International Firm, M & A and Corporate Finance, City of London
Career Change Story
I started up my own business, Matrix Law Group, two weeks after leaving private legal practice. Matrix places world class lawyers as temporary in-house legal counsel to small to medium-sized businesses that aren't able to afford City law firms. I use the extra time to get involved in activities I enjoy. I now run my business part time from my home in New York.
I am also a partner in the only Krav Maga (martial arts) Academy in New York City.
I was working up to 80 hours a week in the City with a lot of hard-working and talented but desperately unhappy lawyers. The intensity of the working culture and the anesthetising salaries leave little opportunity for reflection and the realisation that your life is seriously out of balance.
The slow market last summer gave me the time to reflect and realise that although I loved the law, working insane hours for big businesses was not the reason I chose to become a solicitor. I wanted to do some good, to choose my own clients and make my own hours. I also wanted to pursue my passion for sports, travel and fitness and to spend time with family and friends.
I dreamt up the Matrix Law Group concept over the summer of 2009 because I wanted to help small businesses grow and reach their true potential. Big law firms charge clients on a time basis (which can breed inefficiency) and their high overheads don't serve everyone's interests.
My mission was to help improve access to the quality of legal services usually reserved for protecting big businesses and to improve my quality of life - I think I may have succeeded. Matrix Law Group is now one of the fastest growing legal businesses in the UK.
I feel I have found a healthy work- life balance. The extra time and energy I now have has allowed me to invest more time and energy into my other business, Krav Maga Academy NYC.
Career Change Reflections
I still work hard, but it's not all about law and I now have more of a life.
The ability to exercise control over your working hours is incredibly liberating and working directly for businesses has given me tremendous insight into what they want from a lawyer. It has also allowed me to pursue other interests and business opportunities such as my Krav Maga Academy.
When I think back to my days tied to a desk and thinking about all the other things I would rather be doing, I realise that only a relatively small amount of time in a law firm is spent practising law, learning about businesses and meeting and helping people. Lawyers don't spend enough time doing what they enjoy and do best. I love the law but there is often too much repetitive and time consuming admin and too much time spent behind a desk. As a result of this, lawyers often end up losing perspective of what they are doing.
My life is not perfect, but I am now able to work for a cause I care about which is infinitely more rewarding to me. I have time to stay fit, manage the Krav Maga Academy, read, and spend time with friends and family.
Transitions are never easy, especially ones that involve assuming higher degrees of risk than one is accustomed to. The first few months are the toughest so make sure you know exactly what you are going to do the day after you leave your job. Be prepared to endure months of uncertainty and to miss a regular salary.
I wouldn't recommend leaving law or private practice without having a well thought out plan and direction. Whatever your reasons for leaving law, make sure your next move is something you know you really like and care about, more so than your previous career, or the transition just won't work.