Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Forsters

The Lex 100 verdict on Forsters

Forsters boasts ‘excellent service, interesting work, friendly people and promotes a healthy work/life balance’. High-quality work and ‘practice areas with many accolades’, such as private client and property, enticed trainees, as did the enviable office location in London’s Mayfair. Recruits feel that they get ‘closer involvement with clients’ than they would at larger firms, feel ‘better supported’ and ‘undertake more interesting work’. The firm offers ‘varied opportunities and seat rotations – I have been able to sit in the practice area I wanted every time’. The people at Forsters are ‘amazing’; there ‘aren’t big egos’ and the firm ‘really cares about its people’. ‘There’s no one at the firm I have not enjoyed working with’, said one trainee. Gripes include the ‘lack of secondment opportunities’, in particular the lack of an international office, and that the ‘NQ qualification process is quite daunting’. Starting their training contracts remotely because of the pandemic has also been difficult, although some recruits have still managed to ‘attend far more client meetings than I was expecting’. ‘Speaking with a QC on my second day’ and ‘having a detailed research note I produced forwarded by a partner to a senior barrister, who agreed with my findings’ and ‘being trusted to draft documents’ were best moments. Among the worst moments were ‘reviewing years’ worth of client correspondence for a subject data access request’ and ‘having to keep on top of very high email traffic’. For a firm which ‘has a reputation for combining high-profile work with a good work/life balance’, take a closer look at Forsters.

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.

A day in the life of... Lauren Hepburn, second-year trainee, Forsters LLP

Lauren Hepburn, Forsters

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, shopping discount platform, 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/LPC or SQE fees, plus a maintenance grant of £6,000 per year of study, is offered to future trainees who have yet to complete these courses.

Diversity and inclusion

Forsters recognises and appreciates that no two people are the same.  We are working hard to break down barriers and encourage and embrace people’s differences so that Forsters is an environment where every individual can flourish and has equality of opportunity.

As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, we have partnered with a number of organisations to help us attract people from all sorts of backgrounds. These include:

Bright Network

The Bright Network is a network of over 400,000 graduate members from all backgrounds. They aim to connect top graduate talent with employers. Their membership is made up of 75% state-educated members, 58% female members, 40% BAME members and 43% of members are the first generation to go to university. We advertise all our graduate positions and careers events through the Bright Network. We have also attended their Future Lawyers event.

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Rare Recruitment

 We have adopted Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) into our graduate application forms. We understand that not every candidate’s achievements will look the same on paper and we want to recruit the best people, from every background. The CRS allows us to understand a candidate’s achievements and experience in context, enabling us to look at a wider talent pool. The system awards social mobility flags to measure disadvantage and gives applicants a performance index to measure outperformance.

Recruitment process

It is important to us that we recruit the top graduate talent regardless of background. We have adapted our recruitment process to ensure all applications and candidates are reviewed based on merit and performance. Every year our graduate recruitment panel of partners undergo interview and unconscious bias training before our assessment days. We have also introduced a scoring system when we mark application forms and interviews to reduce bias in our recruitment process. The first stage of the interview process, the assessment day, is run on a ‘CV blind’ basis.