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.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: development; Contentious trusts and probate; Family; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property finance; Property litigation; Residential property
Assisted The Crown Estate with its £120m acquisition of three Central London properties; acted for Investra Capital in connection with the sale and leaseback of a retail portfolio; advises on multimillion pound pre-nuptial agreements; acts for trustees and high-net-worth individuals and families on a wide variety of contentious trusts and probate cases, in addition to professional negligence claims that arise in the context of trust and estates work; advises clients who own and invest in art; advises domestic UK families on wealth structuring
British Airways Pension Fund; Hunter UK Retail Unit Trust; Investra Capital; LXB Retail Properties; OakNorth Bank; Rothschild Bank International; The Crowne Estate; United National Trust Bank
Based in the West End of London, Forsters is perfect for those seeking a firm with a ‘family feel’ without sacrificing ‘high-quality training’. Respondents listed Forsters’ ‘property focus’ and ‘private client work’ as their reasons for applying to the firm and now, as trainees, they enjoy ‘getting interesting work from highly intelligent people’. Having substantial contact with partners pleased recruits – they ‘work closely with senior staff’ and get to be ‘more hands-on’ when assisting with matters. Forsters’ culture is also a big hit amongst trainees; they admire the firm’s ‘meritocratic attitude’, explaining that ‘training at Forsters is fair, you don’t have to fight to be noticed by senior staff’. A downside is that ‘occasionally there’s a lack of supervision’. The Forsters team not all being in the same building was disliked, but a silver lining is that colleagues are based just two streets away. Trainees also grumbled about it being a ‘nightmare to get cheap food in Mayfair’. Forsters is a very social firm and has a Lex 100 Winner medal to prove it – the ‘NQ fancy dress party’ was a highlight for many respondents. Other memorable moments included ‘completing a lease which I drafted and managed by myself’, ‘getting stuck into the regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula’, and of course, ‘reaching the end of my first seat and feeling like I finally understood what was going on’. Recruits enjoy a nice balance between work and home life, as evidenced by the firm’s second Lex 100 Winner medal, but this can be difficult to maintain around December: ‘the run up to Christmas was tough’ sighed one recruit. If working in a ‘more relaxed firm’ with ‘sociable hours’ is appealing to you, apply to Forsters.
A day in the life of...
Jo Thompson second-year trainee
Departments to date: Commercial real estate, private client, residential property, corporate and dispute resolution
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
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, fund-raising and social events to get involved with!
Sponsorship:Full payment of GDL and LPC course fees, plus a maintenance grant of £6,000 per year of study, is offered to future trainees who have yet to complete these courses.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 53
Other fee-earners: 158
Total trainees: 17
Turnover in 2017: £48.7m (+4% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £530,000 (-4%)
Trainee places available for 2021: 7-9
Applications received pa: 600+
Percentage interviewed: 15% approx.
First year: £40,000
Second year: £42,000
Newly qualified: £62,000
Apply to:Victoria Towers, partner and head of graduate recruitment
When to apply:By 31 July 2019 for training contracts commencing in September 2021
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.
Summer:June-July 2019 (apply by 31 January 2019).