31 October 2018 at 17:21 BST

Seeking...legal entrepreneurs

Could a lawyer win The Apprentice? Matthew Kay of Vario says lawyers are more entrepreneurial than is often believed.


The Apprentice burst onto our screens earlier this month, with 16 candidates from a variety of different backgrounds including Sarah Ann Magson, a solicitor from Teesside, who is aiming to win over Lord Sugar with her entrepreneurial flair.  A Director and Head of Civil Litigation at law firm Watson Woodhouse; Magson is also the owner of a luxury nursery furniture company, Little Arrivals. University of Law Graduate, Kurran Pooni will also be competing head to head with Sarah for the coveted £250,000 prize.

Dull, Dull, Dull

Lord Sugar hasn’t always been the biggest fan of legal candidates, saying of solicitor Lauren Riley from series ten that she was, “dull, dull, dull”. Riley was sent packing in week seven but went on to launch a successful client communication company for lawyers. So is Lord Sugar missing a trick when it comes to the entrepreneurial potential of lawyers? Lawyers undoubtedly possess many of the vital skills needed to succeed in business such as a keen eye for detail, commitment and the ability to work long hours, as well as a much need insight into the often complex laws that dictate how the world of business is run. 

Creativity and sensitivity

Creativity and sensitivity are two other vital skills for a successful lawyer. In the role, a lawyer will usually need to be highly emotionally intelligent, showing their client that they truly understand their motivations, and also have the ability to think outside of the box in difficult cases.  Plenty of lawyers also run their own businesses on the side, including some of our own Varios. According to our survey, around one in four of our freelance lawyers has built a business alongside their legal career. 

Agile workers

It may seem hard to fathom that you can balance a hectic legal career with a business venture of your own, and yes it might not always be easy, but that isn’t the case for everyone, particularly when the option of agile working is added to the equation.  Whether it’s working from home, contract lawyering or going freelance, some lawyers are rejecting the old model of working more than ever. It’s important to note that choosing to work flexibly doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll lose out financially or be forced to take a step back in your career. 

Getting the gig

For instance, Doris Woo, one of our freelance lawyers who specialises in commercial and data protection law, also manages her husband’s record label and has a passion for DJ’ing herself. She’s even headlining a few major events this year and has a regular slot on Rinse FM, a London based community radio station. Woo found that an extra day in the week to prepare or travel for a gig, or just to wind down after a show was really helpful – something that would have been much more difficult to do if she was working as a full-time employee. 

Endless options

Fulfilling your dream of becoming an entrepreneur without giving up on the career that you love is within the realms of possibility for everyone. With the right ’day job’, which complements your entrepreneurial vision and provides flexibility, anything is possible. Whether that’s turning your skill at baking into a cupcake business or putting your extensive experience travelling to good use by setting up as a travel agent – the options are endless.  Whether Sarah and Kurran will be able to catch a break with Lord Sugar is yet to be seen but I hope that their drive to grow their entrepreneurial capabilities inspires more lawyers out there to take the same step. 

Matthew Kay is the Director of Vario at Pinsent Masons


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