David Merson, a gunnercooke Commercial Real Estate Partner, will be soon celebrating his five-year anniversary at the firm. He shares insights on how the firm has changed during this time, some of his highlights and advice for others.
What has been your highlight at gunnercooke so far?
I’d have to say working with people who have now become friends and trusted colleagues. People I have a genuine laugh with socially but can work with and would recommend to my clients without hesitation. Let’s face it, the day-to-day work is the same wherever you are but having a bit of fun and removing the politics of a traditional firm are daily highlights!
What do you wish you could tell yourself five years ago?
That I could take 12 weeks of leave and still have a thriving practice! Not sure I saw that one coming. That said, I make myself available from a chairlift, sunbed, etc and so my clients know that even if I am not at my “desk” in the traditional sense, my desk can follow me around the world.
Has there been any hurdles you’ve had to overcome?
Making prospective clients understand that gunnercooke is anything but a virtual firm. We have a physical presence (more than many firms and international ones too!) and great solicitors. The partners at gunnercooke are not looking for an easy life; the ones I know are driven, top-quality, commercial advisers. The only thing “virtual” about us is that we work virtually whenever and wherever our clients need us!
Is there anything that you’d love to accomplish in the coming years?
I’d like to continue to build the team I work with and finally learn to play one of the eight guitars I own and can’t really play! I’ve seen the Rolling Stones 76 times and so I’d like to see if I can get to 100 before they pack it in!
What do you remember about your first week?
I started on Monday 1 October 2018 having been an equity partner at my previous firm; I spent two days in the London office getting acclimatised and up to speed on the systems and then flew to Boston for my nephew’s wedding. I completed two transactions on Friday 5 October 2018 from a hotel room overlooking Boston Common…I knew this would work well very early on…
How has your practice changed over the last five years?
Having previously had my own firm (with other partners), I knew I had a strong and loyal client base. It has gone from strength to strength in the last five years. I have continued to service existing clients and have picked up some fantastic new ones.
The one thing that springs to mind is The Beatles’ song “Get Back”; by joining gunnercooke I was able to “Get Back” to advising clients and avoid the mundane day-to-day running of a firm and the politics that goes with it.
gunnercooke also gives solicitors the freedom to choose your clients; you aren’t stuck acting for clients that you don’t want to because they are the firm’s clients. It is a two-way street; of course we need our clients but if I’m acting for you it is because I want to and like working with you. I don’t think many solicitors can say that.
How has the firm changed?
It has changed so much…and not at all. The number of people has exploded. The pandemic probably made people realise they could work a different way and service their clients efficiently. The firm has also expanded with new offices both domestically and internationally.
That said, it remains a really nice place to be. The firm is full of great people who support each other. It has a great ethos; people collaborate and support one another which is not always the way in the cutthroat world of law firms. Several years prior to joining gunnercooke, I saw someone I knew at a legal event – he had joined gunnercooke about a year before that chance encounter. He told me it was the most collaborative place he had ever worked…I didn’t really believe it, but I now know it to be true. If you send an email around asking for an introduction to someone or a precedent or just a general query you are flooded with responses within moments…it is an amazingly kind bunch.
What would be your advice for people thinking of joining?
If you have a loyal client base and want to focus on working with your clients rather than the politics and aggravation of a traditional firm, then gunnercooke is the place for you. If you go for it, invest in your “space” and your working practices.
What have you learnt since being at gunnercooke?
That the politics of a traditional law firm do not serve the interests of the client. Partners jostling with each other to increase their so-called “followings” or arguing over fee apportionments does not help a client achieve its aims. There is a better way to do it and I think we are showing the way at gunnercooke.
To contact David, or read more about his practice, click here.
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