Selling sunsets and solar parks in real estate

This blog gives an idea of what to expect as a trainee in the real estate department

18 May 2021

By trainee solicitor, Joanna Peasland

What do real estate lawyers do?

The real estate team is one of the largest in the firm and the lawyers in this department work across a diversity of sectors and industries including renewable energy, transport, asset management, strategic land and development. Work can involve:

  • Advising clients in relation to a sale, purchase or lease of any type of land. We could be instructed on anything from one client wanting to take a lease of rural land and develop it into a solar park to another client wanting to sell a portfolio of retail sites across the UK.
  • Supporting cross-firm projects, for example assisting the corporate finance team with their client's proposed acquisition of a company by reviewing the land documents relating to the property owned by the target company.
  • Preparing pitches and proposals to bid for work with existing or potential clients to advise them in relation to exciting new projects in their sector.

There is always plenty of work for trainees to get involved with and you are able to seek out the different types of work which might be particularly interesting to you, as well as a broad range of experience across the different practice areas. With this diversity comes continual learning and the need for organisation, as with any transactional seat but particularly where you might be assisting on a wide range of matters some smaller instructions to long-term infrastructure projects, for example. I have found that it really helps to stay organised with what tasks are with you, as well as the broader status of the matter. As you develop your experience, this will help you to think proactively and anticipate what the next steps might be in a transaction and where you can offer your assistance.

My experience as a real estate trainee

I have a particular interest in the renewable energy sector and I have been involved with transactional and advisory work for energy client as well as engaging with broader opportunities to learn more about the sector and various commercial developments in relation to the UK's net zero target, with a focus on the implications and opportunities net zero presents for our clients and their businesses.

Typical tasks might involve drafting or reviewing transactional documents, communicating with the client and the counter party's solicitor, joining a client call to observe and take a note of any action points for the team or preparing an application to the Land Registry. I am also developing transaction management and organisational skills as I progress through my training contract and get ever nearer to qualification, so tasks like preparing engagement letters for new instructions, updating lawyers on our costs to date and raising invoices for completed transactions are becoming more frequent too.

Some recent work highlights include:

  • Drafting an option agreement and lease under supervision. This option agreement will give our energy developer client the right to require the landowner to grant a lease of their land for our client to develop a large solar park with battery storage. Our renewables team is particularly busy at the moment and we are getting lots of new instructions for solar energy developments in particular.
  • Taking responsibility for smaller instructions from start to finish. For example, advising our client in relation to the release of a legal charge against their residential development property. As this is my second seat in real estate I am enjoying taking on more responsibility and developing my skills further - both on the legal drafting and matter management side.
  • Joining all-parties calls to negotiate and finalise the legal documents in relation to our client's letting of an industrial warehouse unit as part of their broader industrial development site. Joining calls with clients and counter parties and their solicitors is an excellent way to develop a broader understanding of a particular transaction as well as develop your knowledge of how agreements are negotiated between the parties and the different commercial considerations each type of transaction might have.

Key contact

Bessie Phelps 250 x 250

Bessie Phelps Resourcing Business Partner

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