Career choice: Portfolio career

Stephanie BoyceName: Stephanie Boyce
Level of PQE: 14 years
Current position and immediate former position: Portfolio building. Former director of legal services/corporate affairs at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Why did you go into the law in the first place?

At an early age I could think of nothing more than becoming a lawyer.

Some of my earliest influences were: Margaret Thatcher (not for her political persuasions but because she was a strong woman role model and a barrister), Mahatma Ghandi for his resilience and his continuous strive for access to justice for all and not just for the privileged, Martin Luther King Jr, who had a dream, and Nelson Mandela, who had a long walk to freedom.

All of these individuals influenced my life either through their words or their actions, which in turn shaped my career path to becoming a solicitor. In short, I wanted to study law because I wanted to make a difference.

What was your first job as a qualified solicitor?

I qualified with a small, established firm in my hometown but then moved to take up a role as a commercial/civil litigator in a high street firm in another part of the country.

What was your reason(s) for choosing your career path?

I was made redundant twice in as many years while in private practice. I also realised private practice wasn't for me with endless billable hours. No-one mentioned to me at the time that there were alternatives to private practice; no one told me I didn't need to become a partner in a firm, that I had options.

After the second redundancy, I etched a plan to move into the City. Recruitment agents laughed at me and told me it wouldn't happen as I had neither trained nor worked in the City. Well, within a short time I had secured my first in-house role with a professional body and, 12 years later, I have never looked back.

What steps did you take to make that move a reality (include details of resources that you found particularly helpful)?

Network, network, network.

How easy or difficult did you find the move?

When someone tells me I can't I tell myself I can, and I can.

What do you consider to have been the key factor in enabling you to make that successful move?

My self-belief and my determination to seek out new opportunities.

How did you find the transition after you made the move?

I have been able to pursue other charitable interests that have kept me busy and helped to further develop my skills, knowledge and experience.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

In July 2015 I took the bold step of resigning from my post. I wanted to pursue other interests and to donate more of my time to volunteering.

I currently have a mixed bag of roles, which include being a council member of the Law Society, a member of the Law Society Regulatory Affairs Board, a panel member of the Joint Tribunal Service and an independent person with the local Standards Committee and chair of the Education Appeals Panel.

I have much more time to devote to my local community. I have been able to pursue other charitable interests that have kept me busy and helped to further develop my skills, knowledge and experience.

In the last year I have had the opportunity to do the things I love and to give back. I have been proactive about creating the career that I want.

What did you learn about how to make change effectively and what would you have done differently?

I wouldn't have done anything differently. I have no regrets; to have regrets is to suggest failure of some kind.

Everything I have done, everything I have achieved, has added to the career path that I have followed. I have had an amazing journey meeting different people and experiencing different types of ways of working, from interim to permanent, from paid to unpaid. The key to success is to be flexible, determined and persistent.

What are your three tips for a successful change in career direction?

  • Do your research
  • Be bold
  • Never look back

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