In the first of our Promotion Spotlight interview series, new Associate Miriam Bishop reflects on her journey to promotion.
Tell us about your role. What markets and types of clients do you advise?
I work in the Commercial Property Team; my roles sits within the Housing Practice specifically, working mainly with Housing Associations. This involves a lot of work on large site acquisitions and social housing plots, whether done by Housing Associations or commercial developers. I also work on the purchase of off-the-shelf plots and sales to Housing Associations pursuant to Section 106 agreements.
I also work for local authorities, healthcare clients and other commercial bodies on general transactional property matters.
Why do you enjoy working at Bevan Brittan?
I find the work we do as a firm very interesting; we often work on quite big, complex matters which I like getting my teeth into. I became a lawyer because I wanted to solve problems and enjoy being challenged, and this role gives me that in abundance!
Within the firm, we have some great people and I am very fond of my colleagues. Bevan Brittan has a strong culture of support; people are friendly and we have some excellent legal minds. I joined the firm as a newly qualified lawyer and there are so many people I’ve been lucky enough to learn from.
We have such a collaborative approach here too. For example, I work closely with plot sales colleagues; we are often buying houses from developers that they then go on to sell to people in need of housing. I find that very rewarding as it’s not something every law firm does. Rather than working on matters in isolation, we take a ‘cradle to grave’ approach, tying together various teams to support our clients at different stages of their projects. We also work closely with our Construction colleagues and they are always on hand to assist with any complex construction issues.
We also have some lovely clients. I often deal with the same contacts over the length of a project, so I have built up a lot of good relationships with clients over the years. Many of the individuals I’ve worked with keep coming back to us even when moving between different Housing Associations, so maintaining these relationships is a major positive.
What are you most proud of during your time at Bevan Brittan?
This is a tricky one! In the Housing Team we have worked on a lot of large housing developments so I couldn’t pick a favourite, but every time we complete on a large scheme it is incredibly satisfying. I know that, every time we complete of these schemes, the housing is going to be used for social housing for those with a real need for it, so there is a sense of pride in that.
Christmas is often our most demanding time, with tight deadlines caused by the large housing developers’ wrapping up projects to meet their end of the year target. So getting through this busy period each year is always very satisfying and often it means that we know that people will be able to be in their new homes for the holidays, which is a great feeling.
I’m also very proud of the work that we are doing as a firm to increase our pro bono offering and the support we give to local charities. I have been a member of our Community Engagement committee for several years and it’s great to have the firm so supportive of my involvement. This ties in with my role as Vice Chair of Bristol Pro Bono – a Bristol-wide initiative to think about the work we do as firms to support the community by providing pro bono legal advice.
What or who do you credit for getting you to this point of promotion?
I didn’t follow the conventional route into law; I didn’t decide to be a lawyer until I was in my late-20s. I studied French and Spanish at university, and when I left I worked for a large national charity for six years. So it has been a long and winding path to get to this point! The support I received from friends and family during my retraining was incredible; not to mention that being the partner of a lawyer is always a challenge so I’m very grateful for the support of my other half.
Since joining Bevan Brittan as a newly qualified solicitor six years ago, my team have been very supportive and helped grow my knowledge and understanding, so I can’t thank them enough for their encouragement.
What do you hope to achieve over the next few years?
In a nutshell, more of the same! It’s a very interesting time to be a property lawyer and especially working with Housing Associations. There are a lot of obvious challenges at the moment, so I’m looking forward to helping our clients to achieve their goals through this period of change.
I have also recently been re-appointed as Vice Chair of Bristol Pro Bono for the second year running. As a relatively new group, we will be aiming to build on the achievements of the first year, working as a firm and with the broader legal community to think more about how we support those in need in Bristol.