King & Wood Mallesons (formerly SJ Berwin LLP), Corporate tax solicitor, City of London
Career Change Story
I’ve just launched a new company called Attica (www.atticatraining.com). We specialise in business-writing courses for professionals.
I left law nearly two years ago to produce a book about cheese (The London Cheese and Wine Guide, for those who are interested) and to explore the world of artisan food.
While editing the book, I worked more generally with members of the authoring team to improve their writing skills; I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t long before I decided to combine my background in professional services with my interest in writing and training. Artisan cheese has been relegated to a hobby.
Career Change Reflections
It took me a year to set up Attica, during which time I spent all day (and some nights) rewriting documents, staring at a computer screen and occasionally talking to myself. Now Attica has launched, I work primarily with professional services firms. So in many respects, life post-law is fairly similar to my time in private practice.
But there are some major differences:
• I work in a tiny team – it’s just my business partner and me, so I spend a lot of time on my own. I miss working with others and the bustle of a busy office. I’m also my own secretary, print room, post room, IT helpdesk, facilities manager, office canteen, officer manager…I’ve had to learn a lot of practical skills.
• I’m in charge of my own hours, which is a bonus, although they’re now longer than in law and I don’t get weekends or annual leave.
• If I don’t bring in any business, I don’t get paid.
• I miss tax. I miss poring over the yellow and orange books, and thinking until my brain hurts, and the satisfaction of explaining a really complicated point to a non-tax person. If I ever went back to a proper job, it would have to be something tax-related.
My legal skills were marginally useful when I established the company and drew up Attica’s T&Cs. But it’s important to move on. In particular, I’ve had to train myself to write like a normal person rather than like a lawyer. I’m now on a campaign to persuade lawyers that the two are not mutually exclusive.
The last couple of years have been a tough slog (especially not having any income while setting things up), but I don’t regret my decisions. I’m so proud of all we’ve achieved and can’t wait to see how it’s going to turn out.
I’m not sure I can offer any advice yet; I’m still tentatively finding my own way. But if you want to take a business-writing course or arrange one for your firm, you know where to come!
Tel:+44 (0)20 3282 7872
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.