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? ‘It was made clear during the application process that Blaser Mills was focused on growing its commercial offering and the firm has delivered on its commitment’, ‘trainees are encouraged to develop through being given good work, responsibility, client contact and BD opportunities’, ‘I wanted to be a valued member of a team’, ‘close client interaction’

Best thing about the firm? ‘From the top down, there is a real sense of community and support’, ‘it is exciting to be a part of the firm’s expansion plans’, ‘the open-door policy with partners’, ‘friendly staff who are brilliant at what they do’, ‘trainees have the freedom to run their own caseload’, ‘working with some prestigious and famous clients’, ‘quality of work whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The IT systems don’t always work together as smoothly as they should’, ‘lack of on-site parking for trainees’, ‘no pay increase from first to second year’, ’employee benefits aren’t as developed nor as transparent as at larger firms, e.g. flexible working and holiday’, ‘on-site car parking is only offered to qualified fee earners!’

Best moment? ‘Being successful at trial’, ‘being thanked by a client for drafting his will and helping to put his affairs in order’, ‘receiving praise on particularly complex legal research work’, ‘attending a Crown Court trial and assisting counsel’, ‘presenting to a senior board meeting of a multinational hotel chain’, ‘the moment your supervisor tells you that your work needs no amendments!’

Worst moment? ‘Acting as a witness to the will signing of a sick client’, ‘a bundling task’, ‘having to manage the expectations of emotional clients’, ‘missing a filing date’, ‘dealing with a particularly difficult client, ‘when clients I have come to know well have passed away’, ‘telling a client the purchase of their property has fallen through because the seller had decided to withdraw the property from sale’

The Lex 100 verdict on Blaser Mills Law

The firm: Multi-disciplinary firm Blaser Mills Law is based in the south east with several offices in the region. The firm acts for businesses and individuals, and has a strong corporate and commercial offering. The firm also has expertise in family, private client, personal injury and has a highly-regarded criminal practice.

The deals: Acting for Collision Management Systems in the investment from BGF for £1.25 million; acted for the sellers in the share sale to a US based digital TV aggregator that empowers multigenerational video delivery systems and devices; acted for a hydroponics business on a multi-million pound investment by a leading private equity fund; acted on the sponsorship agreement for well-known racing driver joining a team to race in British Touring Car Championship; instructed on a complex Pre-Nuptial Agreement where a young couple, who were still building wealth, but one party was earning £1.5 million a year including bonuses.

The clients: AB Agri; Ardmore; Bunzl UK Ltd; C F Services; Correco Ltd; Epicor; First Collect International Ltd; Jupiter Hotels; Oxford Bus Company; Sodexo; Stannah Lift Services Ltd; Stratford Developments; THX Ltd.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Crime: general; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property litigation

The verdict

With a ‘strong commercial presence throughout Buckinghamshire and the surrounding area’, Blaser Mills is an obvious choice for those seeking a Home Counties firm. The firm ‘came across as highly personable and flexible on the assessment day’. ‘Trainees aren’t hidden away’ at Blaser Mills, instead they are ‘encouraged to meet with clients and are often a client’s first port of call’. Indeed, ‘supervisors are very keen to give responsibility where earned’. Encouragingly, Blaser Mills ‘sees trainees as potential future partners’, the effect of which is that they ‘do not feel like a small cog in a big machine’. That there is ‘only one trainee per seat’ means that there is ‘more one-on-one training’, with recruits ‘encouraged to get involved with every aspect of a transaction or matter’. This goes some way in explaining the firm’s Lex 100 Winner medals for quality of work and client contact. Respondents reported enjoying ‘significantly more client-facing time and frontline work’. The ‘lack of on-site parking for trainees’ was a common bugbear, as were the remuneration and benefits, which respondents felt could be more generous. On a more positive note, trainees were motivated by work highlights such as ‘completing on the acquisition of an online retail business’, ‘putting through my first exchange and completion in my property seat’ and ‘attending a Crown Court trial’. More difficult was ‘having to tell our client that the purchase of their property had fallen through’ and ‘managing the expectations of emotional clients’. If you want to work at a firm ‘where trainees are encouraged to develop through being given good work, responsibility, client contact and business development opportunities’, Blaser Mills may be the place for you.

A day in the life of… Emily Wright, first-year trainee, Blaser Mills Law

Emily Wright, Blaser Mills Law

Departments to date: Crime, civil litigation and family

University: BPP University

Degree: Law LLB 2(2)

8.00am: I am much more of an early bird than a night owl and, travelling from South West London, I prefer to miss the motorway rush hour and aim to arrive in the office at around 8.00am most days. Getting in early allows me to set myself up for the day and catch up with fellow early birds.

8.30am: Once I have completed some of the admin tasks on my desk and have flagged anything important that needs dealing with today, I nip into the kitchen to make my first cup of tea or coffee before everyone arrives at around 8.45am. Blaser Mills Law has recently invested in new Nespresso machines so it can get pretty crowded in there!

8.45am: Around this time I usually like to review my to-do list for the day and make a start on the tasks ahead. My current seat is in the crime and regulatory department, and my days usually consist of office-based case preparation and client meetings, attending the police station, attending prisons for legal visits or attending court, so it’s always varied, which I love.

9.00am: On my list for today I have a meeting with a client accused of a serious sexual offence, several drafting tasks and a police interview scheduled for the afternoon at the local station. The first item on my list is a defence case statement.

10.30am: Once finished with the defence case statement, I send it to counsel to approve. It is a very important drafting task which must be dealt with sensitively, tactically and meticulously. After printing copies of the statement, I put the case to one side ready for the conference with counsel later on today.

11.30am: I now turn my attention to a vulnerable client who the police wished to question about a malicious communications offence. The task that now falls to me is drafting and submitting written representations against the charge to the police and CPS.

12.00pm: I receive a call from counsel instructed in the serious sex offence trial, asking for a catch-up call ahead of the meeting with the client. We spend about half an hour on the phone discussing tactical points of the case before advising the client in our meeting later.

12.30pm: With the call out of the way, I turn my attention back to my inbox to deal with any items I’d flagged up this morning. I deal with a few queries from colleagues about legal aid billing and assist in submitting an application for funding on a large-scale drugs conspiracy.

1.00pm: It is now time for lunch. Luckily, our office is based right in the centre of High Wycombe so there are plenty of choices for lunch. Today I am going to grab a quick Nandos with colleagues.

2.00pm: I am representing a client in a police interview at High Wycombe police station. As part of my training contract, I am completing my police station representative accreditation so this motor-related case is one of the first I have undertaken unsupervised, and will form part of my portfolio. The interview then goes ahead and the client handles the officer’s questions with poise and confidence. I intervene only once to correct the officer’s interpretation of an answer the client has given.

4.00pm: I get back to the office to answer a few emails and complete some admin tasks.

4.30pm: I now have a conference with my client and counsel. After the call, the client expressed his gratitude for both my help and counsel’s and commented that he felt he had a ‘cracking team behind him’! Some positive feedback from a client was a nice way to end my day.

5.15pm: After the meeting, I tidy my desk, quickly write my to-do list for tomorrow and leave at around 5.45pm.

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 full-service law firm based in the South East with over 50 lawyers.

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 partners trained with us. Progression to partnership is strictly on merit and excellence is continuously rewarded. We are proud of the diversity of our teams of lawyers, in terms of experience, background and approach. We look for diversity in our trainees too.

What you’ll do: Training starts in September with a full induction day. Trainees will have varied (four six-month) 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. As part of the mentor scheme, trainees will get together three times a year for social events.