The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Mayfair-based Forsters traces its roots back over 265 years. The firm's principal areas of expertise are in the real estate and private wealth sectors, which are complemented by dispute resolution, corporate and private client work. Forsters advises companies and individuals on their business and personal interests, and has 43 partners and 160 fee earners.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Construction; Court of Protection; Family; M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property finance; Property litigation; Residential property.
Acted for Greybull Capital on its purchase of the Longs Products steel business from Tata Steel UK; assisted The Related Companies with its acquisition of a 50% stake in Pocket Living; assisted HIFML UK Property Fund with the £56m disposal of Gallows Corner Retail Park, Romford; acted for a subsidiary of Bursha Holdings on the sale of the Theatre District in Milton Keynes to Otium Real Estate; acted for Savills IM Prime Residential Fund II in litigation surrounding a major development project in Putney.
Aberdeen Asset Management; Ardstone Capital; Bespoke Hotels; British Airways Pension Trustees; Deutsche Bank; Knight Dragon Investments; LaSalle Investment Management; Phillimore Estate; Soho Estates; The Aitch Group.
Forsters is renowned for its 'very interesting areas of work', in particular its 'strong property practice'. The firm offers trainees a more holistic training experience through a six-seat rotation over two years. Notably, recruits at Forsters are given 'more meaningful work', with best moments including 'running a client meeting successfully on my own' and 'figuring something out that HMRC couldn't' which resulted in 'being thanked by a partner'. There is a 'friendly environment' and recent newcomers enthused about the people, 'who are keen to get the best out of you'. Although the firm is perceived as 'lacking in diversity', work colleagues are 'friendly and relaxed' and 'this is reflected in the overall informal attitude of the firm'. 'Aspects of the training could be improved', according to some respondents, who would appreciate 'more regular meetings with the training principal' to monitor their progress. However, having 'lots of responsibility' and 'client contact' undoubtedly motivates the trainees. An added plus is that recruits work 'shorter hours' and enjoy a 'better work/life balance', earning the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category, as well as for its vacation scheme and social life. It is therefore unsurprising that trainees are 'much happier' than others at some comparable firms. There were some grumbles about the 'lack of international opportunities' and 'not having much choice over seats in the first year'. Unfortunately, 'bundling for four days straight' and 'staying late on occasion' also come with the territory. However, feedback consistently praised the 'great culture' of the firm. If you want to work at a firm with a 'friendly reputation', which offers 'high-quality work', take a closer look at Forsters.
A day in the life of...
Jo Thompson first-year trainee
Departments to date: Commercial real estate, private client and residential property
University:University of York
Degree:English and related literature (1st)
8.30am: I grabbed a coffee in the kitchen with another trainee and caught up with emails.
9.30am: I got taken to a client meeting with an Australian client by one of the partners who specialises in offshore work. The client wanted advice on the most tax-efficient way to structure his purchase of a UK property. I took an attendance note of the meeting.
10.30am: After the meeting, the partner and I discussed what our next steps would be.
11.00am: I typed up the attendance note for the meeting, and started research on a few points that had arisen in the meeting. I sent the partner a memorandum detailing my findings.
1.00pm: I went to Forsters' running club in Green Park.
2.00pm: I had a quick meeting with another partner, who instructed me to draft a will and letter of wishes and outlined the client's various requirements for each.
2.20pm: I drafted the will and letter of wishes, and a covering letter explaining the terms of the will, and sent them to the partner for review.
4.30pm: I had a meeting with an assistant to discuss an American client. The assistant explained the client's background and how Forsters proposed to structure the ownership of his assets and then asked me to draft the necessary documents.
4.50pm: I drafted the various documents, and telephoned the client in order to obtain more details.
6.15pm: Once I had finished the drafts, the assistant went through what I had done and gave me feedback on my work.
6.45pm: I made the required amendments, sent the documents to the client, left the office for the evening and met up with my fellow trainees for a drink at The Coach and Horses.
What is the training like at Forsters? I was surprised by how much responsibility we were given. Although being plunged head first into the work is quite daunting, trainees here receive a lot of support and thorough feedback on the tasks undertaken, which means you learn quickly. They also tend to be involved on a deal or piece of work from start to finish. For example, in Commercial Real Estate, I assisted with the work involved in each stage of the sale of a building, which was an invaluable experience in allowing me to understand the whole process.
What is the most interesting thing you have done at Forsters to date? The thing I find most interesting is attending a client's first meeting with the firm and then assisting with the follow-up work. Attending a first meeting is a brilliant experience for a trainee: it means you get a feel for the client's background and concerns and it allows you to understand the principal issues involved because the partner has to put their initial advice in client (and trainee!) friendly terms. Assisting with the follow up work then means you can consolidate your knowledge on the issues at hand and get involved in the more complex elements of the advice, which often require further research.
What do you enjoy most about working for Forsters? Everyone will say it, but it is such a lovely group of people. They look out for you and are keen to make sure you enjoy your time in the various departments. The friendly nature of the firm means help is always on hand if you need it.
About the firm
Address:31 Hill Street, London, W1J 5LS
Telephone: 020 7863 8333
Senior partner: Smita Edwards
Managing partner: Paul Roberts
Total partners: 52
Other fee-earners: 159
Total trainees: 18
Who we are: We are a dynamic, successful firm committed to being the best at what we do. Based in Mayfair, Forsters was founded in 1998 and has since more than trebled in size.
What we do: While we are best known for our top-flight real estate and private client practices, we have thriving corporate and dispute resolution teams. Forsters offers interesting, intellectually challenging work, high-quality clients and fantastic people to work with and learn from. We are dedicated to providing outstanding client service in a highly professional, collaborative and supportive environment.
What we are looking for: In addition to proven academic ability, we are looking for drive and ambition, commercial awareness, resilience, a strong work and service ethic, creativity, the ability to solve problems and thrive under pressure.
What you'll do:Trainees at Forsters undertake six four-month seats and are given real work and responsibility from day one as well as comprehensive training (see graduate recruitment website for more details).
Perks: Trainee benefits include 24 days' holiday (increasing to 25 on qualification), pension scheme, private medical insurance, private dental insurance, subsidised gym membership (interest-free annual loan), season ticket (interest-free annual loan), cycle to work (interest-free annual loan), life assurance, group income protection and employee assistance programme. There are also plenty of sporting, fundraising and social events to get involved with!
Sponsorship:Full payment of GDL and LPC course fees, plus a maintenance grant of £5,500 per year of study, is offered to future trainees who have yet to complete these courses.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 7-9
Applications received pa: 600+
Percentage interviewed: 15% approx
First year: £38,000
Second year: £40,000
Newly qualified: £61,000
Turnover in 2016: £46.7m (+13% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £550,000 (+2%)
Apply to:Victoria Towers, partner and head of graduate recruitment
What's involved:Shortlisted candidates attend an assessment day, which involves a written case study exercise, a group exercise and an interview with two partners. Candidates successful at this stage will be invited to attend a second round interview with two partners.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 31 July 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.