Chloe is a Trainee Solicitor who joined Forsters in September 2021 and who will qualify as a solicitor in 2023.
Why did you choose a career in law?
At the age of 15 I decided that I wanted to become a solicitor. The initial catalyst of my decision was reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, where the character of Atticus Finch became a symbol to me of selflessness, conviction and justice. The law has the potential to change lives, and I wanted the opportunity to work on cases that could affect legislative, social and political change. As a compassionate and ethically minded individual, I would like to make an impact on someone else’s life for the better.
I knew that I need an intellectually stimulating career that would challenge me to develop both professionally and personally. Moreover, a career in law offers longevity and stability, and the chance for me to use my strong teamwork skills to ensure I achieve positive results for my clients and the firm. The more knowledge I acquired about the legal field, the more I realised that skillset and ambitions aligned with a career in law.
Have the skills you learnt during your degree been useful to you training contract?
I completed a law degree with a professional placement year, and I think it is the professional placement year that has been most beneficial to my work as a trainee. There I learnt the importance of being organised- I was given around 50 matters to deal with in my second week of work! I have always been an organised person, but I think that my skills in prioritisation and effective note taking were greatly improved by my placement year.
Aside from this, my law degree introduced me to legal research databases and how to formulate arguments.
Why did you choose to apply for Forsters’ vacation scheme?
Molly Haynes (one of the trainees from the February cohorts and a good friend of mine) mentioned that she had been successful in her training application and she suggested that I apply to the firm as she thought it would be a good fit. Following her recommendation, I researched the firm and decided that it was a firm that I wanted to apply for. Not only did the firm offer a range of areas that I was interested in, I could gauge a real sense of community and the friendly ethos that everyone praises Forsters for. I was also attracted to the location of the firm as it was within commutable distance from home and is in a beautiful area of London surrounded by lots of green spaces.
What was your recruitment process experience for a vacation scheme with Forsters?
When I received an invitation to attend the assessment day, I was very nervous but excited to have progressed to the next stage of the application process. I think the part of the assessment centre that I enjoyed the most was the presenting task. I have always enjoyed public speaking and feel comfortable presenting, so I believe I was able to showcase a different range of skills during the task. Everyone from the reception staff to the partners were very welcoming and friendly, and I did not feel intimidated. It felt as though everyone was encouraging me to do well and I felt that this environment helped me to showcase myself in the best light.
My advice in preparing for the assessment day would be to ask the graduate recruitment team who will be conducting your interview. I believe this helped me to stand out as I was able to prepare tailored questions for my interviewers.
What was a typical day as a vacation scheme student like?
I spent my first week in the commercial real estate (CRE) department and my second week in the private client department. During my time in CRE I completed a variety of different tasks. One of my most interesting tasks was to research the principle of easements of necessity and how it applied to an issue that had arisen for one of the firm’s clients. Land law had not been one of my favourite modules in my undergraduate degree but conducting this research showed that real estate issues are much more interesting in practice. Moreover, I have always enjoyed conducting research and was pleased that my work was of benefit to the client.
During my time in the Private Client team, I was fortunate enough to be asked by the head of the department to sit in on a series of client meetings and take notes. Many of these clients had both domestic and international assets, which highlighted the diversity of work available at the firm. I prepared attendance notes following these calls and was grateful that the partner took the time to give me feedback on my notes and discuss the calls with me.
What did you most enjoy about your vacation scheme?
I would have to say that the scavenger hunt was my favourite part of the scheme! It was lovely to spend the afternoon discovering more about the Mayfair area, as there is so much history and beauty around the corner. Moreover, it was great to get to know the other vacation scheme students, the trainees and the newly qualified associates and ask them both work and non-work related questions to learn more about life at Forsters.
