This London boutique knows a thing or two about real estate, so come for the specialist property work and stay for the camaraderie.
Maples Teesdale training contract review 2022
Kirstie and Phil know their way around property. The highs, the lows, and the heady thrills of your next home. With arguably less televised spectacle, those at Maples Teesdale can similarly boast expertise in all things real estate. Chambers UK gives MT a high ranking for its work on mid-market real estate transactions, but also acknowledges its capabilities when it comes to handling disputes in this area too. Given the nature of the work, we weren’t surprised to hear trainees’ motivations for joining the firm, which were encapsulated neatly by this source: “I just really enjoy commercial real estate.”
“…all the work you do is through a property lens.”
Enjoying commercial real estate at MT means being able to sample its many facets, whether it’s financing matters, planning issues or the contentious fallout from things like tenancy renewals or dilapidations. Coupling its sector-specific expertise, sources we spoke with highlighted the firm’s size as part of the appeal. “There aren’t a swarm of juniors here,” a source noted. “It’s just full of really nice people across two floors. It’s hard to be a bad person when it’s this small.” This applies to those at the very top too: “The managing partner is very keen to get to know you when you start: he really makes you feel welcome.”
Trainees complete four six-month seats. “Almost all trainees do commercial property first,” we were told. A small trainee cohort also helps to reduce any jostling for specific seats at each rotation: “You email your preferences across to the training partnerand most people get them. I haven’t heard of people not getting their preferences.” Trainees can also potentially second to one of the firm’s clients, such as BMO Real Estate Partners or abrdn.
“I did a number of licences for small lease units in various shopping centres and railway stations, which all have unique characteristics.”
The engine room in the Maples shop is its commercial property department. “It’s really partner-heavy,” one source explained, which was deemed a plus point: “It’s really great to almost always have a partner on a deal.” The department works on behalf of landlords and corporate occupiers on all manner of “day-to-day lettings”and large transactions.One source highlighted that “there tends to be some buzz on bigger matters,” like the sale of a shopping centre or a large cinema operator, “as it’s really interesting to deal with assets of that size.”The team recently advised Aberdeen Standard Investments on the sale of a retail park for £46.25 million.Sources were pleased to try their hand at “lots of drafting, negotiating, and client contact” in the seat. Preparing commercial leases, memorandums, and Land Registry applications proved to be common tasks. “You get quite a lot of independence early on,” one interviewee enthused. “I did a number of licences for small lease units in various shopping centres and railway stations, which all have unique characteristics.”This type of work saw lawyers here negotiate a lease for Bleckmann Logistics UK’s new distribution centre in Lutterworth.
There’s some overlap inthe real estate financeteam, which acts for both lenders and borrowers on the financing or refinancing of real estate assets. Fear not, incomers: while “finance can be quite complicated,”the firm “provides quite a few training sessions” to get trainees up to speed. “We work for clearing banks and debt funds,”one source told us. “Making sure the conditions precedent checklist is ticked off” is a common trainee task. “You’re not negotiating transactional documents, but you are very involved and invested.”Responsibility is there to be had, though: “I was involved from start to finish in coordinating the selling of a block of flats,” one trainee said. “There were 200 in each plot, so there was lots of document management and picking up the phone to clients.” Sources had also found work in commercial construction projects, as well as “smaller property development” matters for small lenders. The team advised Deutsche Hypo on the amendment and restatement of a circa £40 million senior facility and related intercreditor arrangements in respect of the refinancing of a large private rented sector (PRS) development in London. The group also advised real estate development funder Maslow Capital on the funding of a property refurbishment to create residential units and commercial spaces with a development value worth over £66 million.
“I was thrown in the deep end but had those inflatable kid wings on, which meant I was very supported.”
Maples’ corporate department is reportedly smaller than others at the firm, with work “usually centred on property sales – it’s typically either a share sale or selling a company that owns property through special purpose vehicles.” We’re told things are “similar to real estate finance in that it is process-driven,”meaning there’s work on board resolutions, other ancillary documents and due diligence questionnaires. “If you want to draft, they encourage you to crack on,” one source noted. “Major documents like the share purchase agreement will be done by seniors but you’ll be given the ancillary documents.” Work moves beyond the UK, too. “I was dealing with a Luxembourg company owned by a Jersey company,” one source noted. “It was really interesting to work with counsel in different jurisdictions.” Trainees had also worked on group restructurings for partnerships that own UK properties; larger real estate acquisitions – like a large-scale holiday park – as well as property acquisitions being made by high net worth individuals. “I learnt very quickly in that seat,” one source recalled. “I was thrown in the deep end but had those inflatable kid wings on, which meant I was very supported.”The team advised PATRIZIA on the off-market sale of Guildhall, a city centre office in Glasgow, on behalf of its UK Value 2 Fund to Maya Capital for a total consideration of about £30 million.
