Corporate lawyer leaving the City to run cycle tours

Rob Cartledge qualified as a corporate lawyer at Norton Rose last year.  In early 2012 he is leaving to run Le Domestique Tours, a cycling and triathlon tour company that he has set up with his fiancé Laura Parker.  From April 2012, Le Domestique Tours will offer trips to the Alps and the Pyrenees as well as bespoke trip planning and logistical services for individuals and groups.  We will speak to Rob again in 2012 to see how the transition went. 


mtl: Tell us about your legal career…


Rob:  I had no particular calling to be a lawyer but saw it as a safe career option and enjoyed my law degree at Newcastle.  Norton Rose stood out on the milk round for its people and after a vacation scheme there I was offered a training contract.  I qualified into corporate as it was the most commercial seat that I did, I enjoyed public M&A work and really liked the team that I was in. 


mtl: So why the change of career?


Rob:  I come from Yorkshire and have always been very sporty and “outdoorsy”. Outside work I have been heavily involved with a number of cycling clubs and have taken part in countless cycling based events. Although I’m not averse to city life, I’m a country boy at heart and I’ve become fed up with living in London.  The shine of office life and working for someone else has worn off and the lack of control over my life due to the unpredictable hours, are my main reasons for leaving. 


Although my job at Norton Rose is perfectly pleasant, I wanted “more”.  Working 9am-5pm for a provincial firm didn’t appeal as an alternative as it’s all or nothing for me – I enjoy the high profile work at Norton Rose but I don’t want to spend my life behind a desk. 




Career timeline



Law, Newcastle






Training contract, Norton Rose



Corporate assistant, Norton Rose



Set up Le Domestique Tours



Running Le Domestique Tours full



The real catalyst for leaving law at this point was the “Race Across America” bike race which I did during the summer of 2011 as part of the Norton Rose team.   Four of us competed and it was a tipping point as I loved the months of training and organisation that went into it and it made me realise that I could make a success out of doing something that I loved. 


When the race was over I realised that I wasn’t happy with my day job and had always wanted to do something more like what I’d just experienced. I just hadn’t had a reason to upset the norm before. I have now resigned and leave the firm in January 2012.


mtl: Tell us about your business?


Rob:  Le Domestique Tours is the product of our combined experience and passion for cycling and went online at the end of September 2011.  We offer cycling trips in the Alps and Pyrenees, based out of two fantastic properties in Bourg d’Oisans and Saint Lary Soulan (both of which are in the heart of the mountains and will be well known to Tour de France fans).  My fiancé and I will be the hosts and will provide itineraries where either I follow in a support van along pre set routes or guests do their own thing and use the accommodation on more of a b&b style basis.  We’ve already had bookings for 2012 and have sold out for a couple of weeks already. 


My fiancé and I have both been keen cyclists and triathletes for years and have a relatively developed network of friends who have done lots of similar trips.  Based on our experiences and those of our friends, we had an excellent understanding of what was involved and thought we could do better than the competition.    


We have used all our holiday entitlement and countless weekends to go to Alps and Pyrenees to view properties and sort out all the details that will make our venture a success.  We also used this period to write the content for our website (which a friend put together for us), do market research into what exactly we should offer, do several dry runs of various trips and work out what was the most effective way to market the site. It was very tricky to juggle full-time jobs with doing all of that…


We have grand plans for the future in that we’d like to organise the logistics for charity cycling events and plan trips further afield as well as active breaks within the UK. These plans are all in motion and we cannot wait to progress them in the coming months.  


mtl: Do you have any advice from your experience so far?


Rob:  Make sure you keep up with as many people as possible.  Every step of the way we’ve been able to find someone that we know who can help us or offer guidance…


mtl: Good luck with your 2012 season.


You can see Rob and Laura’s website here:

If you are doing a triathlon or cycling event next summer and want to kick start your training, then check out the calendar page of their website for details of spring training camps starting in May 2012:

Prices start from £299 for an all-inclusive 3 night trip and from £549 for a week.

FYI a “domestique” is a road bicycle racer who works for the benefit of his team and leader.



If you know any other ex-lawyers who have gone and done something interesting or unusual with their lives then please get in touch.


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