12 King's Bench Walk Chambers, Barrister, Inner Temple, London
|Arts and Media|
Career Change Story
I left the Bar in 1996 to pursue a career in film animation. That sounds like a big change of direction, and it was, but it didn't come completely out of the blue. Prior to practicing law I had worked on several animated films including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "The Lion King", so I was already familiar with the medium. But during the mid 1990s the animation business began to enter a prolonged boom, on the back of the huge success of Disney films like "Aladdin" and "Lion King", and soon Hollywood came calling. I was a pupil barrister at the time, doing the sort of low-end civil work that lots of junior barristers cut their teeth on while trying to keep their noses clean and stay out of their pupil master's way. Lots of small claims, lots of county court work in the rain, plenty of work for the Free Representation Unit. I started to get calls from several studios in Los Angeles, but especially from Warner Bros, who were setting up their own feature animation division and were undergoing a massive recruitment drive. For a brief glorious moment, animators were in hot demand. They sent me business class tickets to LA to give me the grand tour - and even sent a stretch limo to pick me up at the airport. I agonized over the decision for months, boring my friends rigid, endlessly canvassing opinion and advice. The Bar is a great career, virtually a job for life and (in theory at least) a progression through more and more complex and potentially lucrative work. Passing the Bar exams, finding a pupilage and winning a tenancy also represents a huge commitment of time and energy. It would be true to say that leaving the Bar was the hardest decision I have ever made. But in the end the idea of a career working on movies proved too hard to resist.
Career Change Reflections
Animation and the practice of law at the Bar are so totally different as to be almost impossible to compare. The one thing they have in common is a certain solitude, a level of quiet concentration necessary to get a good result. Animation is a very collaborative medium in which many hands contribute to a huge tapestry of work. As to making the move, a thorough training in 3D computer software is almost essential nowadays.