Work in real estate disputes was described by one source as consisting of “lots of standalone tasks, like serving on tenants or working on rent arrears matters.” The isolated nature of tasks was felt to be “good, as it means there’s less oversight and you get a good level of independence.” Trainees had helped prepare for trials that had arisen from rights to light claims: “There’s a specialist in the team who does lots of work in that area, so I was helping prepare notices and ancillary documents.” Putting together letters before action and schedules of dilapidations were also typical trainee tasks. “I did spend quite a lot of time ringing around the courts,” another interviewee noted. Disclosure-related assignments and assisting with tribunal matters also kept trainees busy in this seat. Clients here include the City of London Corporation, Legal & General and CBRE Investors. Recent cases have involved representing Cine-UK in a rent arrears matter brought about by the closure of cinemas during the pandemic, as well as acting for The Cavendish Hotel in a lease renewal dispute.
One source reflected that life at Maples is “quite relaxed and laid-back.” Another added: “Everyone here is just really nice. I’m never nervous about going into the firm; it’s a comforting and comfortable environment.” In part, interviewees felt these cultural dynamics trickled down from the top. “The managing partner is possibly the nicest guy I’ve ever met! He’s just a really lovely bloke.” These collegial qualities meant “there’s room to be cheeky here,” one trainee joked. “There’s just not a bad personality in the bunch; you can chat with anyone.”
That’s good news considering the firm holds “plenty of social events,” whether they’re organised affairs – like pub quizzes and seasonal parties – or more spontaneous shindigs. “It’s not an alcohol-driven social culture,”another interviewee told us. “We’re not out every night, but there can occasionally be some sore heads in the morning, which you don’t feel guilty for!”
“There’s just not a bad personality in the bunch; you can chat with anyone.”
Sources were also quick to praise the firm’s improving approaches to diversity. “There’s much more of an emphasis on it now,” one rookie found. “There always was an emphasis but you’re now seeing the cultural shift.”A diversity committee, CSR events – like running CV workshops for students from disadvantaged backgrounds – and discussions of funding LPCs to boost social mobility were considered moves in the right direction.One source highlighted that “we’re not where we need to be in terms of representation yet,” while another pointed to the “conscious emphasis made when hiring – not everyone went to public school, which is great.”
Another positive note from our interviews concerned trainee hours. “I’ve had a really good work/life balance across the contract,” one source shared, echoing most trainees we spoke with. “Generally, you start at 9.30am and it’s very rare you’ll stay past 7pm.” One source added that “you’re actively told not to work on weekends.” And while late nights are part of the legal equation at some point or another – one source noted the “latest”finish being in corporate at 11.30pm – it’s the exception rather than the rule. “This isn’t a place for people who want to stay late for the sake of it.”
Coupling these manageable demands is the salary, which, though lower than many other outfits in the capital, received positive reviews. “I’m very happy and can’t complain,” one source commented. “You could go to another law firm and make triple figures, but you earn the money there [in the long hours worked].” Another added: “It’s a decent wage for the hours you do and the life you have.”Sounds great to us.
Don’t be such a Tees!
Given that the firm hires trainees with a sole interest in real estate work, qualification usually results in a 100% retention rate: the qualifiers want to stay at a real estate boutique and MT wants to keep them. The firm told us that it is very rare for a trainee not to be offered a job upon qualification. MT did it again in 2021, as it kept on all three of its qualifiers.
How to get a Maples Teesdale training contract
Maples Teesdale uses an online application form which can be accessed on the trainee section of the firm's website. Training principal Anastasia Klein tells us that the form asks “probing questions, including 'why us?' We want to know if and why candidates want to go to a specialist real estate firm with a comparatively small headcount. It's different to applying to the very large full-service firms.” Maples usually receives about 120 applications for its three training contracts, and approximately 10% of those candidates are invited to interview.
There's one interview, conducted by a panel of two partners, which typically lasts about an hour. “That's usually enough for us to a get a sense of somebody and why they feel they should be joining us, as a niche real estate firm. We can ascertain whether they've really researched us.”
Interviewers look out for evidence of “a clear interest in the area the firm works in, like study modules taken in real estate, but we're not necessarily going to grill somebody on legal matters if they're still only at university.” The interview includes a brief property-focused case study that candidates are asked to discuss at the interview. Klein says: “There are no absolute right or wrong answers but it helps give us a feel for the candidates’ basic understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the subject.”
