Ex-Freshfields finds (re)flexible hours
This week, we spoke to ex-Freshfields (and ex-A&O) lawyer, Kate, who recently left the City to work as a reflexologist in Guildford. She is now a member of the Association of Reflexologists. How did she get there?
mtl: So tell us about your background as a solicitor.
Kate: I did a Spanish and Portuguese degree at Bristol and then went to the College of Law in Guildford to do the CPE and LPC. I trained at Allen & Overy and was offered a job in International Capital Markets. On qualification I wanted to practice property law so I moved to Freshfields.
mtl: So how do you get from being a property lawyer at Freshfields to doing reflexology?
Kate: I always knew my heart wasn't in it as far as law was concerned and so, in an effort to branch out, I did a year-long course in reflexology over about ten weekends. The course was hard work with lots of practical assessments and case studies to write up, but I really enjoyed it and I graduated with a distinction. My friends enjoyed me practising on them, too!
mtl: So why reflexology?
Kate: I’ve always been interested in complementary therapies but even I was sceptical when I first heard about reflexology. My interest in it started after I had my first treatment as a patient a few years ago. It surprised me that the reflexologist was apparently able to tell things about my bodily health just by looking at my feet. In particular she alerted me to something which, after I was advised to have a blood test, led to a diagnosis of a medical condition. The fact that reflexology had positively helped me reinforced my interest in it and made me want to learn more.
mtl: So how did you actually make the break from the law?
Kate: The real catalyst was getting glandular fever again while at Freshfields. I had had it at university eight years earlier and I found working in the City so tiring that it re-surfaced. Freshfields were very understanding and let me work part-time for a while but I realised that I needed to change my lifestyle completely in order to regain my health Looking back on it, even though the change was forced on me, it turned out to be a great opportunity for me to take control over my working life. I resigned from Freshfields that summer and within two months had set up my reflexology practice.
Graduated from Bristol (Spanish and Portuguese)
Completed CPE/LPC College of Law, Guilford
A&O: training contract
Moved to Freshfields
Set up reflexology practice
mtl: And how is it going?
Kate: I love it! I volunteer at the Fountain Centre at the Royal Surrey County Hospital on Monday mornings. The centre provides information, counseling and complementary therapies for cancer sufferers and those who care for them. The rest of the week I see clients either at my house or at theirs.
mtl: What do you enjoy most about your new career?
Kate: I get to combine a genuine interest with earning money and assisting people with their health and relaxation, which is the perfect combination for me. Apart from the satisfaction I get from treating people, I have much greater flexibility over the hours that I work, and this means I have more time for other things that I really enjoy doing. I obviously earn less than a City lawyer but I don't miss the pace of life at a London law firm at all.
mtl: Can you tell us a bit about what you actually do and the benefits of reflexology?
Kate: Reflexology involves gentle pressure and massage to reflex points in the feet. It encourages the body to heal itself and maintain a natural state of balance. It can reduce tension, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, help balance hormone levels and aid in the elimination of toxins. I particularly enjoy treating stressed City workers as I know exactly how they are feeling. The reflex on their adrenal glands is often out of balance because they frequently rely on adrenalin to get them through a stressful deal.
mtl: Do you have any tips for someone wanting to retrain?
Kate: If you can find the right course it is very useful to be able to do it at weekends while you are still working. That way you can make sure it’s for you without making an irreversible decision to resign. I appreciate that this is difficult given lawyers’ working hours, so make sure your tutors are flexible and don't mind you re-scheduling classes at the last minute. And obviously it helps if you have saved some cash to give yourself a buffer while you’re getting started.
mtl: So do you have any regrets or would you have done anything differently in your career so far?
Kate: No. I enjoyed studying law and working and living in London for a few years, but I never thought of London as a long-term option. It’s hard not earning as much as I used to, but I am happier and enjoying my life more - and I really don't need as many handbags as I thought!
mtl: Kate, thank you very much for speaking to us and good luck with the feet.
If you would like to contact Kate to find out more about her work, you can call her on 07811 447591.
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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