Will provides his account of a day in the life of a Property trainee.
9am, arrival – I arrive at the office at around 9am each day. On the way through to my office, I pass my deputy supervisor’s office, so I often pop my head in for a quick chat before the day begins. Today is a Tuesday, which is when Boodle Hatfield’s five-a-side football team plays in the evening against local firms and companies, so I pop my head in to a senior associate’s office to speculate on the team’s chances of scraping a win. Trainees are also lucky enough to share an office with a partner, and in my case it’s the residential property and training partner, Graham. We too have a brief catch up on events as we log in to our laptops before starting the day.
Arriving at 9am allows me to sketch out a rough plan for the day’s work as organising my tasks and keeping a keen eye on priorities is essential.
After sketching out my plan for the day, I begin with my first task.
Remainder of the morning – the morning is usually spent working on the highest priority task on my list. The majority of said tasks will often involve drafting documents such as leases, licences and notices. From early on you are given the opportunity to draft significant documents relating to some very high-value, beautiful residential buildings in central London, which is a large responsibility, but very fulfilling. Obviously, everything is checked by one of my supervisors!
However, it must be noted that most mornings cannot be dedicated solely to the task of drafting. A high number of emails are received from clients each day, so it is important to manage one’s inbox and respond to client emails promptly. This results in many mornings being spent on tasks that were not originally in the days plan: versatility is an essential skill in the Property Department.
1-2pm, lunch – I tend to have lunch with the other trainees from 1-2pm. There are 9 of us in total (5 in my year and 4 in the year above), and we often each lunch together, so on most days there are at least 3-4 of us who will embark on a short trip to pick up some lunch and return to dine in the firm’s lunch area. The office is a short walk from the Tate Modern and the Thames, so on sunnier days, we opt to eat lunch sat on a bench looking across the Thames at St Paul’s and the City.
Early afternoon: I often spend early afternoons managing the matters that I am responsible for (with the appropriate supervision). There are many matters that require attention, so note taking and diarising are extremely important to enable the transactions to run smoothly. One notable example was on the sale of a freehold property in an exclusive area of London, which involved me drafting the necessary documentation, taking instructions from the client and liaising with the buyer’s solicitor and the estate agent. Tasks like this provide a great opportunity to build rapport with the client through direct correspondence (both telephone and email), and to practice emailing with the opposing solicitors. The Property seat provides a range of scenarios so sometimes you may work with the other side to get a transaction moving, and other times there will be stronger negotiation required – both are essential skills and the Property seat allows you to shape these in practice.
Late afternoon: as the working day nears an end and emails start to subside, I use the opportunity to complete more drafting. Drafting is satisfying but requires great attention to detail and strong concentration, especially if the matter has unique intricacies. However, again, this is very useful training because there is plenty of drafting to be done so skills will be picked up and practiced regularly.
End of the day: when the tasks for the day are complete, it is time to get changed for the highly anticipated five-a-side match with other members of the firm, followed by a celebratory/consolatory shandy with the team.