I was always an adventurous person. At 18 I left home and moved to Ukraine. I later studied Russian at university and I carried on my passion for mad-cap travels throughout the former Soviet states. I decided to become a lawyer as a way to use my Russian and work on transactions abroad, working in two large international firms. Private practice really did give me a good grounding in law, and the skills associated with law practice. I also managed to work on deals in Moscow and Tashkent; exciting, challenging and tiring deals! However, I never quite managed to shake off the feeling that I had lost a large amount of freedom, that my time was no longer mine. I started to feel that the private practice model was not a model that was working for me. In fact, I found the relentless hours as a banking associate unhealthy and unproductive.
Like many solicitors in this situation, I moved into an in-house role. I took a role with a large Russian company, where I developed commercial law experience. I loved working outside of my original practice area and developing new skills. It was also a revelation leaving the office early evening each evening. I remember during the first week sitting alone in my flat wondering what on earth I do with this new free time! It was a shock to realise how my life had become just about law and work, so I actively decided to start building a new life away from the office.
And so I started running. After work I would leave the office and explore routes through the parks and around the canal networks of London. It was like rediscovering the city all over again and I suddenly felt liberated! Over time, I joined a club and started being coached. As my times got quicker, I started being more and more involved in the running world. I ran races in the places ranging from Philadelphia through to Tbilisi, and I loved every minute of it.
After two and a half years in-house as an employee, I decided I wanted a further change. I wanted to focus more on my running and developing other interests outside of work (such as training as a psychotherapist). Yet I didn’t want to turn my back on the experience I had gained in law. I wanted to continue to work as a lawyer but try out work in different sectors. It can be hard as a lawyer to not be pigeonholed, and I was keen to find a way to develop my commercial practice in different kinds of businesses. I had been aware of LOD for a number of years, but at 5 years PQE, I felt ready to take the plunge and work on a consultancy basis.
LOD were fantastic in giving me advice on how to start working on assignments with them. I was also impressed at the rigorous selection process, which gave me confidence they understood the business of law and what kind of support their clients required. I am currently working onsite with a large corporate, a position that was due to last for two months has gone on for 6! I have really enjoyed working with the legal team and working on matters involving new areas of law for me. I am working with a superb assistant general counsel, a fellow runner who provided great support for London marathon! However, it is great to know that when the position ends, I could take some time away to train for my next marathon (Chicago), hopefully basing myself in the Dolomites. Working like this also gives me the opportunity to pursue other interests and I could only do this with the support of an organization like LOD. It is really up to me to choose what I want to do and when!
I really believe I have finally achieved the holy grail of balance. I am doing interesting work and feel myself developing as a lawyer. However, I do not feel trapped and I know I can step in and out of roles as and when I choose. I would not rule out taking the right permanent position in the future, but for present purposes, LOD has allowed me to regain my sense of adventure and curiosity!