Law: It's never too late to start afresh: Bruce Brodie, chairman of a firm of City solicitors, is leaving to retrain for the Bar, writes Sharon Wallach

BRUCE BRODIE, the chairman of Frere Cholmeley, a large City firm, is leaving next March to take up a career at the Bar. Mr Brodie, 55, who is his firm's most senior commercial litigation partner, will join the chambers of Lord Williams of Mostyn QC, the current chairman of the Bar Council.

A fair number of people switch between the two arms of the profession, but it is rare for someone of Mr Brodie's seniority to make the move. He acknowledges that it will, initially at least, necessitate a change in status. 'As a senior member of a law firm, you are at the top of the team. At the Bar I will certainly have to begin lower down, in some instances right at the bottom,' he says.

Mr Brodie has been granted exemption from exams - 'thank heavens' - but will, he says, undertake a 'voluntary bringing up to speed'.

'I will read a lot of law and I will have to develop a number of skills that I've either forgotten or have only partially developed. But there's a stock of many years' experience I will be able to bring, that young men and women going to the Bar won't have had.'

When he joins the Bar next year he will undertake a six-month pupillage before being allowed to practise on his own account. 'I may be able to do a certain amount after three months if I get good marks from my pupil master, Anthony Seys Llewellyn,' he says.

This will not be the first time Mr Brodie has retrained. When he came to England from his native South Africa, he had to retake articles. At first, he worked for a firm specialising in insurance litigation, and transferred to Frere Cholmeley in 1968. Since then he has worked almost exclusively in civil litigation and arbitration. For the past six years, he has also been heavily involved in the management of the firm.

What makes his move unusual, Mr Brodie agrees, is that it is happening at 55, not 30. 'But in one way, it's far easier for someone at my stage of life to do this because I have no children at school or university. I am not faced as younger people are with a crunching mortgage. I have a degree of independence that comes from spending a lot of years in a successful practice,' he says.

He adds that there is nowadays an increasing tendency for people to embark on second and even third careers. 'I have always thought it likely that I would make a career change at some point in my fifties,' he says. 'Temperamentally, I am not someone who wants to retire. I had got to the stage where I was coming to the end of my term as chairman of the firm. I decided not to put myself forward to continue in the job and to do something different.'

He considered a number of possibilities, including government work, before plumping for the Bar. One of its attractions for him was the independence of its practitioners. For one thing, he says, this means that he will be competing only with himself, and not with 25-year-olds. But it is an ironic choice in some ways, he says, because of his long-held view that the two branches of the profession should come closer together.

Mr Brodie's decision has met two overwhelming reactions. 'My non-lawyer friends think it's wonderful. The lawyers are sharply divided,' he says. 'Some are gloomy, they think I'll be disappointed and some are disturbed by anyone doing something different. The others are very enthusiastic.'

His colleagues at Frere Cholmeley did try to dissuade him from leaving, he says. 'At first they said think again, do you really want to do this? Have a holiday, get that nonsense out of your head, then we'll find something else for you to do, pick what you want. Some people also expressed regret. After that, they were supportive.'

His clients have been enthusiastic. 'The firm has a collegiate culture and the work we do for clients is distributed among the team. The aim is to develop a relationship with clients where they don't feel that the presence of any one partner is the be-all and end-all. That would be dangerous. So the fact that I'm going will not mean that clients are not going to continue to use the firm and be happy with the service.'

Mr Brodie looks back on his working life with Frere Cholmeley as a happy and rewarding time. 'Although I will have made numerous mistakes managing the firm, I am very happy with the way it has developed, particularly in Europe.'

Another development has been the firm's recent move to an attractive new building in John Carpenter Street. 'It is ironic that I am leaving immediately after the shift, as I have promoted the move for years,' Mr Brodie says.

'But now I feel I need to do something different, something that makes the sap rise. Part of me says if you are prepared to roll the dice in these difficult financial times, why not do nothing, travel the world. But I suspect that paradise stretching into infinity loses its savour.

'I'm sure I will have a great deal to get used to and I will miss many people. But I'm lucky to embark on a new career at this time in my life. I may fall on my face but perhaps that's a risk you have to take.'

(Photograph omitted)

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone