Jeremy Hunt, partner & head of office at Trowers & Hamlins- Birmingham, on the firm’s growth in the Midlands
Trowers & Hamlins opened its Birmingham office in the summer of 2011. How have the last three and half years been?
Terrific! People have been very enthusiastic and welcoming. There has been a great buzz about the office, especially over the last few months because we've experienced a big growth spurt. Since 2011 we have grown the overall number of staff in the office by 308 per cent and we've recently had to take another floor in our building! The feedback we've had from clients has been very positive as well. They tell us that they are pleased that another major real estate practice has recognised the importance of having an office in Birmingham. It's good for them that we bring our national expertise to the area but also good for the area that we are investing in growing our practice here. It's exciting to be part of a growing and ambitious team and we are delighted to be expanding in the Midlands.
What have been the key milestones so far?
There have been quite a few highlights recently. Last year we increased the number of solicitors in the office by a third. In just a few short months we added a dedicated Public Sector Commercial team and two construction partners – one a specialist in contentious construction and the other a non-contentious expert. We also launched a document production centre in Birmingham that serves all our UK offices. In fact, I went away on holiday for two weeks last August and returned to welcome 27 new starters to the office! Being ranked by Legal 500 as a tier one social housing firm in the West Midlands in our own right was pleasing as well, and every time we are appointed to a client legal panel or win a significant piece of work we feel a sense of achievement.
What’s the reaction been like from the business community in the city and wider region?
The reaction from business in the area has been very positive. People have given generously of their time to meet with us and have been prepared to include us in procurement exercises or test us out. Most of those who work in the office have worked in Birmingham for years or grew up there – so many of our lawyers and staff are known in the region and know the market well. Additionally, Trowers & Hamlins has had valued clients in the Midlands area for many years.
We are fast becoming more involved in the area with Amardeep Gill becoming a director of the Colmore Business District, Yetunde Dania a director of the MAC, and Louis Sebastian a director of Aspire Sports Trust. We have also been involved in groups and organisations, such as the Peoples' Heritage & Arts Centre. Making a contribution in this way is important to us personally and the firm more widely.
The office has grown hugely despite a challenging marketplace. Why do you think that is?
I think there's a lot to be said for the strength of our client relationships. We work hard to build lasting relationships, and we take our responsibility of being trusted advisers very seriously. The national approach we take as a firm also helps us stand out in what we can offer to clients. We don't operate in isolation from our other offices, and we can provide clients with advice that takes into account multiple perspectives combined with local knowledge. We are also able to respond quickly and efficiently to client needs.
Which parts of the business are you looking to invest in over the coming years?
It's no secret that we are looking to grow in the Midlands. We are keen to build on the success of our first three years in Birmingham and consolidate our business here. We have now recruited four trainees and are starting a student vacation scheme from this summer. We have been in contact with local universities and are seeking to expand by recruiting people who are dynamic, hard-working and committed to the area.
Where do you think the Birmingham office will be in 10 years' time?
Our aspiration is that Trowers & Hamlins be thought of as one of Birmingham's top-five firms of solicitors by the Midlands business community. We need to work hard, prove ourselves and make a positive contribution to the area for this to happen. The sooner we can do this, the better, but it would be great if we were there in 10 years' time.
Trowers & Hamlins has offices around the country. How closely do they work with each other?
It's important for us that we take full advantage of the breadth of expertise we have across all our offices, so we work very closely with our colleagues in our UK offices, as well as those in the Middle East and Asia. In the UK we have a number of national teams, including Banking and Finance, Construction, Real Estate (including Housing), Public Sector, Employment, and both Property and Construction Litigation. This set-up enables us to draw on expertise from across the team, regardless of where people are based. We can work for all types of organisations – public and private – and we have the capacity to take on substantial projects across the country. There are also a number of members of the team who can work out of more than one of our offices as the business requires. Flexibility is key to serving our clients.
You specialise in Real Estate (Housing and Regeneration). What are the key trends in your own area?
Diversification, rationalisation, approaching funding differently, sweating assets efficiently, and building new homes in new ways!
In five words, why do clients choose Trowers & Hamlins?
Innovative, established, friendly, professional, quality.
In your opinion, what makes a good lawyer?
Someone who is professional, clever, positive, works well with others and has a good eye for detail whilst remaining balanced and happy!
Finally, what are your own career goals that you still want to achieve?
I head up a thriving office in Birmingham – what more could one want?