At Gateley, trainees are encouraged to complete a seat in a Corporate, Property and contentious discipline, with one seat then allocated as a ‘choice’ seat. Focusing on property in particular, Trainee Emily Driver looks at the transition from studying theory on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to putting it in to practise on a training contract.
Real Estate: From university to private practice
Spending six months in a property department could involve working within the firm’s Real Estate or Residential Development units. When I joined Gateley, I was pleased to find out that I would spend my first seat in the Real Estate unit, as it was a practice area that I had studied on the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and LPC. However, I was initially daunted by the jump from studying at university to doing real work for real clients. Here are some tips that I found useful for bridging the gap between university and private practice.
- Transferrable skills
You will find that a lot of the knowledge and skills that you learned on the LPC are directly applicable to your day-to-day work in the department. Typical trainee tasks can involve completing Land Registry applications and conducting legal research. Other tasks include preparing lease reports, which draw upon lease analysis skills and written communication. These are all covered on the LPC and you will find that you can demonstrate these skills from an early stage.
- Training and support
Help is always available if you ask for it. During the second week of my seat, I attended a training day for all of the firm’s new Real Estate trainees. This gave me a good overview of what to expect during my time in the department and how to use various legal resources to assist with my work.
The department also puts on regular training sessions for all fee earners, relating to various topical and legal issues. Monthly commercial law updates are also circulated to ensure that all fee earners are kept up to date with the latest industry news and developments.
Don’t be afraid to get stuck in. From an early stage, I have been able to manage some of my own files, which has helped me gain an understanding of the management of a transaction from start to finish, and also given me the opportunity to interact with clients regularly. Whilst this level of responsibility was initially daunting, the emphasis has always been on having a go, and supervision and feedback are always available.
As a trainee in the team, you are also responsible for various other tasks, which may include compiling minutes from departmental meetings and organising team events, such as the departmental Christmas party!
- Have an open mind
When I joined the department I was surprised at the wide variety of work that is done across the team. Here in Nottingham, there is a mixture of specialties including: commercial developments, pension schemes, corporate recovery matters and corporate support matters. I have been able to assist all fee earners in my department, and have had good exposure to these different areas.
The department also works closely with other offices and departments. As a new trainee, this is a great way to get to know colleagues in other disciplines and to develop confidence within the office environment.
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