Good morning Nicky, thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you better. Our first question is perhaps an obvious one, but important nonetheless. So, what made you choose law as an occupation?
Well, for many reasons really! I have always liked the idea of being able to help people resolve their problems. I also enjoyed the idea, and have very much enjoyed in practice, of being able to advise people in an area that I had accumulated knowledge, and experience, through study and over time.
What has been the best day in your career so far?
I began working as a conveyancer over 20 years ago now so there have been lots of good days but, most recently, I would have to say the day I was invited to become a Director of Lawson Lewis. I was not expecting it so it came as a real surprise, but, having worked here for almost 16 years I feel a great affection and loyalty towards Lawson Lewis Blakers and was delighted that I would be able to have a role in its management.
The dreaded question I am afraid, what has been the worst day in your career?
I think the worst day would have been a long time ago when I received the results of my final exams and failed one of the subjects by one mark! It added a further 18 months of studying before I qualified but, with hindsight, it was actually a great benefit because I chose an additional branch of property law to study and passed my final exam, so it just meant that, overall, I had studied even more areas of property law than I would otherwise have done!
How have you found balancing your family life with, what certainly can be, a high pressured job?
I have always enjoyed a challenge! I think that balancing work and family life to make both as harmonious as possible involves giving 100% of myself to work when I’m the office and 100% to my family when I’m at home. I also try to be very well organised! Lawson Lewis Blakers have always been very accommodating as for several years I worked part-time and this has certainly made it easier to balance both areas of my life.
So we know why you have chosen law. What made you decide to specialise in conveyancing?
The answer here is quite simple really - I simply love everything about property. I have always been interested in the academic side - such as land law and the manner in which property law in general operates. I have also always had an interest in architecture, as well as interior design - so I can confidently say that when I advise clients I do take a genuine interest in their sale or purchase!
What is your favourite part of your job?
There are many aspects of my job that I genuinely love. My favourite is perhaps reaching an exchange of contracts. In reality, this is the part that every client is waiting for generally, and therefore it is a great feeling to know that at this point the pressure normally reduces for my clients and they can start to plan for completion and moving home.
What are your hobbies?
Work and family life I am afraid keeps me very busy! However, I am passionate about reading - particularly thrillers. I also enjoy reading lifestyle books on things such as essentialism, minimalism and lots of other different ways people live their lives. I have always found psychology fascinating and it is interesting to read about human behaviour and what drives people to act in certain ways.
Can you tell us what inspires you most?
People. I have always admired people that work hard, try their best and achieve greatly in the face of adversity. Also, people that believe in their cause. It was very recently celebrated that it is 100 years that women became involved in the legal profession. It is astonishing to think that 100 years ago I could not have had the job that I do now, and it makes me think of the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst who had the desire to campaign and pave the way forward for those that came after.
Now some more silly questions…
Can you tell us your favourite food?
I would have to say probably Italian. Particularly pasta and olives!
What is your favourite song?
Of late, probably Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. In general, I must say however, I love anything by the Ramones!
You have recently been made a Director. Can you tell us how you have found the transition from employee to employer?
It is interesting as I have worked for the firm for a long time so I feel like I know everyone here very well, and have formed many close bonds with my colleagues. Although I am a director now and have additional management responsibilities that go with that role, I am still a conveyancer working for the firm and, therefore, remain strongly focussed on doing the best for my clients in relation to their property transactions. The firm runs from a small management team and I am grateful that the other directors have made it so easy for me to slot into the team.
We have touched upon this already, but what are Lawson Lewis Blakers like to work for?
Very friendly. There is an open door policy amongst other lawyers which means that it is never a problem to get or give a second opinion, or to discuss matters in general. The firm has been established in excess of 140 years, and so it has had a long time to evolve and develop into what it is now. I would say that we think progressively and really make an extensive effort to ensure that it is a good place to work. As with most businesses, the happier the staff are the greater the business performs, and therefore the net result is a successful business.
How has the firm changed since you started?
In some ways, not much at all. The staff turnover at the firm is very low, and several staff were here long before I started and are still here now! Technology has of course improved, and the legal sector is regulated far more heavily. However, in many ways this is good news for clients as it should hopefully enhance consumer confidence.
Now for three more less serious questions…
Can you tell us the first gig you attended?
Madonna at the O2 - she was amazing!
That is a pretty spectacular first gig!
Can you tell us your favourite film?
I must say, I do love films. My favourite is probably The Impossible with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. I also really enjoyed No Escape with Owen Wilson.
And your favourite TV show?
Probably The Office (UK version). Hilarious!
What would you say are the factors most affecting the property market right now?
I know everyone is probably bored to tears of the “B word”, but Brexit is certainly having an influence on the market. The ongoing uncertainly has to a certain extent created instability. It has made people nervous, and therefore many people are staying put who ordinarily perhaps would have moved home. I also thing the various tax changes over the last few years have had an impact on the market, in particular the Buy to Let market.
What changes would you like to see in the conveyancing process?
Whilst the risk would of course need to be assessed, I would like to see more leasehold reforms to make the transfer of a leasehold property smoother and quicker for clients.
So tell us, what is finally going to happen with Brexit?!
Nicola was asked these silly and serious questions on 25 July 2019 at our offices on Hyde Gardens in Eastbourne, East Sussex.