Paul Mourton was appointed managing partner of Midlands law firm Lodders in January 2018, to become its youngest ever managing partner at just 39. Now head of the firm’s Real Estate team, he fills us in on his career.
What is it the company does?
Lodders Solicitors LLP has been in business for over 230 years and today has 25 partners, over 130 fee earners and support staff working across its offices in Stratford upon Avon, Cheltenham, Birmingham and Henley in Arden. The firm offers expert legal advice across agricultural law and landed estates, private client work, dispute resolution, business and commercial law, commercial property, residential and strategic land development, employment law, charity law, residential conveyancing, equine law, and family law, for private individuals, family businesses, landowners, rural communities, real estate and property owners, developers and investors.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As managing partner, I have responsibility for the day to day operations of the firm and to all its staff and, in conjunction with the other equity partners, am responsible for the strategic direction of the firm. My aim is to sustain and build on Lodders’ significant growth over the last five years. The firm continues to work with many longstanding, as well as new, incredible clients, and I hope to build on this and the firm’s excellent reputation, whilst maintaining the strategy of measured expansion. I want to ensure the firm’s ethos and reputation for excellent, quality client service is maintained, alongside growing our team of best in breed, quality lawyers.
Alongside the new role, I continue as head of Lodders’ Real Estate practice. The team is one of the largest in the Midlands region and acts for national and regional developers of both commercial and residential property, investment companies private landowners and funders. As well as managing the team, I work directly with clients, primarily acting for high-net-worth individuals and private family property companies across the UK as well as for one of the UK’s leading logistics firms, and two of the largest property PLCs in the West Midlands.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I qualified in 2005 at Cheltenham law firm Rickerbys (now Harrison Clark Rickerbys), moving from there in 2006 following an approach to join national firm Charles Russell (now Charles Russell Speechleys).
I joined Lodders in June 2008 as an Associate in the Real Estate department, was appointed partner in charge of our Cheltenham office when it opened in 2013, and then became an equity partner in 2014.
I have been head of Lodders’ Real Estate team since 2015, succeeding Nick East, and was appointed the firm’s managing partner in January 2018, taking over from Rod Bird who had been in the role for 17 years.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Above all, a great leader is someone who leads by example. Other important qualities are empathy, approachability, humanity, integrity and having a sense of humour! A leader must use all experiences to develop these attributes and skills, especially by learning from mistakes along the way. A leader has to be a good listener and be willing to make a decision, no matter how tough. The very best leaders are those who empower others to become leaders themselves.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Since officially taking on the role of managing partner at the start of the year, the biggest challenge I have set myself is to ensure that all staff feel secure and reassured that nothing will change overnight simply because a new managing partner is in the role. Change is unsettling, and I am working hard to ensure that the staff do not feel unsettled. Key to this is taking a diligent, consistent and committed approach to communication and messaging, talking to everyone and walking the floors, all of which are a significant and important part of overcoming this challenge for me.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
The greatest stress buster is taking time-out with my two children, who are aged 8 and 5. My son and I spend many hours building Lego together, which is enjoyable and cherished quality time. Sport has always been a big passion and interest, so following and watching major sport, as well as keeping active myself through running and bike rides with the family, also help to clear my head of work. Holidays (and extended periods of family time) are also an important way to switch off.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Perhaps the stuff of many a young boy’s dreams, but I wanted to be a professional footballer at Manchester United, and a fighter pilot during the week. As a teenager, I was signed by my local team, Cheltenham Town, and really believed I would make football my career, but went to a rugby playing school and the opportunities to continue to play football diminished.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Lateness. Also, too often, people choose to send an email rather than getting up from their desk and walking to speak face to face with a colleague. I would much prefer to see colleagues talking to each other, even if it is a tricky conversation, as interaction is so important. I will be actively encourage all our staff to do more of this.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Throughout Lodders’ 230-year history, the firm has predominantly acted for individuals, private companies, and private family businesses, in both a private and commercial capacity, and is genuinely excellent at it. So, in five years, my ambition is that we will have continued to build on this and Lodders will be known as the pre-eminent private client law firm in the West Midlands and the South West.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I would pass on the great advice I was given by a fellow professional several years ago – as I’ve already said, firstly lead by example, and also never forget that success is down to the people in a business so they should be nurtured and supported. I would also say that rather than being ambitious to succeed, be ambitious not to fail.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
That my life would be divided into 6 minute segments!!
Don’t be frightened to have an opinion or vocalise new initiatives.