Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Maples Teesdale LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The great, central location and varied client base’; ‘I wanted to learn from experts who shared my passion for property’; ‘reputation for providing excellent training’; ‘because of its smaller size and status in the property market’; ‘I read lots of reviews by MP staff about how much they enjoyed their jobs’; ‘I got a good vibe from my interviewers’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The culture, my colleagues and having a good/work life balance’; ‘the excellent quality of work’; ‘working for big-name clients on deals reported in the press’; ‘being able to work in the centre of London whilst still being able to leave the office before 6!’; ‘the small trainee intake’; ‘the training provided’; ‘the feel around the workplace is kind and welcoming’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The building. The lifts are not great, and it would be great to have some nicer shower facilities in the basement and some fancy coffee making facilities!’; ‘lack of secondment opportunities (although this is getting better)’; ‘the deeds database!’; ‘occasional bottlenecks of work’; ‘limited international opportunities’; ‘the communication to trainees on processes and use of systems could do with improvement’

Best moment? ‘Working on a corporate sale of a shopping centre with a partner whilst sitting in the corporate department and seeing the sale through to completion’; ‘running a transaction from start to finish’; ‘leading on completion calls’; ‘being involved in a large refinancing project which was to be completed within three weeks of receiving instructions’; ‘assisting with a high-value corporate restructuring’

Worst moment? ‘Sometimes if there is little work going around, it can get a bit quiet with not much to do’; ‘working late producing documents for a closing’; ‘printing off a giant datasite in preparation for a client purchase of two shopping centres’; ‘negotiating a wayleave with a very pedantic person on the other side’; ‘trying to figure out the various IT systems and databases at the beginning of my training contract’

The Lex 100 verdict on Maples Teesdale LLP

The firm: Maples Teesdale covers the entire spectrum of real estate law services, from construction to property finance. Some of the issues that clients face they’ve seen time and time again. But there are always surprises. The firm brings fresh thinking and innovative solutions to both old and new challenges.

The clients: Aberdeen Standard Investments; Amsprop; CBRE Global Investors; CineWorld Cinemas; Deutsche Hypo; FremantleMedia; Legal & General; Lloyds Banking Group; The Collective; Tristan Capital Partners.

The verdict

‘Specialist in property law’ Maples Teesdale is ‘able to truly understand the sector’ and, naturally, attracted those who ‘wanted all seats to be property focused’. A small intake of just three trainees a year means that recruits are often ‘responsible for [their] own matters’ and also feel assured that they ‘will be kept on at the end of the training contract’. The firm has earned Lex 100 Winner awards for confidence of being kept on, work/life balance and partner approachability. Elaborating on the latter, ‘there is a very strong partner:associate:trainee ratio which means that we are often working directly with very friendly and experienced partners’ and it is clear that new recruits are ‘made to feel part of the team’ from the outset. As a result, trainees generally have ‘better access to high-quality tasks’ and receive ‘less grunt work’ than peers at some other firms. ‘Working on a deal which was reported in the press shortly after completion’ was a clear highlight. Admin tasks are still on the agenda though: ‘days on end going through boxes of deeds’ and ‘checking and scheduling deeds’ were cited as worst moments. Indeed, the deeds database was described as one of the worst things about Maples Teesdale, although this is undoubtedly an inevitable part of working in a property firm! ‘Being in the heart of the City but working sensible hours’ is much appreciated, although recruits would like to see more social events, ‘in particular those geared towards trainees’. But, on the whole, the firm has an inclusive and friendly culture. For ‘excellent levels of responsibility and client contact’ in a tight-knit commercial property-focused firm, look at Maples Teesdale.

A day in the life of… Megan Newnham, second-year trainee, Maples Teesdale LLP

Megan Newnham, Maples Teesdale LLP

Departments to date: Commercial property, finance, property litigation, corporate

University: University of Southampton

Degree: Law 2(1)

8.45am: On my way into the office I use the train journey to check the news headlines and browse the real estate publications the firm subscribes to. Working at a specialist commercial property firm means that it is important to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the UK real estate market.

9.15am: I arrive at the office, make a cup of coffee, check my emails and make a to-do list for the day. I currently sit in the corporate department where the work varies from corporate acquisitions and disposals of real estate assets, to joint venture and shareholder agreements, partnerships and company management work.

9.30am: We are working on the acquisition of a company which owns a commercial property in London. One of the trainee’s roles in the transaction is to assist with the drafting and negotiating of the ancillary documents, such as the board minutes and stock transfer forms, and to keep the documents list/completion agenda up to date. I have just received some ancillary documents from the seller’s lawyers which have been marked up with their amendments. I work through these before discussing them with my supervisor.

