Sophie Ridley, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, real estate, planning and construction team.

Getting ‘real’ as a trainee in real estate law

Sophie Ridley, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, real estate, planning and construction team.
Sophie Ridley
2 min Read

First-seat trainee Sophie Ridley discusses her first few weeks in the real estate team at Russell-Cooke, reflecting on her initial apprehensions.

Over the summer, I received an email from graduate recruitment partner Rebecca Fisher letting me know that I would be starting my training contract in the real estate team in the Putney office. Having not had any prior experience in this area of law and reflecting back on my time observing the ‘GDL Land Law’ textbook during the lockdown, I felt apprehensive and did not know what to expect. 

Commercial exposure 

On my first day, I walked up the high street to the Putney office passing shops and offices and eyeing up the pastries in the cafe windows. At this time, I had almost no appreciation of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into helping businesses acquire and use these spaces to turn their commercial goals into a tangible reality.

Two weeks in and I have already helped draft a licence for alterations that would allow one of our nation's favourite companies to install their iconic shop floor layout. I have also helped a small business owner complete on the assignment of their lease for their independent beauty salon. Russell-Cooke serves a cross-section of society and it did not take me long to appreciate that the scope of the team's work goes so far beyond the GDL textbook.

More recently, I have been deep-diving into council websites looking for evidence that a developer complied with the extensive, highly-detailed and ever-changing planning permission conditions. We want to make sure our client, a potential buyer, has all the information they need before deciding whether to purchase this high-value commercial property. No stone should be left unturned. 

Supportive environment and continuous learning

The immediate responsibility here is coupled with support. Partners, associates, legal assistants (paralegals) and secretaries have taken the time to get to know me, whether that be over coffees in local cafes, or popping by for a friendly chat at my desk. They have talked me through tasks, ensuring they explain the relevance to our clients and have created an environment where I feel at ease asking ‘silly’ questions. I have a lot to learn but it certainly feels like I am in the right place. 

Applications for the 2026 Russell-Cooke graduate training are open from  16 November 2023 until 16 February 2024. 

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