Kim Klahn is a corporate lawyer and a partner at law firm Lodders Solicitors. She joined Lodders in October 2007, trained and qualified at the firm, became a partner in 2015, and was appointed head of Lodders’ Corporate and Commercial team in Stratford upon Avon in 2018. Kim acts for SMEs, OMBs and family owned businesses and specialises in advising clients on a range of corporate and commercial matters.
It pays to be agile. Every day is different. Every transaction is different. Corporate and commercial law is not a box-ticking exercise and there’s no one-size-fits-all legal solution or advice. It requires problem-solving, agile thinking and relevant commercial solutions, to satisfy the problems whilst abiding by the laws.
As well as the intellectual and professional stimulation and challenge, I also enjoy the teamwork both within my department and the wider firm. On corporate transactions, often property solicitors and employment solicitors are also involved, as well as the corporate and commercial solicitors, deepening the collaborative ethos and values of the firm.
There are still deals to be done out there. Obviously COVID-19 is having a huge impact on deals activity, but there are opportunities. There will be transactions for well-positioned, ambitious businesses seeking to take advantage of the current market conditions that are the harsh realities for other organisations. There are also growth sectors such as home entertainment where transaction activity remains buoyant. Commercial legal work remains busy as businesses seek to tighten-up their terms and conditions to cover off issues brought to light by the pandemic.
Many businesses are also using the downturn to ‘get their house in order’ as well as to plan for the future. So, the team continues to advise businesses on restructures and support them to put shareholders’ agreements in place.
The pandemic is also having an effect on the workforce, and so business owners are looking for ways to incentivise their staff, such as introducing share schemes.
A lot of businesses are also refinancing, so there is work to do in assisting on advising on the finance documents required.
Attention to detail is now more important than ever. The biggest issue affecting the majority of businesses at the moment is of course, COVID-19, and for the field of corporate and commercial law, this has had a tremendous impact on M&A activity. A lot of transactions were either put on hold or aborted altogether as lockdown began back in March 2020. The long term ramifications are yet unknown, but it is likely to impact on the structuring of corporate deals in the future, with prospective buyers doing far more detailed legal due diligence and pricing mechanisms changing.
Corporate law is finally taking part in the tech revolution. The biggest change and greatest impact has been from technological advancement. When I first started at the firm and practising law (in 2007), there was a lot of paper, with paper files, and the majority of communication being by letter.
We no longer operate paper files, and everything is stored electronically, securely, and utilising the latest and most powerful case management systems. Technologically, corporate work was a little behind other areas, still preferring wet-ink signatures exchanged for completion of deals. However, COVID-19 has had an impact here too, forcing us to accept electronic signatures to get deals done.
Keep calm and… My motto – learnt from Victor Matts who I have worked with throughout my career at Lodders – is: ‘Think green’. Corporate law work is frequently highly pressurised, with tight deadlines and quick turnarounds commonplace. Often, matters are fast-paced, particularly transactions where timescales are tight, and the amount of correspondence is often (absurdly) substantial, and negotiations can become heated. This can be very stressful and so ‘thinking green’ (meaning to think calmly) helps to put what we are actually doing into some perspective.
I’m glad to see the back of fax machines… Give me an example of a lesson you learnt early in your career that has stuck with you?
The greatest, longest-lasting lesson has been to pay very close attention to detail. As a trainee, working alongside one of the then partners with a client in the British Virgin Islands, we needed them to fax us a document. Instead of giving them the fax number, I gave them my colleagues’ telephone number, and his phone kept ringing with the fax. As he was getting increasingly agitated, I realised what I had done! Thank goodness we don’t use faxes anymore!
To Victor, the spoils… Victor Matts joined Lodders in 1990 and built and led the corporate and commercial team. I have worked with Victor for 12 years, beginning when I joined the firm as a trainee. Victor’s commercial awareness and ability to solve clients’ problems is second-to-none and being exposed to that early in my career has helped me to develop my expertise. Victor has always supported me and my career progression, and it has been a privilege to work alongside him.
I relax by overcoming obstacles. I have really got into keeping fit over the last couple of years. I take part in obstacle running and have recently taken up cycling and body balance, which keep the body moving and the mind free. It is my way to escape from the stresses of the day.