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An interview with…

Julian Washington speaks to Druces’ staff about their experiences of 2020

In many ways 2020 has been a year which people would like to forget. The global pandemic has had an enormous impact and, even among those of us who escaped its worst effects, personal lives and business strategies have been disrupted on a large scale. It has seen many people stuck at home, working long hours at the kitchen table, while others were furloughed or, worse, had to worry about redundancy.

Of course, Druces has not been exempt from the vagaries of 2020. Even though our staff have taken full advantage of all the online team meetings and Zoom-networking, many have also felt the lack of the camaraderie of the office at times. They have also had to transition to working remotely whilst continuing to anticipate the changing needs of clients in this tumultuous year.

It is also true, however, that we have had our fair share of good news this year, not least in the form of the Legal 500 rankings and wins at the WealthBriefing and Citywealth awards. I sat down with two of our senior associates – Jack Kemmish from the corporate practice and Michael Rowland from private client – to get their perspectives on 2020 at Druces.

Jack Kemmish:

“Like many of us have experienced, it has been a bittersweet year for me personally, due to postponing long awaited travel plans with my wife which we had been looking forward to for some time.”

“And yes, it is true that I have missed the buzz of the office and interacting with colleagues face to face. Between the lockdowns, when the firm reopened to staff in a limited way, I was keen to get back into the City…but it wasn’t the same. Then came the second lockdown and everyone returned home to their laptops again.”

“But despite all that, professionally it has been a really good year for me. There was some nervousness at the start of the pandemic about the impact on the equity capital markets in which we operate, but the Corporate department has actually been exceptionally busy this year. With the 2019 saga of Brexit, there had been pent-up demand from companies intending to list in the first half of 2020. The first lockdown pushed those plans into the second half of the year.”

“I have been very busy personally too, but busy with a great quality of work of a type that I love: handling significant and sometimes transformational deals for small to mid-cap companies, which is very satisfying. I like to be involved with these clients – early to mid-stage companies – and to be part of their developing stories.”

“In May of this year I was promoted to senior associate which was a great vote of confidence from the firm and a proud career development step for me. I think I have continued to grow as a lawyer this year and certainly gained experience from the new work I’ve handled: the senior job title feels like both a recognition of career progression to date and a vote of confidence for the future. So yes, I’d have to say that for all the downsides of 2020 it looks like it will end on a much more positive note.”

Mike Rowland

“Private client work is not tied to the economic cycle in the same way as other departments can be; we often find that we continue to grow even during tricky times economically and we have certainly experienced that this year.”

“Having said that, we did see a lot of a certain kind of work which was directly related to the pandemic (including estate planning by clients wanting to update their plans or get their affairs in order, just in case…). But, far and beyond that work, we have been busy across the department from our family office and international clients to traditional UK work; the whole range.”

“Like Jack I have missed the office environment and working from home has been challenging at times. In my case, I have young children aged 2 and 3 and the first national lockdown resulted in there being a certain amount of juggling of work and childcare with my wife who was also working from home. But it’s also true that I have been busy with good quality work and it has been a satisfying year professionally from that point of view.”

“Private client seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment – the WealthBriefing award was a highlight – and I was really pleased with my promotion to senior associate. I think that helps me build my network and is an important stepping stone in my career. So, I can’t say that I am not looking forward to getting back into the old routine of working from the office again, but some of the efficiencies of home-working and online meetings will stick, I’m sure. 2020 has not been all bad!”

Further information

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