Saskia is a Partner, Head of residential property and a Trainee Supervisor
How do trainees get involved in the property department
The trainees are a key element of us providing the property clients with the service that they expect from us. We get the trainees involved in client work right from day one. Although this may sound a little daunting at first, we are a very friendly and supportive team, and we ensure that they get the help they need so that they learn what to do very quickly.
What sort of work do they do for you?
I do a mix of residential, commercial and agricultural property work and I make sure that the trainees get involved in all types of work so that they learn as much as possible.
For example my trainee has a specific role with one of my larger clients who has a large property portfolio. The trainee has sole responsibility for undertaking all licences to alter, assign and under-let and will deal directly with the client and other solicitors on those matters. He also attends the monthly client meeting with me and will be asked to give an update on those particular pieces of work. This work can be busy, time pressured and often needs to complete quickly, but the trainees tell me that they find it a great way to learn a lot in a short space of time.
I also ensure that each trainee sees a number of residential transactions from start to finish. On larger jobs, the trainee will help me with undertaking searches, checking copies and relevant terms and undertaking further enquiries. By working together on these transactions the trainees quickly learn to identify what are the relevant points to prioritise.
What support and guidance do you provide as a trainee supervisor?
I discuss each main piece of work with my trainee and explain the context of what we are trying to do for the client. I encourage the trainee to tell me what they think they should do and to highlight any areas of which they are unsure so that we can discuss before they start work.
My trainee sits in my office and attends a lot of meetings with me so is able to absorb the way I approach particular situations. This really helps with picking up the client care and commercial skills that make a successful lawyer.
We also undertake three monthly and six monthly appraisals which provide the trainees with specific feedback and allows them to discuss their progress.
What makes a great trainee for Boodle Hatfield?
All of our trainees are intelligent and that is a pre-requisite for the job. However, what makes a really great trainee is one who is level headed and stays calm when doing something new against a deadline. It really helps if they can think an issue through rationally and then ask pertinent questions. We are always ready to provide guidance, but it is much better if the trainee has tried to work it out first. That also helps them to learn quickly. The trainees who excel are also those who listen to how the partners approach clients and solicitors on the phone and at meetings and learn how to be commercial and client-focussed.
What attracts trainees to Boodle Hatfield?
Our culture is very open and friendly so trainees find that it is easy to get to know people at all levels and to approach them for guidance. We get them involved in client work at a very early stage and they learn huge amounts from the work they do.
We take great care in providing each trainee with a breadth of work in each seat so that they are able to get a feel for different types of work so that they can really find out what appeals to them before they qualify. They work with a number of fee earners during their six months so can get a real taste of what being a property lawyer is all about.
Boodle Hatfield is an excellent firm to choose for trainees who are interested in property as we have such a wide ranging practice including residential, commercial, agricultural construction and urban estate work, and trainees get a good flavour of each of those areas while they are with us.