Chambers, Barrister, public property and planning, London
Career Change Story
I am now a self-employed garden designer. I design outside spaces and planting schemes, advise and project manage.
I left the Bar in 2009 and then took a break before jumping straight into another career. I did voluntary work, work experience and various projects just to allow myself the time and space to reach what I wanted to do.
Once I had the idea of becoming a garden designer I did some research, went to an open day at KLC and my mind was made up.I had some help from a career coach but predominantly I have received support from my family, particularly my husband.
After graduating from KLC's Diploma in Garden design in Dec 2011, I set up my own business. I have done freelance work for other designers, created a garden for the Chelsea Fringe 2012 and I am working on several private projects, which are at various stages.
I was lucky in that, during the transition, my husband and I were able to manage on his income alone. We had not overstretched ourselves financially in terms of a mortgage or lifestyle and this, combined with a fortuitous fall in mortgage interest rates around the time of my career change, made things easier. One of the reasons I decided to make a career change when I did was that I knew that the more I relied on the increasing income I had at the Bar, the harder we would find the adjustment financially if I left. In addition I was able to use some savings and the aged debt which barristers accrue i.e. money owed for work done that trickles in.
The Bar requires a long-term commitment of difficult hours and high levels of stress. I did not feel sufficiently driven by the law, legal process or financial return to make that commitment. I wanted to find a career with more personal satisfaction, creativity and which involved working with nature, and one that would be flexible, enjoyable and manageable with a family.
Career Change Reflections
There is very little I miss; I have never regretted my decision to leave. Obviously the income was greater than I currently enjoy, but this has been manageable and the benefits far outweigh this aspect.
I was absolutely right to make the change.
Do not be put off by what you perceive to be the stigma of 'giving up' what you are doing. I think this can be a common problem where people are in professional jobs that they don't like. My experience is that people very much respect and admire my decision to take a leap into the unknown. I think I sometimes take for granted that it was actually quite a brave thing to do and some people just feel they cannot do it themselves, even if they could manage financially.
Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of posting, the information is intended as guidance only. It should not be considered as professional or legal advice.