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Why is Feldon Dunsmore like the James Webb Space Telescope

View profile for Steven Petty
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I’ve always had a keen interest in science and in particular anything to do with space exploration.  I was nerdy enough to register for a boarding pass on the Mars Perseverance Rover and was blown away by the incredible footage of the rover’s landing.

The latest space-based endeavour to capture my attention is the James Webb Space Telescope.  The act of deploying this telescope into space (including an unbelievably complex unfolding of the various components) is testament to the ingenuity and teamwork of everyone working on the project.

I don’t know whether I’m alone in always being more impressed by the achievements of others than I am about my own but thinking about the JWST team did start me thinking about whether the work we do at Feldon Dunsmore is comparable to the fantastic achievements of those scientists.

So how is Feldon Dunsmore like the James Webb Space Telescope?

The first comparison is that both projects had a long gestation.  Development of the JWST began in 1996 and whilst we cannot claim to have planned the foundation of Feldon Dunsmore for quite that length of time, Paul and I first talked about setting up our own firm ten years before our plans came to fruition.

The success of both projects relies on bringing together a team of people highly skilled in their specialist fields who can then collaborate in an intense environment.  We may not have experienced the stress of launching a $10 billion telescope into space but completion of a complex real estate transaction can be no less nerve-wracking especially when clients have set an ‘optimistic’ deadline for completion.

One aspect of the launch of the JWST that made the deployment particularly stressful was the fact that many hundreds of processes all had to work perfectly and a single failure may have resulted in disaster for the whole project.  Similarly with a complex legal document, every single clause in a document that may run to a couple of hundred pages needs to be correct and lawyers lose many hours
(including when lying awake at night) agonising over whether a document is perfect.

Avoiding mistakes for both JWST and Feldon Dunsmore requires painstaking attention to detail and checking to ensure nothing is missed.  It may not be the most exciting element of the job but it’s probably the most important.

JWST is designed to work at very low temperatures as it is detecting light in the infrared range.  We are not trying to detect light from over 13 billion years ago but I’ve always felt one of the most valuable skills a lawyer can bring to a deal is to take the heat out of what can sometimes be fraught negotiations.  I’m not sure I can admit to remaining ice cold at all times but I still try and remember it’s my job to keep my head when all around me are losing theirs.

All telescopes are designed to look a long way but none has ever been tasked with looking quite as far as JWST.  Seeing the light from the very first stars that formed after the Big Bang will be absolutely awesome.  Lawyers at Feldon Dunsmore don’t need the ability to look quite that far but we often find ourselves looking into the future to consider all the possible things that might happen many years hence to ensure we have covered all possibilities in our legal documents.

Last but no means least, despite all the challenges that have faced both projects over the last few years, as I write this both have been a resounding success.  That success is due to the expertise, hard-work, diligence and teamwork of every member of our respective teams.

If you would like to find out for yourself whether the Feldon Dunsmore team really can compare themselves to the incredible scientists on the JWST project then get in touch by calling us on 01926 954 694 or by email to