A close runner up would have to be delivering a presentation in my training contract interview on the advantages and disadvantages of multigenerational living. We were given two articles on the topic and asked to prepare a presentation inspired by the articles. The broad scope of the task provided me with the opportunity to research specific themes within the topic that were of interest to me. Moreover, my presentation helped me to realise that the law is heavily influenced by social and economic factors, and this must be taken into consideration when helping a client. I have always enjoyed delivering presentations, so I welcomed the opportunity to showcase my skills.
Looking back, was the vacation scheme an authentic representation for life at Forsters?
Yes, it was an authentic representation. Everyone from the reception staff to the heads of departments was friendly and welcoming. The fee earners that I completed tasks for really did want me to succeed in obtaining a training contract, and I felt very supported throughout. I had plenty of opportunity to complete trainee tasks and receive feedback on my work, which meant that when I began working as a trainee I had a rough idea of what sort of things I would be doing. At the end of my vacation scheme, I truly believed that I would be a good fit at the firm and was ecstatic when I received confirmation that I had secured the training contract!
What made you want to train at Forsters over other firms and has reality lived up to your expectations?
When I first research the firm, I was very impressed by the number of female partners. I know that female representation at the highest levels are often low within law firms, so to have so many female partners, including a female Managing Partner and Senior Partner, was incredibly inspiring.
Secondly, the work available and the diversity of the clients attracted me to the firm. The firm offers a wide range of services, meaning that I am able to trial different areas of law before deciding where I want to qualify. This is also facilitated by the 6 four-month long seat process as part of the training contract. I enjoyed working as a trusts and estates administration paralegal in my placement year during my undergraduate degree, and I knew that Forsters’ private client team is held in high esteem. Moreover, I have always wanted to try a seat in family law and Forsters’ family team has grown exponentially.
Finally, Forsters is a modern and progressive firm in so many ways. The firm actively promotes a culture of having a work life balance and repeatedly demonstrates its commitment to sustainability. I am very pleased that the firm has celebrated Black History Month and particularly enjoyed the Caribbean food from Jerk Village and the presentation by Khareem Jamal discussing forgotten black figures in history and the importance of Black History Month.
The reality has lived up to my expectations. I am thoroughly enjoying my time in the firm thus far and I have met some lovely people.
What has been your most memorable moment at Forsters so far?
My most memorable moment has been completing my first set of papers to counsel. This involved me collating a pack of documents to be given to the instructed barrister which contained a variety of information such as recent court orders, attendance notes, an independent social worker’s report and correspondence between Forsters and the client. The process was definitely a learning curve as there were a few IT related issues along the way, and it was a time-consuming task that had to be completed prior to a conference call with the barrister. Once I had sent the papers to the counsel’s clerk, I felt a sense of relief but also a sense of achievement! I know I am still getting used to navigating the systems and also the cases themselves, so I am proud of myself for persevering and completing the task to the best of my ability.
What have been the highlights of you career with Forsters so far?
I feel very grateful to be asked by the head of the Family department (Joanne Edwards) to complete tasks for her. I know that Jo is very well respected within family law and having the opportunity to learn from her will only help my development as a trainee. The most interesting work I have done so far is a research task on child-inclusive mediation which then led on to being asked to draft a letter to client and creating a template consent form to enable the mediation to go ahead. From this opportunity, I have been invited to sit in on a client meeting which will be the first face-to-face meeting with a client that I have attended since I began my training contract.
What are the people and the culture like at Forsters?
The people are very friendly! I often speak to someone new when I am in the lift or making a cup of tea in the kitchen, and everyone has been very welcoming. The firm want everyone’s individuality to be valued and respected, which I think is very important for the diverse society in which we live and operate in.
What is your no. 1 tip for someone who wants to be a trainee at Forsters?
Be proactive! Do thorough research on the firm and attend open days and apply for the vacation scheme, as the two-week placement really helped me to decide that I wanted to work at the firm above all others. Forsters wants to hear from people who have a passion not only for the work that they do, but for what the firm represents. If you do attend any graduate recruitment events, go prepared with questions and speak to as many people as you can to get a feel for the firm and whether you would be the right fit.
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