Marcus Beveridge also discusses the state of the property law space and tangata
Marcus Beveridge is a people-focused kind of guy. The managing director of 2022 Top Boutique Firm Queen City Law loves being able to hang with his crew, and his greatest passion is keeping his team of 20-odd people employed through a difficult time in the property law space while still having a cool work culture.
Beveridge and his team jumped headfirst into the world of social media early, and today, the team is staying on top of trends by producing content for platforms like TikTok, YouTube and WeChat. Beveridge loves to observe the initiative of the firm’s young talent and the “positive results that follow.”
In this interview, Beveridge discusses Keith Richards’ “to die for” bangers and mash, the need for leadership in the property sector, and wanting to spend more time on fishing and bodysurfing.
What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?
Mum, and hanging with ma’ crew!
What is going on at the firm? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?
Well, over the last 12 months we've settled into our new bespoke offices and rolled with the COVID-19 punches. We've had to be agile – pivot here and there and refocus our business flow in a couple of areas. We've accomplished this extraordinarily well overall.
We were one of the first firms that leapt into social media and blogging about 15 years ago before we ran out of steam. Very recently we've had a crack at TikTok, and some of the lawyers are starting to pump out some YouTube, WeChat and other repertoire. The yield is uncertain, but it ensures that we are match fit.
What tech-related initiatives adopted by the firm, if any, are you most excited about?
We are currently refining our AML and on-boarding processes, updating our software support (which is constantly being refined and improved anyway) and intend to spend a bit of energy on improving our publishing techniques so there are a few initiatives in play. I get a buzz out of seeing some of the young stars expressing themselves and the positive results that flow.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?
Well, what I feel most passionate about is keeping 20 odd people gainfully employed while retaining our cool work culture and stability in the firm during a pretty wild geo-political and virus-addled passage of time. It's that simple. And no one has even given me a chocolate fish! We have a large property team. The workflow has been significantly reduced as the property market has come to a screaming halt. This is after a decade of madness where a lot of lawyers and support staff would have experienced burnout. Was is predictable? Yes and No. Have we learned lessons? Yeah…nah! Humans don’t seem to learn the lessons of history.
What should the profession focus more on?
In, say, the property space, we should see more leadership. For example, work is required to push back some of the banks and lending institutions with their lending requirements as well as the creep we see in terms of solicitors' certificates, limiting lawyers duty to collect tax for the government, making sure juniors are properly trained, and a plethora of other concerns so that law firms can remain profitable.
We also have to prevent an unfair and over-the-top level of liability being transferred to hapless lawyers. Fees being charged for standard conveyancing still would indicate lawyers are the worst businesspeople in Aotearoa as property prices have skyrocketed and fees remain so low. On a risk vs. reward analysis, current settings are way out of kilter to the point of being embarrassing, and practitioners need to pull their collective socks up and show some backbone.
More critical thinking is required, and lawyers need to look after their own interests better, like say, the Real Estate Institute. With global warming, eroding cliffs and flooding, LIM reports being tagged, insurance companies considering not providing insurance for seafront properties and so on, the time to act is…yesterday. All property lawyers worth their salt will sense this and the possibility of being the last man standing, but to date it is difficult to see any meaningful pushback aside from the odd outburst. Meaningful and decisive leadership is required to bring a suitable level of balance back rather than consistently being acted upon.
What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?
In some ways, we are lucky as we have enough diversity in our practice to remain profitable. Plus of course it is all about tangata, tangata, tangata; we've generally recruited an excellent team who enjoy rowing and navigating the waka together the same way most of the time. The industry has many pressing issues, but it is also resilient and resourceful and will box on.
What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?
For some time, I've been looking at succession planning – including the possibility of some externals joining the practice. I would like to see some tangible progress made so I can spend more time fishing and bodysurfing.
If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?
I'd love to hang out with Keith Richards for a day. It is understood his slow-cooked bangers and mash is to die for! Plus, he is the sort of individual who would terrify the majority of lawyers as an old practising pirate and outlaw.