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Catherine’s path to qualification in the Planning and Environment, Energy and Infrastructure team (P&E&E&I)

Catherine is a Newly Qualified Solicitor (NQ) in the P&E&E&I team in London. We asked her what attracted her to this area of corporate law and what her path to qualification looked like.

Why did you choose Property?

I did my Property Seat in the P&E&E&I (Planning and Environment, Energy and Infrastructure) team in the Glasgow office, on secondment from London. This team does a broad spectrum of planning, environment and property work, with the focus being on energy and infrastructure projects. I chose to do a seat in the P&E&E&I team as a result of my longstanding interest in the energy sector. Further to this, I was aware of the firm’s stellar reputation in delivering large energy and infrastructure projects, and so was interested to get involved in the planning, environmental and property aspects of these projects.

During my time in the team, I was involved in work which ranged from title due diligence on strips of road required for the delivery of wind turbines, negotiating leases for district heating, reviewing environmental surveys and habitat assessments, to mapping out land ownership from the seabed to a substation! Most juniors start out in the team by undertaking a mix of property, planning and environment work, and are encouraged to specialise as their careers progress.

I had expected property to be a lot of form-filling, close legislative reading and assessment of case-law, as this was what was emphasised on the GDL and LPC. In fact, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety, commerciality and creativity required in a property seat (yes, this can involve coloured pens!). There is a real intellectual challenge involved in property work and (compared to other seats I have since undertaken) there is more reference to “black letter law” than in other seats, where you rarely need to consult legislation. A seat in property allows trainees to experience transactional work with a good level of trainee responsibility and variety of work. The property team also works a lot with other teams within the firm, such as Projects and Corporate, and works in conjunction with teams in other offices, which provides a good opportunity for trainees to build their internal profiles.

After I left the P&E&E&I team I undertook a seat in the Corporate Crime and Investigations team within litigation, followed by six months in Energy Projects. I am now finishing my final seat of my training contract in the Corporate team. I have enjoyed all of these other seats, and often the work has offered opportunity for crossover with the types of projects I worked on whilst in P&E&E&I. A good example would be Energy Projects where I worked on similar transactions to those I had worked on in my property seat, including one project which was ongoing, thus allowing me to see the transaction from a different perspective.

I joined the P&E&E&I team as a NQ Solicitor in London in September 2018 and was especially looking forward to taking on increased responsibility, working out what areas of property as well as energy and infrastructure projects I am most interested in, and gaining more client exposure, as well as increased involvement in BD.

Do you have any advice for current and future trainees considering a career in Property?

Have an idea of what kinds of developments you would like to work on, whether that be commercial properties, energy and/or infrastructure projects, or redevelopment sites. An awareness of how property plays a pivotal role in major projects is also important, and so I would definitely advise that you keep up an awareness of events in the market, such as new infrastructure projects or governmental policy which could impact the stream of work you might get involved in.

A refresh of your LPC notes before you start would be helpful too in order that you hit the ground running on day 1, but there are lots of useful training sessions once you start the seat which will refresh your memory too!

Describe Property team in 3 words? 

Stimulating, impactful, relevant.

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