What is your name and which area of the law do you work in?
Did you always envisage a career in the industry?
I wanted to be a lawyer from around the age of 13. Initially, criminal law was where my ambitions lay, but my focus changed at university, and I felt that property law was a better fit for my way of thinking.
What has been your career path so far?
I took a law degree at Northumbria University and have since spent more than 15 years working in practice as a commercial property specialist with leading North East law firms, a period which has included several years spent leading my own departments.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
When the credit crunch hit in 2008, I changed my specialism almost overnight and quickly became a property insolvency specialist. It was a very steep learning curve within an extremely difficult economic situation, but I relished the challenge and enjoyed the work that came my way.
Taking responsibility for managing my own team was also a big step up when it first happened. It changed the parameters of my role and gave me additional strategic management and business development dimensions to consider alongside the core function of being a lawyer. I was well supported through the transition by my firm and was quickly able to extend my skillset to meet the new requirements of my extended role.
Who do you most respect in your industry?
Fiona Bruce – not the TV presenter, but the Christian lawyer and politician, who has shown through her work that lawyers can be humans too.
Which fictional lawyer would you most like to meet?
I feel the same way about legal fiction as my wife, who is a speech therapist, feels about medical fiction when characters do things incorrectly or in ways that simply wouldn’t happen – fictional lawyers make me grumpy!
What is your greatest strength?
Building relationships is absolutely key to my work, whether this is with clients, industry contacts or my colleagues, and my focus is always on being the sort of team player that helps everyone to reach their objectives.
What is your biggest weakness?
I’m something of a worrier and will wake up in the night thinking about the work I’ve been doing and wondering what I might have done differently
What are your remaining career aspirations?
Having moved here with my team at the start of the year, I view Hay & Kilner as my ‘forever home’ and want to help the practice realise the huge potential that exists here, both within my own department and right across the practice.
Working as part of a full-service firm means the comprehensive wider range of advice and support that property clients often require is right on hand, which will help us help them to achieve their personal and commercial goals.
How do you see your industry evolving in the next ten years?
Technology will become ever more central to the legal sector over the coming decade and the challenge for us as practitioners will be to make sure we keep up with progress. The human element of the work we do will remain central, but there will be opportunities to use technology to enhance it and we will need to be nimble to ensure we can take advantage of them.
How do you like to unwind?
Spending time with my family is my priority, and spare time is quite a precious commodity as I have lots of activities that fill my hours away from the office, including leading a church group, singing in a worship choir and running a Boys’ Brigade group. I also enjoy hillwalking whenever time allows.
If you would like to contact John, or any of the Commercial Property team, please do not hesitate to get in touch.