Michael brings great individuality to a field many perceive as frankly dull. Leather-clad, astride a huge Italian exotica motorbike, he arrives at meetings on time, smiling broadly and in the perfect frame of mind for business.
In 1990, poached straight out of poly, Michael joined Moss Kaye & Roy Frank. Despite being hooked on his Land Administration degree from day one, he found it bore little relevance to the real world. So he learnt the ropes from one of the profession’s leading valuers, at the same time gaining valuable insight into the growing post-boom role of Expert Witness.
He soon qualified as a Chartered Surveyor, became an Associate (now Member) of the RICS and Associate Partner, specialising in commercial landlord/tenant, professional negligence and leasehold enfranchisement valuations in Greater London.
In 1997 he moved to Shaw & Company as Principal Valuer, building a thriving surveying, valuation and property management practice, developing larger clients (charitable letting portfolios and block management) and enfranchisement work courtesy of his broad technical knowledge and accessible, straight-talking approach.
In 2000 Michael bought half the practice. Business boomed and he sold to HML group in 2006, splitting the company into property management (HML Shaw) and surveying (Shaw & Company).
MD and highest fee earner of both, the upsides included appointment to the board of ARMA, regularly providing Expert Witness evidence for residential and landlord/tenant disputes…
…and public speaking. In 2009, underwhelmed by the content of an ARMA Conference, a sponsor bet him he wouldn’t get up and do it better. He did, in 2010, speaking in front of 600 delegates at the first of many industry conferences. He loved it.
Successful, increasingly high profile and by now also widely published, the downside was that his passion – surveying – increasingly played second fiddle to business and corporate management.
With his 50th birthday looming, he decided to ‘go it alone’ and return to his surveying roots. In July 2017, he set up Michael R Lee Chartered Surveyors.
Michael’s a great believer in treating people the way he expects to be treated. His passions are family, music (hard and Southern rock), the gym and his motorbikes…
In 2009 he had, according to his instructing barrister, the ‘hardest cross examination imaginable’ in the witness box before the Lands Tribunal. Michael refused to back down on a key point he believed in. Too bold for his own comfort, he decided he needed some fear in his life and booked a week’s direct access motorbike training. Come the end of the week, he rode off on his first bike, a Moto Guzzi 950cc Bellagio. Hooked again.
Since 2009 his bikes have been part of the daily routine. He rides to most meetings, inspections and the odd tribunal. His clients are used to it – and the leathers. They get that it allows him to run a hectic schedule and arrive with a smile on his face. It also forces him to switch off; it takes 100% concentration and huge physical effort to handle a heavy Italian 1400cc V-twin – hence the gym. As he says, ‘Try riding a 350kg, 2.5m long, 1m wide 1400 V-twin down Marylebone Road in heavy traffic and then squeezing it into a tiny space in the motorcycle bays’.
Definitely not a run-of-the-mill surveyor.
‘I love giving evidence in the witness box. It’s highly stressful and needs thorough preparation, plus razor-sharp attention to detail, but the challenge is compelling. Instructing barristers comment that I have an engaging delivery of Expert Witness opinion as opposed to the more common mono-syllabic style. That probably sums up my whole professional approach.’ And laughs.
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