Lawrence Stephens

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In conversation with our new joiner: Nick Marshall

September 2020

We are so pleased to welcome Nick Marshall to our growing Partnership at Lawrence Stephens. He brings with him decades of formidable experience in the Real Estate Investment and Occupier sector, which has earned him industry-wide recognition as a leader in the field.

Nick joins the firm amidst a global pandemic, so in order to get to get to know him a little better prior to his arrival, Partner Gregory Palos conducted a virtual chat with Nick to learn more about his background, what drew him to Lawrence Stephens, and what he hopes to achieve.

Nick, what enticed you to Lawrence Stephens?

My recruitment consultant was the one who suggested a chat with Lawrence Stephens after a long conversation about the successes I had most enjoyed and the challenges faced throughout my career. I talked to him about what makes me tick and where my mojo has been happiest. For him, it was a no brainer that I chat with Gregory Palos, Steven Bernstein, Stephen Messias and Jeff Rubenstein. That was the moment of discovery. We just hit it off (particularly after Greg and I had finished chatting at length about fly fishing). There were no egos, no posturing, and lots of commonality to the way – from how we each like to approach work, to getting more of it.

Where had you worked before joining us and what was the environment like in comparison? 

Having read Mathematics at university, a decision to follow a career in the law raised a few eyebrows. I was apparently the first ever Mathematics graduate to study at the College of Law in Guildford. So as expected, my route to the City was not conventional:

I trained at a high-street practice in Staffordshire and was thrown in at the deep end on day one, having attended the Masters’ chambers for a bankruptcy hearing in Birmingham and told to read the file on the train. However, it was in this role that I had proudly been involved in the sale of the car manufacturer, Reliant, famous for the Reliant Robin – think Del Boy’s three wheeler car. If you’re too young to remember that, Google it!

I then joined Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield, which was by contrast, far more corporate, before moving back to the City in 1998 to join a boutique commercial law firm, typically acting for the owners of shopping centres. Then, in 2011, I took up a role at a regional law firm before moving to DAC Beachcroft where I had been for the past 4 and a half years.  I leave behind some great friends, but I am excited by the next chapter at Lawrence Stephens.  Over the years the working environments that I have valued the most have been genuinely friendly, collegiate, edgy and different places to work and I have a feeling the environment at Lawrence Stephens is going to be very similar to those that I have valued the most, and where my mojo was happiest. 

In the meantime, I am look forward to getting back into London, meeting my new colleagues properly, being able to visit clients and enjoy the buzz of the City again.

What sort of clients do you typically act for?

I typically act for corporate occupiers and investors. Over the years there have been an eclectic mix of occupiers, including tech companies, pharma companies, engineers, disrupters, charities, private equity platforms and food importers. The space requirements can also be wildly different, from 1.5k square foot offices through to 100k square foot, state-of-the-art new build facilities.

Similarly, I have acted for a wide range of investors over the years, from pension funds, to family offices and property companies.  The investors for whom I have acted have often used international holding structures to acquire their properties, which brings a whole new and exciting dimension to the project.  Although this work has involved the acquisition and disposal of assets, there has also been a large amount of asset management work too, continually adding value to the asset.

What approach do you like to take when working with your clients?

One that sees me working as part of a team. Clearly taking control of the legals but delivering what the client wants, in the way they want it, and never giving them what I think they should have. Communication is the key – I like to take time to talk to the client, listen and understand.  I endeavour to never assume or dictate, which has enabled me to grow strong client relationships and make some great friends along the way. Ultimately, you’ve got to enjoy doing what you do!

What has been a standout moment in your career so far?

Seeing my first ever trainee – who spent her first seat with me when I was an Associate at Mayer Brown – taking Partnership at a City firm. She took me out for breakfast and thanked me for the help and guidance and being part of her journey. That was a proud moment for me.

What are the biggest challenges you anticipate for the real estate sector over the next 6 months to a year?

Dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19. The challenge will be to find the opportunities that will be created as a consequence, and those opportunities may not come from the usual pre-COVID comfortable sources. Rather, it’s time to adapt, be flexible, look outside of the comfort zone and the opportunities will present themselves. It may not be work you’ve done before or at the usual values, but there is a wealth of talent and support within the firm, which will make any necessary learning curve far less steep.

Simultaneously, it’s going to be a case of remaining positive despite the knockbacks and holding on for the ride. We must adapt, be flexible, not sell ourselves short and remain confident.

What would you like to achieve (long term and short term) as a Partner at Lawrence Stephens?

In the short term, I aim to integrate into the firm’s teams on a personal and professional level.  Get to know everyone, what they do, who they do it for and look for opportunities to cross sell to all.

 In the longer term, to have made a real positive contribution to the business. To be nurturing and developing of our people – as our collective success rests upon the ability and talent of our people to deliver a first class service – and to be working with the firm in creative ways that will motivate and enthuse all of our team to build revenue, profit and talent.