Chloe Benson, a senior associate in the real estate team at Goodman Derrick, on how she got started in the property sector, what she would like to change about the industry and her cultural recommendations.
What do you value in people?
Honesty, a positive attitude and a good sense of humour.
What does your job entail?
As a property dispute resolution lawyer, I advise a mix of clients on both commercial and residential property issues. Property litigation does not always mean that you will end up in court. In fact, a lot of work I do is advisory in order to prevent litigation further down the line and to help clients find a suitable resolution without necessarily going to court.
How did you join the property industry?
I originally qualified as a general litigator at a West End firm. After about a year, I came across a job at one of the big City firms, which was a specialist property litigation role. I applied, got the job and have specialised in this area of law ever since.
What do you like most about the property industry?
There are so many different aspects to the property industry, which means I speak to a real mix of clients on a whole variety of issues every day. It is a very sociable industry and there is always an event to go to, which is great for meeting new people and keeping in touch with existing contacts.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Unfortunately, there is a lack of diversity and a gender imbalance. I feel lucky in that the law is quite progressive in terms of gender balance (at least at pre-partner level).
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Initiating more environmental awareness within my firm and encouraging colleagues to try and work more sustainably. I am on the CSR committee, and as part of this we have recently updated our firm’s environmental policy. Law firms are renowned for being incredibly busy, and being more ‘green’ and addressing ESG issues can easily be put on the back-burner. I am hopeful that these ESG issues are now being addressed and are rising up the firm’s agenda, but more needs to be done on every level.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I spent a number of years volunteering once a month for a well-known housing charity. Not everyone is able to afford to pay for legal advice and I found it rewarding to provide pro bono advice to clients of the charity who would not otherwise have access to legal resources.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Have confidence in yourself and do not be afraid to challenge people.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
I would like to see a more diverse and inclusive industry. However, I am pleased to see that efforts are being made to encourage a more inclusive industry. I am aware that JLL appointed a female UK chief executive in January, which is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.