Both of my first seats at Bristows have been in transactional departments, as I spent my first three months in the Commercial IP/IT team, and am now sitting in the Real Estate department. As the other trainees have been running around filing documents at court and preparing bundles, I’ve been reviewing contracts and spending whole afternoons on the phone to the land registry. I thought I would take this opportunity to share my experiences of transactional seats at Bristows, to explain their similarities and differences, and to discuss the challenges that a transactional seat represents.
A seat in the Commercial IP/IT department
As explained in Harry’s blog, the fact that the Commercial IP/IT department is split into three groups means that a seat there is always going to provide a real breadth of work. This can be challenging, as you switch your attention from data protection matters to IT outsourcing matters in quick succession, but the diversity of work means you are unlikely to ever be bored. Unlike the Real Estate department, where most matters are fairly similar in nature (i.e. leases), the Commercial IP/IT group really exposes you to a lot of different transactions. Contracts, licences, confidentiality agreements and data privacy policies are all likely to come across your desk at some stage.
Being flexible enough to work on this diverse range of matters can be challenging, but the work is really fascinating, and the group advises some of the ‘coolest’ clients the firm has. Another challenge I found in this seat was the jargon that is a part of each deal. Particularly when working on your first IT outsourcing matters, it can be hard to get to grips with the terminology behind some really complex technology. In the Real Estate department, most of the terms you will come across will be familiar from the LPC, but sitting in Commercial IP/IT, it can seem like people are speaking another language at times.
A seat in the Real Estate department
Moving from one transactional seat to another, the biggest culture shock was the difference in the number of matters I was expected to work on. In Commercial IP/IT, I found that I was working across four of five matters at a time, often helping with some fairly big tasks on each. In the Real Estate department, I’m working across close to 20 matters, and for a few of them I am the client’s first point of contact. The steep learning curve in terms of client contact definitely takes some getting used to, but the added autonomy and responsibility means that Real Estate is a really rewarding seat.
Staying on top of all of those matters has forced me to quickly improve my organisational skills, but there are elements of my experience in Commercial IP/IT which have definitely helped since the switch. Negotiation is a huge part of any transactional seat, and so having been part of some protracted back-and-forth exchanges in my first seat gave me a good understanding of the way lease negotiations might work. Similarly, I was given a few interesting drafting tasks in Commercial IP/IT, and the feedback I got on those has set me in good stead to draft contractual clauses with more authority and confidence.
All in all, both of these transactional seats have exceeded my expectations, and I would highly recommend any future trainees request a stint in each.