Addleshaw Goddard, Solicitor, Corporate, Manchester
Career Change Story
I am the Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, elected at the 2010 General Election.
I have always been interested in politics, and was a local councillor whilst working at Addleshaw. The firm knew this when they recruited me and were very supportive. At short notice before the last election, my local MP decided to stand down and several people approached me and asked me to put my name forward as a possible candidate to replace him. I went on unpaid leave, won the selection contest, and was almost immediately thrust into a General Election campaign. It was difficult to come in at such short notice, but despite a bad night nationally for the Labour Party I was able to hold the seat.
Career Change Reflections
It was difficult to leave my colleagues behind, but to represent the area you live in Parliament is an incredible honour. My background in law was extremely useful – law is often about taking complex issues and being able to present and explain them to clients in a way that is of use to them. Replace ‘clients’ with ‘constituents’ and politics isn’t too different. There are also lots of skills in terms of negotiating, advocacy and drafting an argument which are complementary. It’s probably why there are a lot of lawyers in the House of Commons.
One other thing that was essential was the work ethic I had got accustomed to in private practice. Solicitors work long hours, and are used to constant peer-evaluation and accountability for the outcomes they achieve. I think being trained to work in such a way sometimes gives me an edge in terms of being an MP.