I joined Birketts LLP in September 2005, becoming a Partner in the Commercial Property Team in Ipswich in 2007. I originally trained and then worked as an engineer for five years with Mott MacDonald, a large multi-disciplinary engineering practice. Whilst at Mott MacDonald, I qualified as a chartered engineer and was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. I decided to re-train as a lawyer having become involved in a number of contractual disputes that arose on the sites I was working on as an engineer. Prior to joining Birketts, I trained and qualified at Norton Rose, based in London. I had decided I wanted to move out of London, primarily to spend more time with my children - that sounds a bit like a politician! However, I was finding it almost impossible to have any form of life outside of work and with two young children, the choice was obvious.
It was vital to me that the firm I joined had a clear strategic vision, a well established commercial property practice and a leading reputation. Birketts offered all this but, as important, I felt that the partners whom I met in the recruitment process were people with whom I would enjoy working.
My work is a mixture of property development work and dispute resolution work, or more commonly referred to as non-contentious and contentious work respectively. Birketts act for a range of parties connected to development, such as funders, developers, owner/occupiers and contractors. We often act for banks funding large developments ranging in size from £500,000 to £40 million. Similarly, we act for developers in putting together contractual documentation with all the parties involved in the development process and liaise closely with our pure property colleagues in ensuring that the suite of documents making up the development package dovetail.
On the contentious side, we act for a range of clients, most typically contractors and sub-contractors but also developers and consultants and occasionally, private individuals. The majority of our contentious work centres around Adjudication, this being a form of dispute resolution process specific to the construction industry. As well as Adjudication, we conduct matters both through the Courts and via Arbitration. As with all types of dispute resolution, we are increasingly involved in mediations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
As a team leader, I am responsible for all the members of the non-contentious property support team. This includes the three other dedicated members of the construction team as well as those fee earners specialising in other forms of property support such as planning and rights of way.
As the firm's joker, I am also responsible for hosting the annual pop quiz and annual fun day. I have a reputation for taking to fancy dress whenever possible, having to date appeared as Rod Stewart, the leather one from Village People and Geri Haliwell - I suppose someone has to!
For trainees, Birketts offers an unrivalled opportunity to work in a leading regional law firm, undertake work of the highest quality and benefit from a breadth of practice - rarely seen in a regional firm. Plus, the atmosphere of the firm marks it out - Birketts LLP has an unstuffy, supportive culture with a real emphasis on working as part of a team.