Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Forsters LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘The culture, type of work, location and the time I had on the vacation scheme’; ‘friendly atmosphere and stimulating work, with an incredible work/life balance’; ‘the firm’s collegiate (and not-very-corporate) culture’; ‘the firm’s beautiful Georgian offices in Mayfair’; ‘the emphasis it places on developing trainees’; ‘the fact that it’s highly-ranked in a few niche areas’

Best thing about the firm? ‘From the outset, I have been given a high level of responsibility with the opportunity to undertake complex, diverse and exciting work’; ‘fee earners really want you to learn and develop and they spend time getting you involved and giving you constructive feedback’; ‘a friendly and supportive environment and I know that help is always there if I need it’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘It sometimes feels as though the focus on core property/private client departments comes at the expense of smaller departments’; ‘as a trainee it can sometimes be frustrating to feel that the quality of training, etc. is not consistent across the board’; ‘spread over three offices’; ‘the IT is a struggle’; ‘you are only able to do one contentious seat’.

Best moment? ‘Completing a really complicated sale in my commercial real estate seat which was the culmination of my entire seat’s worth of work on my last afternoon in the department’; ‘the partners’ special festive performance of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”‘; ‘being right at the heart of the sale of a large retail park which exchanged and being taken along to post-completion celebratory dinner’

Worst moment? ‘Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility in my residential property seat as a very green trainee’; ‘I found the first seat change very difficult just because you feel like you are starting completely all over again’; ‘working for different fee earners and having to deal with not only very technical legal issues but learn the very different personal styles of each fee earner’

The Lex 100 verdict on Forsters LLP

The firm: Forsters is a leading London law firm based in Mayfair which delivers exceptional legal advice to clients principally drawn from the real estate and private wealth sectors.

The clients: British Airways Pension Fund; Netflix; Investra Capital; LXB Retail Properties; OakNorth Bank; Rothschild Bank International; The Crown Estate; United National Trust Bank; McDonalds.

The deals: 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 prenuptial 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.

The verdict

‘The firm’s beautiful Georgian offices in Mayfair’, ‘the emphasis it places on developing trainees’ and ‘the fact that it is highly-ranked in a few niche areas’ were all factors which drew trainees to Forsters LLP. A boutique property, private client, corporate and dispute resolution firm, Forsters has an international outlook and a strong reputation for training. One trainee was attracted here because it is ‘a mid-size, reputable firm, offering high-profile work and early responsibility, coupled with a collegiate support structure’. The firm operates a six-seat training structure with only one compulsory continuous seat. Trainees applaud being given ‘more responsibility’ than peers elsewhere, particularly ‘drafting opportunities and transaction management experience’. The firm’s ‘really friendly culture’ is highly praised, one trainee adding that ‘fee earners really want you to learn and develop and they spend time getting you involved and giving you constructive feedback. I know that help is always there if I need it’. The social side of things stands out, with trainees mentioning that ‘preparing and performing a Christmas performance with the entire trainee intake at the firm’s party was a great bonding activity’. For real estate and private client-minded trainees looking for high-level work in smart Mayfair with a small intake, Forsters must be a top choice.

A day in the life of… Lauren Hepburn, first-year trainee, Forsters LLP

Lauren Hepburn, Forsters LLP

Departments to date: Private client, corporate, construction

University: University of Liverpool

Degree: Law, 1st

9.30am: An associate in my department asks me to draft various estate planning documents for a client. This includes a will, a letter of wishes and a family trust. I review the client’s file and locate precedent documents to work from. I then send everything to the associate for their review.

11.30am: I undertake some research on agricultural property relief, in particular the factors HMRC will consider in determining whether an asset will benefit from the relief. I prepare a memorandum of my findings for a non-resident client considering purchasing a multimillion-pound farm in the UK.

12.30pm: I have a catch up with my trainee supervisor to discuss my current workload and my progress. Following the meeting, I update my training record.

1.00pm: I attend a lunchtime offshore tax update meeting. Various fee-earners present on relevant updates and practical points.

2.00pm: I am asked to attend a client meeting with a partner to take a note. The client wants some pre-arrival tax planning advice on his upcoming move to the UK from the US. The partner and I then discuss the next steps and divide up the action points.

4.00pm: I prepare a domicile opinion letter for a client, setting out the legal position in relation to domicile, applying it to the facts and reaching a conclusion as to whether the client has displaced their domicile of origin and acquired a new domicile of choice.

5.30pm: I complete a non-resident capital gains form on behalf of a client who has recently sold a residential property in the UK. I draft an email to the client explaining the form and asking them to check the contents.

6.30pm: Every evening before I log off, I update my task list and ensure that my time recording for the day is complete. I then head off to play netball against our commercial real estate department, followed by drinks.

What attracted you to a career in law? My interest in pursuing a career in law arose from the diverse, dynamic and problem-solving nature of the legal profession. It can be a challenging career but it is rewarding, fulfilling and intellectually stimulating.

How did you decide where to apply? I was looking for a mid-size, reputable firm, offering high-profile work and early responsibility. It was important to me to find a friendly firm that really invests in their trainees. I was drawn to Forsters’ unique breadth of training across commercial, property and private client and the six-seat rotation.

What has been the highlight so far? I have particularly enjoyed being involved in advising a US client moving to the UK; this involved complex tax, residency and immigration considerations in both jurisdictions.

What things have challenged you? I was pleasantly surprised at how much responsibility we were given at such an early stage. On my second day I was asked to attend a client call, which then involved a variety of urgent follow up tasks. You work on a range of different matters for lots of different fee-earners. This is a challenge, but it ensures the work is always varied.

Has Forsters lived up to your expectations? It certainly has! From day one, I have been made to feel welcome and an important and valued member of the team. The firm prioritises personal development and the approach to training is exceptional. Although the first few months have been challenging, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am excited for the rest of my training contract and getting exposure to different areas of the law.

About the firm

Senior partner: Smita Edwards

Managing partner: Emily Exton

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’re 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 25 days’ holiday, 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, fundraising 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.