What I’ve Learnt: Will McKay

September 3, 2020

Will McKay is a partner in law firm Muckle LLP’s award-winning real estate team. Specialising in high-density city centre development and funding across the UK, he has advised on some of the region’s top regeneration projects, including the Newgate Centre, St James Gate and Central Park, Darlington

Talk to people. The more ‘easy’ conversations you have, the easier difficult conversations will be. By talking and listening to your clients, contacts and colleagues you quickly get to know how they work and how you can help. Email and social are fine but talking builds strong relationships quickly. My dad was a lawyer and became a successful council leader. He understood how influential relationships could be and instilled in me how important they are to business.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In practice, that is all about striving for excellence as one team. Teamwork is one of Muckle LLP’s core values. In normal times at least, all 150+ of us operate from one large open plan office. That helps to foster a positive workplace culture that thrives on working closely together, literally and figuratively, as we are doing now with everyone working from home due to COVID-19. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses but by investing in your team and developing each other, you cannot fail to strengthen the chain.

Trust is invaluable. It can take years to win and seconds to lose but everyone is fallible and learning from mistakes is a rite of passage. However, nothing obliterates trust like a mistake that has been covered up and there is almost always a way to rectify it. There is nothing more damaging to relationships than attempting to pass the buck or hide something that’s gone wrong. It is much better to take responsibility, learn and spend your time preventing the mistake from happening again.

The beauty of our region is that it’s easy to create a network beyond the confines of your profession. I was always amazed that people like Michael Spriggs, Lucy Armstrong and Charles May during his time at Brewin Dolphin – hugely experienced business figures – were happy to spend time talking to a 20-something-year-old me when I could so easily have been ignored. It did wonders for my confidence and taught me valuable lessons as I developed into a leadership role at Muckle. It opened up opportunities to use my skills helping local charities and I will strive to always have time for the younger generation coming through today.

I love being involved in developments that help regenerate communities, like Newcastle’s Newgate Centre, where we advised developer McAleer & Rushe on the 1.75 acre regeneration of the former 1960s shopping centre. Due to adverse market conditions, it took ten years to complete, but it now adds tremendous commercial and aesthetic value to the city. It’s also another opportunity to bore the kids as we drive past and say ‘look, there’s one of mine’.

It takes two sides to build a bridge, so always try to ensure every transaction is fair. There’s little to be gained in point scoring, especially in the North East. Instead, try to understand the other side’s commercial position and goals. It will help you devise a strategy to get the best result for your client and both parties will feel like a fair deal has been done, which can benefit you in future transactions.

Recruit the right junior people. Invest in them. Develop them. Retain them. Trying to get senior people to adapt to your culture is far more difficult than embedding your culture in the business leaders of tomorrow.

Muckle LLP

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