Interview with law career changer, Cathy Cockin.
Can you briefly summarise your career as a legal assistant.
I worked at Shulmans for 6 months as a legal assistant in the Conveyancing Department. I then left to go to Ison Harrison for a role with a bit more responsibility. I worked in the New Build Property Department where the department grew rapidly. We did a lot of work with Redrow, Bellways and Miller Homes and other big scale developers. I was offered a training contract but had not been given a formal start date. I kept saying to my boyfriend, once I get qualified I can leave I just need to get qualified. Then I thought, well why get qualified as a solicitor and then lace when I can qualify into something I enjoy in the next two years instead of wasting my time doing something I am not enjoying.
What are you now doing to earn a living?
I retrained as an electrician and I currently run my own business ‘Little Miss Electrical’. I am in the process of taking on an apprentice and am really busy with it.
What made you decide to change from pursuing a legal career?
I didn’t like sitting at a desk all day. I had bought a property with my partner and was there every weekend and evening pulling ceilings down and knocking walls down and he taught me how to plaster. I wanted to be out on site with him being more hands on. We bought another house and I did all of the drawings for the planning application and submitted it all. He kept saying that I should learn to do the electrics so I did. It was hard to take the step back from law and do what I really wanted as I felt pressured to pursue the career I had spent so long working towards but my sister and boyfriend were both really supportive and gave me the courage to make the final jump. It really is the best thing I ever did.
How did you decide on your current line of work?
As explained I had got involved with property and wanted to be more a part of it. I had always enjoyed taking things apart when I was little like remotes and other electrical items. I always wanted to try and make or build things myself but never had the skills or knowledge on how to do it properly. Now I can it still amazes me sometimes when things actually work! haha
What was the most difficult part of your career change?
Actually taking the step back and saying ‘this is it’. I came home and cried it just felt really surreal. The next day I cried all day and felt so overwhelmed. Its been around 12 months now and every day I think about how much happier I am. It wasn’t just the career it was also about working for myself. I usually work 7 days a week and evenings because I can increase my earnings that way. That was something I wanted to be in charge of myself.
How has your life changed now that you’ve changed career?
I am much happier. I am better off financially too! I am really proud of what I do because it’s so unusual for a female and people always comment on how refreshing it is.
What do you miss and what don’t you miss about being a legal assistant?
It sounds silly but the thing I miss the most is the Jacket Potato Van in Leeds! They did the biggest potatoes ever! I keep in touch with some of my former colleagues so that’s nice. I definitely don’t miss the commuting on the train every day.
What advice would you give to any lawyers who are contemplating a career change?
Think about it properly. Once you have done that remember – it is up to you what you do. No one else. You have to be happy in what you do otherwise why are you doing it? I felt like I didn’t have a choice but that’s so silly. Of course I had a choice and so do you!
Find Out More
You can find out more about Cathy and her “Little Miss Electrical” business by visiting www.facebook.com/LittleMissElectrical