One well-known lawyer who landed a senior role with a former client is Bob Kidby who, until 2010, was head of real estate at Lovells (now Hogan Lovells). Kidby joined longstanding client Welbeck Land as a director when he got a call “out of the blue” after retiring aged 59.
“Perhaps unusually I gave Lovells two years’ notice, which I suppose can be dangerous as you risk losing your authority,” says Kidby. “But for me it worked really well. Michael Stancombe, my friend and partner, was obviously going to take on the role when I left so it was just a matter of handing over clients. All my clients were happy, they were able to start relying on new
people and it didn’t cause any ripples. And most of the clients knew most of the partners already anyway because the firm was so collegiate. If you do it gradually it works fine.”
Kidby’s top tip for moving on is to make sure to let the world know that you have retired.
“I had three good parties and left,” says Kidby. “It told my world that I’d left. I think a lot of people don’t do this. They have an internal party but keep it quiet. You have to move on at some point, but doing it this way shows it’s a well-ordered firm, gives the partner a sense of self-esteem and provides a chance to tell people whether you’re in the market or not.”
Since leaving Lovells, and later Welbeck, Kidby has picked up a varied roster of external appointments that includes being an NED for education company Gems, involvement in numerous charities and the immersive theatre company Theatre Delicatessen, a role as an appeals steward for the British Boxing Board of Control and a trustee of the British Antarctic Heritage Trust.
But Kidby, a well-known rock n roller, has also successfully morphed into spending much of his time on his main passion: music. Years ago the former property lawyer built an upmarket home studio in the grounds of his Suffolk home. Since retiring he has turned it into a professional studio and music publishing business where he has produced albums for artists including classical trios, jazz bands and, most recently, a nine-piece Northern Soul group (you can check it out here: www.stupidmusic.org).
“I charge but it’s peanuts compared with being a lawyer,” admits Kidby. “But the process of building a studio business has been similar to building a legal practice. It’s about getting out there, talking to people and letting them know what you’re up to.”