Tracy Lovejoy, senior associate in the planning team at Irwin Mitchell, on how she got started in property, her TV and book picks, her best and worst purchases and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I joined the property industry when I started my pupillage at chancery and commercial set 9 Stone Chambers, and became involved in property litigation, estate and tax planning, town and country planning and other related matters. The planning experience I gained enabled me to move to my next role as planning lawyer at Waverley Borough Council.
What does your job entail?
I provide planning legal advice and support, ranging from advising and assisting with upcoming projects to supporting clients in contentious matters such as an objection, an appeal or a high court challenge; and liaising and negotiating with local planning authorities on behalf of clients. My experience also includes compulsory purchase, rights of way, town and village greens and highways matters.
What do you like most about the property industry?
I like that it brings together many different disciplines and types of professionals, who are often focused on working together to understand what needs to be done and come up with the most practical way of doing it.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I wish certain aspects of the industry were more accessible and understandable to members of the public; and that there was better understanding between various stakeholders – whether the public sector, private entities, interest groups or a lone objector or applicant – as to their positions, priorities, challenges and approaches.
What would you change about the property industry?
I would diversify the housing offering and try to change the perception that house ownership is the ultimate sign of being settled. The purpose of this would be to match the cost of housing to people’s salaries and, ultimately, make the concept of affordable housing more workable.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I struggled with confidence and trying to fit into what I thought was an archetypal lawyer when I was younger. I covered up my insecurities with a lot of bravado. I am now comfortable with being authentic and focusing on the job at hand.
What are you most proud of in your career?
The changes I made in my 40s, including raising my profile by engaging with social media and starting a blog, and moving to private practice. It took courage to leave the local authority where I felt at home and worked with supportive colleagues. I have been lucky in that I have had a lot of support and opportunities during this transition.
What do you value in people?
Good faith, authenticity and diversity of approach and skills.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Develop your interest and learn as much as you can, interact with as many facets of the industry as possible and trust your ability to add value to whatever work you are doing. Creative thinking and problem-solving skills are assets in the property industry.