10.30am: One of the ancillary documents I have received is a finance document. I add my suggested amendments to the document and then run through these with the senior associate in the finance department. Transactions often involve more than one department in the firm and they are a great opportunity to work with other teams (such as our property, finance and planning teams) and gain an understanding of what they do.

11.00am: My supervisor explains that one of our clients needs two new special purchase companies set up urgently. I draft the incorporation forms and then liaise directly with the client. Once I have all of the required information I submit the incorporation forms.

12.00pm: As it is a Wednesday we have an internal know-how training session. These sessions are a great way to keep up to date with changes in the law and current issues.

1.00pm: I have lunch with the other trainees and associates. The firm has a really friendly atmosphere and there is always someone to go to lunch or a coffee with.

2.00pm: I finalise my amendments to the ancillary documents I was working on in the morning, update the completion agenda and send these to the seller’s lawyers.

2.45pm: I receive an email from a partner in the commercial property department explaining that one of our clients has granted a number of leases of a property and has instructed us to deal with the company management work, which involves transferring shares in the management company to the tenants. I discuss what is required with my supervisor and then draft the board minutes, stock transfer forms and share certificates.

3.45pm: The corporate team is working on the disposal of a company which owns an office block in a major Scottish city. I sit in on a ‘home team’ call with the client, Scottish property lawyers and Jersey corporate lawyers. I make a note of the call and circulate it to the associate I am working with on this transaction. Although I am not working on the property aspects of the transaction it is really useful to understand what is happening with the property due diligence and what issues have arisen.

5.30pm: I check my emails, post my time sheets for the day and make a note of anything which I need to prioritise tomorrow morning. I then head off to meet some friends for a drink.

About the firm

Managing partner: Chris Wilkinson

Who we are: Maples Teesdale is the UK’s leading commercial real estate specialist, providing innovative, full-service and truly partner-led services.

What we do: The core property practice is complemented by strong construction, planning, property litigation, finance and corporate teams. Our clients include large institutional investors, property developers and companies, construction companies, multinationals, banks, high-net-worth individuals and family offices, sole property traders and occupiers.

What we’re looking for: We welcome applications from both law and non-law students. Among other things, we look for candidates with a strong academic background (minimum ABB at A Level (excluding General Studies) and a 2(1) at degree level). When reviewing your application we also consider work experience (both legal and non-legal), sporting achievements and any positions of responsibility held. We also like to find out a little bit about you and your personality, and what has inspired you into a career in the law.

What you’ll do: Our trainees are the future of our business. You will receive the best training possible in a friendly and supportive environment. At the same time, we will ensure that your training contract is stimulating and rewarding. Our largest department is our commercial property department. This is supported by five other departments: construction, corporate, finance, litigation and planning. Our trainees have the opportunity to gain experience, skills and knowledge across these different departments in four six-month seats and there may also be an opportunity to spend time on secondment with clients. The trainees receive regular reviews and feedback after each seat change.

Perks: Pension, Ride2Work cycle loan scheme, interest-free season ticket loans, life assurance, private medical insurance.

Diversity and inclusion

Key among our values at Maples Teesdale is to ensure that internally we offer a friendly, supportive, inclusive and collegiate working atmosphere for our staff, and that externally we provide commercial advice and are available and responsive to our clients. As a firm specialising in commercial property, we also value understanding of the real estate market and strive to be reflective of the industry and the community in which we operate.

We proactively address gender, age, sexual orientation, disability and socio-economic discrimination at all levels of our business, from recruitment to engagement in an active programme of internal and external community, charity and environmental events and initiatives run by our CSR committee. Our wellbeing committee has organised for members of our team to be trained as mental health counsellors and run unconscious bias workshops. We also regularly celebrate cultural diversity, marking events such as religious holidays, Pride and National Women’s Week.

We are proud of our work with the East End Community Foundation, an organisation that connects businesses with grassroots organisations in the East End. We linked up with the Foundation as we recognise that when you are working in an office in the City it is easy to overlook the poverty and other socio-economic issues on your doorstep. We provide volunteers from our firm for activities as diverse as fixing fences in a community farm, to offering CV and interview technique advice and work experience. Our team is very committed to this relationship and at a recent event we had volunteers from all levels of the firm, from the managing partner to support staff.

As a firm we are signatories to the Commitment Statement and active members of Real Estate Balance, a group which is committed to addressing gender imbalance in the real estate sector. This is an area we are particularly passionate about, because as a specialist commercial property law firm, we have a foot in two industries where women are underrepresented: law and real estate. In August we organised and hosted a very successful event for our clients and contacts about supporting women in business making the transition into senior management roles. This is part of an ongoing project for us to offer practical advice to women in our in our industries and we are proud of the recognition we have had for these efforts in the market.

The results of all of the above, taken with our ongoing commitment to continued improvement, have been remarkable internally in terms of staff engagement, motivation and general wellbeing and the cohesiveness of the team has been strengthened further.