I used to be a lawyer. I specialised in corporate and business law, in particular mergers, acquisitions, and business and asset sales and purchases. I was qualified to practise in England and Wales, and in Scotland. I practised at two large highly regarded pre-eminent corporate law firms, one in Sheffield and the other in Glasgow. I had the good fortune to be trained by, and work with, excellent lawyers at the top of their field. I later went on to tutor English and Scots law with the Open University, and tutored professional legal practise with post-graduate law students at the University of Strathclyde. I loved it.
I’m now a gardener, and run a gardening business with my wife. I cut lawns (and more besides). I love it.
For me it’s as simple as that; but for others (customers, friends, and ex-colleagues) it doesn’t appear to be a natural career progression. Quite a few are intrigued as to why on earth I would want to move from law to lawns. There are of course others who don’t give a hoot. The down to earth chap who runs the specialist garden machinery supplies business where I purchased my gardening equipment had this to say, ‘so you’ve decided to make an honest living for yourself now’. I burst out laughing, and thankfully so did he. The truth is, it was ‘events, dear boy, events’ that led me to making the transition from law to lawns. There was no single seismic event. There was no mental breakdown, no road to Damascus moment, and certainly no falling out of love with the law. It was a series of events. On their own they would have been no more or less than many people experience in their lives. However, together they resulted in me deciding that I wanted to run my own business and I wanted to run that business with my wife.
My wife and I both love gardening. We have many years experience of gardening as a hobby and as gardeners for family and friends. One night we were both sat chatting to each other in a caravan on the west coast of Scotland, enjoying a glass of wine, looking over the water at the lights on the island of Arran, we clinked our glasses together and that was that – we were setting up a gardening business. Three days later we incorporated a company, and we were off. We are living the dream. Working for ourselves, doing what we enjoy, and managing a business around our family life. It wasn’t a career move, it was a lifestyle choice.
So there you have it – from law to lawns. One thing is for sure, I’m not doing this simply as a jolly. Make no mistake, I’m in this for business and I’m in this hook, line and sinker, 100%. I didn’t do things by halves when I served in the military, when I practised as a social worker, or as a lawyer, and I’m not going to start being half-hearted now that I’m a gardener.
If there was a moral to this story, it would be that I followed my heart, but was guided by my head. I always seek the counsel of trusted friends, family members and colleagues. I have also had some amazing mentors in my career(s). They took me under their wing, and they knew when I was ready to fly on my own. You may have mentors that guide you. If you haven’y got one, then it may be worth seeking some out. It shouldn’t be too difficult, as great mentors are always attracted to great people to mentor. You could also seek out people to look up to and learn from. They needn’t be people you have met or are likely to meet, but they could be. Throughout my life and career I have always done this. There are gardeners (and non-gardeners) out there now that I’m learning from at a distance. They may not know that they inspire me, but they do.
To my mentors, instructors and guides (those I have met, and those I have never met) – thank you. Thank you for your inspiration, motivation and teaching. I will never forget the influence you have had on my career(s).