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 others? ‘The practice areas, and it seemed friendly/approachable with a good work/life balance’, ‘how friendly everyone was and the six-seat rotation instead of four’, ‘practice areas, especially family and private client’, ‘the firm has a very strong private wealth practice which is an area that I am very interested in’, ‘the CSR opportunities and the responsibility given to trainees’, ‘its unique nature compared to City firms’, ‘the emphasis placed on work/life balance’, ‘location in Mayfair’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The people – genuine, kind and friendly’, ‘small trainee intake – so a close cohort’, ‘the culture and social life’, ‘highly-approachable teams and you know that they value your help. Great training opportunities. Good range of social events. Very helpful supervisors’, ‘the quality of the different practice areas that you get to experience’, ‘partners listen to trainees’ ideas and ask about their lives outside of work’, ‘I like that if I had an idea at Forsters, whether for business development or CSR, I could pitch it and run it’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The technology problems’, ‘the diversity in some teams’, ‘the IT’, ‘for me the biggest shame is that there are no opportunities to work abroad (either on secondment or international offices)’, ‘technology (hardware and software)’, ‘the lack of awareness around some diversity and inclusion issues, and a slightly stuffy atmosphere’
Best moment? ‘Seeing through my first exchange and completion in my residential property seat – very happy and satisfied client’, ‘meeting our interesting clients’, ‘working on a large refinance; I enjoyed the responsibility and trust I was given at such an early stage’, ‘attending court for a significant case I worked on in my first seat’, ‘my banking and finance seat’, ‘doing my first solo completion and attending in-person client meetings’, ‘attending a pro bono Christmas event’
Worst moment? ‘A computer programme crashing mid-bundling’, ‘an interaction with a client who was particularly unpleasant and threatening’, ‘various IT/project management system issues’, ‘being used more as an admin assistant in certain departments rather than actually getting involved in legal work’, ‘doing document review for several weeks’, ‘making a large transactional error in my real estate seat’, ‘sending a confidential document to the wrong person’
The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Forsters LLP
With a ‘mix of high-quality property, private client and corporate work’, Forsters is ‘different from most City law firms’. An ‘inclusive culture and the perfect trainee cohort size’ complete the package. The Forsters training contract is comprised of six seats, meaning that trainees get more exposure to the London firm’s ‘breadth of practice areas’. The office location in London’s upmarket Mayfair area is an indicator of the type of clients the firm works with and is also worth a mention. The culture at Forsters is ‘inviting, caring and non-hierarchical’. Colleagues are ‘interested in you as a person, not just someone to complete tasks,’ and the firm ‘places an emphasis on work/life balance’. Forsters is a Future Lawyers Winner for social life, hybrid working and approachability of supervisors. Trainees particularly enjoyed ‘running a file in commercial real estate from cradle-to-grave with a partner on the other side, and successfully completing largely unaided’ and ‘attending a client meeting and being given the opportunity to explain their matter and answer their questions’. Forsters is currently ‘split across separate buildings’, which means that trainees can ‘feel like they don’t know some departments that well’, but ‘this will not be an issue when we move into our new offices’. Other complaints focused on the IT and technology, which are considered to be ‘behind other firms’. Worst moments were ‘having to spend hours trudging through boxes of deeds’, ‘sending post-completion documents to the wrong address’, and ‘sometimes very long training sessions’. To work at a firm which has perfected the ‘balance of quality of work with a supportive atmosphere, whilst still being challenging’, consider Forsters.
A day in the life of... Charlie Paddock, trainee, Forsters
Departments to date: Commercial real estate, Dispute Resolution, Banking & Finance
University: University of Exeter
Degree: Law, 2:1
8.45am: I get to the office around 8.45/9.00am and grab a coffee from the kitchen (the new oat milk option on our machine is all the rave), while I go through my to-do list and plan my day ahead. I try and prioritise certain items, but no two days are the same, so you need to remain flexible while also
ensuring any time-critical tasks are covered.
9.30am: We have a conference call with our client going through a CP (conditions precedent) checklist and covering outstanding items. The CP checklist contains conditions which must be satisfied before a lender grants a loan and they can be fairly lengthy. I also take an attendance note and spend a
further 15 minutes tidying up my minutes before circulating internally to the team.
10.30am: A partner drops by my desk to discuss a new matter. A client wants to amend their loan agreement with a bank, so I need to draft some corporate approvals to enable them to enter this amendment. I find a precedent on file and make the necessary changes before sending to the partner
11.30am: A colleague is completing on a transaction today. They need me to urgently run insolvency searches on 13 different entities. To avoid delaying completion, I need to input these details on the ‘GlobalX’ platform swiftly but accurately (you don’t want to miss out a company)! In any transactional
seat, the world spins very fast, and you need to be very reactive near completion with email traffic/unexpected tasks often at a premium.
