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In this month’s TSR Legal Meets, Karen Jones (TSR Legal), speaks to Catherine Perry, Legal & Compliance Director from Yopa Property about her role as General Legal Counsel for a fast-growth estate agency and the role of in-house lawyers in supporting business growth, reputation and client care.

What notable accomplishment did the firm achieve in 2023?

In 2023 I worked with the business to overhaul our Anti-Money Laundering processes and procedures for both Vendors and Purchasers.

Being a Legal Director at an Estate Agency Business, one of my top priorities is ensuring that we are trading in a compliant fashion ensuring that our clients, Estate Agents, and our business are protected.

As you can imagine Estate Agents are busy people, often wearing many hats and so whilst they understand Money Laundering is an obligation they must adhere to, taking them away from listing properties and negotiating sales is always going to be a challenge.  Therefore, we created an in-house compliance team supporting both our Agents and our customers throughout this journey, which let’s face it, can be intrusive at times.

We put controls in place to ensure that no property is listed for sale and no Memorandum of Sale is issued on a Purchase until every Vendor and Buyer in that transaction has been risk assessed and completed the AML journey satisfactory. This was a huge achievement for us as a business in 2023, and one I am so proud of.

In what ways does your firm distinguish itself from others?

Our biggest difference from other Estate Agents is our variety of products and prices. We know that every client is unique, we know that every transaction is unique, so it’s about understanding our clients needs and supporting them to select the product that is best suited to them. Our products offer flexibility exclusive to Yopa such as ‘Pay Now, Pay Later’ (10 months after listing your property) and the traditional ‘No Sale No Fee’ product.

What aspects of your job do you find most enjoyable?

I love the variety of being the General Legal Counsel for the business. I can be advising the business on AML and Consumer Protection, or drafting and reviewing third party supplier Agreements, or working with the business to reach various objectives in a compliant fashion, no one day is ever the same. Ultimately, I support the business, provide legal advice and guidance to the business, and help to mitigate risks whilst maintaining legal compliance.

What guidance would you offer to young individuals aspiring to become lawyers?

It can be both an exciting and challenging career.

My guidance would be to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning as every day is a school day. You will never know it all and there will always be something to learn no matter what sector you play in.

How is your firm actively fostering an inclusive workplace?

Our business values which are Caring deeply, do the right thing, execute with excellence and be frank and fearless, promotes inclusivity in the workplace. As a business we are not afraid to lean into discomfort and with a transparent culture from leadership to individual contributors, we can accept critical feedback from each other, after all this how we learn and grow.

What developments or initiatives can we anticipate from your firm in 2024?

I joined the business just over 2 years ago, the same time as our new CEO. It’s fair to say that the business feels very different to what it did when I first started. Our CEO took the business back to basic, made lots of changes and improvements to ensure we had the right foundations in which to drive the business forward.

It sounds simple but it really has been a crazy two years steering the business through some difficult trading times with the property market.

For 2024, our key initiative is growth, and this is mainly through retaining our talented people but also attracting new talent who will complement our vision and values.

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