Thornton Legal Meets...Ed Foulkes from Clarke Willmott

Ed joined Clarke Willmott in 2012, and is National Head of Corporate as well as Head of the Manchester office. Along with being a key contact of Thornton Legal and a top-class lawyer, he’s one of the nicest chaps around. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Ed:

How’s business?

Great, actually. My own area (mergers and acquisitions) was quieter in 2023 but since the turn of the calendar year we've been as busy as we've ever have. The same is true of our real estate teams. Other parts of our business (for example litigation,  private capital and social housing) are less affected by macroeconomic factors,  and some are even counter-cyclical. That's been a real strength for us over the years.

•           Can you tell us a bit about your background, and your role at Clarke Willmott?

I wear a few hats now, and head both the corporate & commercial team nationally and our Manchester office.  Our teams are pretty self-sufficient so I also do a full fee-earning role. I've always worked in private practice in Manchester, at a range of firms (some big, some small). I joined Clarke Willmott in 2012 and immediately knew it was right for me.

•           Why did you choose corporate law? 

Initially I didn't. At law school I wanted to be a family lawyer, but I had some exposure to corporate work during my training contract and pretty quickly realised that's what interested me.

•           What’s the best part of your job?

The people I work with - be they clients, colleagues or other advisors. That said, I still get a buzz from getting a deal over the line.

•           If you hadn’t been a lawyer, what would you have done?

Possibly journalism, which interested me at school. That's a tough industry now though.

•           How does Clarke Willmott stand out from the crowd?

As a firm we have significant industry specific experiences to add to our own legal expertise. Our clients and potential clients get legal partners who really understand their businesses and the impacts that decisions will have meaning we can support them better.

•           Recruitment is a challenge for all law firms, why should a lawyer choose Clarke Willmott?

Honestly,  it probably depends on who the lawyer is. Our culture is very important to us and we work hard to make sure our firm is a good place to work, where our people can develop their careers and skills whilst maintaining a sensible work/life balance. We take our ESG and EDI responsibilities seriously and try to make sure that we're giving back to the communities in which we operate. Many firms would say something similar,  but we undertake regular surveys of our people to make sure we're not just talking the talk, but walking the walk too.

•           What do you look for when recruiting into your team?

Obviously the relevant technical skills and qualifications,  but beyond that: people who are likely to enjoy working here and with whom we'll enjoy working.

•           What are the plans in Manchester for the rest of 2024?

A number of Partners joined the office as lateral hires last year including Lynn James (property litigation), Billy Poulter (real estate development) and Louise Rogers (employment). As they establish themselves I expect us to recruit further people to support them, in addition to lawyers joining existing teams. We also made up three experienced lawyers to Partner: Harriet Atkin and Mark Christie (both construction) and Matthew Dootson in corporate, so the office is an exciting place to be at the moment.

As a firm we have ambitious growth targets for this three year period. Our Manchester office will play a key part in that growth.

•           How do you spend your time away from the office?

Like many parents of teenage children I've developed a side hustle as a taxi driver. It doesn't seem to be paid though.

•           What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?

What a good question. Not a week goes by when I don't learn something new, but to gain that experience you have to do the work over time, and it's (mostly) been great fun along the way...so probably nothing.

If Clarke Willmott sounds like the kind of firm you’d like to join and you'd like to know more, then please get in touch with Joe Rees on 07903222898 for a confidential conversation.

Ed Foulkes

Clarke Willmott

Thornton Legal

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