PFA Member Profile: Jodie Masson, Partner at Massons
Jodie Masson founded specialist commercial property law firm Massons in 2016, together with her business partner Leisha de Aboitiz, following a career with some of the big global law firms. Jodie has been a PFA member and supporter for more than a decade.
What are some trends in property law keeping you busy at the moment?
We seemed to have moved from a period of frenetic acquisition to more divestments and surrenders, which means there is more caution in the sophisticated end of the market. We are seeing an increased level of tenant insolvencies and defaults, and we’re helping landlords to strategically navigate some of those tricky issues. It remains a really tight market in recruitment – which is impacting on all industries, including the legal industry, and we sometimes find ourselves getting stuck in the trenches when we’d quite like to be at the latest PFA drinks!
How do you measure the impact of ESG in your business?
As a firm led by two women who have, at times, struggled in a very male industry, we are passionate about ensuring diversity. We actively try to recruit and retain staff from diverse backgrounds, not just those who have been traditionally attracted to law. We try to ensure our staff are actually happy in their work and lead balanced lives – if someone isn’t liking a particular type of work, client or activity, then we move them onto something that they do like. It’s just a better business model to have lawyers who like what they do and who can therefore remain positive to see a way through a difficult legal problem rather than just the legal obstacles. We’ve also implemented a pro bono program recently, which is quite different from the programs run by other law firms in that we actually pay for our graduate lawyers to work for a human rights law firm for two months full time, if they wish to do so.
What drives you professionally?
I absolutely love what I do – particularly large, complicated transactions that you can really sink your teeth into. My favourite type of transaction is a large portfolio acquisition or sale where there are lots of moving parts and where you can work as part of a large team. I also get a huge kick out of helping others to be better at what they do. I’m lucky to be surrounded by smart young people who are a pleasure to teach and who keep me up to date and challenge me to be a better property lawyer.
Looking back on your career and business, is there anything you would do differently today?
I’d make more of an effort to get to know others in the same industry earlier. Being connected is super important as it makes what you do easier, more fun and more meaningful. I also wish we’d established Massons earlier, rather than practising survival skills in a big global law firm.
What is your favourite pastime outside work?
Travel. Hands down. I could live out of a suitcase (not kidding!).
What are you currently reading?
I’m always planning my next two holidays, so I’m currently reading anything I can about the Greek Islands and New York.
Where is your favourite restaurant?
I’m vegetarian, so I have to say that Yellow at Potts Point is pretty awesome! It’s relaxed and friendly but high end, and you can eat multiple courses without feeling guilty afterwards.
Do you have a favourite holiday destination?
I’ve been to so many places that I’ve loved, but one of my favourites so far has been Tahiti – particularly some of the more remote and less well known islands like Ra’iatea – because you get amazing natural scenery and a really interesting and warm culture. We recently spent all of January in Paris – working remotely in the mornings and being tourists in the afternoon. It was wonderful to get really immersed in a place rather than just spending three or four days, as you typically would, and January is a great time to be away as it’s nearly always quiet in the property industry.
What was the best thing to come out of COVID either business or personal?
Working through COVID showed what a team of people could really achieve even in incredibly difficult circumstances. I really don’t think we’ve ever worked so hard! We started that period scrambling to understand the rent relief legislation in each state/territory, changes to agency practice and the increased foreign investment restrictions but it quickly became a period of very big transactions as the Australian players were able to move quickly compared to the overseas buyers. But the best thing I remember is the joy of coming back to the city after lock down! Despite being introverted, I discovered that it gives me energy to be surrounded by likeminded people (although being able to spend time with my husband and daughter actually cooking great meals was also great!).