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Laura Conduit is a Partner at Farrer & Co. London. She joined the firm in 2012 and now runs the residential property and secured lending practice. Laura’s client base ranges from high-net-worth domestic and international individuals and families to boutique developers and private banks. What these clients have in common is their requirement for top-quality advice, pragmatism and service. This is where Laura delivers.
Laura works alongside Enness both for mutual borrower clients and where Enness represents the borrower; Laura can be found representing the bank as a separate representation on residential property financing matters.
1. Can you share the story of what inspired you to pursue a career in Law?
It is really excellent that I am now at an age and stage in life where I do not have to give the expected interview answer to this question. The truth is I was fascinated (and this may give away my age slightly) by US TV legal dramas, such as Ally McBeal, and of course, the movie Legally Blonde was aspirational! At school, I was fast at reading, and often told off for talking, and in career tests, I was advised that due to a lack of spatial awareness, landing a plane would never be in my skill set. Hence, the Law it was.
2. What’s been the most significant moment or milestone in your career that has shaped your approach to business?
When I became a partner at Farrers in 2017, it became apparent that I was unlikely ever to work anywhere else. This has given me a different perspective on my day-to-day dealings with clients, intermediaries and peers. Essentially, I am in this for the long run, and this is behind my approach to everything I do.
3. In the dynamic business landscape, how do you stay adaptable and open to change?
I spend a lot of time listening to the most junior members of my team because they are the future. They are so incredibly tech-savvy, having grown up on computers rather than with pens and paper, that their attitude and approach to efficiency and modernisation of the conveyancing process (which certainly still has a long way to go) is refreshing. I am always out and about meeting people and love learning about cutting-edge new entrepreneurial property businesses.
4. Business leadership often involves taking risks. But what role do you believe risk-taking plays in achieving success?
As a lawyer, I am naturally risk-averse, so I wouldn’t say that risk-taking is something that I indulge in, but what I do is back myself and give things a go, push at open doors, and I am not afraid of asking questions, asking for introductions and looking at new opportunities.
5. What is your leadership philosophy, and how do you use this to inspire and motivate those around you?
You spend longer at work than you do anywhere else, longer than you spend with your friends or your family. For me, it, therefore, has to be fun. I wouldn’t do this job if I didn’t enjoy it, and I try to share that energy and enthusiasm with my team and those I work with. If, for example, one of my team doesn’t particularly enjoy business development, we look at why that might be and incorporate some of their own passions and interests, e.g. football or theatre, into how they go about that element of the job.
As one of my first-ever PAs taught me, you get more with honey than with vinegar, and I try to take that through into all my dealings with others.
6. Can you share a specific failure or setback in your career, and how did you use that experience as a learning opportunity to grow and improve?
In April 2008, when I qualified as a property lawyer, the economy was not in a particularly stable place, and after a few months, I was placed into redundancy consultation. I had to fight for my job, and as a junior lawyer, I was arguably in the weakest position to do so. Despite being newly qualified, I already had a small network of referrers, and my bosses at the time saw a potential rainmaker in me. I believe that potential, combined with my solid grounding as a technical lawyer, is the reason I was retained. The experience gave me a hunger and survival instinct that stays with me. I am not complacent and am constantly seeking to improve, which I suspect a therapist would tell me derives back to those 2008 beginnings of my qualified working life.
7. How do you foster a culture of innovation and creativity within Farrer & Co?
Our central knowledge team are absolutely fantastic. We have just had a full week on artificial intelligence, which was hugely informative and interesting. The firm is known for its history, but I hope it is also known for how forward-thinking and open we are to new ideas and change. As a firm, we act for many entrepreneurial individuals and companies, which is an amazing opportunity for us to look at ourselves in that light.
8. Business leaders often face challenges in balancing work and personal life. How do you manage this balance, and what strategies do you use to prevent burnout?
On our recent team away day, we had an excellent external speaker, Ronan Harrington, who came to talk to us about burnout, and we, as a team, have been taking forward some of his philosophies - including a recent cold shower week (which we did not participate in at the same time as each other!).
My partners are hugely supportive, and we are constantly striving to ensure we have a culture where people are able to be open and upfront about how they are so that we can all look after each other. The job is hard and stressful at times, and yes, I do balance that with a personal life, including two young children and an active social life. I no longer accept an invitation to the opening of an envelope and try to carve out an amount of protected time to spend with friends and family alongside work.
Having said that, I am incapable of not checking emails whether I am on a ski lift or sun lounger; for me, that doesn’t give me burnout; rather, it gives me adrenaline!
9. What advice do you have for individuals aspiring to work in the legal sector? Are there key principles or lessons you wish you had known when starting your journey?
Talk to as many people as you can who are working in the legal industry. I didn’t have any friends or family who were lawyers, and I was able to secure work experience in the first instance at a local high street firm; I then had my second work experience placement at Staines Magistrates Court. I wish I had known earlier how important a network would be. This is not something I began to cultivate until I started working, whereas many of my friends have professional networks going back to their school and university days.
10. Finally, are there any resources, such as podcasts, blogs or books you recommend others consider that you have found inspirational in your career?
Believe it or not, I have never listened to a podcast, so I would be grateful if your readers could send me recommendations on that front! I am currently reading ‘Surrounded by Idiots’, which I am hoping might make better sense of the world for me.