Square One Law attracts London lawyer back to the North East
Square One Law’s new partner, Francesca Angelucci, talks about her return to Newcastle and the opportunity of leading the firm’s experienced private client services team.
Francesca Angelucci has developed a highly successful career managing the personal business needs of her clients. From her early career managing bulk remortgages to her recent invaluable experience of working with high net worth clients in central London, Francesca has seen first-hand the impact of a fluctuating property market and an unstable economy.
Francesca is a north-easterner through and through and is delighted to be returning to her roots.
“I grew up and was educated in Newcastle, then studied law at Sheffield, before returning to complete my LPC course at Northumbria University. Shortly after qualifying as a solicitor, I joined Dickinson Dees as a team leader in their volume conveyancing team. It was great to be given so much responsibility at such an early stage in my career, however the experience made me realise that I wanted to diversify my career.”
Next Francesca joined Watson Burton, and was given the opportunity to build up a bespoke residential conveyancing practice. She soon realised that this was exactly the type of work she wanted to specialise in and became well known in the Newcastle property market. Two years later, Dickinson Dees approached her to return as part of their core business to set up a similar offering. All was going well until 2008 when the property market collapsed in the North East.
Overnight the market seemed to go flat, but I could see that the economic downturn wasn’t having the same effect on my London-based clients. The market remained vibrant in the south east and when the opportunity presented itself, I moved to London and joined a niche private client firm, Judge Sykes Frixou, where I became a partner. This turned out to be a fantastic move for me and instead of just working with regional clients, I suddenly found myself acting for high-net worth international and national clients in relation to prime and super prime property transactions.
“I developed a deeper understanding of relationship management at Judge Sykes Frixou, my clients were investing very large sums of money and had very high expectations of service delivery.
“In the North East a large residential conveyance may be a £1 – £3m property, but in London I was acting for clients buying properties in the region of £5 – £20m and most of these property transactions were not straightforward.”
Francesca had to work closely with the firm’s corporate and property teams as well as the client’s tax advisers and lenders to establish the most efficient way of purchasing the property. This could include purchasing through an offshore company, or purchasing the company that owned the property.
Francesca continued: “My role is to co-ordinate the client, the banks, the surveyors, to ensure excellent service and value is delivered to the client.
“The main difference working in the London market is that all the different parties are very client driven and actively work together to achieve the client’s objectives (no matter how demanding) in as short a time as possible.
“Regional conveyancing sometimes has a bad name as it is more lawyer driven than client driven. Real value can be added to the client’s experience by being proactive, providing solutions and working effectively with the other professionals who are part of the process. You can only control the part of the process that you are responsible for, but when everyone focuses on what the client needs and not just their small part, far more value is delivered to the client.”
Senior partner, Ian Gilthorpe, said, “Square One Law acts for a range of leading entrepreneurial clients and high-net worth individuals and we fully understand that they want the same high levels of service when dealing with their personal or family matters as those they receive for their business needs. We look at these matters through the client’s lens as these are extremely personal matters for our clients or their families and that is why we view them as high value.”
Private client partner, Stuart Hamilton added, “Many regional law firms have closed their private client departments, but we see a real opportunity and can now offer a bespoke team of highly experienced partners across the whole area of private client services which includes, residential conveyancing, wills, trusts, inheritance tax mitigation, probate, matrimonial, employment issues, wealth management and succession planning.”
Francesca said,” Properties are bought and sold for a variety of reasons. We are increasingly seeing parents helping their children with their first purchase to get them on the property ladder. It may be part of their wealth management strategy to buy an investment property or a holiday home. Unfortunately sometimes properties are sold as part of a marriage breakdown and at a time of great stress, so to have a full service team that can help with all these areas will ensure we can help our clients reach their objectives as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
Looking to the future Francesca said: “As we gear up for a general election next year we will see the issues of mansion tax and first time buyer schemes brought to the forefront. This coupled with the recent debate over Scotland’s future has led to a level of uncertainty in the marketplace and even the London market has calmed slightly as everyone waits to see what will happen.
“Also with the recent pension reforms, now is a good time for clients to look at their wealth management strategy and start to make appropriate changes and I believe at Square One Law we have an outstanding team to help them.”