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Practice Profile: Introducing our Real Estate Industry Group in London
“A very holistic, all-round training experience”

November 2021: James Johnson is a partner in our global Real Estate Industry Group based in London. Former practice trainees Kate Curran and Elliott Hunt join James to share their views on life as a trainee in this cross-border area of the law that often directly shapes the world around us.

Tell us about this area of the law.

James Johnson: We offer market-leading advice across a range of practice areas where real estate is at the centre of the transaction. We work with developers, owners, investors, corporates, lenders and underwriters around the world. We also provide specialised knowledge of a wide range of asset classes, providing guidance not only on their sale and purchase, but on their construction, financing, leasing and operation.

Kate Curran: The global real estate industry is evolving. New investors are moving into real estate from other investment areas, bringing with them fresh ideas and diverse requirements. Property development in all sectors and asset classes are transforming skylines and landscapes in both mature and developing economies.

Elliott Hunt: The projects and deals are highly varied and often feature a cross-border dimension, giving you the benefit of working with, and learning from, lawyers across the Firm's international offices. You will also be interacting regularly with colleagues working in a broad spectrum of practice areas, from M&A and Project Finance to Debt Finance, Commercial Litigation and Construction.

"A fantastic opportunity to experience a deal running from start to finish."

What kinds of tasks can a trainee expect to do?

JJ: As the designated 'pure' Real Estate trainee, you will be involved in a broad range of matters, including investment acquisitions and disposals, property financing, landlord and tenant work, real estate management and cross-border transactions. In addition, you can expect to be involved in M&A and private equity deals from a 'specialist' real estate angle.

EH: A seat in Real Estate is a fantastic opportunity to experience a deal running from start to finish as clients rely on us to provide practical and commercially focussed solutions throughout. Meanwhile, the more 'advisory', ad hoc matters help you to learn how to navigate specific property documents and communicate advice in a concise fashion. This dual transaction/advisory aspect to the seat means it provides a very holistic, all-round training experience.

KC: You will be staffed on multiple transactions at any given time, providing the opportunity to assist with due diligence, preparing reports on title and reviewing draft documentation. In addition, you will be given a high level of responsibility for dealing with less complex "ad hoc" matters, which may include ongoing property advice for key clients, dealing with land registry matters and researching points of law.

An opportunity to refine teamwork and organisation skills

The trainees' tips for succeeding in the Real Estate Practice…

KC: Sitting in a relatively small department provides an invaluable opportunity to refine your 'softer' skills, particularly your teamwork and organisation skills. The team will rely heavily on you to coordinate different workstreams, report on progress and efficiently move from one matter to the next. This seat also provides multiple opportunities to broaden your internal White & Case network, as you can expect to work closely with the REF, Construction and Corporate departments.

EH: A successful Real Estate or Real Estate Finance trainee will require good organisational skills in order to track the progress of any given transaction including the numerous project and finance documents to provide regular and up-to-date updates to the team. They will need to be a proactive team member, for example, alerting your deal team to potential 'gating' items and upcoming deadlines.

And the partner's tips…

JJ:  Find a firm that offers you as broad a range of experiences as can be crammed into what is a brief two-year period in your career. It will give you the opportunity to make sensible and informed decisions. It's nearly 20 years since I signed my training contract, and I still think White & Case delivers on this.

And finally…

JJ: A typical trainee responsibility includes coordinating transactions from kick-off to signing and completion. This involves liaising closely with the client, local counsel and other members of the White & Case deal team. From a learning perspective, this task is an invaluable way to understand the deal at a holistic level by breaking down complex transactions into the key underlying documents and issues.