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Lawyer stories:
From Down-Under to In-House

Moving to the other side of the world may phase most people, but not LOD lawyer Amelia Binns. She made it from New Zealand to London (via Italy), talked her way into her elusive first UK role and has now found her “perfect” first experience of working in-house.

My story starts in New Zealand, where I wanted to be many things when growing up, including an air hostess, a nurse and a school teacher. But when I first saw Bungay on Crime, the popular (in NZ at least!) series, presented by leading criminal barrister and QC Mike Bungay, I decided that the law was for me. Whilst I didn’t make it to the bar I did become a commercial property lawyer in 1999.

After four and half years working in New Zealand, I got married, and my husband and I decided to go travelling. My Dad is English and my Mum is half-Italian, so I wanted to spend some time exploring this side of the world. My Italian Grandmother is from an island in the Bay of Naples called Ischia, so that was pretty enticing – we planned on staying for 3 months but, after eating way too much (my wedding dress was a distant memory…), we decided to head to London to find work.

That proved a little more difficult than planned, as I simply didn’t have the elusive “UK experience” that employers were asking for. I eventually talked my way into a 3 week job covering Easter and Passover at a small West End firm, promising that I was good at answering phones and wouldn’t break anything! Those precious 3 weeks on my CV got me an interview at Berwin Leighton Paisner, which I joined in May 2004. I worked in the Real Estate department for nearly ten years, taking voluntary redundancy in 2013 to spend some time with my then 4 and 2 year old boys.

After some time out, BLP came knocking again. I went back to the Real Estate department in a slightly different role – I was a permanent supervisor, overseeing a team of junior associates, trainees and paralegals with a job-share colleague – we called ourselves quality control! After 21 months back at BLP, and after assisting with the transition of work to the newly opened Manchester office, I decided to finally take the leap into the big new world of contracting. And that’s where LOD finally comes in. I filled out the paperwork and said I was open to options, very curious to know what was out there… Having worked in private practice in New Zealand and London for 14 years, I was ready to take the leap of faith.

After having a decadent 6 weeks off over the Summer holidays with my boys, a role came up at with a leading telecoms provider in the in-house Real Estate legal team. I’d never worked in-house before, but always wanted to, so this seemed perfect. I’m now 5 months through a 6 month contract and it’s been brilliant. An exciting start to my contracting career and working for one of the largest private land owners in the UK (with many 1000’s of properties in the portfolio) has definitely been interesting. It’s great being part of the business and sitting right next to the Group Property team that we support.

The legal market in London has changed so much during my time in London – there are so many different ways of working rather than the standard employee 9 to 5 (make that 7 to 7…) model. Working through LOD gives me the flexibility to do the work that I want to do, when I want to do it. If I want to have some time out with my boys, I can (and having that down-time is not frowned upon). It’s so refreshing and a really healthy way to work. I’m looking forward to seeing where my next LOD adventure may take me…

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