This article is part of our 'Cambridge Spotlight' series, profiling the lawyers based in our Cambridge office. In the series, we find out about their backgrounds, their journey through law and hear why Cambridge is important to them.
Andrew Williamson is a Partner in Mishcon Private. A member of our Farms & Estates team, Andrew specialises in advising land owners on issues relating to rural and agricultural law.
I knew I wanted to get into law when… I was working for the civil service in energy regulation. As part of the job, I worked with a lot of lawyers on private equity takeovers. I soon realised that their job was more interesting than mine.
I came to be in Cambridge because… I studied for my undergraduate degree in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. Though I left for a period of time, firstly to go back home to Northern Ireland and secondly to work for the civil service, I knew I had to qualify with an English firm. I applied for a training contract at Taylor Vinters in Cambridge and have been happily there ever since.
I chose Farms & Estates law because… you get to put on wellies and go and visit farms! You also meet and build connections with the custodians of these wonderful properties, who have often owned them for hundreds of years. I also get to meet people new to the industry, who bring with them new and exciting ideas. All of these people are passionate about what they do, interesting to meet and rely on good legal advice.
The thing that motivates me most is… giving my clients the best possible advice. I believe that any area of law is interesting when you get to properly understand the client, their motivations and then in turn can provide them with strong guidance. Building strong working relationships with them over time and really feeling like you are part of their team – not just an advisor to them – is very satisfying.
The work achievement I'm most proud of is… working with a client whose grandparents had once owned an estate years before to buy it back. It was a complex process with a lot of moving parts but we worked closely with the client to purchase the property and realise that long-standing goal for them. I'm very proud of that.
The thing that makes Cambridge such a hub of innovation is… the pool of ideas coming out of not only universities but the people of the city and its surroundings. In Cambridge, it's easy for people to have ideas, get funding and implement those ideas. Cambridge is full of companies with great ideas that will change the world – and that's not true of every city.
One opportunity from the merger is… to be part of a large private client team which offers more capabilities than before. We now have a strong team with expertise in tax, immigration, art law and reputation.
Somebody that has inspired me during my career is… Adrian Horwood-Smart, a long-standing Partner at Taylor Vinters. He was regarded as a wise owl by everyone who met him and I was privileged to learn from him - how he approached problems, and managed people and situations was a wonderful inspiration. He was one of the key reasons for choosing Taylor Vinters and the area of law I did.
One thing I wish I knew when I started my career is… that being a lawyer is as much about being a good advisor than it is knowing the intricacies of the law. We help people make informed decision with a clear understanding of risk – that's not something I learnt as a law student.
One future trend in my practice area is… a focus on food production. Farmers are custodians of the environment and need to leave the land in good condition for future generations, but they also need to balance that with turning a profit. Tech will play a big role and there are exciting times ahead.
One thing you didn’t know about me is… I play guitar in a band at work. We once travelled to Rome to play at an International Bar Association Law Rocks event and won the competition!