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 others? ‘I liked the fact it had a wide range of practice areas’, ‘I had worked there before applying so got to know Blaser Mills and its ethos and wanted to be part of this fast-growing, progressive firm’, ‘I joined as a paralegal and applied for the trainee programme because of the friendly and positive culture’, ‘the location’, ‘full-service firm’
Best thing? ‘The friendly, non-hierarchical, open-door culture – you never feel like you’re “just a number”’, ‘all of the managing partners know the trainees by name and make an effort to get to know you’, ‘the open-plan offices lead to a collaborative approach, meaning you get to learn from a variety of industry-leading lawyers’, ‘there are lots of opportunities to get involved in business development’
Worst thing? ‘IT could use an update’, ‘financial remuneration and lack of benefits’, ‘pay and perks are probably slightly behind some of our larger rivals’, ‘the seat selection process could be made a little clearer at the outset of the training contract’, ‘it’s a bit old fashioned’, ‘limited communication and transparency from management’
Best moment? ‘Receiving good feedback from a client who was pleased with the swift and successful conclusion of his property transaction’, ‘sitting in on many court hearings’, ‘having important work entrusted to me and being asked to run with files’, ‘writing a perfect deed on the first try’, ‘individually handling an appeal case’, ‘managing my own transactions and completing a large, complex deal’
Worst moment? ‘Admin work and bundling’, ‘having to report a slip-up to the compliance team on my very first day of training!’, ‘a data breach which happened during an extremely stressful situation’, ‘being furloughed’, ‘uncertainty around seat moves’, ‘making a grammatical error in a client document – luckily it was caught before it was sent out’
The Lex 100 verdict on Blaser Mills Law
Buckinghamshire’s Blaser Mills is an ‘ambitious, commercially-driven firm’ perfect for those looking to avoid the ‘London commute and the cut-throat working practices of the City’. Some respondents had previously worked at Blaser Mills as paralegals and knew that they ‘wanted to be part of this fast-growing, progressive firm’. The ‘ability to undertake seats in many different areas’ was attractive to trainees, as were the work/life balance and client contact – two categories in which the firm has earned Lex 100 Winner awards. Elaborating on work/life balance, respondents explained that ‘it is unusual to leave the office after 6pm’. Thanks to a small intake of trainees, recruits feel that the ‘training is of a much higher quality’ than at some larger firms. But seat allocation can be determined by ‘business need and your stint in a department can be interrupted if another team requires help for a few weeks’. Another complaint was the ‘limited communication from management’, which leads to ‘updates being trickled through the grapevine rather than actually being addressed or shared officially’. Training contract highlights included ‘sitting in on many hearings where I have played an active part’ and ‘receiving good feedback from a client who was pleased with the swift and successful conclusion of his property transaction’. By contrast, ‘admin work and bundling’ and ‘making a grammatical error in a client document’ were worst moments. The uncertainty of 2020/21, including some trainees being put on furlough, has been very unsettling but ‘amazingly, this doesn’t seem to have affected the firm’s growth’! For ‘exposure to a broad range of areas of law, high levels of partner contact and the opportunity to advise on complex work’, consider Blaser Mills.
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… Hannah Funnell, trainee, Blaser Mills Law
Departments to date: Personal injury, Employment
8.30am: I am not a natural early bird, but we have a case management hearing with the Employment Tribunal this morning at 9.15. It is a telephone hearing and I will sit in on the call to take notes while my supervisor undertakes the advocacy. I am very interested to see how the judge handles this case as we are dealing with a very difficult claimant on the other side. While I am waiting for the hearing to start I grab a coffee, check my calendar and discuss the case with my team.
10.00am: When the hearing ends the team has a brief moment of celebration – the judge agreed with us on most points and made an Order that is favourable to our client’s case. I discuss the next steps to be taken with my supervisor and a senior associate who is also working on the case. It is great to feel included in the department and to know that my thoughts are valued by my supervisor – the hearing was certainly worth coming in early for!
