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Cambridge Spotlight: James Slinger

Posted on 11 October 2023

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.

James Slinger is a Partner in the Real Estate department. He has extensive experience of real estate transactions advising a wide variety of clients on risk and making sure the property aspects of transactions are aligned with their business plans and strategies.

I knew I wanted to get into law when … There was no 'eureka' moment. Slightly unusually, I did Law at A Level, I found I was good at it (especially if I did a bit of revision) and it developed from there. I realised that law covered lots of different skill sets – research, business development, drafting, business acumen, international concerns… I wasn’t sure what I wanted my career to be at that time but I thought 'actually, this ticks all sorts of boxes, is really interesting and keeps opens loads of opportunities'.

I came to be in Cambridge because … It's such a hub for innovation and curiosity with a global outlook, it also has plenty of good cafes thrown in for good measure. Some of the conversations you overhear whilst having a drink or questions that are set in a pub quiz are somewhat niche/mindblowing. It's an exciting and slightly otherworldly place to be.

I chose Real Estate because … I really like that you can visualise pretty much all aspects of any transaction and the impact of any decisions taken. Parties also tend to be pulling in the same direction so whilst it is a very commercial sector there is also a high level of collaboration.

The thing that motivates me most is …  Being around people that are doing things differently and pushing the boundaries. Building that good rapport with all parties and working together to think outside the box to ensure deals get done and issues resolved really motivates me.

The work achievement I'm most proud of is … I enjoy reducing complex problems into simple and straightforward decisions and have a can-do attitude. I am proud when I see junior lawyers turn from being clever lawyers into all round advisors able to see the bigger picture. Developing the next generation of lawyers (and learning from them too!) always provides a feel-good factor.

The thing that makes Cambridge such a hub of innovation is … It's full of world class research institutions, technology, life science companies and the whole supportive ecosystem around them. Most importantly it’s the positive approach of the people to making an impact in whatever way they can to the future.  It’s the people that make it!

One opportunity from the merger is … Class-leading depth of advice across all the sectors that our clients need or may need but don’t know it yet. It's just fantastic to have that at our fingertips.

Somebody that has inspired me during my career is … There are too many to name! I'm going to choose my old boss at a magic circle firm I worked at for many years earlier in my career. It's a bit cheesy but we worked really hard and we played really hard. They taught me that you clearly need to know your stuff but to always balance this with commerciality, perspective as well as a bit of fun. That's really stayed with me. 

One thing I wish I knew when I started my career is … It's not just about knowing the law. Obviously, that's important, but you also need to be great on the people side of things. You need to be good at managing transactions which in turn will also help you build your network of contacts. You need to not just be thinking about what your own client wants, but what the other party wants too. You've got to bring a whole lot of life skills to a transaction to deliver results. It can seem overwhelming at first but just take it one step at a time and give it your best!

One future trend in my practice area is … Everyone is always searching for the next big thing. People have been talking about blockchain for a while now. It is an exciting area and as a buzzword is used and misused frequently. However, blockchain and tokenisation in a digitised more decentralised world with much more information being freely available, I think that will be a big part of the future. There is some way to go yet!

The one thing you don't know about me is ... I am a director of the National Centre for Writing and collect spy/crime fiction novels from the 60's and 70's. They have fabulous covers and aren’t too big to pop in my rucksack.

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