Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Let's Get Down to Business: Luke McMath, Blandy and Blandy

Let's Get Down to Business: Luke McMath, Blandy and Blandy

LUKE MCMATH is a partner in solicitors Blandy & Blandy and works in the Henley office, which recently moved to Thames Side. He joined the firm in 2016 after its acquisition of Collins Dryland & Thorowgood and has 21 years’ experience of working in the town. Luke, who went to Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning, lives in Holyport with his wife Angela, a management accountant, and their two sons. He was a keen hockey player for many years but now prefers to watch sport, especially cricket. He is secretary of Bracknell Chess Club, where he plays regularly.

Describe the business

Blandy & Blandy is an award-winning, full services law firm with offices in Reading, Henley and London. It is among the 25 oldest law firms in the UK, having been established in 1733. The firm is in the Legal 500 and was recently nominated for the title of best probate law firm in London/South East at the Probate Research Awards.

How many people does it employ?

About 100 people in the three locations. Here in Henley, we have 11 with five solicitors and a trainee.

What did you do before becoming a solicitor?

After school I went to the University of Sussex to read biochemistry. After graduating, I concluded that chemistry had been more fun in the school laboratory than at university, so I decided to consider alternative professions. I chose law because I wanted to do something that I found interesting. I completed a year’s conversion course and was then awarded a training contract at Kite Griffin, a law firm in Bracknell. I joined Collins Dryland & Thorowgood in 1998.

Did anybody influence you in your choice?

It was probably my sister, who is older than me. She had read maths at Oxford before converting to law and becoming a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

On reflection, I might have specialised sooner than I did. I covered a lot of different areas of law for a long time. But for many years now I have been advising clients in relation to residential property and conveyancing matters and I have considerable experience in advising on commercial property.

How is the Henley office doing?

We have expanded and have added more people. We’ve acted for more private clients and in June we moved from our previous offices in Hart Street to much more prominent premises in Thames Side. It’s a beautiful, historic building that was originally the Little White Hart Hotel.

How do you market your services?

By every means possible — personal contacts and networking, repeat business, advertisements in the Henley Standard and keeping in contact with local estate agents. We also use social media and LinkedIn and, of course, there are the many personal recommendations from our existing clients.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Mostly the clients and the team. Paperwork can be very dry. I like helping clients achieve what they set out to do.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Finding business. The need to ensure we receive sufficient new instructions to keep us growing.

Where is your business headed?

There’s still quite a lot of room for expansion in the Henley area. More generally, I feel the market as a whole is expanding so it is not only about market share but also continuing to develop to service the new demands.

What three qualities are most important to success?

In law I would say hard work is always going to be on the list. Self-confidence and moving with the times (changes in law and technology) are also up there.

What’s the secret of your success?

A lot of listening to clients and understanding not just what they say but also what they are likely to need.

What advice would you offer someone considering a career in law?

It’s a good profession if you’re prepared to put the work in. Specialising is the way to go these days.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

I am not sure there is any one particular point but a wide variety of experience — you get to see most of everything at some stage of your career.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

I can think of a few minor ones but fortunately not anything particularly serious.

How organised are you?

Averagely but fortunately I have a very good secretary.

How do you dress for work each day?

Being a solicitor, it’s always a smart suit and tie.

What can’t you be without every day?

Access to emails.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

I generally don’t bother with lunch. When I do eat I like to take time to enjoy it.

Do you continue to study?

There’s always new legislation and case law to study and learn. Continuous Professional Development is a requirement of the legal profession. I can recall that one of my grandfathers was still attending update lectures in medicine until he was about 90 and I could imagine wanting to do the same.

What do you read?

I like science fiction. The last book was by Peter F Hamilton. I don’t read a daily newspaper regularly but I do read the Henley Standard every week.

How are you planning for retirement?

Through my pension savings. We have no current plans for what we do when we retire but looking after grandchildren one day may be on the agenda.

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