Variety is the spice of legal life

It’s not every day The Lawyer puts a bona fide rock star on its cover. But for any Blur fans out there, the sight of the Britpop band’s iconic Best Of album sleeve should stir some choice memories.

Matt Byrne

But look closer. You won’t find any cartoon representations of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon or Alex James, although Dave Rowntree is present and correct. Rowntree, a member of one of the most successful bands Britain has ever produced, is now a full-time, fully qualified lawyer at Kingsley Napley (although the drummer still keeps his hand in with the occasional gig, with shows later this year in the likes of Berlin, Peru and Brazil. It’s a hard life).

As Becky Waller-Davies’ main feature this week reveals, the Blur drummer is just one of many individuals who decide on a career change later in life. For Rowntree it was his – mostly negative – experiences in music that fired his desire to become a lawyer and take some control over “the business side of things”. The feature unveils three more similarly inspiring and wildly differing tales of reinvention.

Read all about Jennifer Bethlehem, the Freshfields corporate partner who was once an A&E nurse; Ellen Gallagher, now a solicitor at Goodman Derrick but formerly English National Opera’s head of music administration; and Elizabeth Smith, joint head of personal injury at HowardKennedyFsi and a former fashion editor.

A ton of variety, and maybe a song, too. Their stories underline what a broad church the UK legal market really is, and why the law – whatever its shortcomings – continues to attract the brightest and the best from all walks of life.

Meanwhile, in this final issue of the summer you’ll also find variety in the plethora of financials that reveal law firm fortunes as contrasting as the careers highlighted in the cover story. Mergers dominate, DLA Piper still leads, ABSs are yet to make their presence truly felt.

The Lawyer editorial team is still busy beavering away gathering the data for the UK 200 2013 and the finished article won’t be ready until October, but we thought you might appreciate a preview. Call it our sneak single before the concept quadruple album.