Katie-Jane Rees

partner

Head of Banking and Finance

Joined Foot Anstey in 2019 from Simmons & Simmons, London and Bristol.

Where were you before Foot Anstey, and did you have reservations about joining?

I spent my entire career before Foot Anstey at Simmons & Simmons, firstly in the City, for 12 years, and then moving to the Bristol office when I had a young family.

I must admit I had reservations about moving out of the silver circle. I enjoyed working with major clients, with smart people. Even in Bristol I was working on massive transactions for City clients. Simmons has such a strong reputation, and I did have reservations about giving this up. But I was reassured by stories of some very impressive people who had moved to Foot Anstey.

What is different about life at Foot Anstey?

At Foot Anstey, you can actually be yourself. You don’t have to play a role. You don’t have to talk to clients like they’re royalty or adjust an email to make it read a certain way. You can be authentic – and that was a huge, and unexpected relief! I wasn’t unhappy before but I thought this was just how it had to be.

When you live and work in the City, you can’t imagine that it’s possible to combine a successful career - good quality work, good pay, good clients - with having a life. Here, I met partners down in Plymouth, and they had suntans, and offices with a view of the sea!

There is real trust at Foot Anstey. I am collaborating with people who are accessible and visible. I find it exciting, energising... and I'm more than comfortable to introduce them, when relevant, to my precious clients.

What about day to day working life? 

The biggest difference is the variety I now have. Instead of working on one massive transaction, that takes over life for weeks, I have lots of different aspects to my role, and I’m working on lots of different deals. It makes it more interesting, and the days really fly by.

How does the structure and culture of Foot Anstey affect your work? 

The smaller size and open-door culture definitely allows you to get things done. Things move more quickly – conflict checks, for example, take minutes not days. Having a small partnership is also good. Everyone knows the partners and what they do. So, it’s easier to collaborate and recommend each other – and we do. This just wasn’t on the agenda in a big firm.

I’m a sociable, chatty person, so being able to talk freely to people in the business suits me, and it’s really productive. For example, one current colleague at Foot Anstey was also at Simmons, on the same floor, but we had never really spoken. Now, he’s a friend, and we speak all the time.

What have you been able to do that couldn’t do in your previous firm?

There is work that I wanted to do in the City but which I could never do in a big firm as it wasn’t seen as lucrative enough. As you’d expect, our hourly fee is lower here, and that’s actually very liberating. Now I can choose to do niche and technical work for clients that I may have had to turn away, and it’s profitable.

I also feel very much more connected with where I live. Previously, Bristol was a base – my work was in London, and had nothing to do with the local market or the City where I lived. Now I live, work and am part of a regional community, building relationships, providing a different, more personal kind of service.

What have you learned from working at Foot Anstey? 

So much. I’ve learned that there is more than one way to run a successful law firm. That you don’t only get high calibre lawyers in City firms. That it’s enjoyable to work hard and do it for the team. I’ve learned that there is more than one way to become a great lawyer – the paralegal route produces talented lawyers, and the diversity of thought is interesting to me and valuable to clients. That law firm life is better, not worse, without the structure and the more established ways of doing things. And it’s more rewarding, and more profitable, when you can build genuine, warm, enduring relationships with clients.

What achievements are you proud of? 

Seeing the practice grow is a big one. We are busy, and we are recruiting. It’s satisfying to see the things I put in my business plan (I’d like to grow by this much, I want to win this client, add these people to my team) come to fruition.

Find out what five of our top lawyers did with the freedom that Foot Anstey gave them.