What else are they after? Klein tells us that “it's nice to see paralegalling experience in a real estate department. Then we can see that someone has exposure to it and likes it. It can help an application along if a candidate can genuinely point to an interesting deal they've come across, for instance, and what problems they might have faced. It shows that they already understand something about the subject.” However, Klein emphasises that this isn't a prerequisite.
The interview is also a chance for “us to learn about candidates, and there are questions on the application form about what challenges they've faced and what they like to do outside of work. We like to see how they engage in a social context.” A final word of advice? “We are genuinely looking for people who are excited by the commercial real estate industry, not just someone who wants a job. We see trainees as our future, and so we need to invest in the right candidates who have a passion for real estate, like we do.”
Maples Teesdale LLP
30 King Street,
- Partners 17
- Assistant solicitors 36
- Total trainees 6
- UK offices London
- Contact Training partner: Anastasia Klein firstname.lastname@example.org
- Application criteria
- Training contracts: pa 3
- Applications pa: 50
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 degree
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract deadline, 2022 start: 20 August 2021
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £36,668
- Second-year salary: £38,754
- Post-qualification salary: £64,445
- Holiday entitlement: 25 days
Maples Teesdale are the UK’s leading commercial property law specialists, providing innovative, full service and truly partner led services to UK based and international clients. The firm’s sole focus is real estate. This means that all of the firm’s experience, knowledge, work and industry relationships are sharply focused on helping clients and their property requirements. Maples Teesdale takes a real and long-term interest in the industry.
Main areas of work
Commercial property, construction, corporate, finance, litigation and planning.
Maples Teesdale trainees are the future of the business. You will receive the best training possible in a friendly and supportive environment. At the same time, the firm will ensure that your training contract is stimulating and rewarding. As a specialist real estate practice, the firm’s largest department is commercial property. This is supported by construction, corporate, finance, litigation and planning.
Trainees have the opportunity to gain experience, skills and knowledge across these different departments in four, six-month seats. There may also be an opportunity to spend time on secondment with clients. During each seat rotation, trainees sit with a partner who acts as their supervisor allocating work to them and ensuring that they are also getting regular opportunities to work with a variety of fee-earners. They also play an active role in advising and developing their trainee throughout their training contract. Maples Teesdale want you to feel part of the team from the outset.
The training is very ‘hands on’ and aims to give you as much responsibility as you are confident to handle. You will be actively encouraged to become a valuable member of the team, drafting documents, doing research and attending client meetings.
Pension, Ride2Work cycle loan scheme, interest free season ticket loans, life assurance, private medical insurance.
Diversity, wellbeing and inclusion:
Key amongst our values at Maples Teesdale is to ensure that internally we offer a friendly, supportive, inclusive and collegiate working atmosphere for our staff and, that externally we provide commercial advice and are available and responsive to our clients. As a firm specialising in commercial property, we also value understanding of the real estate market and strive to be reflective of the industry and the community in which we operate.
We proactively address gender, age, sexual orientation, disability and socio-economic discrimination at all levels of our business; from recruitment to engagement in an active programme of internal and external community, charity and environmental events and initiatives run by our CSR Committee. Our Wellbeing Committee has organised for members of our team to be trained as mental health counsellors and run unconscious bias workshops. We also regularly celebrate cultural diversity, marking events such as religious holidays, Pride and National Womens’ Week.
We are proud of our work with the East End Community Foundation, an organisation that connects businesses with grassroots organisations in the East End. We linked up with the Foundation as we recognise that when you are working in an office in the City it is easy to overlook the poverty and other socio-economic issues on your doorstep. We provide volunteers from our firm for activities as diverse as fixing fences in a community farm, to offering CV and interview technique advice and work experience. Our team is very committed to this relationship and at a recent event we had volunteers from all levels of the firm, from the managing partner to support staff.
As a firm we are signatories to the Commitment Statement and active members of Real Estate Balance, a group which is committed to addressing gender imbalance in the real estate sector. This is an area we are particularly passionate about, because as a specialist commercial property law firm, we have a foot in two industries where women are underrepresented; law and real estate. Earlier this month we organised and hosted a very successful event for our clients and contacts about supporting women in business making the transition into senior management roles. This is part of an ongoing project for us to offer practical advice to women in our in our industries and we are proud of the recognition we have had for these efforts in the market.
The results of all of the above taken with our ongoing commitment to continued improvement, has been remarkable internally in terms staff engagement, motivation and general well-being and the cohesiveness of the team has been strengthened further.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 5)
- Real Estate: Mainly Mid-Market (Band 2)