Meet the team: Jo Morgan, Partner and Head of Commercial Property
Jo Morgan is a Partner and Head of Commercial Property at Coodes Solicitors. She reflects on her legal career and shares some of her interests outside work.
Can you briefly describe what your role involves?
My role involves a balance of managing the Commercial Property team alongside handling client matters. A usual day can vary from focusing on client work to management planning, communicating, assistance and organisation of the team, or a mix of the two.
This means each day is different, from site visits, interviewing, researching, planning or collating statistics. Since the pandemic, however, whatever I am involved with, I always seem to be attached to Microsoft Teams!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As a department we meet each week with a packed agenda including discussion of our ongoing cases and new projects as well as sharing successful completions. I really enjoy leading such an experienced team who cover a variety of work and have a genuine enthusiasm for property and the clients that we are involved with.
Also receiving new instructions from clients who have just secured a deal is exciting and progressing them over the line is always satisfying.
What object would you not want to be without as you go about your daily work and why?
Post-it notes! Despite electronic working, my desk still has a place for these.
Can you briefly explain your career path to date?
Having always had an interest in and passion for the property industry, I didn’t take the university route into law but began my career in an estate agency. After a few years and encouragement from some now retired local lawyers, I decided to take the leap to study and train as a Chartered Legal Executive while working full time. This is a fantastic degree alternative route into law for those who wish to work while qualifying. It enables you to gain practical experience from the off.
I progressed from paralegal to Partner and I now run an expanding Commercial Property team for a leading firm in the region and I remain an advocate of the Legal Executive route into law.
Covid-19 has transformed the way in which many of us work. How have you adapted and what do you now do differently?
As with other businesses, the lockdowns meant that we needed to stay local, which significantly reduced travel time between our offices. Because the Commercial Property team is spread across Cornwall and Devon, we have got into a rhythm of regular virtual meetings.
This is working well, not just for staff and clients, but also as a forum for networking with guests from the industry and other professionals where the whole team benefits. It’s something we are definitely keen to continue and expand on moving forward.
What skills and character traits do you think are most important for someone doing your job?
Prioritisation, adaptability, energy and the ability to stay calm in pressured situations.
What changes have had the biggest impact on your area of work in the last five years?
The speed of the technological changes and innovations that have taken place over the last five years is incredible. Dictation on physical tapes has moved to digital dictation and speech recognition tools. New tech start-ups companies have sprung up to help the legal world in handling anti money-laundering (AML) legislation and procedures as efficiently as possible. For example, during the pandemic we brought in an app to verify identity and carry out source of funds checks. Our search providers use interactive portals for ordering and delivering searches and even the Land Registry has progressed with embracing electronic methods and applications.
Technology has also meant that datasets of industry information is now at out fingertips. As a result, it is far easier to monitor trends and volumes. Land Registry and ONS datasets give useful comparisons for seasonal and yearly market fluctuations. But it is not only national datasets which improve visibility in the market. Technology has also helped local authorities improve the availability of data in the property sector with online portals and planning committee webcasts, which we now take for granted. As the demands on property professionals continue, I am sure we will keep looking to technology for solutions.
Tell us something about yourself that your clients may not know
Most of my clients know that I am a sports fanatic in my spare time. However, away from the road bike and running, I like to relax by landscape painting a beautiful view, usually accompanied with a glass of wine!