Ex-lawyer is Blunt about the law
This week we spoke to Jim Brough who, until a few weeks ago, was a lawyer in the City with US firm Faegre & Benson. He’s given it all up to join his wife, a freelance PR advisor, in order to expand their business, Blunt Communications. How did he get here and what is the transition like? (Scroll down for a 2010 update).
mtl: Hi, please can you take us through your legal career.
Jim: I studied Art History at St Andrew’s, which didn’t lead me towards any particular career and so I decided to do the law conversion course. I went to the College of Law and joined corporate boutique firm Hobson Audley in the City (which was later taken over by US firm Faegre & Benson).
mtl: And how was that?
Jim: Probably like any other small corporate practice. At two years’ pqe I was still doing a lot of due diligence and verification notes and didn’t feel as though I was really developing as a lawyer. I was also frustrated by the hours. It wasn’t so much the hard work, it was more the uncertainty of it. I didn’t like the fact that you could never be sure whether something would come up at the last minute on a Friday evening and ruin your weekend.
I felt that if I put the same amount of time and effort into any other career or small business, there would be a good chance that it would be successful very quickly. During this time, my wife, CJ, had left her PR firm and was working on a freelance basis from home.
That was going well – not only was she successful at bringing in business, the flexibility of it was great for the family (we had just had a baby!). We then started to think about the possibility of my helping her expand the business.
Of course, my first concern was the fact that I had no experience of PR whatsoever. But CJ was very encouraging. She pointed out that I knew a lot about how big businesses worked. I was used to communicating with business people and taking a commercial view – good skills for a PR advisor. She sensed that her clients might really appreciate a straight-talking lawyer, rather than the empty marketing spiel they would find at some of the big PR agencies.
As I had got to a point with my legal career where I really couldn’t take much more, I decided to go for it.
Graduated from St Andrew’s (MA (hons) Art History)
CPE/LPC at College of Law
Training Contract at Faegre & Benson
Qualified into corporate
Left to help set up Blunt Communications
mtl: And how is it?
Jim: It’s early days, of course, but it is like a breath of fresh air. I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, so it has been hard. You know what it’s like setting up your own business. There’s so much to think about and you’ve got to do all of it. VAT, payroll, accounts...
But I brought in my first new client on Monday, a wine search engine called Wine-Searcher, and that was a great feeling. It was so satisfying to do things exactly the way I thought they should be done, and then for that to produce a result. I feel as though I have been given a licence to think and be creative, which the law never gave me.
mtl: So what does the future hold?
Jim: A lot of hard work, but on my terms. We’ve decided that we will only work with clients that we’re really enthusiastic about. If we love what they do then we can be genuinely passionate about promoting them.
mtl: Any advice to other lawyers?
Jim: Just consider your options. Your skills are more transferable than you realise. Of course, plenty of people enjoy the law but most of my friends are looking for an escape route. I was lucky to have one so close to home. If you are a lawyer in the City, the odds are that you are bright and well-educated. It doesn’t make sense to be miserable about your career – do something about it.
mtl: Jim, thank you very much for speaking to us and good luck with the business.
In 2006 we spoke to Jim Brough, who had just left corporate law to run Blunt Communications with his wife. Four years later we caught up with him for a quick update. He's set up a website called www.bragitup.com and he sounded very chirpy!
Jim: Shortly after I spoke to Moretolaw, we moved from Wimbledon to the south of France as we were no longer tied to London by work. We took the business with us, spoke to our clients by phone and email and rented a house on the beach in a small town called Port Vendres near the Spanish border. It was a great lifestyle and a wonderful place to live with a toddler.
Initially we decided to go for six months but we only moved back in April 2010. We’d planned to come back eventually and as our son is now school age we didn’t want him to fall behind. We are now based in Gerrards Cross, our son loves his school and although life in France was fantastic, we prefer life in England on balance.
mtl: How’s work going?
Jim: The PR business is going really well and benefiting from being back in the UK as it is easier to get new business when you can hop on a quick train into London. Having said that, I’ve actually moved away from PR on a day to day basis as last year I set up www.bragitup.com. The idea coincided with the launch of Dragon’s Den and it was always my “weird business idea”. In the end my wife encouraged me to just get on with it, while she continues with Blunt Communications.
Each week I track down ten top deals for men, women and the home. Each deal involves a brand name and has to have at least 40% off and there is normally around a 70% discount. I am slowly getting the name out there, building up the database and getting more retailers involved with affiliate programmes and dedicated emails. I love running the site as I can see the results of what I do quickly. Working from home is still fantastic as it allows me to be flexible with my time and I get to see my son a lot.
You can see Jim’s new website www.bragitup.com here.
If you would like to speak to Blunt Communications about your PR needs, see www.bluntcommunications.com.
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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