Not Too Taxing

I think that every trainee has an idea of what they think their training contract is going to be like and they are a bit uneasy at the thought. We all hear rumours of scary partners and being a department photocopier, but I am a first-seat trainee in the Tax department in Birmingham and I want to dispel a few myths.


On the first day of walking into the department the first thing I saw was a huge pile of tax legislation books on my desk. I panicked thinking “they are going to want me to sit and read through all those books, and if I don’t know it all they won’t be happy”. But I was wrong. These books are just for my reference, as and when I need them, and everyone at Pinsent Masons is so welcoming. You have plenty of training at the beginning of your seat and everyone understands that you are a trainee and they do not expect you to know everything. They will guide you through tasks, giving you pointers and answering any questions you have. I have not yet found anyone who I feel is unapproachable.


When I tell people that I chose tax as my first seat, people take a step back from me and say “Tax?!? Why?!?… all those calculations you will have to do!” Everyone has a preconceived idea of what a tax seat entails, but again I have to say that they are wrong. Granted, I have done the odd Stamp Duty Land Tax calculation. The first one I did was challenging, but each time I do another, I get quicker, and they seem to get easier each time. But being a tax trainee really isn’t about number crunching.


The tax team comprises of people with all different tax skills. There are Corporate tax lawyers, Share Plans lawyers, Property tax lawyers, Tax Litigation lawyers and also specialists in Commercial Trusts and Charities. The great thing about being the tax trainee is that the team have got me involved with all of these already, and I have been here just over a month. I have already developed my research skills, the different research I have done ranges from the taxation of business entertainment, duties of trustees within a trust, and what the tax implications are of a property being sold through auction. The work within tax is different everyday and that is what makes it so interesting.


I have also been involved in some business development which is important to Pinsent Masons. The tax team offers roadshows and workshops to their clients, so that they can come along and get up to date on current issues and legislation. We recently ran a Shareplans Roadshow and the team were happy for me to get involved and meet the clients. I also spent an afternoon at the College of Law at an employer day so that prospective trainees could ask what it was like to be a trainee at Pinsent Masons, and I said to them what I would say to you…If you want to go to a firm that is welcoming and where you feel truly involved in the team, apply to Pinsent Masons, and if you want to do a seat that is rarely repetitive and you do something different every day, consider the tax department.