Davenports Harbour lawyers is a local shore-based firm that has been on a sharp growth curve over the past couple of years. Davenports Harbour has both acquired other businesses and added new team members to meet the challenge of the quickly growing business. Tammy McLeod is the sole director at Davenports Harbour and the dynamo who is leading the expansion of the firm. Tammy is a trust and asset structuring specialist with two decades of legal experience, specialising in the areas of personal asset planning, trust law and Property (Relationships) Act. Hot on the heals of the news that Tammy has acquired yet another local firm, Mahon and Sumpter, Channel Magazine's Aidan Bennett put these questions to her during November.
AIDAN BENNETT: You’ve had a busy couple of years with the growth of the business. Tell us about the acquisitions and additions you have made.
TAMMY MCLEOD: We have had a great period of growth over the last couple of years, I think as a result of more people wanting specialist advice and looking for a firm that can provide a fresh approach. We have always had a strong private client practice and are currently expanding our commercial and employment offerings. Last year we acquired George Deeb and Associates, a small Takapuna firm and that has been a great addition to our firm. It worked so well I was keen to do it again, hence the Mahon & Sumpter acquisition.
AB: This latest acquisition is an interesting one. Mahon Sumpter has a rich history of half a century of business on the Shore. What will this add to your business?
TM: We are really excited to join the Mahon & Sumpter brand with Davenports. Davenports has been an Auckland firm for nearly 100 years and Mahon & Sumpter around 50, so the combination of the firms provides a formidable depth of experience and history. One of the things I love about Davenports is the history of the clients and the fact that we have generations of clients coming through. One of our long standing clients has been with the firm for more than 50 years. That is one of the reasons why Mahon & Sumpter appealed to me – the relationship between law firm and client is strong and their values mirror those we have at Davenports. As you say Mahon & Sumpter has a rich history on the Shore – in fact, Bryan Mahon invented the cross lease, which is a huge part of property law on the Shore.
AB: You have also introduced bold new branding for the firm over the past 12 months. Tell us about this and the thought processes around the branding.
TM: When rebranding, I really wanted a brand which reflected who we are as a business. Modern, fresh and approachable are words that come to mind when I think about what the firm is like and I wanted the branding to reflect that. It also helps that pale blue and yellow are my two favourite colours, so we have ended up with something that reflects the Davenports brand as well as my personal style.
AB: What are the specific challenges facing law firms like Davenports Harbour in the medium and long term?
TM: I think technology and talent. Things are moving at a rapid pace in the technology space and so we need to think about how we are dealing with using that to provide better service to our clients, creating efficiencies and of course the reduction of paper. In relation to talent, even though the numbers of people doing law degrees is the same, fewer people are staying in the industry. We are fortunate to have a great team and are always looking at ways to improve how we do things so we keep attracting great people.
AB: So what stands Davenports Harbour lawyers out from the crowd?
TM: Our whole philosophy is around making law understandable. The biggest compliment that a client can give me is “oh you made that so easy”. We hold strong on our firm values of genuineness, mutual respect, balance and pragmatism. These values flow through everything that we do and I think that makes a real difference – clients know that we genuinely care and are after the most practical, best result for them every time. We are also quite specialised in the areas we work in (trusts, property, commercial and employment) so while our clients may see different lawyers within the firm for different types of advice, they know they are getting specialist, in-depth advice, rather than someone who knows a little bit about lots of things.
AB: You are obviously smack bang in the middle of one of New Zealand’s fastest growing areas, so that must provide you with some confidence for the future?
TM: Absolutely, Albany is a great place to grow a practice. I am always amazed by the number of businesses in our area and really interesting things that so many people are doing right here in Albany. It’s also a really central spot for most clients on the Shore, especially as we are not far off the motorway.
AB: What are you expecting for the year ahead given the change of government. How will the changes they are likely to make impact on the Davenports Harbour team and your customers?
TM: it will be interesting to see what impact the immigration changes and potential tax changes will have on the property market. There are also a lot of proposed changes to the employment laws which will impact our employer clients – greater protection for employees will be something we watch with interest. These changes will mean that all employers (including those who employ only a few employees) will need to ensure that their businesses processes and systems are robust from the outset.
AB: And finally, most importantly, how is Tammy McLeod and her family going to relax over the Christmas and New Year period?
TM: This is our year to spend Christmas in Christchurch with my family, so my two small sons will be excited to spend some time with their cousins. Then my husband, boys and I are heading off on a campervan trip hopefully around the top of the South Island, but to be honest we will be chasing the sun a bit, so if the weather is better down central, that is where we will go.