Focus on real estate at Clarke Willmott
Our dedicated teams work hard to look after clients, whatever their legal needs. Our broad expertise across the firm means that anyone of our lawyers has access to a network of experts who can be recommended to ensure you are receiving the best holistic legal care at the right time.
In this series, we’re showcasing the individuals who make up our talented team. We’re speaking with our legal experts to learn more about their areas of expertise, what they enjoy most about their work, and how they work together to provide exceptional legal care to our clients.
Clarke Willmott’s national real estate team is one of the largest of its kind in the UK. The team acts for commercial and residential property developers, investors, funders, occupiers, public sector bodies, major retailers, charities and private landowners. They help clients to develop, manage and maintain their property portfolios. The team has a broad range of expertise and works across a wide range of sectors.
Simon Day is the Managing Director of our commercial property division and manages all non-contentious commercial property teams within the firm. Graham McIntyre leads Clarke Willmott’s renowned property litigation team and heads up our outward facing real estate sector. In this interview, Graham and Simon share how they work closely together to better support our real estate clients.
What can Clarke Willmott offer real estate clients?
Simon: In addition to routine work, clients often come to us with complex matters. We have expertise in investment and development, property litigation, planning and the environment, construction, and restructuring and insolvency. We use this expertise to provide our clients with a holistic portfolio management service.
We work with sophisticated clients with large property portfolios, including FTSE 250 companies. Our existing clients include Lidl, Fat Face, Burger King and Mapeley to name a few.
“When a client comes to us with a portfolio issue, the depth of relationships we have across our own teams means there’s lots of discussion behind the scenes about all the possible angles we might need to consider – so the client gets a holistic and commercial response.” – Graham
Working with Clarke Willmott means having a legal partner who can cover all the bases. We always work in the best interest of the client, and we have easy access to colleagues with additional expertise when needed.
Culture affects how we communicate internally, which in turn affects our clients. If we get on well internally, more conversations take place, which improves our service. Law is a people business – the firm’s slogan is ‘great service, great people’, and we live by that.
If a client needs advice for another area of their business, we can provide that too. If employment law advice is required, we have experts on hand. Or if they need advice in relation to their business or retail services, they can speak to our corporate lawyers. We have the full range of legal expertise available to our clients as and when they need it.
How do you work together to support clients?
Graham: We work closely together on real estate portfolio management and have done so for 18 years. Simon handles the transactional work and I handle the litigation aspects, so clients get both the contentious and non-contentious perspective. Although I am a litigation solicitor I have very few cases in court as most of what I do is advisory. Together with Simon, we find ways to avoid problems pre-emptively. This partnering of expertise is replicated throughout the real estate team.
This dynamic works well because we have different perspectives on things. Graham wouldn’t draft a lease because he’d focus on all the problems in it, whereas I can find the commercial route through. Similarly, if I am negotiating a key point in a lease I will often discuss it with Graham who may have litigation arguments I can raise in my negotiation. I couldn’t do what I do without Graham, and he couldn’t do what he does without me
Why Clarke Willmott for real estate?
Simon: Real estate is an important focus for Clarke Willmott. Our new CEO is a property lawyer and we’re high up in the UK in terms of the volume of property work we do. We’re responsible for a significant number of UK commercial property transactions that take place each year.
“In terms of property litigation, we’re second to none – we’re a large team of seven partners, possibly the largest in the country ” – Graham
What we offer is reliable and holistic portfolio management. We’re experts in the areas that matter, and we can offer many additional services in areas like telecommunications or green energy. Our lawyers are highly qualified to act for clients across the real estate sector.
Graham and I have particular experience with real estate investment clients – portfolio managers won’t get a better service in this country than they will with us.
What can clients expect?
Graham: We usually start by spending a day with our client to understand their portfolio and business objectives. We do a full review to understand any challenges and put systems in place that allow us to scale our work as the business grows.
We think, act and work for the long term – our aim is to provide our clients with a service that will outlast us. Not everything we do will be exciting or inspiring, but it will be necessary, and we hope it will make our clients’ lives easier.