John A

Award winning Conveyancer Lawyer Talks about his career journey

Specialist residential property lawyer, Jonathan Achampong has recently won ‘Conveyancer of the Year’ at the 2018 Modern Law Conveyancing Awards. This prestigious event, held in the Rum Warehouse in Liverpool, celebrates successes and achievements in the UK Conveyancing market.

Jonathan is a partner at Wedlake Bell LLP, a full service law firm based in the City of London. He has over 10 years’ experience dealing with high value private property in central London and surrounding areas. His expertise and innovation have resulted in Jonathan receiving other accolades such as ‘Rising Star of the Year’ at the 2017 Modern Law Conveyancing Awards, ‘“Highly commended” Young Professional of the Year’ at the 2017 Enfranchisement and Right to Manage Awards. In January this year, Jonathan led his property team to success by winning ‘Property Team of the Year’ at the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards.

Clearly, Jonathan is driven and strives to achieve great results by continually driving his team forward to offer the best client care by providing their clients with the full spectrum of residential property legal services.

Below, Jonathan talks about his career in property and how he sees the industry changing….

1. How did you get into conveyancing?  

Whilst at university, land law was a subject that I enjoyed very much so I was keen to undertake a property seat during my training contract. The penultimate seat of my training contract was in the media department and I was involved in lots of interesting work. After having such a fantastic time in the media department, I didn’t anticipate that I would enjoy the property seat as much as I did. For me, it had everything – client contact, technical complexity, the opportunity to assist individuals and businesses, teamwork and more. Therefore, when I received an offer to join the property team, I grabbed it with both hands.

2. Did you have a mentor when you were starting out? 

I was fortunate enough to have a number of mentors when I was starting out. After qualifying into the property team at Magrath Sheldrick LLP, the person that took the time to train me up on residential property transactions is a lady called Susan. Susan was always very thorough, calm, patient and funny – the perfect teacher. After I moved to (what is now) Ashfords at 2 years’ PQE, my mentor was a partner called Jonathan.

3. What’s the single most important thing they taught you? 

Jonathan is an experienced solicitor who has many of the skills that, in my view, make a great property lawyer, including commerciality, good technical ability, analytical skills, negotiation skills, interpersonal skills and so on. However, I think the single most important thing he taught me was about the importance of good communication. Most people don’t like to be kept in the dark and that is particularly true in conveyancing transactions. For a buyer or seller, the conveyancing process can sometimes be shrouded in mystery and appear long-winded. I find that communicating with clients about the process and where they are in it does a lot to put their minds at ease. In the current world of instant communication, this can present an ongoing challenge.

4. What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in the law today?  

I often speak with university and college students about careers in law. Law is such a competitive industry, so I urge prospective lawyers to do as well as they can at the academic stage of their careers; write well; speak well; get as much law-related work experience as possible; be interesting; be informed; and be persistent.

5. If you didn’t get into conveyancing, what other job would you have done?  

I would have become a media lawyer!

6. What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?  

There have been numerous challenges along the way but perhaps the biggest challenge was qualifying into property law in 2008 at the height of the credit crunch.

7. Other than winning ‘Conveyancer of the Year’, what other professional achievement are you most proud of?

I would say achieving partnership at Wedlake Bell with less than 10 years’ PQE and at the age of 35 – making me the firm’s youngest partner. Wedlake Bell is a Top 100, independent London law firm with a strong presence in real estate, private client, business services and dispute resolution. But one of the things that sets it apart from many other firms is its working culture. As modern professionals, our work takes up a large part of our day-to-day lives so it’s important to enjoy what you do and have good relationships with people you work with. For me, that’s certainly the case with Wedlake Bell.

8. From your experience, how do you see the industry changing over the next 3-5 years? 

We are already witnessing changes to the regulatory, technological, economic and even political climate of the conveyancing world. And in that regard, there will be more of what has already started; more new build conveyancing; more reforms to the leasehold sector; more sophisticated platforms upon which to undertake due diligence and reporting (such as Search Acumen’s new platform); more use of legal and property tech; more creative models of funding (such as Nested and Property Partner); and more innovative ways of delivering legal and estate agency services to help to speed up the process. Interesting times lie ahead.

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