Gemma Sumsion is Equity Partner and Head of Commercial at Goughs Solicitors.
Gemma joined the firm in 2006 and has since built a reputation in the South West as a specialist in commercial real estate and corporate matters. She’s worked on large and high-profile projects including the re-finance of a mixed property portfolio in excess of £15 million and a joint venture for a commercial developer acquiring control of a 50-acre site for development. She is currently working with a multi-million development company advising on an employee share scheme initiative.
Gemma works across the business which has offices throughout Wiltshire. Covid-19 aside, 2020 was always set to be a landmark year for Goughs with the opening of its second office in Chippenham, heralding in a new era for the firm.
We met Gemma to find out more about her work, Goughs Solicitors new direction and how the firm has been adapting through the pandemic.
Tell us more about your specialisms
My specialisms are: real estate acquisitions and disposals; all areas of property investment; SIPP and SSAS and landlord and tenant work; property and corporate financings; and commercial contracts and corporate work (including partnership and shareholder agreements company set ups, mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring).
What is the vision for the Chipppenham HQ?
It is a fantastic opportunity to bring all the lawyers working in real estate, land development, corporate, employment and dispute resolution together under one roof.
We’re extremely lucky to have ample space to grow further whilst working at a safe distance. Being able to work alongside each other on deals and bounce ideas off each other is invaluable. It has been a game-changer for our client offering and experience as well, our clients get the opportunity to meet and see every single lawyer and assistant that they talk to and receive emails from. It is a true personal experience.
I was instrumental in putting forward the proposal to open new offices and relocate my department, a dream of seven years or more and we finally got there after viewing many properties. Whilst not great timing with Covid-19, it has given us greater opportunity to streamline our work and be more proactive in servicing our clients’ needs.
Have you been able to work in the office during the pandemic?
I’ve worked in the office throughout, initially on my own. I was determined not to leave once we finally got in. Other members of the team worked from home from the get-go.
We have a team of 18 and IT, more than ever, has been a godsend to us. Zoom meetings were happening daily, Whatsapp saved us when there was no office chit chat when working from home, and the good old-fashioned telephone conversations ensured everyone was coping and kept us all as connected as possible.
The team started coming back to the office once we worked out a new layout, this was from 1st June and we are as busy as ever!
Goughs has appointed several new team members during lockdown. Has this been due to growth?
We have seen massive opportunities to continue to grow on the recruitment side. We’ve secured some fantastic candidates which we put solely down to us being ambitious, flexible in our business approach (internally and externally) and having confidence in our staff and our clients. Whilst many firms appear to be decreasing headcount and salaries, we’ve done the opposite and ensured we have the right staff to support each other, the business and our clients.
What have you been working on this year?
Really exciting projects for a variety of clients, mostly in the property development, construction and distribution sector. The work has all been centred around organic and sustainable growth within organisations whilst remaining ambitious and ready for the next challenge the world presents.
What are the biggest challenges you’re assisting clients with at the moment?
The unknown. For most clients, opportunities are being seized, but what the world and business might look like in three or six months-time is the scary bit. For most, this uncertainty is channelled positivity. For others, we help manage that uncertainty by reassessing options and working with our clients’ other professional advisers to ensure the best steps are taken where possible.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
Much of the same really; to ensure that our staff continue to feel safe and happy and have the right level of support. We will also ensure that new starters get a good bedding-in and continue to keep in touch with our clients and contacts.
Tell us something we wouldn’t know about you…
I’m currently learning a new skill and have taken up upholstery. The talent of our local upholsterers is insipiring and they make it look so easy. It’s not easy, it’s back breaking work but extremely rewarding.
I attended a course recently with my mum and it was a great opportunity to have some quality mother and daughter time. I’m getting the hang of it and have refurbished several antique chairs bought at auction locally last year. I’m pretty chuffed with the results so far! I would recommend the Traditional Upholstery School for lessons, a fantastic local business based in Holt offering bespoke and personal courses.
What is your message to the business community?
Be present, be available and look out for each other and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
To get in touch with Gemma, email: firstname.lastname@example.org