Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Blaser Mills Law
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Blaser Mills Law
Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘I wanted to work for a firm that only takes on a small number of trainees each year, rather than being lost in a huge cohort of trainees’; ‘the location, the range of work and the options to try lots of different areas’; ‘I wanted an approachable firm’; ‘I did not want a firm where long hours irrelevant of productivity are the norm’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The supervisors, who take such a genuine interest in progressing the experience and talents of their trainees and will take time out of busy days to talk you through a problem when you are uncertain’; ‘unparalleled levels of attention and support given to trainees’; ‘the people – everyone, from secretaries to partners, is very friendly and happy to help’; ‘there is a very good office atmosphere’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The firm is expanding with more work being taken on. This is great, however, the remuneration has not caught up with the greater expectation there is from the trainees’; ‘the lack of parking. Generally, trainees will need to have a car for work, but the firm does not provide trainees with parking, which is inconvenient’
Best moment? ‘Positive feedback from a client and their family after completing my first (and only!) deathbed will signing’; ‘being the first point of contact through a case from start to finish, and at the end having the barrister recognise my contribution’; ‘assisting with the settlement of a Schedule 1 Children Act case in the Family Department’
Worst moment? ‘Trainees are expected to undertake administrative tasks and the work isn’t always absolutely fascinating, but that is to be expected’; ‘dealing with a difficult client – however, the challenges I faced with this particular client were recognised’; ‘having to prepare for a hearing at the last minute as it was meant to be adjourned’
The Lex 100 verdict on Blaser Mills Law
From locations in Buckinghamshire, including the market towns of High Wycombe, Amersham and others across the region, and a London office, Blaser Mills brings a client list and level of work to rival full-service London-based firms. Its strength across the South East is appreciated by its trainees who comment that its ‘location and reputation’ as well as the ‘quality of work’ drew them to the firm. Blaser Mills secures Lex 100 Winner awards for the amount of trainee client contact and this quality is highly praised; one trainee remarked ‘I speak to clients over the phone, via email and meet with them face to face. This is the type of autonomy that I value throughout my training contract as I believe it will help with my transition into being a qualified solicitor’. Trainees also applaud the firm’s culture which is ‘approachable; I feel that my contribution mattered’ and that it does not ‘demand long hours irrespective of productivity’. In tandem with the high level of client contact, trainees also applauded the firm’s trust in them, running their own matters and enjoying ‘high levels of responsibility, learning on the job and close relationships with supervisors and the team’. The only drawbacks highlighted are the ‘limited parking’ and the lack of pro-bono opportunities, but the firm is otherwise very highly rated by its current trainees.
The firm: Multi-disciplinary firm Blaser Mills Law is based in the South East with offices in High Wycombe, Amersham, Silverstone and London. The firm acts for businesses and individuals, and has a strong corporate and commercial offering. The firm has a rich history and a strong reputation for high-quality legal advice from lawyers who are experts in their fields. At the same time, its modern and innovative approach means that it delivers practical and cost-effective solutions.
A day in the life of… Ellen Hitchman, second-year trainee, Blaser Mills Law
Departments to date: Dispute resolution, wills, trusts and probate, residential property
University: University of Birmingham
Degree: LLB Law with French Law 2(1)
8.30am: I am currently in my second seat with the dispute resolution team and there is certainly no ‘typical day’ in this seat. Getting in slightly earlier enables me to grab a coffee and plan for the day ahead before the phone starts ringing!
9.00am: We have a case management conference this afternoon, which, in short, is when the court orders the timetable that all parties must follow before trial. My first task is to ensure that counsel has no last-minute queries and to pack my suitcase with all the documents I need.
10.00am: On one of our Inheritance Act claims, we have received some pre-action correspondence from the other side. My first step is to review the letter and draft a letter of advice to the client. As a trainee, all my work gets checked by my supervisor. We have a really good relationship and after receiving some helpful feedback, I make the final tweaks and send it out to the client.
