Ex-DLA lawyer sets up training business
Simon Price, an ex-DLA commercial litigator, has set up a company that specialises in business skills for lawyers. With a focus on people, client and business development, he works with law firms to improve performance through a number of different programmes. We spoke to him about his career decisions.
mtl: Hi Simon, please can you start by telling us about your legal career?
Simon: I read history at university and then chose to convert to law. It seemed like a prestigious career that would challenge me intellectually and I thought I would be able to “make a difference”. The fact that it was well-paid was also appealing.
I left university, got married and moved to Leeds in 1993. At the time it was really starting to grow as a city and was a vibrant and exciting place to be. I completed my CPE at Leeds Metropolitan University and my LPC at the college of law in York, both part- time. By the time I had finished studying law, we had started a family with the arrival of our first daughter.
While studying, I worked in business development for DLA (Dibb Lupton Broomhead as it was then) in Leeds. I started my articles with them in 1998 and qualified into the dispute resolution department. I really enjoyed my time at DLA. It was a forward- thinking and ambitious firm. They looked after and trained me well. I worked hard and the hours were long but that was par for the course. The work was exciting and I made some good friends. We had a second child by this point and I thought my future was assured as I had no obvious reason to leave.
mtl: So what changed?
Simon: DLA was a great place to work as I have already said. The problem was that practising law just did not fulfil me in the way that I thought it would. I have always had a sense of wanting to make a difference and the law just did not light the fire in my belly no matter how hard I worked or how good the quality of the work was.
History, Lancaster University
CPE, Leeds Metropolitan University (part-time)
LPC, College of Law, York
Articles at Dibb Lupton Broomhead (DLA Piper now)
Commercial litigation – DLA (DLA Piper now)
Commercial litigation, in-house
Set up Price Pd part-time while working part-time in house
Left law to concentrate on developing Price Pd full-time
I tried really hard to convince myself that I should just buck up and get on with it - as did everyone I spoke to about how I felt. However, to me it felt as though my ladder of success was leaning against the wrong wall. The problem was that I did not initially know how to move my ladder as I thought that it was glued to the wall I had chosen.
mtl: What inspired you to move direction?
Simon: During my training contract I had become very interested in developing my non-legal skills, primarily in order to help me do my job as well as I could. I had received a wonderful academic training and if I wanted to learn more about the law I could have gone on hundreds of courses. What I could not find were courses on self-management, business development, networking and how to remain in control of my life at work.
I read a book called “The 7 habits of highly successful people” by Dr Stephen Covey and it really opened my eyes to the whole area of self-development. I then became a voracious reader of anything I could find on self–development (this was at a time when life coaching had not really taken off). I questioned my core beliefs about what I wanted out of life and that gave me the courage to leave DLA. Not only did I decide that but we moved back to my home town of Preston, to seek a more balanced and controlled life.
mtl: What did you do on leaving DLA?
Simon: I took a litigation job in-house where I was able to work flexi-time from 9.45am-4pm. It was a revelation and my quality of life with my young family really improved. Yet despite this better quality of life, I was still left with a sense that I had a lack of direction. Did I want to still practise law when I was 55? What did I want to be remembered for? Every time I asked myself that question, being a lawyer never came up.
By this point I had started to help train leaders in the evenings on the Dale Carnegie course for the Dale Carnegie Corporation. I really enjoyed the sense of purpose and well-being from coaching and training people as it seemed to inspire me. This led to my decision to set up my own business, initially on a part-time basis while I continued to practise law.
Having made the decision, I had no idea where to start. I had advised small companies as a lawyer but this was different. I had to get my head around topics like tax, whether I should incorporate, take on premises, employ people and where to network. Simple things, which you take for granted in a big organisation, like terms and conditions, privacy terms and setting up accounts procedures all had to be done from scratch.
The scariest moment was sitting at my desk on the first day and realising that no one knew what Price Pd was, that I had no clients and no money coming in from it at the end of the month. However it certainly made me focus my mind. Needless to say I got some clients and things have gone from strength to strength, so that I was able to leave law completely and start running the business full-time from 2006. We should soon be opening an office in London to give us a presence in the Capital.
Working with individual lawyers is very important to me and although most of our work comes from law firms I make sure we cater for individuals, particularly with our coaching programmes. Most lawyers we meet as individuals come to us looking for answers that they can’t find anywhere else. We help them find those answers by themselves which empowers them to take whatever step they needed to take.It has been hard work and very demanding running my own business, but also fun and I have loved every minute of it. It has felt so right even though I never saw myself as an entrepreneur previously.
mtl: What do you enjoy most about your new career and do you have any advice for others considering a career change?
Simon: I really enjoy the autonomy and flexibility to manage my own life. I work when it suits me and take time off when it suits me. One of the most rewarding aspects is meeting hundreds of different people every month and helping them improve their lives, whether at work or at home, through either coaching or training. The work I do challenges beliefs and helps people make their own choices and decide their own direction in life. The feedback I have received has been wonderful and very supportive and I have no regrets about leaving law.
As far as advice, try to find out what you love doing and go and do it. If you work hard and with passion, the money will follow. Ask yourself what you want to be remembered for when you are 80? I know it sounds corny but you only have one life – do what inspires you.
Click here to see Simon’s site.
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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