Commercial property questions answered at Ancora Law.

28th Jul

What’s your professional background and what made you decide to set up your own firm?
I grew up and studied in Hull. I knew qualifying as a solicitor was going to be expensive so I made the slightly unusual decision (or it was when I did it) to work within a firm and take my post-uni qualifications via weekend learning. I studied at York one weekend a month for two years (it usually takes one year) while working as a residential completions clerk at a local high street firm. I must have impressed, and I was later asked to start a training contract in 2006. There was then an opening in a large Hull firm to transfer the remainder of my training contract with a view to working within one of the firm’s national client accounts. I jumped into the opportunity and qualified as a solicitor in 2008. I rose through the ranks and was invited to join as a partner before I reached 35. This really felt like an acknowledgment of all the hard work invested into my career by me and those around me.
My practice area is commercial property but I am also a specialist in licensed premises, having worked for thousands of pub owners, publicans and communities looking to purchase their local pub.
Over the past few years I knew there had been a shift in customer expectations and became frustrated that those within existing firms had a vested interest in keeping the status quo. I explored setting up my own firm, but shifting from the traditional approach to both increase customer service and reduce overheads and therefore provide more competitive fees. I researched the idea for well over a year and Ancora Law was up and running from January 2020.
What kind of services do you offer?
We are solely a commercial property firm of solicitors but this includes services ranging from advice on taking or granting a lease, leasehold consents or variations, buying or selling commercial property, dealing with title issues or just general estate legal management.
What makes you different from other legal firms?
Our main focus is shifting from the normal/traditional and adopting new technology to concentrate on customer service. We have not adopted the traditional model of big expensive offices nor numerous administration staff but we have replaced this with cloud technology, online case management, voice recognition and online client collaboration to provide cheaper fees and superior customer service.
You launched your new website just as the pandemic took hold – what have things been like for you during lockdown? Have you had to adapt to new ways of working?
Quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, we are seeing a large decrease in companies and people needing commercial property advice, but our systems were set up from the outset to be fully mobile and so we did not see any downturn in productivity. Being agile has also allowed us to remain present in the market while other firms have struggled to make the transition. We had agents ring us saying that other firms are moaning that we are too proactive – I took this as a massive compliment.
As someone who is new to running your own business, what have you learned so far?
Don’t be afraid to get things wrong – just make sure you learn from it. I am always surprised how much I have learnt since January by being in the deep end and making decisions.
What advice would you give to someone going it alone, especially in the current climate?
Don’t look back – you will never achieve if you don’t believe you can succeed. Lots of people will want or expect you to fail, but make sure you try to improve your business each day. I use customer service as my benchmark or decision guide and if the decision improves customer service, the idea will be adopted.
Ancora Law, C4DI @thedock, 31-38 Queen Street, Hull, HU1 1UUwww.ancoralaw.co.uk

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