Kate James, an associate at TLT, on how she got started in the property industry, the challenges she has overcome and her advice for young people. She also shares some of her cultural recommendations.
What do you value in people?
Optimism and reliability coupled with a good sense of humour.
What does your job entail?
My role is multi-faceted and involves offering high-level strategic and practical advice to clients, providing solutions to practical and legal problems, and engaging in negotiations with local planning authorities and other third parties.
How did you join the property industry?
After a career change from working in the third sector, I obtained a training contract and qualified at TLT. Training in the firm’s real estate group was part of my training contract and on qualification I joined the planning and environment team as a solicitor.
What do you like most about the property industry?
First, that no project is ever the same. Dealing with new and interesting scenarios keeps the work interesting and means you are able to continually learn and develop. Second, the number of women now working in the industry is fantastic. Working alongside knowledgeable, positive and successful women is inspiring.
And what do you dislike most about it?
No project is ever the same! When you think you have got to grips with something, just a small change can put a spanner in the works and you need to come up with a new creative solution or learn about a whole new area of law.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Competition to get into the legal profession is fierce. I went into the process of applying for a training contract with positivity and confidence because I did not appreciate that the odds were stacked against me. Looking back, it was probably that attitude that ultimately helped me achieve the training contract.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Acting as a mentor to our trainee solicitors and newly qualified solicitors gives me a real sense of achievement. Being able to help shape young professionals and help them on their way to becoming confident, well-rounded and skilled lawyers gives me pride in my role.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be prepared to stay on your toes. Things are constantly changing and it’s important to stay on top of what is going on in the industry. For that reason, it is also important to have a genuine passion and interest in what you do. If you are dedicated and determined and focus on your strengths, you will succeed.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
The industry as a whole needs to make moves to rebalance gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic diversity. Changes need to be made from the bottom up, and that will start with those yet to join the industry.