How did you get your training contract at Trowers & Hamlins?
I began my training contract with Trowers & Hamlins in March 2019, with my first seat in the Projects and Construction team in Birmingham. I was offered the training contract in August 2017, following a successful two week vacation scheme. During the period between my training contract offer and start date, I spent ten months as a real estate paralegal with the firm.
Why did you choose Trowers & Hamlins?
When deciding where to undertake my training contract, there were many reasons why I applied for and chose Trowers. However the top three reasons were:
1. Culture – my early encounters with Trowers were at law fairs, talks at University and with friends who already worked at the firm. My interactions with trainees and the graduate recruitment team were always positive and I got an insight into the culture at the firm, in particular the support provided to its trainees and the firm's positive encouragement of diversity. This prompted my application for a vacation scheme placement. On my vacation scheme, I was treated as a true member of the firm and given tasks of real responsibility to help the team with current matters – not something I had always experienced on other vacation schemes. During my time as a paralegal and as a trainee solicitor, I have also had the opportunity to witness and participate in the firm's 'Trowers Includes' initiative, which emphasises the need to celebrate the diversity of its workforce (including different ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation amongst many others). I have found that the firm has strongly supported my personal development - whether this is directly from my supervisor, other members of the firm (even in different offices – who are simply one call away and are happy to assist) or through the regular department specific or soft skills training the firm provides – I particularly enjoyed the influence, persuasion and negotiations workshop delivered by an external industry expert.
2. Work type – the real estate practice at Trowers is one of the largest parts of the business. I have always enjoyed this area of work, and having spent time as a paralegal in the Birmingham Real Estate team (working across the commercial property and Housing and Regeneration teams), as well as spending the first six months of my training contract in Projects and Construction, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients (including private developers, registered social housing providers, government bodies and local councils). This has allowed me to undertake a wide range of work within Real Estate law. I am also excited to experience the firm's other departments which are showing very positive signs of growth in Birmingham, in particular the property, construction and commercial litigation teams and the corporate/commercial team. Furthermore, being an international law firm, I have also had the opportunity to work alongside my colleagues in the London office and even our Abu Dhabi office despite being based in Birmingham. This has ensured that the work remains varied and challenging.
3. Office – when applying for the training contract, it was important to me to join a firm where I could be a part of its growth in the long term. During the recruitment process, I was impressed by the plans for the Birmingham office and the firm more widely. The Birmingham office opened in 2011, and now has over 100 people in the office. Since my time with the firm, I have seen a growth in numbers within the Real Estate and Corporate/Commercial teams. As I consider my future as a newly qualified solicitor, this gives me confidence that I will have long term prospects with the firm and can play a part in the continued growth of the firm.
What does your role involve?
As a trainee solicitor, my key responsibilities are to support the department within which I work. Being an international law firm, this is not always limited to the Birmingham office. The firm encourages its trainees to attend networking events as these are not only opportunities to promote the firm, but are also an investment into the trainee's own brand and building their own connections. The firm has allowed me to invest time attending networking events (whether they are department specific or not). Similarly, Trowers has strongly encouraged me to also participate in mentoring schemes, which are not necessarily legal related. For instance, I will be acting as a mentor to young unemployed Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals in the Birmingham community. Coming from a working class Bangladeshi family, this was an exciting opportunity and I only became aware of this through the Trowers network.
What is the structure of your training contract?
The firm sets out a formal scheme which is to complete four six month seats in four different departments within the firm. The graduate recruitment team have conversations with us to determine our preferences and will make efforts to match this and balance it with the business needs. To ensure we are benefitting from each department, Trowers also organise a mid-seat and end of seat appraisal with our supervisors. This is an opportunity for the trainees, along with their supervisors, to reflect on the work they have done – identifying the strengths and any areas of improvement. However, despite having these formal meetings, trainees are always open to discuss any issues they have and supervisors/graduate recruitment are always available. In my current department, I meet with my supervisor on a monthly basis, simply to check in and discuss any concerns. I have found that Trowers have always ensured that time is provided to assist the trainee's personal development. Furthermore, despite having a relatively large number of trainees nationally, the firm organises mid-seat meals to allow all the UK trainees to socialise and build our own working relationships.
What are some of the highlights of your training contract?
I have had the opportunity to be closely involved in very complex but gratifying matters – such as the construction of a new medical centre. The deal was very complex with many parties involved (including a new joint venture company, a funder, various appointments of construction professionals) and the deal meant that I was working closely alongside the commercial property and the corporate team. There were tight deadlines to meet which made the matter more challenging. However, upon completion, there was the satisfaction knowing that I had improved many important skills and knowing that I assisted in developing a medical centre which would eventually help the local community. On a more personal level, a big highlight has been my involvement in the Religion and Belief Network, a branch within the 'Trowers Includes' initiative. I was given the opportunity to deliver a firm wide talk on my personal Islamic pilgrimage, Umrah, which I completed in January 2019. The firm encouraged this talk and it enabled me to spread more awareness about my personal experience of being a proud British Bangladeshi Muslim working in the legal field and an opportunity for anyone to ask questions. I received excellent feedback ranging from members of our IT Service Desk team to the firm's International Managing Partner and I am glad the firm gave me the opportunity to share this experience which was personally important to me.
Finally, are you enjoying your training contract?
I am thoroughly enjoying my experiences with the firm. I truly believe that, whilst we all share the fundamental values of the firm, Trowers encourages all its employees to be proud of its diverse backgrounds and draw upon all our collective experiences to help our personal development and take the firm forwards. My training contract has been challenging but rewarding thus far and I look forward to continuing this journey.