Seat moves are exciting and busy times. Here's a little insight and a helping hand should you rotate into Planning.

What tasks have you particularly enjoyed in this seat?

It is the variety that makes Planning such an enjoyable seat. You can expect a mix of transactional work, advisory work and contentious work. I have particularly enjoyed my involvement in planning appeals and advising on changes of use, enforcement or the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) regime. 

As a small team, we are all involved in business development initiatives. I have particularly enjoyed writing articles for our Real Estate bulletins, helping with the hosting of our Economic Breakfast Briefings and Environmental Law Series, and attending external events like the regular Planning Futures breakfasts. I also arranged the venue and tastings for an upcoming Wine and Cheese night, which I am really looking forward to!

What have you learned in this seat that will help in your career?

Aside from the obvious - learning how to navigate the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or CIL regulations and how to negotiate a section 106 planning agreement or section 278 highways agreement - I have learned a lot about working effectively in large teams. Regular communication and updates are really helpful, colleagues in other departments and clients really appreciate them. 

With qualification only 6 months away, I have also been shown how to do some important file management tasks such as preparing fee estimates, drafting scopes of work, conducting financial hygiene and completing matter risk assessments. Learning these skills is very helpful for my future career and has made me feel more confident about stepping up to qualified solicitor very soon (hopefully).

What are your top tips for other trainees to hit the ground running in this seat?

Planning is a really technical area of law. It helps to do some reading before you start the seat but you definitely can't read everything! Most of it you can learn as you go along and the team have run a lot of training sessions for me to help with this. However, I would recommend reminding yourself when planning permission is required and what the different use classes are. The PLC Planning summaries are really useful! 

You do a lot of different pieces of work for a lot of different people - in Commercial Development, Residential Development, Banking & Real Estate Finance, Corporate M&A, Corporate Real Estate, Investment, Landlord and Tenant - not just Planning fee earners. Find your own way of keeping track of all of these matters early on like using a colour coordinated table or stickies.