged for me to take part in a training session. The training introduces the main provisions of the ISDA master agreement and the key negotiation areas when acting for hedge providers and other counterparties. It is great to have the chance to learn about such a technical and intricate area of law, and the training gives me good insight into the secondment opportunities to leading financial institutions that the firm offers to trainees.
6.15pm: After a busy day, I touch base with the associates and partners to update them on my progress and check whether there is anything else I can help with. After ensuring that all work for today has been completed, I return to my desk to quickly look through my emails and make a to-do list for tomorrow.
6.45pm: I send a message to a couple of friends I met on the LPC to see whether they are up for dinner and a few drinks tonight. They oblige and I set off for the Oyster Shed, a riverside bar within five minutes' walk from the office that looks out across the Thames.
About the firm
Address:Adelaide House, London Bridge,, London EC4R 9HA
Telephone: 020 3400 1000
Fax:020 3400 1111
Facebook:Berwin Leighton Paisner Graduates
Managing partner : Lisa Mayhew
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Manchester, Moscow, Paris, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Yangon.
Who we are: We support clients from 14 international offices. Our clients include 50 Global Fortune 500 or FTSE 100 companies.
What we do: We have particular strengths in real estate, corporate, finance and tax, and a strong litigation and dispute resolution capability.
What we are looking for: In addition to talented individuals with brilliant minds and bright attitudes, we are looking for people who can take complex, often pressurised, commercial situations in their stride. The sort of people our clients want on their side and will ask for by name.
What you'll do:When recruiting trainees, our focus is on quality rather than quantity. As a result, our trainees are rewarded with a high degree of responsibility and involvement, underpinned by an exceptional standard of training and support. BLP has always prided itself on providing the right environment for people to grow.
Perks: Generous flexible benefits package, season ticket loan, ride to work scheme.
Sponsorship:CPE/GDL and LLM+ fees paid and £7,200 maintenance per course.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2020: 40
Applications received pa: Approx 2,500
Percentage interviewed: Approx 10%
First year: £40,000
Second year: £45,000
Newly qualified: £70,000
Turnover in 2016/2017: £270m (+7% from 2015/2016)
Total partners: 200
When to Apply:By 31 July 2018 for 2020 training contracts.
Whats involved:Online application; online test; assessment centre; vacation scheme (if applied for); final round interview with two partners.
Summer:June to August (apply by 14 January 2018)
Winter: December (apply by 31 October 2017)