The Real Deal – Interview with David Howe

Lola Becker interviews David Howe, our Head of Property. He joined Michelmores from Clifford Chance and became a partner in 1990. He specialises in development and regeneration work, joint ventures, construction contracts and professional appointments. He is widely recognised as a leader in his field, however we are taking 5 minutes out of his busy schedule to ask our formidable questions…


Why did you choose Michelmores?

It was about a hundred years ago, I can’t possibly remember! It was a long time ago; I wanted to move out of London. I’d done a job with Bond Pearce in Plymouth, so I went to have a look at them as they seemed quite a reputable outfit. I arrived in what looked like a war zone (or a reconstructed war zone) and thought I can’t possibly live here and got blown in to Exeter on the way back to London and thought this looks a better alternative. I looked at the various firms that there were in Exeter and thought that Michelmores looked the best of a bad bunch really. Jim Michelmore bought me a pint. I think that was the clincher.


Why did you choose your area of law?

I couldn’t do anything else really! There’s a bit of a joke there, at Clifford Chance where I was, if you were too thick to do anything else you did Property. I did it because it would have made me much more portable outside of the City and I liked doing land law at the College of Law; that was my strong subject. I’m sure it’s very intellectually challenging and all of that, but those were the pragmatic reasons.


What has been the highlight of your career at Michelmores?

I think it was probably doing the Child Support Agency deal in Plymouth for EBC Group plc. We were opposite the Rotch Property Group ( Tchenguiz’s company- and for anyone who doesn’t knows about property they don’t come much bigger) doing a 100,000ft2 office prelet to the Secretary of State..We exchanged the Development Agreement on the evening before my son was born!. I was the grand age of 32,. Things happened much earlier then, so it’s been downhill ever since really. Both my children arrived on a Saturday. I can’t pretend they are so organised these days.


What advice would you give to trainees in the current climate?

Well I don’t know, what is it: ‘work hard and fear God’? (That’s not my quotation, that’s Mr Glanville Williams). I’m not sure I have any advice for trainees, these days they’re all very bright and more than capable of making their own way, and know far more what’s good for themselves than I can possibly tell them.


If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?

Goodness knows. I’d probably be a property developer. There was a great joke at University that I was going to be an insurance broker as it was thought to be the most boring job in the world, but I don’t know, dealing with risk would be quite fun. I would have gone into insurance if I hadn’t been laughed at so much! You’ve sold out to Mammon in any of these things really; you’ve sold out on your principles.


If you were a biscuit, which would you be and why?

I’m very hard-centred I think, so something nutty. One that you’d break your front teeth on I think, so probably a ginger nut.