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Clare Lang

CLARE LANG is a partner at mfg Solicitors, which has bases in Shropshire, Worcestershire, and most recently Birmingham since merging with Pearson Rowe last summer. She has been with the company for around a year.

EXPLAIN A TYPICAL WEEK IN YOUR WORKING LIFE:  My role covers a mix of large projects - normally sales, acquisitions, buyouts, refinances, and smaller matters, such as preparing a shareholders agreement between a group of business partners.  So my week normally consists of the fun part – meetings and calls with clients and other parties to take instructions and negotiate; and the labour-intensive bit – drafting the deal documentation.  As I’ve got young kids it’s a bit of a juggling act – I often end up working at weird times when most people are in the land of nod – and there never seem to be enough hours in the day

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUR INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW?  Brexit is obviously a big concern.  If we lose access to a single market, the duties and tariffs and additional administrative burdens are bound to cause clients, funders and other institutions to relocate. We’re already starting to see it. The likely decline in business confidence, particularly in those involved in property and retail sectors, will be a big challenge.

AND WHAT ARE THE BIG OPPORTUNITIES?  On the flip-side, Brexit will bring opportunities for lawyers.  We’ll be asked to review the effect of Brexit on existing contracts and transactions in a variety of practice areas, so there will be wealth of new business there.

HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR STAFF?  I’m always positive and supportive. I try to encourage the team to challenge themselves and be the best they can be, while always being available and approachable. Everyone’s opinion counts and giving all members of the team an opportunity to have an input in relation to how the department is run motivates them. It’s working so far.

WHAT WAS YOUR LAST MEETING ABOUT, HOW LONG DID IT LAST, AND WAS IT PRODUCTIVE?  My last meeting was an early stage chat with the founders and management team of a recruitment business who are considering a management buyout.  We discussed how the deal might be structured and funded, the tax benefits to the founders and next steps.  They were really excited by the opportunity and I’m certain that they’ll make the deal happen in the next few months.

HOW MANY EMAILS DO YOU GET IN A DAY, AND HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO READ THEM?  It varies – when I’m in the lead up to a transaction it can be literally hundreds, as emails are pinging in from clients, lawyers on the other side, accountants, tax advisers, funders and their lawyers.  But corporate work can be “feast or famine”; you can have periods when you’re relatively steady and only receive 20 to 30 emails a day, and then periods when the world wants to contact you!

DO YOU ANSWER WORK CALLS OR EMAILS AT HOME? WHAT’S THE RIGHT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? Corporate lawyers are always on duty. We have to get the deal over the line for the client as quickly as possible. That means I am often fielding work calls and emails at all times of the day and night in between looking after two small children - and a grumpy husband! I do get to spend time with the family in the evenings and at weekends, which is important. I get the work done once the kids are in bed, or early in the mornings before they wake up.

HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR COLLEAGUES WOULD DESCRIBE YOU? A hardworking and driven lawyer, but also someone who is fun and approachable.

HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? At my previous firm I worked on a deal where we advised Bakkavor Group’s controlling shareholder and founders in connection with the group’s flotation. The IPO launched with an initial market value of just over £1 billion.  Not bad for a humble Black Country-born girl!

ANY PARTICULAR FAUX PAS OR EMBARRASSING MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER YOU WOULD PREFER TO FORGET? I’m legendarily clumsy!  I recently met a potential new client and not only managed to spill coffee all over the table; I then dropped my papers, bent down to collect them, and promptly whacked my head on the table as I got up! Fortunately he was very nice about it. I don’t think he’ll ever forget me!

PET HATES? Laziness - particularly from the lawyer acting for the other side in a transaction. 

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME WISE ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?  Stand up for yourself; no one else is going to do it for you.  Have the confidence to challenge yourself and take risks - and don’t let fear hold you back.

HOW DO YOU RELAX AWAY FROM WORK? I love to spend as much time as possible in Cornwall with plenty of dog walks and pub lunches with family and friends.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS COMMUNITY? You can have a meeting in Birmingham with one contact but bump into three more just walking to and from the meeting. It’s small enough to feel like a proper community, but big enough to attract quality work and people.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN’T KNOW. A spy novel called “The Crimson Hotel” has been written and published - with a lead character based on me!

YOU CAN TAKE ONE BOOK, ONE FILM AND ONE CD ONTO A DESERT ISLAND – WHAT WOULD THEY BE? Great question. As I’m a lawyer, I’ll say To Kill a Mockingbird for my book and The Shawshank Redemption for my film!  For my CD, something classic from my youth like Blur or The Smiths. Can I have a “Best Of” album?

YOUR FIVE DREAM DINNER PARTY GUESTS, DEAD OR ALIVE?  Michelle Obama; Jonathan Ross; John Peel; Audrey Hepburn with Keith Floyd to cook the dinner (and select the wine!).

WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO EAT FOR YOUR LAST SUPPER? Chicken Tikka Masala, Pilau Rice and Peshwari Nan – you can’t take the girl out of Wolverhampton!

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