Jonathan Corris, partner at law firm Devonshires, on how he got started in the property industry, his top TV and music recommendations, his best and worst purchases and the superpower he wishes he had.

Jonathan Corris

Jonathan Corris

How did you join the property industry?

Through my training contract at a boutique West End firm. I acted for a family-run private developer and on a number of commercial letting arrangements. I found the concept of development that changes how a property has been used for years to provide a new lease of life to be really interesting.

On qualification, I actively looked for a role focused on residential development and found myself working for a firm with a number of national and local housebuilders to gain further exposure to the market.

What does your job entail?

As co-head of our real estate and projects team, I work closely with colleagues to deliver high-quality commercial advice to clients. Our team covers the complete spectrum of property and planning legal work, and I have the pleasure of working with clients in relation to development-led schemes.

I can find myself in the morning discussing new regeneration projects, followed by a meeting on the incorporation of energy efficiency options within a scheme. The afternoon may involve a meeting on completed sale considerations and working with colleagues to advise on the latest legislative or regulatory changes to the development sector.

Recently, a number of our team have been working with equity and pension investment in the affordable housing sector through a number of routes, including the for-profit registered provider sector. We have a strong presence in the affordable housing and regeneration sectors, which is something I am particularly proud to be involved with.

What do you like most about the property industry?

The people: the industry has a wide variety of characters. I consider myself very lucky to get to work with so many clients who are passionate about their work and the delivery of quality housing.

And what do you dislike most about it?

The planning process: significant delays and potentially adverse conditions can have a big impact on the delivery of projects. I have, unfortunately, seen projects having to be put aside due to delays in the planning process.

What would you change about the property industry?

Again, the planning process. There have been a number of attempts and promises of reform. However, it is difficult to see that a meaningful balance of change has been achieved. It is not an easy area to tackle.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Working with talented clients, advisers and colleagues to deliver some truly impressive housing developments throughout the country.

What do you value in people?

Honesty – with honesty also comes integrity.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

Listen and collaborate with others. It is impossible to know everything in an industry that is always evolving. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; you never know where in the company of the right people those questions may lead you.

Cultural recommendations

Something to watch: 

The West Wing was a TV show that applauded the debating of issues. Part of my degree included US constitutional law, and the show reinforced how intertwined the law, politics and the economy are (despite the claim for separation of powers). This view is increasingly reinforced by my career to date in the property industry, from local council decisions to national planning and policy changes. 

Something to listen to:

It is so difficult to pick my favourite music as it plays such a huge part in my life, with so many memories linked to music. However, I do have a soft spot for A Little Bit of Luck by DJ Luck and MC Neat. Unfortunately, I remember it from the first time it was released and not the numerous revivals

Best and worst things you’ve spent money on: 

The best things I have spent money on are holidays. It is essential to have a break, where possible, to spend time with loved ones and also to explore new places and cultures. There are so many lessons to learn from other countries in so many ways – travelling is truly one of the most rewarding experiences. It is difficult to say the worst thing I have bought on the basis that I will hopefully learn not to do it again, although any form of DIY tool is a waste in my hands. 

If you could have one superpower: 

If I could have one superpower, it has to be super-speed. Although the Elizabeth line helps with travel across London, it still takes too long to get around the country. Plus, being able to get home at the speed of light would revolutionise the commute.