For many people, the end of a traineeship means starting a role as a newly qualified solicitor. Alasdair Madden decided to take a slightly less conventional route, instead joining colleagues in BD and marketing and taking on the role of business development assistant. As part of our #NoWrongPath campaign, he tells us more about what led him to this decision, and the benefits of being a lawyer in a non-legal role.

Why did you decide to move from a legal role to business services?

At the start of the pandemic, back in spring 2020, I started to really think about what I wanted to do next with my career. My intention had been that I would take the most natural post-traineeship step and apply for an NQ role. However, I've always had an open mind, and so over the next few months I looked to broaden my professional horizons by speaking to different people about their careers. That period coincided with the second seat of my traineeship, during which I had the opportunity to assist the business development team on several occasions. Having found those opportunities particularly enjoyable, I reached out in early 2021 to talk about potential job openings in the team and what those might look like. A secondment opportunity materialised, ultimately leading to my now permanent role. The timing of the role was perfect – I was able to finish my traineeship and qualify in July, before joining the BD team at an exciting moment. I love the job and every day I feel vindicated in my decision to make the switch. I also think it is quite telling that, when I'm catching up with friends and I tell them about the role, the reaction is almost universally the same: "Oh yeah, I can see you doing that!"

What are the main differences between legal and business services?

The most notable difference is that the role of a lawyer is a lot more client-facing. In BD, I feel like I'm playing a key role behind the scenes, providing legal colleagues with the tools and support to go out on the figurative stage and put in a top performance. I also work for a host of different teams, so I perhaps have more regular first-hand exposure to what is going on across the firm.

Does being a lawyer help you in your BD role?

Absolutely. The main advantage of my previous experience is that I feel well-placed to consider what would resonate with lawyers when preparing content. It also helps that I'm familiar with the dynamics of a law firm (specifically Brodies), which allows me to shape my work effectively. Having a developed understanding of the law itself is also quite convenient for obvious reasons.

Do you think you'll ever go back to a legal role?

I would never rule out taking on a hybrid role at some point in the future. Like I said, I've always had an open mind. However, I am happy in my role, and so a return to the legal world isn't in my thoughts just now. I feel like I am in a good place. I'm learning every day, there's clear scope for career progression, I take a great deal of satisfaction from what I do, and I work with a great team.


Alasdair Madden

Business Development Assistant