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Case studies

Catherine Morgan

Name, current role and centre

Catherine Morgan, Careers Manager, Manchester

Previous employer

Assistant Solicitor with DWF, a leading full service law firm, based in the Manchester office.

A day in the life...

I managed a mixed caseload of property finance, acquisition and disposals and Landlord and Tenant.
My Property finance experience included acting for various lenders lending on a variety of properties ranging from small investment properties to large multi-let investment properties and developments sites, including:

  • £10million loan to purchase central London single let property;
  • £17million loan to refinance a development site;
  • £6million loan to purchase a development site
  • £1.8million loan to refinance two investment properties

My Acquisition and disposal work saw me:

  • Assisting in the acquisition of a large retail site with 50 plus leases, consideration £6million;
  • Assisting in large portfolio acquisitions;
  • Assisting in the disposal of a large town centre retail site with over 170 leases, consideration £14million;
  • Disposal of various units let to blue chip companies, consideration from £1million - £3million;
  • Preparation of title for disposal including rectifications of defects in title and headleases and occupation lease variations.

Landlord & Tenant experience included drafting and negotiating leases on behalf of investor clients, of both offices, industrial and retail premises.

Although I have mentioned large value deals above, I also dealt with many smaller matters, that could be just as complex and time consuming as a multi £million deal.  The amount of work involved in a project was not always consistent with the values involved.  It ensured you never prejudged a transaction.

My work was varied, and my work practice was varied.  Sometimes I would work on large projects independently, having to plough through large files of documents, sometimes with very complex, technical issues.  However I frequently worked closely in a small team of lawyers, dealing with a specific project.  That small team could also expand to include other departments – particularly when dealing with corporate transactions.

Marketing and networking were also weekly, if not daily, activities.  This ranged from telephone contact with clients, to attending industry and social events.

Commercial property is a fairly constant discipline.  I was not expected to work extremely long hours on a regular basis, however I had been known to be in the office at 2am when working as part of a large corporate transaction!  Normally I would work 9am- 7pm (mornings were not my forte).  Occasionally I would work weekends – but this was not a regular occurrence. 

Best moments

I really enjoyed working for a large regional firm.  DWF offered all the benefits of a large national firm, but was still small enough that you pretty much knew everyone who got in the lift. 

My colleagues and clients were the best thing about the firm and I particularly enjoyed working as part of a close knit team, not just as part of the firm’s team, but also as part of my client’s team. 

I particularly enjoyed the networking and business development opportunities that an ambitious and expanding firm gave me.  Not to mention the annual property team trip!

Advice to students

Commercial Property has traditionally been seen as an extremely technical area of law – which is true!  However it is not enough now to be a black letter lawyer.  You also need to be able to connect with your clients, and attract new ones.  Networking and business development skills are as relevant as technical expertise.  

Ambitious firms, like DWF, are looking for personality as much as expertise.  They are also looking for people who understand the property world.   If you have the opportunity to attend any trade events, I would highly recommend this.  It will ultimately help you prioritise your work and deliver a better service to your clients.  It will also impress the firm with your dedication, knowledge of the arena and proactive approach.