Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Devonshires Solicitors LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘I was previously working here as a paralegal so I knew the firm and the people and was familiar with the areas of work’; ‘good exposure to clients’; ‘they were very approachable and welcoming at my interview’; ‘the training contract requires you to do a seat in property and litigation which were my main interests’; ‘we receive a good deal of responsibility’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everyone is incredibly welcoming at all levels’; ‘the focus on property work within all departments’; ‘the clients bring in really interesting and varied work’; ‘the Christmas parties are always fun and well attended’; ‘it has a very relaxed feel, provided the work is done’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Having fewer practice areas than other firms means that there is less seat choice’; ‘there are limited salary and benefits’; ‘the IT equipment, although this is being updated’; ‘having to do post duty every other week’

Best moment? ‘Winning a three-day anti-social behaviour trial that I had been heavily involved in from inception to completion’; ‘receiving great feedback from a barrister I was working with as well as getting a very positive end of seat review’; ‘when my supervisor made minor amendments on my work’; ‘feeling supported’

Worst moment? ‘Adjusting at the beginning as its been steep learning curve’; ‘spending a few weeks reviewing the repair covenants in a pile of leases’; ‘staying late to deal with urgent litigation matters’; ‘the stress of having to prepare bundles when photocopiers were not working due to IT issues’

The Lex 100 verdict on Devonshires Solicitors LLP

The firm: With offices in London, Leeds and Colchester, Devonshires is a leading practice providing high-quality services to a range of clients, including developers, local authorities, housing associations and financial services firms. The firm acts on a broad range of matters including construction, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate, banking, employment, projects and property.

The verdict

‘Property-focused’ Devonshires counts a ‘particular specialism in social housing’ and a strength in litigation among its talents. Trainees love that there is a ‘lot of crossover between departments as most work for the same clients repeatedly’. Staff at all levels are ‘incredibly welcoming’ and are ‘mostly a very sociable and friendly bunch’. At the collaborative London firm, ‘partner/trainee contact is an everyday occurrence’ and superiors ‘actually explain tasks and feedback’, which is especially useful given that recruits are ‘very involved in cases and transactions’. Hands-on work highlights, such as ‘drafting a witness statement from scratch’, ‘attending on-site meetings with clients for new development projects’ and ‘winning a litigation matter where I had contributed significantly to the pleadings and conduct of the case’ are such examples. Trainees are also grateful for the autonomy granted to them to ‘manage our own files from the start’. Conversely, frustrating tasks such as ‘having to prepare bundles when photocopiers were not working’ were less stimulating. It was ‘not much fun’ to ‘miss my department Christmas lunch because a solicitor needed me to attend court’ either, although it was acknowledged that this ultimately turned out to be a ‘great experience’. The ‘kitchen facilities’ and ‘post duty’ were cause for complaint, with some respondents also grumbling about the salary. Devonshires requires trainees to do a seat in both property and litigation, but thanks to excellent ‘clients who bring in really big projects’, there is plenty of diverse work on offer. To be part of a ‘relatively small trainee intake’ in a firm with a ‘premier reputation in social housing’ where there is a ‘very relaxed feel, provided the work is done’, consider Devonshires.

A day in the life of… Natalie Kent, second-seat trainee, Devonshires

Natalie Kent, Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Departments to date: Housing management and property litigation; real estate and projects

University: Exeter

Degree: Law, 2(1) (Hons)

8.30am: Post duty. Throughout our training contracts at Devonshires, trainees undertake various duties, one of which is the opening of the firm’s post in the morning. This week I am on the rota alongside two other trainees. As we are spread across different departments, this is a great opportunity to find out about the kinds of work we are all involved in at the moment.

9.15am: I look at my to-do list for the day. The work in this department is really broad and as I work for a few fee-earners, it is important to prioritise accordingly to ensure everything is completed efficiently.

9.30am: Completion. My first task for the day is to line everything up for a plot transfer completion. This involves checking that we have priority, checking we are in funds and giving the documents a final once-over to ensure everything is as it should be. I then arrange for the funds to be transferred to the seller’s solicitors and take their call to confirm completion. As trainees we get a lot of responsibility and are involved in all aspects of the transaction.

11.00am: Research memo. Research is a key part of being a trainee and also really interesting as the research is often around fairly niche points which nobody in the department has come across previously. Today I am researching the searches available for unexploded ordnances for a partner who is working on a development site where this is a known issue.

1.00pm: Lunch. One of the key benefits of being a trainee is you get to work in different departments and so get to meet lots of different people. Today I am meeting some of the paralegals who work in the department where I undertook my previous seat, so it’s a really good opportunity for a catch-up on everyone’s lives.

2.00pm: Client meeting. This afternoon I am due to attend a client meeting with my supervisor where we are discussing a new development they are looking to get involved in. At Devonshires, trainees have a lot of client contact from the very start which is a great way to build client relationships and be involved in all aspects of the transaction.

3.30pm: Report on title. As a trainee in the real estate and projects team we have our own sites which we deal with under the supervision of a partner. We are therefore responsible for the day-to-day running of the matter, which includes the investigation and report on title at the outset.

5.30pm: Client social. Tonight there is a joint social between Devonshires and one of our clients which I have been helping to organise. This is a great opportunity to put faces to names of the people I have been working with during my time in the department.

About the firm

Other offices: Leeds and Colchester

Who we are: Devonshires is a medium-sized firm with clients ranging from some of the world’s largest multinational corporations to private individuals, including a significant number of charities, housing associations and regulators.

What we do: Devonshires’ main areas of practice include construction, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate, banking, employment, projects and property, advising clients nationwide.

What we’re looking for: We look for trainees who possess commercial and technical qualities, have outstanding individual talents and will be valuable team members.

What you’ll do: You will be supervised by a partner who will delegate you work, monitor your progress and give you timely and constructive feedback.

Perks: Private health care, pension, life assurance, group income protection, season ticket loan, dental scheme, cycle to work scheme, flu jabs, wellness programme, entertainment budget, eye tests.