Olswang settles on real estate chief

Olswang has filled the hole at the top of its real estate group with the recruitment of a former Mayer Brown partner.

David Stewart
David Stewart

Gary Watson, a lawyer with almost three decades of real estate ­experience, two featuring senior management, joins as the firm’s new head of real estate.

He replaces Tim Westhead, who steps down next month after 12 years, but who will remain a real estate partner at the firm.

Watson was the former head of Mayer Brown’s property practice, having joined the US firm in November 2007 from Ashurst. Olswang ­managing partner David Stewart said Watson’s arrival ­highlighted the firm’s commitment to investing in its real estate practice and its confidence in the sector in general.

“We’re proud of our strong real estate team and its ­market-leading reputation,” added Stewart. “We have ambitious plans for future growth in 2010 and beyond.”

Olswang is focusing much of its real estate strategy on capitalising on the influx of foreign capital into the UK and the £35bn of refinancing requirements falling due in 2010. The firm said it was investing in its practice now so it was well-positioned to capitalise on future ­opportunities in the market.

Watson said: “From my perspective it’s extremely exciting to be involved with a firm that has so many plans for European growth.”