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