Kate Westbrook is a leading technology and contracts lawyer in the South West. Her team at Thrings works with a range of technology businesses, from UK SMEs to multinational listed PLCs.Working with these innovative and fast-paced enterprises, Kate enjoys becoming part of the team and helping these businesses to grow. Based in Swindon herself, she feels that the tech sector in Wiltshire is in need of a spotlight.
This year, Kate is joining The Techies judging panel to help the sector shine. We met with her to find out more about the work she does.
Where did you train as a lawyer?
At Thrings. After a degree in law and a Legal Practice Course (better known amongst lawyers as an LPC) in Cardiff, I headed straight to the thriving business centre that is Swindon to start my training contract with Thring Townsend, as it was known then.
What made you specialise in the technology sector?
There’s something very exciting about working with tech businesses. They really make stuff happen and their “nothing is impossible” mind-set is irresistible. Plus, it’s rewarding to see a business start with an idea, and to help them grow it into reality – however small our part is. From a geeky legal point of view, tech contracts can be very challenging, but I love getting stuck into that side of things.
How long have you worked at Thrings?
I’ve actually been with the firm for 18 (great) years. Starting as a trainee solicitor and working my way up to partner, I’m so lucky to have found my ‘home’ in my first legal job. A lot has changed in that time, but not the kind of people. Our team is like family, and I have inspiring and fun-loving clients too.
Who is your typical client?
Inspiring and fun-loving! But that’s not what you mean, is it? The companies I work with range from small tech start-ups all the way up to global multinationals. It’s my job to help them assess risks and provide the information they need to make sound judgments.
Typically, my clients are people who know what they want and are looking for a lawyer to help them get there quickly (while not putting up blockers). Our consistent, timely and passionate delivery of sound legal advice means they keep coming back.
Can you tell us about some of your recent work?
Confidentiality is important to many of our clients, so I can only talk about my work in vague terms (bar some exceptions). I’m doing a lot around app development at the moment. I’ve also been working with a digital design and development agency called Bonsai Tiger on an agreement with the Financial Times for their SaaS product Framewürk (an innovative sales and marketing application). These guys are growing quickly and it’s exciting to be part of the team.
At the other end of the spectrum (or business cycle), we recently helped sell Swindon-based AgSpace, an innovative agri-tech business, to Origin Enterprises for £16m.
What excites you the most about the tech space in Swindon & Wiltshire?
Tech is changing the world. The sector is growing so rapidly and there is a real buzz about it. Although Swindon and Wiltshire are particularly known for being home to a number of manufacturing giants, it’s exciting to see how tech has exploded here over a relatively short space of time.
As a Techies judge what are you looking forward to the most?
Finding out more about the awesome businesses we have in the region and helping them celebrate their successes. Although I’m not from Wiltshire originally, after almost two decades living in Swindon, it’s very much my home. I’m hugely invested in the success of our business community and want to do all I can to support it.