Anna is a newly qualified lawyer in our Property team in London. We asked her what attracted her to this area of law and what challenges she encountered on her path to qualification.
My interest in the Planning & Environment, Energy & Infrastructure (P&E, E&I) team was piqued when various trainees and NQs independently raved about it. On closer inspection, it wasn’t difficult to understand why they did so; it’s the largest planning practice in the country and has topped industry tables for five years running. Having spent six months with the team, and accepted an NQ role with them in London, I can also attest that they’re an exceptionally lovely bunch and great fun to work with. It’s well worth looking past the wordy title to find out what the team does and why they’re so good at it.
I started my training contract in the Construction Advisory & Disputes team and then completed a seat in the Contentious Tax team before joining the P&E, E&I team. I finished my final seat in the Employment & Reward team in September 2018. Whilst I’ve done my fair share of bundling, all of my seats have been intellectually challenging and I’ve always been pushed to take on as much responsibility as I could handle. I now feel well prepared to step up to the position of an NQ and I’m looking forward to taking ownership of my own matters.
When I put down P&E, E&I on my preference form, my intention was to get some transactional experience having really enjoyed two litigation seats. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to be put on a Supreme Court case within my first week in the Development Planning sub-team! As I grew to understand, the variety of work across the team is broad and a lot of it is contentious, if not litigious.
The team deals with all aspects of planning and consenting work. The Development Planning sub-team focusses on planning applications in the form that you may have briefly covered during a property module, relating to significant development sites across a wide range of sectors. This involves advising on applications, negotiating permissions and drafting planning agreements and, where necessary, steering clients through appeals and judicial reviews. The London team mostly works on large regeneration schemes. The work is political, with lots of interaction with local and central government and the public. I often had to grapple with tricky technical research tasks but the focus was always on finding a commercial solution. Planning work incorporated many of the things that I liked about litigation but I could also take satisfaction in knowing that my work was contributing to tangible development in housing and infrastructure.
The wider team has unrivalled expertise advising on nationally significant infrastructure projects (i.e. power plants, airports, roads), for which a Development Consent Order is required. The Energy & Infrastructure sub-team advise the UK’s most significant stake-holders on specialist property, planning and environmental aspects of implementing high profile projects. With the largest Environment team in the UK, this sub-team also advises on the full range of environmental law, including regulatory advice and environmental prosecutions. In addition, the Parliamentary Agency & Government Affairs sub-team advises on legal, strategic and procedural issues associated with parliamentary process and boasts two of fewer than twenty Roll A Parliamentary Agents authorised by the Speaker to promote and oppose local and private legislation in the Westminster Parliament. Lawyers across the team tend to specialise in one of these areas but often maintain a varied practice across more than one. I look forward to getting exposure to different types of work as an NQ, as is very much encouraged.
My advice for future trainees considering a career in property at Pinsent Masons is to set aside what you’ve studied and consider the broader range of work that’s on offer within the Property Group. If you like technical and strategic work, and have an interest in public policy, P&E, E&I might be for you.
Best in class.
Just as the second lockdown struck, so approached application deadlines for vacation placements. So, here’s an overview of how I got to know Pinsent Masons virtually.
Read about Taylor's experience of our Virtual Vacation Scheme
Anne Sammon is an Employment & Reward Partner in London. Anne has significant experience in tribunal and high-court litigation in areas including discrimination, unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.