Ex-City lawyer gets rude
David Vines left law after about five years of qualified life. After a stint in PR, he now runs two companies: Active Power and Sail; and Rude Health Foods, which he set up with his partner and two neighbours, all of whom have young children. We chatted to him about his career.
mtl: Hi David, tell us about doing law.
David: As is often the case, when I graduated I couldn’t decide what else to do, so I did law. I enjoyed studying it and met a great bunch of people at The College of Law, Store Street. My training contract was also good as I worked at a nice, easy-going firm in Richmond-upon-Thames. I stayed on post qualification and at that point began to question what I was doing and whether I really wanted to do it for the rest of my career. The answer ended up being no, but it took me a few years to make the decision.
I think that ultimately I am too much of a risk-taker to be a lawyer as I found that law always meant covering your back, which I didn’t enjoy. I also hated time sheets with a passion and did not want to spend the rest of my career accounting for every six minutes of my days. I was aware that it would only get harder to leave the older I became, and the more responsibilities I had outside of work. When I left, it wasn’t a hard decision to make, but I was still clueless about what I would do next.
mtl: What alternatives did you consider?
David: I love sailing and wanted to do something relating to that. I therefore got involved with a business that charters motor boats and yachts. It has grown steadily and we are currently re-branding the company; it will soon have a new website. To supplement my income, I also initially worked in my parnter’s PR agency (which wasn’t really for me), as well as doing some consultancy work in law.
CPE and LPC, College of Law, Store Street
Training contract, Richmond-upon-Thames
Litigation, matrimoninal and provate client work, Richmond-upon-Thames
Left law - worked on a consultancy basis, worked in PR and became involved in Active Power and Sail
Began planning Rude Health Foods with partner and two neighbours
About a year after leaving law, I began to think about producing 100% organic muesli with my partner and two neighbours. We realised that we had compatible skills to run a business e.g. between us we had entrepreneurial, marketing, PR and legal skills. The idea grew into fruition and by this point I had a pretty good idea that I didn’t particularly want to work for anyone else again.
As a group, we all liked good food and saw a gap in the market, particularly in cereals, for healthy food that also tasted good. My partner has always made her own cereal and what you could buy in the shops at the time was mostly mass produced, dumbed down and with added salt and sugar.
We tested the concept by selling our own cereal through a few local shops. It did well so we made more, and designed our own packaging. Rude Health Foods has basically grown from there, although we no longer mix the cereals ourselves and I handle the production side of things. Our guiding principle is to produce food that is delicious and also healthy. We have lots of exciting products in the pipeline. So far so good!
mtl: Any tips for fellow lawyers?
David: I was pretty miserable in law by the end. It is such a great relief to get up in the morning and want to go to work. I have different pressures to deal with now but it is much more fun dealing with them than with other people’s legal issues. I feel more in control of my destiny, I don’t have to deal with time sheets and financially it is potentially much more rewarding running my own business. I can’t think of any downsides to setting up your own business… (yet!!!)
I’m still very glad I started off with law though. It is a great discipline to have and helps you in the way that you approach problems. I think it can take a long time to make a decision to leave it as you have spent so much time getting into the legal profession.
I firmly believe that there is no point in being miserable at work – there must be an alternative for you, whether it means going in-house, being employed outside of law or setting up a business. There are lots of opportunities beyond law. Try things out – if you fail then at least you will have learnt something. If you can, then try and test something alongside your legal career before taking the plunge, particularly if it is not viable to take time out while you find your feet.
In terms of setting up a business, I would say just get on with it. There are loads of reasons not to do it, so just get on with making decisions and carrying them through, otherwise nothing will happen!
David: Thanks David and good luck with the new Rude Health Foods products.
For more information about Rude Health Foods, click here.
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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