David Powell, Senior Associate TWM Solicitors – Business Law Department
Please tell us about your career in law, from gaining your degree at Exeter, to the present day.
Having graduated from Exeter I moved up to Guildford to study at the College of Law, not due to any connection with the area but because it has a very good reputation nationally. Halfway through my year there I was offered a training contract at TWM Solicitors LLP. I had planned to live in Iceland for a year to study for a Masters, but at the last minute the course was cancelled and I had to change plans, leading me to Guildford. It turned out to be a fortunate change in circumstances as I have now been with the corporate-commercial team at TWM for four years, having spent the previous two years training with the firm.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I am kept on my toes with the sheer range of people and transactions in my team. In the corporate-commercial team we assist clients with the full life cycle of a business: from incorporating new companies or setting up new partnerships, helping companies to expand by way of franchise, distribution or agency arrangements through to the sale (and purchase) of businesses. In Guildford there are a huge number of successful family-owned and owner managed businesses as well as start-ups, who are interesting to work with, as well as more established companies. Of course there is also an influx of work filtering in from London. I would say I really enjoy the variety of work on offer to me here; we could be working on an acquisition of a local newsagent or the sale of a multi-million pound property portfolio. There is also an international side to it too; I can easily end up working with lawyers all over the world.
What’s great about Guildford from a business perspective?
I think we’re ideally placed in Guildford. It is certainly a hub for professional services – the sheer number of solicitors, accountancy firms, IFAs, all based in and around Guildford and all servicing a vast range of client needs locally. We are not treading on each others’ toes; there’s such a need for professional services that there is plenty of work to keep everyone very busy. We’re all attracting work from London of course, but Surrey is also such an affluent, successful pocket of commerce.
Could you describe an exciting moment in your career?
On a personal level, it was realising I had secured my first genuine client – it was whilst I was a trainee so was a real highlight. I brought the client to the firm as a start-up business and we have now been working together for nearly five years. The client has become a good friend. This is what I really like about working around here; the way clients become friends, and friends become clients. In Guildford, and particularly with TWM, it’s all about achieving an amicable, amenable way of working – perhaps more so than I envisage working up in central London might be.
How long have you been a County Club member?
I joined in February this year. Quite a few of my colleagues are Club members, so there is quite a strong connection between the two. I have been along as a guest to a few lunch meetings and was impressed by the setting and more recently, it has been encouraging to see there has been an influx of young members at the Club.
My first proper involvement with the County Club came last year when I took part in the County Club Crap Car Rally. The Crap Car Rally is one of the Club’s annual sponsorship events, raising money for the Club’s Charity of the Year. The challenge is to buy a car, worth less than £500, and drive through Europe for a long weekend before heading back to the County Club – the route changes every year. We managed it without writing our little car off and it was great fun, all for a good cause. Everyone at the County Club turns up at the start to see you off, which just goes to show the camaraderie fostered at the Club; it was a real buzz.
My profession works with all kinds of businesses, so it’s good to get to know about people in an organic way, without going to any specific networking events. Connections come easily here, as you familiarise yourself with regular faces and draw into conversations naturally.
What benefits do you hope to have from being a County Club member?
It’s a lovely, comfortable location, right in the centre of town. I value a tasteful, quiet meeting place – it’s perfect for client meetings; sometimes it’s more beneficial to have a coffee-table meeting.
On the social side of things, a main benefit is being able to bump into all sorts of people, the way to network is to build up relationships; it’s not about networking for networking’s sake. People will value you and your services more when they have a chance to get to know you, and a setting such as the County Club is a great way to do it.
Aside from the business side of things, what stands out for you at the County Club?
The food is absolutely first-rate. Guildford is obviously abundantly stocked with restaurants and eateries, but the private-dining experience that the County Club offers is something special. It’s a nice change to everything else and it’s faultless for both business lunches and social lunches.
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