“I’ve worked in the financial services industry for five years and am about to quit. Law is far more intellectually stimulating.
I studied philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Oxford and went into FX structuring straight out of university. I enjoyed the work for approximately 18 months, but then it started to become quite repetitive. Intellectually, I felt that I needed more of a challenge, so while I was working I studied the BPP Graduate Diploma in Law part time.
Basically, my experience of finance and banking jobs has been that they’re kind of dull. I interned throughout university – first in tax accountancy (dull) and then in IBD and CMBS (also dull). I finally went into FX structuring because it seemed less dull and was something I could see myself doing. To begin with, I also got the excitement of the global financial crisis and its aftermath.
However, I find law genuinely fascinating. For the first time it was easy to sit down and work through textbooks and case studies, even though I was doing this after work. Constitutional and administrative law involves all sorts of interesting political philosophy issues which drew me to studying politics and philosophy in the first place. I came to realise pretty soon that a career in law would offer a far more sustained intellectual challenge than finance. I know that I can make more money by staying in finance and doing a job I’m not interested in for years on end. However I don’t have the boredom threshold for it!
When I finished the BPP Graduate Diploma, I therefore moved straight onto the Bar Professional Training Course, which was also part time. I funded this myself while I was working. Now I need to quit work to do the last bit of training to become a barrister, which involves acting as an apprentice for a year. After 6 months you’re allowed to start taking instructions and the daunting prospect of putting a wig on and speaking in a British court arises. At the end of the year the chambers decide whether to take you on full time as a tenant.
Some of my banking colleagues are flabbergasted at my decision. They’re astonished that I’d take a pay cut up front and accept a career that will probably pay far less than the one I’m in. Most completely understand why I’m doing it though. More than one has asked for advice in making a similar switch themselves. And several have, jokingly I assume, asked when I’m going to be ready to defend them!”