Managing partner, Parrott & Coales
My family background, which is based in land and property, pushed me towards a legal career. My family have property companies from which I learned the general problems that come with owning land and property. This helped me to understand landlord and tenant relationships from both sides – to appreciate the tenant’s position as well as the business aspect of being a landlord, and to be pragmatic when it came to tenancy issues such as rent reviews and payments. This grounding not only gave me the insight I needed into the market but sparked my interest in all things around property. This led me into commercial and residential property law.
I started my training at a small firm in Marlow before moving to a large, commercial orientated firm in the West End of London. The contrast in size between the firms taught me the operational differences of running a large firm compared with a small one, and the elements required to growing a business. However, it has also taught me that, no matter what size the firm, the basics to running a successful business are still the same, such as client experience, developing niches in markets, specialisation and expertise.
The biggest challenge since becoming managing partner is balancing my fee-earning, core legal career with my new management role – as well as ensuring that I still leave some time for a personal life.
When faced with any challenge, my advice to any business owner is do not dwell on it too long but still take time to think it through, discuss it with one or two core people in your team – so you get a well-balanced perspective – and then act swiftly to resolve the matter as quickly as possible so you can move on.
My background and business interests have provided me with an insight into a true commercial world and therefore given me a pragmatic view to add to the legal view. For example, dealing with a large portfolio of properties and tenants has meant being able to understand people quickly, adapt to their requirements swiftly, while doing things such as keeping accounts accurate and records up to date. These organisation and management skills have transferred into my day-to-day management role at Parrott & Coales, such as gauging the team’s needs, responding to them swiftly, and being responsible for and involved in the financial side of the business.
I see a difference in working styles between generations. More experienced solicitors tend to be more particular and detailed in their approach, whereas younger lawyers tend to be more relaxed yet still pragmatic. Both work equally well and in fact complement each other, which is why it’s good to have a mix of ages and styles across a team to learn from one another.
I have noticed that time has become more scarce, making it increasingly difficult for lawyers to build as close a relationship with clients and colleagues as before. This is because the market is ever more competitive, firms are trying to achieve more with less yet business is continuing to increase dramatically, and lawyers are having to operate within the realms of more time-consuming red tape and increasing legislation.