The subject of this interview is former regional law firm partner David Artingstall.
He has had a varied life since leaving the legal profession, as he did when he was working in it.
David shares how he made it to partner in one law firm and then launched a new firm as senior partner.
He also has some wise words for the aspiring lawyers of today.
1. Why did you decide you wanted to be a solicitor?
I actually wanted to be an airline pilot! I wasn’t too hot at Maths and Physics so it ruled me out. I couldn’t decide what to do. My parents suggested law was a good career so I decided to be a solicitor.
2. What academic route did you take to qualify as a solicitor? Would you do it differently if you had your time again?
After A levels went to Sheffield Uni and got my LLB. Then went to Guildford College of Law for 6 months, then on to a training contract. At that time the College of Law course was very academic so when I started my training contract I had no idea how to deal with the public. Being thrown in the deep end was maybe no bad thing though.
3. How did you find it securing a training contract/articles?
Very easy. I was recommended to a senior partner in a local practice and after interview was offered the job. There were far more opportunities (or maybe far fewer candidates!) then.
4. What sort of firm did you do your training contract/articles with?
A small general practice with an office in the city centre and a branch in the inner city
5. What sort of law did you practise after qualifying as a solicitor? What legal jobs did you do after qualifying?
General Practice. After I’d been qualified for 18 months I left the firm I trained in and set up a branch office in the suburbs for a city centre practice. It was a general high street practice and I did Everything! As the firm grew I took on people to specialise in different areas. Became a partner. The partnership split when I was 40 and I took my office out of the firm. I grew it substantially becoming ever more specialised. When I was 50 I was made an offer for my shareholding and sold my interest staying on as a consultant for a couple of years.
6. When did you first think about leaving the legal profession? What have you done since leaving it?
Please see above. A client introduced me to a chef who wanted backing in a restaurant. I invested a substantial sum in buying and running a restaurant which I still own. It’s now under management. 12 months ago I opened a regal recruitment business with a lady who has been in legal recruitment in the past and we are currently building that up.
7. What skills from law school or your legal career have proven most useful in your new career?
Interpersonal skills developed in practice. Ability to assess a situation and precise it to determine a solution. Ability to put together a well-constructed proposal or letter. Ability to appear confident.
8. Are you living your passion? Do you feel your life is more balanced now in your alternative career?
Financially it’s much more challenging outside the law than in it. Profit margins are much smaller! That said I spent 26 years building up a successful practice, commuting every day to the office, working long hours which impinged on family life. It bought us the things we enjoyed for the family though. Nice house, holidays, kids’ education etc. Maybe I took it for granted a bit but now I have a much more interesting and varied life where I choose much more what I do each day. That’s not to say I don’t still have major challenges. It’s just that they are different challenges. I’d say I’m happier but definitely poorer!
9. What advice would you give to law students and trainee solicitors today? Is there anything else you would like to add?
Work in an area of law you enjoy. Don’t spend years in an area that you don’t find stimulating. Be prepared to take a risk, but make sure you think it through carefully or have plenty of wool on your back before you do. Don’t take yourself too seriously. At 25 you don’t even think it…but life is short. Make sure you leave room for enjoyment and the family. They are the most important thing…..Not being the top fee earner! There’s no point working until the small hours for someone else. Do it for yourself.
David Artingstall is a co-founder of Future Legal Recruitment. FLR is a specialist legal recruitment agency offering a bespoke and personal service to the legal community throughout Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Merseyside and the wider North West. For more information contact David via his LinkedIn Profile.
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