Rachel Dunn, partner at law firm gunnercooke, on how she got started in property, her top film and album recommendations, the superpower she wishes she had and her number-one travel destination

Rachel Dunn

Rachel Dunn

How did you join the property industry?

In my undergraduate law degree at the University of Glasgow, I studied commercial missives under the late Professor Robert Rennie. He was a wonderful character and the first professor who really brought the law to life for me. From that point on, I was interested in a career in commercial property.

I secured a specialist commercial property traineeship with Semple Fraser, which merged before I started. Thankfully, I was offered a traineeship with its successor Maclay Murray & Spens and, by luck, my first seat was in the commercial property team.

I qualified into the commercial property team in 2015 and requalified as an English solicitor in 2016.

What does your job entail?

As a dual-qualified real estate partner in gunnercooke, my work is pretty varied. It ranges from marina developments in Scotland to student accommodation in the Midlands and acquisitions of very high-end flats in London. Part of the beauty of the gunnercooke model is that I am my own boss and can choose what work

to take on. I enjoy the variety of working across different jurisdictions. It keeps me on my toes.

What do you like most about the property industry?

The clients. I like getting to know about their business and helping them in any way I can. We have some very sophisticated clients who know the industry inside out and I learn a lot working with them. I particularly enjoy acting for smaller clients, where I become a trusted adviser and can really help transform their business.

And what do you dislike most about it?

The workload can be very demanding during busy periods. In property there is almost always a real deadline that needs to be hit.

What would you change about the property industry?

I would like to see more women in senior roles. There are some excellent organisations out there like Women in Property, but the industry as a whole needs to be more supportive and encouraging of women.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

Working full time while raising my almost two-year-old daughter definitely has its challenges but I am incredibly lucky to be working within the gunnercooke model, which encourages flexibility and time with family. I am also lucky that I have worked for most of my career with my now business partner Simon Etchells, who is extremely supportive.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The team we have built. We all joined gunnercooke from our previous firm and have worked together for five-plus years.

What do you value in people?

Honesty and work ethic.

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

Get out and meet people – it is so important to build your network.

Cultural recommendations

Something to watch: 

Queen & Slim tells the story of a young black couple on the run in America following a police shooting. It is visually stunning and the costumes and music are incredible. The director is female, as are most of the senior production team. We watched it during lockdown when our world felt very small and it really expanded my mind. 

Something to listen to:

Lemonade by Beyoncé is a visual album and the cinematography is incredible. There are so many layered cultural references that I hear and see something different every time I watch it. There is also a great podcast called Dissect, which picks apart and explains the whole album.

It is fascinating to learn why each piece of music or image was chosen.

If you could have one superpower: 

If I could have one superpower, it would be to click my fingers and be completely ready – clothes ironed and on, hair and make-up done. It is always a rush getting out of the door in the morning and there is almost no time to get ready properly. It sounds vain, but I am definitely happier and more confident when I feel I look my best (which is rare these days). 

Top travel destination: 

My number-one travel destination is New York. I have been a few times and was lucky enough to spend a summer there before I started my traineeship. The whole place has an incredible energy – it makes you feel like anything is possible. Gunnercooke has recently opened an office there, which is very exciting.