11.30am: There are some last-minute emails passing between the parties to try to agree directions for the hearing this afternoon but unfortunately there appear to be a couple of sticking points. I drop a quick email to the client to update them and let them know that I will be in contact after the hearing.
12.30pm: Usually, I would grab lunch with my colleagues, however, today I need to get into central London so instead I pick up a sandwich and walk to the train station.
1.30pm: Having arrived at the County Court in Central London with plenty of time to spare, I meet our barrister outside the court room to have a final de-brief before the hearing. The client did not want to attend but I have her number on stand-by just in case we need to make a last-minute emergency call! There are discussions between the barristers to try to agree some specific points, but it becomes clear that we are not going to agree these before the hearing.
2.00pm: We are called into court. After hearing our counsel and the three other defendants, the judge makes his order. It is a good result for us as the timetable is pretty much what we had proposed.
2.45pm: Following the hearing, I give my supervisor a call to update her on what went on. As I am close to the London office, I head there to finish my work for the day.
3.00pm: I arrive at the London office, grab a cup of tea and have a quick catch-up with my colleagues. I then spend the next hour writing up my attendance note following the hearing and liaising with counsel to check that I agree with the draft order she has prepared. Once she gets my agreement, this gets sent to the other side to approve, after which it gets sent back to the court to be sealed. I draft an email to the client to update her on what has gone on and to explain the implications.
4.15pm: I have been given the responsibility of taking the lead and running some of my own files. On one of these cases, the settlement agreement has just come through from the other side. Having agreed to settle, the settlement agreement can be as creative as we like, which makes it important to consider all possible circumstances and think how best I can protect my client. Upon reviewing this settlement agreement, it is clear that it needs re-drafting in places. Having made the various amendments, I send these to my client for his comments.
5.30pm: I deal with any final emails and do a final check off against everything I expected to have received today. I note that I am awaiting documents from the other side which should have arrived by close of business so I make a note to chase first thing tomorrow. I say goodbye to the London team and head out to a networking drinks event hosted by the Junior Lawyers Division.
About the firm
Senior partner: Alka Kharbanda
Managing partner: Jonathan Lilley
Other offices: Amersham, Silverstone, London
Who we are: Blaser Mills Law is a leading law firm based in South East England with 23 partners and over 50 lawyers. It is a full-service firm, offering a comprehensive range of legal services to businesses and private individuals.
What we do: Our highly regarded firm has a strong business services offering, including corporate and commercial, employment, commercial property and dispute resolution. We also have experienced private client and family lawyers, and specialist lawyers in personal injury, child care, residential property and criminal defence.
What we’re looking for: As well as a strong academic background, excellent communication skills and analytical ability, we look for talented individuals who have a strong team ethic, ambition and who embrace responsibility. Trainees are right at the heart of the firm and nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the fact that the majority of our trainees choose Blaser Mills Law as their career firm, often going on to become partners within the firm. We are proud of the diversity of our teams of lawyers, in terms of experience, background and approach. We therefore look for diversity in our trainees too.
What you’ll do: Trainees will have varied seats in both non-contentious and contentious practice areas, allowing them to gain experience across a broad range of legal disciplines in a variety of locations. From day one, trainees are given plenty of responsibility with ongoing support from experienced training supervisors. In addition, we operate a mentor scheme that gives trainees confidential access to recently qualified lawyers who can offer first-hand advice. Throughout the training contract, trainees will develop their technical skills, department knowledge and client care. Business development is a further skill that we look to develop, so when it comes to qualifying, trainees are confident to approach prospective clients and build their own client list – achieved through article writing, presenting at seminars or attending networking events.
Perks: Trainees are enrolled into our pension scheme and are given life cover from day one. Trainees will also benefit from our employee benefits scheme which includes offers and discounts on a variety of products and experiences. As part of the mentor scheme, trainees will get together multiple times a year for social events.
Please visit https://www.blasermills.co.uk/diversity.