Senior solicitor, Attwells, London
It took me quite a long time after graduating to realise that a legal career was right for me. Previously, I had been in sales and then an entrepreneur. I was even a chef for a short while. What was lacking, though, was a sense that I was actually contributing something meaningful. I wanted my work to have relevance and use. This is certainly what I take most satisfaction from in my job now. My sales and entrepreneurial experience has also served me well.
In retrospect, for me, law at degree level may not be the most inspiring introduction into the profession. I wish I had studied a subject that gave me a broader base and then converted via the GDL route. That said, I found the LPC extremely interesting and enjoyed seeing the theory translate into practice.
Being a commercial property lawyer at a boutique firm in a prestigious area of London presents some challenges. The main one is the sheer breadth of my client base. In the morning, I can be working on a multi-million-pound lease for a listed company, and in the afternoon I can be meeting a St John’s Wood high street shop owner to discuss a licence to assign. It is crucial to me that all of my clients feel valued and appreciated. Ultimately, this means a lot of early mornings and late nights.
I was proud to be shortlisted for the British Property Federation award for best leader in this year’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Awards. To be formally recognised by a major national institution was a source of significant personal pride.
SDLT legislation has been a perennial bugbear to property lawyers across the country. There have, of course, been several well-publicised changes to the rules recently, but more generally many lawyers fail to understand their obligations in respect of SDLT and their potential liability for getting things wrong. Ultimately, SDLT is a tax and therefore on complex issues an accountant should be consulted. But finding an accountant willing to accept this responsibility is easier said than done.
However, I think that as a firm, we have good SDLT knowledge and a great network of specialist tax advisers to ensure that all of our clients’ needs are covered.
It is great to see so many diversity initiatives in place within the profession, though the glass ceiling still seems firmly intact. I am personally especially proud of The Inclusion Programme that Attwells runs in conjunction with social enterprise ‘AskMe: Legal’. This is a hands-on, realistic, work experience programme aimed principally at those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We want to encourage as many people as possible to ‘take the leap’ into the profession. So far we have received excellent feedback.