Former lawyer now a career coach after varied career
Simon Broomer has worked in law, banking, publishing, the health service and training over a period of nearly thirty years and now runs his own career change and job search business. We spoke to him about his own career and why professional guidance for people who have already started their careers can be very useful.
mtl: Please can you run us through your busy career?
Simon: Most of the jobs I’ve had came from contacting a company directly or from speaking to someone I knew within an organisation. I started out in the HR team of a Regional Health Authority (though wasn’t attracted by the public sector) before joining Chase Manhattan Bank in London as a Contracts Manager in their Asset Finance team in the 1980’s. I really didn’t enjoy being in a large organisation nor did dealing with money most of the time appeal to me, despite the prestige and security.
I went on to work for Lexis Nexis at the beginning of its online service before the launch of the Internet and trained lawyers how to use the system. I felt that I was as bright as the lawyers who I spent my time with and, as I had done a law degree at Bristol, I started to wonder why I wasn’t practising myself.
Although I hadn’t particularly enjoyed my law degree (as I didn’t feel that I was naturally good at law), I decided to go to law school at 30. I wasn’t satisfied with the way my career was progressing, my contemporaries were becoming partners already and law felt like unfinished business.
LLB Law Degree, Bristol University
Contracts Manager, Chase
Training & Customer Services
Manager, Lexis Nexis
Management Developer, BIS Banking
TrainingContract and Assistant
Solicitor, Freeman Pollard
Training & Development Manager,
Head of Training, Professional
Client Development Manager,
Specialised in career planning and
Postgraduate Diploma In Career Management & Career Counseling,
Birkbeck, University of London
Set up CareerBalance Ltd
For a year before I started law school, I worked in a training and development role for a large international IT company. I travelled around the world with this job and really enjoyed it. However the cogs had turned and I already had a training contract by then.
It was back to earth with a bump when I started work for a small firm of solicitors in Chelsea doing litigation, property and immigration work. It was a world apart from the large organisations in which I had spent my early career. I stayed after qualification for a while but missed the focus on development work with individuals that I’d had in the years prior to returning to law. I therefore put practising law to the side and moved back to training and development work at Herbert Smith. I then worked for a training, marketing and business support consultancy for law firms, before moving to a company specialsing in media skills training.
mtl: How did you get into coaching?
Simon: In 2001 it was suggested to me that I was good at guiding people who didn’t know what they want to do in their careers. I’ve always been interested in career choices and have obviously made quite a few myself. I took a part-time postgraduate course at Birkbeck (part of the University of London) which was rigourous and academic and I also did some volunteer career counselling slots in an employment resource centre for people out of work. This led me to work in the outplacement industry and there was a big wave of redundancies at the time. Next I began to work with people who were still in work but were looking for a change in career direction.
I had never dreamt of running my own business but as I gained experience I realised that the only way forward was to set up by myself. In 2005 I opened an office in the City before moving to Covent Garden. I have recently moved back to the City to be closer to where many of our clients work. I really enjoy career counselling and now have a team of consultants working with me. My main challenge now is finding enough time to run and grow the business as well as doing the client work. It is very hard work running a small business but very satisfying too.
mtl: Tell us about Career Balance and do you have any advice for readers?
Simon: Career counseling can be useful to streamline your thoughts when those around you are fed up with listening to you and you need an objective sounding board. I see most of the barristers and solicitors who contact Career Balance and about 40% of my clients are lawyers. Some want a different role in the law, while others are contemplating a significant change in career direction. Our clients range from law students to partners in major firms. The process helps individuals examine themselves, their strengths and aspirations, with the help of someone who understands lawyers, the City and has lots of job market knowledge – inside and outside the legal profession. I can therefore be quite specific about what might suit a client.
I tend to work with clients over four to six sessions, so it is a short process. The first sessions are spent looking at the individual before moving on to potential jobs. I also offer a one-off 75 minute Career Options & Job Search Consultation which I prepare for carefully (by reviewing a CV and a questionnaire we send to clients) and follow this up with a summary and programme outline. This costs £145 plus VAT for up to 5yrs PQE and £175 plus VAT for over 5yrs PQE.
My advice to those concerned about their careers is don’t panic. For example, just because you don’t want to be a partner, it doesn’t mean that you need to get out of law altogether. In-house roles are becoming more challenging and varied and a lot of lawyers are moving into business roles. Lawyers still earn a lot more than many occupations and have greater job security and employability than other occupations.
mtl: Thank you Simon.
Click here to see the Career Balance website.
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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