10.15am: I clean up my note of the hearing and then begin work on contacting medical experts to provide a single joint expert report, which was ordered in the hearing. I have had a lot of experience dealing with experts in my previous seat (personal injury) so am aware of what to look out for when choosing an expert and know how to draft an initial email of approach. I email a number of experts, keeping a table of everyone that I have contacted, and collate CVs as they come in throughout the day. Once I have enough responses I will pass this information on to my supervisor to choose our nominations.
11.00am: I am due to sit in on a client meeting shortly with a senior associate who is advising on a settlement agreement. I was in contact with the client via email yesterday to request a copy of the agreement and his employment contract. I have some time to read these prior to the meeting and take the opportunity to go over the documents, making notes on anything my supervisor may want to flag up with the client and looking up clauses that I am unfamiliar with.
11.30am: The pandemic has led to most client meetings being conducted via telephone or Teams, which is convenient for everyone; today the meeting is over the phone. I take notes throughout the call as my supervisor goes over the client’s settlement agreement, advises on the practical implications of each clause and explains any amendments that we may want the company to make prior to the agreement being executed.
12.30pm: Following the meeting I draft an email to the client’s employer explaining the amendments that our client would like to be implemented into the settlement agreement before it is signed. I send this on to my supervisor to review then head out to lunch.
1.00pm: I meet up with some of the other junior staff and we go out for lunch. Wycombe has a lot of great places to eat and it’s really nice to catch up with everyone after working from home last year. All of the junior staff in the firm get on very well and support one another which creates a great atmosphere in the office.
2.00pm: In one of our current tribunal cases we are acting for an employer who dismissed their employee (the claimant) after he harassed a fellow member of staff. The claimant is now claiming that he was discriminated against. My supervisor explains to me that the claimant received a criminal conviction for harassment prior to dismissal and asks me to do some research on this area of law. I review the sentencing guidelines in relation to the offence and also the criminal procedure rules then draft a note for my supervisor.
3.00pm: One of the solicitors in the department has agreed to provide her client with a privacy notice to complement the consultancy agreements that she has drafted for the company. She asks me to do some research on privacy notices, consider the agreements that she has drafted and any specific requirements of the company and then draft the notice for her to review. I spend some time reading through the documents and then research privacy notices on Practical Law before drafting. The task gives me an opportunity to learn more about GDPR and data privacy, as well as considering how notices can be adapted to suit the needs of a specific company. Once I have finished the draft I send it to the solicitor to review.
4.30pm: I am booked onto a webinar with the Employment Lawyers Association this afternoon, along with some of the solicitors in the department. As a trainee these webinars are invaluable to me and it’s good to know that the firm is happy to invest time and money into my professional development. The webinar focuses on recent developments in relation to the gig economy and workers’ rights, and is well presented and interesting.
5.30pm: This evening is the first time that the trainees have been out in a group since the pandemic hit. While it has been a strange time to be a trainee, I think we all feel that we’ve come back to the office as stronger and more dynamic lawyers. It’s great to finally have the chance to go out for a nice meal and catch up.
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 22 partners and over 40 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. Progression to partnership is strictly on merit and excellence is continuously rewarded throughout your career at Blaser Mills Law. 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: Training generally starts in September with a full induction day. 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 are also involved in 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. Generous company sick pay; flexible working culture; group life assurance; commitment to development and progression; quality exposure to matters.
Blaze Rewards: We have multiple employee discounts which can be accessed online using our Blaze Rewards benefits package. For example: up to 10% on holiday bookings; savings at shops/restaurants/days out; gym discount.
Wellbeing: We have a commitment to employee wellbeing with various initiatives. We have invested in an externally run employee assistance programme including counselling, legal advice, wellbeing initiatives and financial planning for colleagues. Eyecare vouchers.
Diversity and inclusion
Please visit www.blasermills.co.uk/about/diversity.