- How did you land your first role in-house?
I didn’t have a linear path to an in-house legal position. I trained at one of the big corporate, city law firms and qualified in 2009 at the peak of the economic crisis. There were very few qualification jobs and I qualified into commercial litigation which I very quickly realised wasn’t for me, then left for a small boutique media law firm. I wasn’t enamoured by law firm life – on the large and smaller scale – and wanted to apply my skills in a more commercial environment.
In a bit of a 180, I accompanied (not followed!) my then boyfriend to New York (he had a 4-month TV producer role) and I was offered an internship – and then a job – with New York literary agency, Writers House. Four months turned into almost 5 years where I worked in a quasi editorial-legal role across every type of commercial media contract and negotiation. I consider this my first in-house role – at the heart of the business, learning talent management, deal making, IP protection and strategy from the ground up.
- How did you get to Head of Legal & Business Affairs at Baby Cow Productions – was it a leap or climb?
I’d say a bit of both! As above, it wasn’t a straight climb but, coming back to the UK, going back into law was a bit of a leap of faith for me and my employers!
As much as I loved living in NY, after having my first baby I felt it was time to come home. After my first maternity leave, I took an interim freelance position teaching Media & Entertainment Law at BPP law school (which I really enjoyed), and then applied for a permanent Legal & Business Affairs Manager role at immersive theatre giant, Punchdrunk. Although I’d not been in a wholly in-house legal role before, I knew Punchdrunk’s work, understood what they were trying to achieve and massively hit it off with the then CEO who hired me (never underestimate the power of having great rapport with someone – he is still my mentor today!). I grew into a Head of BLA role at Punchdrunk and after 3 years I felt it was time to move on and moved into my current role comfortably and with confidence.
- What is the most interesting piece of information you have realised you didn’t know you didn’t know about Baby Cow Productions.
That Baby Cow is named after the early Steve Coogan characters Paul and Pauline Calf (calf = baby cow, get it?!)
- As Head of Legal & Business Affairs, is there anything you wish you didn’t have so much knowledge about?
My risk register is definitely on higher alert than some of my creative colleagues and it’s sometimes hard to be the naysayer in the room! I like to think I approach problems in a creative way with a view to facilitating – as far as possible – the best solutions which is a must have in a creative environment.
- What piece of advice has stuck with you since your TC days?
I can’t recall any! I disliked the “seen but not heard” attitude towards trainees and junior associates that pervaded the law firm culture when I was training. I don’t feel I was given any advice relating to best practice, advancement or client care that I’ve carried with me through my career. My time in NY provided me with far more insight and experience and the ability to learn a business cross-functionally.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to make the jump now?
Have a flexible mindset – the next jump doesn’t need to be the forever move (if there is such a thing any more!). Every role will have something to teach you so take what you can from it, learn and forge relationships as you never know when you’ll encounter someone again! Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people whose jobs or careers you admire and offer to take them for a coffee to pick their brain!
- What do you miss about private practice? Free biscuits in the meeting rooms!
8. Do you have a work-life balance? This is a toughie, and this means different things to different people. For me, flexible working is crucial and affords me more of a work-life balance, and I’m grateful to be in a forward-thinking company that values and trusts its employees. This means that – depending on deadlines and priorities – I can determine my own work schedule and will often end up working at night if I need to finish work earlier one day to go to an appointment/ pick up my kids, etc. What I am mindful of is not setting an expectation that people should work the same hours so I make it clear that I do not expect responses out of so-called “standard” hours.
- And finally, what is your favourite ice cream? Stracciatella, preferably the OG Italian kind.