lawyer turned entrepreneur

A Lawyer Turned Entrepreneur Story

A Lawyer Turned Entrepreneur Some Questions and Answers


Mark Ford

Mark Ford

I am a Lawyer turned entrepreneur and if you had asked me or told me that I would be an entrepreneur 10 years ago I would have laughed at you.

I became an entrepreneur after a 29 year career working in the Magistrates Courts in the United kingdom. I am a qualified solicitor and still a member of the Law Society in the U.K. My entrepreneurial ventures started at the age of 46, I tell you this just to confirm the old adage that YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO CHANGE! There are many unhappy lawyers in practice today. I know I was one of them, I am also in regular contact with many of my colleagues still practicing who tell me how miserable they are and how stuck they feel in this unhappy lawyer syndrome. Many lawyers regularly consider quitting law but believe that the alternatives to law are not viable for them.

My aim today is to try and answer some questions that you may be facing in your deliberations on your future.

What was your background and what law were you practicing?

I was born and raised in Birmingham in the Shadow of the Cadbury chocolate factory (see more). I left school with my 'O' levels as I am a firm believer in learning job specific skills and could not see the value in doing calculus and the like which ultimately would have no impact on my future career. My parents wanted me to go down to university and obtain a degree and so get a prestigious or better job. My father had an influence in my career choice as in my youth we had spent many hours discussing the legal system. So I then secured myself a position working in the legal offices of the Magistrates courts. I was fortunate to be granted permission to study and qualify as a solicitor whilst still being employed. I was fortunate in working for Her Majesty's government in that I had a wide choice of where to specialise and practice. I had some brief stints in criminal law and family law, but my real passion was licencing law again due in some extent to the influence of my father who managed ex servicemen's clubs through my youth.

What was your reason for leaving law?

Unlike many of you in private practice I was extremely fortunate in that I worked a regular 9 to 5 job, didn't have to worry about all the billing hours to clients, was not in a combative work environment, I also dealt directly with clients and my job was secure. The major reason for leaving law behind was that the government in their wisdom removed the licencing law away from the Magistrates Court jurisdiction and handed the whole responsibility to the Local Authorities.

So at the stroke of a pen I had become redundant. However being in government employ they did not just get rid of me but I was then moved into a 'back office' and became a statistical clerk. So I effectively became a 'solicitor without portfolio' and was not practicing law anymore. In 2006 my father lost his battle with cancer and being helped incredibly by a charity organisation during this tough period and having a leave of absence I then re-evaluated my position. With the great analytical skills we are equipped with and viewing the available options I then made a decision to leave law behind.


Did you consider staying in law, if not why?

The simple answer NO.

I had been fortunate to work in different areas of the law and to be honest none were appealing I had found both criminal and family law to be extremely depressing. The worst feeling in the world is when an obviously guilty offender walks away because you missed a technicality and that I could never abide. The options for myself as a licencing specialist were extremely limited if not non existent. We all know that the law is not a glamorous profession and is mostly a boring drudge, I had also reached the stage where a suit and tie were like wearing a knight's armour and I felt stifled in this uniform. Do you love your daily work commute? because this I found to be extremely unproductive and wearing. Having spent my career in the Magistrates Courts had I gone into private practice apart from the obvious work hours, billing hours, isolation and competition within the firm, I would have had to start in a new field of law and also at a junior position which held no appeal to me.

What options did you consider? a mentors helping hand

Wearing a suit was like wearing armour

When I started looking at the various options available, for the reasons above I ruled staying in law out, so basically the options left were working outside law and it really very simply broke down into working in the business world in a corporate environment or becoming an entrepreneur. The corporate world has some similar problems to being in law, such as being stuck in a suit, long hours of work being chained to a desk and of course the 'wonderful' commute. So needless to say I found this another option to rule out.

My changing personal circumstances also had a role to play. I had weighed up where I was and the best option was to work from home. Apart from the personal side my decision was based on some of the following reasons:

  • To be able to work in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • To put all the hard work in for my own gain.
  • To be location independent.
  • To be able to create a global business.
  • Get out of a suit.
  • Be able to work at the times of the day when I was at my best.

So I became a lawyer turned entrepreneur.

 Is becoming an entrepreneur risky?

