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Lawyer stories:
LA Law, late nights and long-time ambitions

When a two year ‘overseas experience’ from New Zealand to the UK turned into ‘I’m not going back’ LOD Lawyer Belinda Wiklund decided that pizza in the office at 1am was no longer for her. Cue LOD, some great clients and a bit more autonomy and Belinda has finally taken up drumming as a hobby. Find out more about her journey here.

My decision to become a lawyer was probably born in a New Zealand classroom when I was 11. During a class debate, I argued ardently about the plight of the dolphin, trying to survive in overfished waters.  My teacher remarked that I would make a good lawyer someday and her comment stayed with me.

As the years passed, I came to know that:

  1. Essay writing isn’t that bad (I had a vague notion that law school and the legal profession involved a lot of that sort of thing).
  2. I have a strong moral code which I wanted to bring to bear in the world.
  3. LA Law really was the most glamorous television programme EVER and I really, really wanted to have a briefcase/convertible/awesome 80s haircut…

And so the idea of becoming a lawyer took root. I wanted to ‘fight the good fight’, while magically developing a perfect personal life in the background like one of those LA Lawyers.

I enrolled at law school. Cue an initial, alarming realisation that most of the case law was fairly dry.  The criminal cases were an exception – some of the fact summaries would not have been out of place in an episode of Hollyoaks.  Despite the often dry subject matter, I developed a ‘law crush’ on Lord Denning – so creative!  And I adored (in a terrified kind of way) the moot courts.  However, it just wasn’t where I wanted to focus my energy.

Actually, working in commercial law seemed a natural choice to me – I loved the idea that lawyers could have a positive impact around the inception of transactions and, hopefully, prevent litigation.

I took a summer clerkship at a large New Zealand law firm and began using email for the first time (seriously). I loved it – even the all-nighters.  Pizza at 1am in the office during a due diligence process was novel and exciting… then.

A few years after I qualified, I left for London for a two year ‘overseas experience’ (New Zealand parlance for living abroad for a while). ‘Two years’ became ‘I didn’t go back’ and, a few stints in-house later, I’m now a happy LODer.  Working very autonomously for a great client, with excellent know-how and support resources at my disposal, feeling genuinely valued by those lovely folks at LOD HQ… what’s not to like?

Don’t get me wrong, it was a daunting prospect moving from being a long-term employee to a freelancer. But, as my life has progressed, I have come to know a few more things:

  1. Taking risks (calculated, of course; I am a lawyer after all!) and committing completely to the desired outcome can be extremely rewarding. And, even if you fail, you may learn a great deal in the process which might ultimately be helpful.
  2. What constitutes a fulfilling existence may (and probably will) vary throughout life. Right now, I do not want to be obligated to practise law while eating pizza in a draughty office building at 1am (unless I choose to do so!)
  3. Fulfilled, contented people bring more to their work.

So, I have finally taken up drumming as a hobby– a long-time ambition of mine. And done a lot of other non-law things.  Although LOD isn’t going to turn me into Lord Denning, it certainly makes me feel happier and more engaged when I’m working and that works for me.

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