Anna trained at Boodle Hatfield and qualified into the Real Estate department in 2019.
Why did you choose Boodle Hatfield over any other firms?
During university I was interested in Property law, which initially led me to the vacation scheme at Boodle Hatfield. During those 2 weeks I found the work to be of an incredibly high quality whilst the firm had a positive and friendly culture. It was really important to me to go to a firm where I would feel challenged but also where people would be approachable and where a work life balance was encouraged. I also liked the idea of the small intake of trainees as it means that you are treated as a genuine member of a team and trusted with real responsibility.
Describe your experience of selecting and integrating into your seats?
Prior to starting my training contact, I was asked by my HR contact to give an indication of the seats that I might want to sit in. There has since been a continuous dialogue throughout the training contract with her, usually towards the middle and the end of each seat. This is really constructive because as you experience different seats, it is often the case that preferences will change and these meetings provide a chance to discuss this. It is a small firm so whilst a first choice is not always guaranteed, generally everyone ends up with what they want. I have also found that even where people have not got their first choice, they have often ended up loving the seat they were given – so it is good to keep an open-mind as you might be surprised!
The initial move into a new seat is inevitably daunting as you will have to move to a new office, share with a new Partner, and work for a new team. There is always an adjustment period as you get used to the new type of work, but as you spend more time at the firm and get to know the people, I have found that this period gets shorter. The smaller nature of the firm means that you get to know people even where you don’t work in their team – this may be from staff events or from cross-departmental work. This coupled with an open-door policy means that you gain confidence in approaching new seats and by extension, new difficulties and challenges.
How much responsibility did you have as a trainee and what type of work were you involved in?
You are given a vast amount of responsibility, though this does vary somewhat between departments. I initially found this a little overwhelming but you learn so much by taking on responsibility from the start and ultimately it has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the training contract. You gain a level of confidence and experience that is so valuable and sets you up for being a fully qualified solicitor. It is also really motivating to know that you are playing a valuable role in a team, and that even though you are still training, you are engaging with real and challenging issues.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Towards the end of my Estates and Commercial Property seat I was able to lead, with supervision, on larger sales of residential freehold and commercial leasehold. I saw the matter through from start to finish, from pre-contract enquiries, drafting the sales papers and pre and post-completion. This was especially satisfying as I was able to use all the skills that I had learnt from working on smaller property transactions, lending a real sense of ownership to my work. It revealed just how much I had learnt and how much more able I now feel when approaching problems that arise in the course of a transaction. In my Private Client seat I have also worked as part of a small team on a complex and multijurisdictional matter for a family office. This was a real challenge, both intellectually and administratively, but again one where I felt valued and could see how the matter progressed from start to finish.
What has Boodle Hatfield given you that you may not have got from elsewhere?
The breadth of matters that you work on and the quality of work that you are given as a trainee is really unique. The knowledge that you gain from first-hand experience is so important and I think Boodle Hatfield is perfect for those who are looking to be substantively involved in the work that they do. Similarly I think it has been great for general development as a solicitor and a professional. You are able to deal directly with clients as well as people within the firm at all levels which is so important in developing communication and interpersonal skills for the future. Crucially this level of interaction also makes Boodle Hatfield a really sociable environment to work in!
How would you describe the culture of the firm?
The culture of the firm is really one of the most attractive parts of the training contract for me. Everyone is accommodating and so friendly, so it doesn’t take long to have met everyone and settle in. People at all levels will make the effort to support and include you, which is important when you are working in a sometimes pressured environment. The open-door policy and the fact that you sit with a partner as a trainee reflects the openness and lack of a rigid hierarchy, both of which mean that you feel comfortable approaching your seniors and seeking support.