12.30pm: It’s a sunny day so I take lunch outside at Green Park, soaking up the rays with my fellow trainee intake.
1.30pm: I call a colleague in our construction team, confirming if they have completed their collateral warranties which are required for a joint deal. I then speak to the commercial real estate department for an update on their certificate of title. We often work with our property teams on real estate finance work and need to stay regularly abreast of each other’s work. I then update the CP checklist for this matter and circulate the document to all parties involved.
2.00pm: I attend a corporate know-how session run by two senior associates – this week the theme is on ‘Subordination and Priority’, however, these learning sessions can be as wide-ranging as the rapidly evolving crypto-currency and blockchain space. It’s always useful to ask lots of questions, in turn improving my commercial awareness during any client interactions.
3.00pm: The partner has returned some comments on the corporate approvals I drafted earlier today. I make the amendments and send across with accompanying redlines showing my workings. We then agree the documents with the other side, and I send over to my client for their signature.
4.00pm: We completed on a deal yesterday, so a time-pressured task is now registering security at Companies House. It’s important to move quickly with the filings, as there is a strict 21-day deadline. I make the necessary redactions on the documents and upload with an accompanying ‘MR01’ online
5.00pm: Our client is travelling in Singapore on business; however, we need some deeds signing urgently to progress a deal. I utilise the online ‘DocuSign’ platform which allows swift execution and load the documents, inserting signature labels and textboxes for witness address/occupation where relevant. The documents are signed within ten minutes – electronic signature has revolutionised the modern way of working where it has truly come to the fore post-pandemic.
6.00pm: Before signing off for the day, I complete my time recording, and update my to-do list (noting any tasks that need to be completed tomorrow). I then get changed ready for a five-a-side football match with the mighty ‘Forsters FC’, followed by a team social.
What attracted you to a career in law? Growing up I always knew I had a clear sense of justice. My joint interests in history and English literature in my youth also pointed towards a career in law (and anything maths-related was certainly off the cards)! As a profession generally, I was attracted to an intellectually stimulating role, with plenty of challenges and problem-solving along the way. This coupled with working alongside the sharpest minds, within a very people-focused role, were also defining pull factors.
How did you decide where to apply? As a career-changer from financial services recruitment, I’ve had exposure meeting clients of all shapes and sizes across London. This in turn gave me a clear idea of the type of culture and firm that would suit me moving into law. I also enjoyed working in a SME business and was certain a mid-size corporate would be the right fit. Other entries on my shopping list included: a reputation as a market-leader in their chosen specialisms; a friendly welcoming culture; a smaller trainee intake; and a clear progressive vision for the future. After attending an open day and vacation scheme with Forsters, I was positive it ticked all my boxes.
What has been the highlight so far? Managing a ‘small-fry’ commercial real estate transaction for one of the firm’s largest property clients. This was very much a ‘cradle-to-grave’ matter, in which I took initial instructions, drafted the requisite documents, before sending them out for signature, and completing the matter with minimal supervision. After the closing call I had a real sense of achievement, and it gave me great confidence in my abilities.
What things have challenged you? The first few weeks as a trainee is certainly a steep learning curve, and people put a lot of trust in your capabilities, handing over plenty of responsibility. However, although this is initially daunting, their belief that you can perform is reassuring and the lack of micro management is refreshing. I also once had a particularly difficult client who wasn’t the friendliest to interact with – fortunately that was just a one-off occurrence!
Has Forsters lived up to your expectations? Absolutely! The work has been extremely varied and engaging, and I’m fortunate that I’ve enjoyed every seat; I’ve really felt like a valued member of the team. It’s a well-worn cliché but it certainly is all about the people – everyone is open and friendly across each department, so I enjoy coming into the office. The social calendar is also rammed with frequent events. I’ve been fortunate to take clients to Twickenham for rugby, and I’ve also spent a day playing in a cricket tournament against asset management clients. The added bonus of an excellent work/life balance means I’m very happy with my choice overall
About the firm
The firm: Forsters is a leading London law firm 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.
Senior partner: Natasha Rees
Managing partner: Emily Exton
Who we are: We are a dynamic, successful firm committed to being the best at what we do. Soon to be based in Marylebone, 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 also 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 27 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 PGDL and SQE fees, plus a maintenance grant of £8,000 per year of study, is offered to future trainees who have yet to complete these courses.
Diversity and inclusion
Percentage of female associates: 65%
Percentage of female partners: 51%
Percentage of BAME associates: 13%
Percentage of BAME partners: 5%