Last week we sat down with Terence Ritchie. Terence is a leading Real Estate partner who has joined EMW Law this week. We wanted to explore with Terence his thoughts and feelings following his departure from SA Law.
So, Terence after 17 loyal years, it must be with a very heavy heart that you’re leaving some fantastic relationships behind at SA Law?
Undoubtedly so and without question, many friends for life. In making my decision to leave, the hardest factor in all of this was the thought of leaving behind my team, my colleagues, my friends and the emotional attachment this entails. The easy decision would have been to do nothing and stay put. However, heavy heart aside, my head was telling me a change was needed and once I overcame the emotional hurdle, the decision was an easy one to make.
As an established partner at a successful firm managing a high performing team, what was the trigger for you to change things up and consider a move?
I think that ultimately there was a realisation on my part that I needed to effect a change if I wanted to play to my particular strengths as a lawyer going forward. In footballing parlance, not through any fault of SA, I felt I was being played out of position and I needed to find a team that would enable me to thrive and perform to the best of my ability. I have a strong interest in people which, in terms of my skillset, lends itself to playing a role in team management and mentoring internally as well as client and relationship development externally. Also, as a consequence of my legal and other experiences, I wanted to become more involved in the strategic and decision making process of a firm. EMW were able to offer me these things which made the thought of moving an attractive proposition.
So, from your perspective, what was the process like from your first meeting in London back in September to now starting with EMW law?
Making a move at any stage always requires an emotional investment which invariably can be draining but this is a necessary evil. For me, the process went as well as it could have done having regard to the unavoidable stresses. My initial discussions with you helped reinforce my view that I needed to make a change but equally, you helped me clarify in my own head what I wanted to be doing in terms of role, career objectives etc. I felt you understood me, where I was at and where I wanted to get to. It was clear that you were an expert in your field and understood the legal market exceptionally well. This developed the trust I felt I needed, to work through the process. You have proved to be level-headed, calm and the ultimate sounding board in helping me arrive at the right decision. I definitely gained a friend in the process, your support was invaluable and at all times professional. You are very good at what you do!
Personally, having worked with EMW Law for 16 years now I know the firm and the people very well, but what made you decide this was the right firm for you?
As I alluded to earlier, I am a people person and I have based my career on establishing and maintaining the best possible relationships with my colleagues to facilitate exceptional performance, hence, my ability to do this in any new firm was a crucial factor in my decision making process. I wanted to understand the firm and the vision it has but more so, its culture, the people and how I would fit into all of this. I think mindset and the outlook of the individuals making up the firm is important but equally so is creating an environment to allow diverse ideas to be expressed, irrespective of role or rank. I certainly felt at home the more I spoke to EMW and started to understand more about them as a firm and as individuals. I felt I had found myself a forward thinking firm, ambitious to grow but not taking itself too seriously, a firm that is populated with many great people, filled with energy, enthusiasm, collective buy-in and a desire not only to be successful but to look after each other in the process. EMW felt a natural fit without question.
Terence what are your wider thoughts on the UK legal Commercial Property market as we move into 2020?
I would anticipate a degree of buoyancy returning to the marketing 2020. Some of the uncertainty linked to Brexit has fallen away and although there remains uncertainty as to the make-up of any future trade deal with the EU, the fact that the recent general election delivered a clear majority has, I think, injected a degree of stability and low level confidence back into the economy which I expect to filter through into commercial property market going forward. 2019 was a difficult year for the commercial property sector but I expect 2020 to show early signs of improvement which should feed through to active recruitment, especially at the junior and mid-tier as teams look to increase capacity as workflow picks up. Clearly, the UK trade deal with the EU is critical and we may find ourselves further hamstrung if this proves problematic.
What do you hope to achieve with EMW Law going forward?
My general remit, from a high-level perspective, will be to help develop EMW as a firm within Real Estate but also across all other practice areas. The firm is doing very well but wants to keep moving forward and is ambitious to grow across all 3 offices, I expect to be fully engaged in helping to deliver this objective. On a more operational level, I have specific roles to fulfil within Real Estate and particularly Real Estate Finance working alongside sector team heads already in situ. I have lots of plans, but the challenge will be to prioritise and not try and do too much too quickly!
And finally, isn’t it a small world as we discovered we both share a good friendship with a lawyer in America!
An incredible connection which we both discovered midway through the recruitment process. Yes, our mutual friend Neil Hobbs, now a resident in California - a friend of mine from university and unbeknownst to me, a friend of yours from back home in Essex! Facebook has a lot to answer for! We fully intend to get together for a beer when Neil is next back in the UK so watch this space!
Jason Nottage advised Terence on his recent move to EMW Law