Fiona, Solicitor: Moving from the City to a local firm

I was a property law solicitor until I was 30, working as a manager in the legal department of a City bank. After my first child I went into private practice, working part-time until my third child when we moved to London and I decided to take a career break. I always intended to return but ended up taking 10 years out. I felt I was wasting my education and was not a very good role model for my children, but I had lost my confidence in my own skills.

I signed up for a one-week returners’ course for solicitors which was very empowering, reminding me that I did have a lot of skills and just had to put myself forward even if I felt awkward at first. However I still felt out of touch and wanted to get practical recent experience before applying for jobs.

While I was feeling proactive and confident, I picked up the phone to call a local solicitor who I knew slightly. That was the best step I took! I asked for work experience and was surprised that he easily agreed to me coming in a few mornings a week over the next month. It was a different culture working for a small firm, but I quickly felt I was able to contribute and started to get up-to-speed. I ended up being offered a part-time position, working 8am-1pm most days, sometimes until 5pm. It fitted in well with the rest of my life, the work was fun and interesting rather than stressful and I became a more hands-off and relaxed parent. I ended up being there 5½ years, thanks to making that one phone call.