The short answer Yes. In life there is risk in everything. Your decision to go to law school was a risk, could you get financing to study?, Would you pass the exams and become a lawyer?, Once you had qualified could you find a job? and then Once you had a career would you make partner or senior management?. So in all these there is the great risk of not making the cut isn't there.

We as lawyers are encouraged to be pessimists and perfectionists and this weighs heavily against us outside of the practice of law. As an entrepreneur yes you are taking risks and 'putting yourself' out there. But if you really think about this we are doing exactly the same when we take on a client or get involved in a new case. The difference is however in law we have no margin of error, make a mistake and you have lost. Yes as an entrepreneur you will make mistakes but they are allowed and the learning curve is such that you can turn that mistake into an advantage. You will have to 'reinvent yourself' but we are the best equipped to do this by far.

"I'm a lawyer not an entrepeneur", is this change possible?

One has to look at a change in mindset but intrinsically all lawyers are entrepreneurs in my view. You may balk at the statement so let me briefly expand on this.

One of the first things you need to do is to 'sell' yourself to get accepted at law school. When you interviewed for your current position in a law firm you had to market yourself and convince the interviewers that you were the best candidate for the position out of the 200 people that they were interviewing. Now that you are established in your position you have to make sure your billing is current all the time, follow up and be on 'top' of your administration and sell your virtues to existing and prospective clients and what about keeping yourself in good standing within the firm as well as with the courts? if you are an extremely brave soul you also look at venturing out into the world of starting your own practice, where you need to be at the top of your game in all aspects of a legal practice. Now think about this, Don't entrepreneurs do this?

Lawyers are eminently suited to become entrepreneurs 

Can I become an entrepreneur?

A lawyer turned entrepreneur is eminently feasible. A huge positive that we have as lawyers is our ability to gather and assimilate large amounts of data, have strong negotiation skills, the ability to think logically and separate the wheat from the chaff. Another great advantage is we can think quickly on our feet, how many cases and negotiations have we turned to our advantage on what someone has said or an inadvertent slip of tongue when we were faced with a situation that was considered a no win case. In any form of business these skills are essential tools that are required and as a lawyer you are taught all these skills from day one, so the foundations to being an entrepreneur have already been laid.

Do I need a mentor? a mentors helping hand

A mentor wants to see you succeed

A mentor in my opinion is highly recommended. Wherever we are, there is always that someone who takes you under their wing so to speak. That someone is a mentor and the person you turn to for answers and bounce ideas off. When I first set out on my entrepreneurial walk, one of my first ventures was into the property market and I formed a partnership with an expert in the market and they have helped and mentored me through the property market, together we have a portfolio of 21 properties now. I would not have gained the success in this business without guidance as there were many pitfalls that I avoided by having a mentor. Similarly when I initially got involved in internet marketing as a business I burnt my fingers on some of my first attempts. I very quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to find people who were willing to mentor me, I have been fortunate to find some really good mentors. I have now become a mentor to others but I assure you I still have the mentors that helped me in my early years. So absolutely find a mentor to guide you through the potential pitfalls, they really want to see you succeed.

A lawyer turned entrepreneur - Closing thoughts

To be an entrepreneur is very possible, the two major aspects one has to look at is changing our mindset and taking action. Like anything in life if we do not do this, nothing will change and we then believe that we are stuck in mud and there we will stay. As a lawyer you have been given the skill set necessary to succeed in almost everything you decide to do. Don't go out and design and build a bridge, that's and engineers bailiwick, but I bet you could successfully run the company that employs the engineer and run it profitably at that.

I would really like to meet you and have a chat with you. Please feel free to book a free 30 minute SKYPE call with me.

Hoping this has helped you and wishing you well in your future endeavours.

Mark Ford

Mark Ford Home Business Lifestyle coach

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Mark Ford.
CEO and Founder Nice Money Publications Limited
Home business lifestyle coaching with Mark Ford, loyally stepping up for others SO THAT they are given inner peace.
Many people live the life they think they have to live. They are overworked, underpaid, and unfulfilled. But the good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. My name is Mark Ford and my goal is to help you recognize your potential and equip you with the skills you need to turn that potential into a viable online home business in the digital economy.
We have to stop making excuses and make it happen, whatever that is for you?

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About The Author

Mark Ford

A former lawyer in the UK who quit law to build a property portfolio and then an internet business and live a new lifestyle.