14 January 2019

Looking for a portfolio career? Read some tips from NEDs to help lawyers with life after law.

BCKR is an organisation founded by lawyers to help lawyers broaden their horizons and offer opportunities to further their careers upon leaving private practice.


The primary role of BCKR is to provide individuals with the opportunity to network, broaden their experience and develop board skills and commercial acumen and also assists in finding commercial board roles.

BCKR runs a series of events at JM Finn’s office across three terms during the year, where lawyers, NEDs, trustees and headhunters offer their personal experience of life within the boardroom.  Below is a review of 2018’s speakers’ tips to prepare yourself for that second career:

Know your numbers: Naziar Hashemi, Non Profits Audit and Risk Partner from Crowe Clark Whitehill talked attendees through a set of charity accounts suggesting that understanding the accounts is the first step to joining a new business.

Pick your NED role with care: Co-founder and chairman of Big Yellow has NEDs on his board and is a NED on other boards.  He warns that one must pick the role carefully or risk running the organisation or having no role at all.

Enthusiasm pays dividends: “If they like you, you are 80% there” – so say Anna Ponton and Stuart Morton from headhunter, Odgers Berndston.

Start early and put in the effort: Denise Jagger started her non-exec career in her 30s and suggests that building a portfolio can take a long time, so it’s best to start building your contacts as soon as possible.

Sitting on the board of a charity is not only fulfilling but great experience: when asked why a charity would want a lawyer on their board, Karen Brown, Chair of the Mines Advisory Group, responded, “why wouldn’t they?”

The key to getting your first role is networking, focus and persistence: says Josyane Gold, who became a NED of Electra Private Equity after a 25-year career as a corporate partner at SJ Berwin.

Be engaged and represent and stand for the values of the organisation: Lord Charlie Falconer suggests the nerdiest of lawyers can make a decision without reading all the papers or having all the boxes ticked, which makes them ideal for a board.

Get skilled-up, widen your horizons and prepare: is the advice from Head of Board Practice at Executive Search firm Spencer Stuart, Will Dawkins.

Ask challenging questions: Sir Nick Young, former CEO of the Red Cross thinks lawyers know how to ask the right challenging questions, which is a much-needed skill in a trustee.

Play to your sectoral strengths and develop your network: Suzanna Taverne has had multiple NED roles in both the public and private sectors and suggests lawyers can focus on their sectoral experience.

JM Finn is delighted to be a supporter of the work that BCKR does and hosts the group’s regular breakfast meetings at its head office in London. To find out more about BCKR and upcoming events, visit their website.


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