Corporate Lawyer, Author and Legal Entrepreneur – Suzanne Dibble – S4E5

In this episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast, our host Robert Hanna is joined by Suzanne Dibble. 

Suzanne is currently a legal entrepreneur and renowned author. She’s had a distinguished career working both in-house and in private practice, at a number of well-known multinational firms.  

She started her high-flying career at DLA Piper, where she had a memorable 6-month secondment working for Virgin Management under Richard Branson. She later worked at ITV as Senior Legal Counsel, where she rubbed shoulders with the stars alongside jointly leading the digital switchover contract (which was worth £1 billion and was move which influenced the entire UK TV industry). 

After a successful stint at Hamptons International, where she was on the board as Legal Director, she went solo and began her entrepreneurship journey. She set up the Small Business Legal Academy, which has now helped tens of thousands of UK small businesses stay compliant. She also wrote a book, ‘GDPR for Dummies’, which became an No.1 Amazon Bestseller. 

Topics discussed include:

  • Her background and the challenges she faced as a DLA Piper trainee
  • Her memories of working with Richard Branson at Virgin Management
  • Highlights of her time working as Senior Legal Counsel for ITV and as Legal Director for Hamptons International
  • Why she set up the Small Business Legal Academy
  • What inspired her to write her book, and why it became such a hit


Robert Hanna (00:00):

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast! I’m your host, Rob Hanna. This week, I’m delighted to be joined by Suzanne Dibble. Suzanne is a multi-award-winning business lawyer and the Founder of Small Business Legal Academy, a business which helps small businesses legally protect themselves in a simple and affordable way. Suzanne is also the author of GDPR For Dummies, an Amazon number-one bestseller, which provides a clear and simple approach to how small business owners can comply with complex general data protection regulations. Suzanne previously worked as an associate with DLA Piper. During this time, she was seconded to Virgin management and worked for Richard Branson. She has also worked as Senior Legal Counsel at ITV dealing with numerous high profile deals. So a very, very warm welcome Suzanne!

Suzanne Dibble (00:49):

Thanks for having me, Rob! Delighted to be here.

Robert Hanna (00:52):

A real pleasure to have you on the show! So before we dive into all your amazing achievements and legal experiences today, we do have a customary icebreaker question. So, on the scale of one to 10, 10 being very real, how real would you rate the reality hit series Suits in terms of its reality?

Suzanne Dibble (01:11):

I do love Suits, actually, I have to say I have a massive crush on Harvey. And actually in that regard, it was quite similar to DLA Piper because I worked with a corporate partner called Bob Bishop, who is the spitting image of Harvey in Suits and has all the same mannerisms as well. So in that regard it was believable. Actually, the other thing that was believable was, was the long hours certainly had a good, uh, fair share of that. In terms of the glamour, there was no way that I looked like any of the women in that series at all. Um, in terms of the interest of the cases., absolutely not. And in terms of the, um, I think the way that, that particularly Harvey’s approach to negotiations, I think, uh, we certainly didn’t see any of the unethical approaches that he took, but it’s a fantastically entertaining representation of a corporate department in a law firm and I loved watching it!

Robert Hanna (02:05):

There you go. There you go. So would you give it a sort of mid, mid five or less?

Suzanne Dibble (02:09):

Five or six, yes.

Robert Hanna (02:11):

Good, I love that! That you had a kind of near, kind of life suits experience from your time in practice, but let’s start at the beginning then. So tell us, firstly, a bit about your family background and upbringing.

Suzanne Dibble (02:22):

Gosh, uh, so I was very lucky. I went to private school based in the Northwest and less lucky in terms of the career advice there, which was very narrow-minded. It was either if you were good at science, you were going to be a doctor. And if you weren’t good at science, you were going to be a lawyer. That was it. So as you can probably imagine, I wasn’t good at science and I was very much, uh, stayed down the legal route. Uh, so I did placements, uh, you know, a little from a very local law firm in, in the little village that I lived in Warrington in Stockton Heath when I was about 16. Um, I liked it because the partner drove the flashiest car that I’d seen in Stockton Heath, so I was very impressed by that. I seem to remember, I’d love to have some story about how I, you know, had, had a really team sense of, of justice and things like that.

Suzanne Dibble (03:11):

But no, I was actually attracted by the partner’s flashy car. Um, and it didn’t put me off, you know, I was interested in it. And from then on I, I chose A-levels (that) were complimentary to, to a law degree. Um, I went and did a law degree at Sheffield university, um, and then law school at Nottingham and did a placement in all the usual city law firms. And, um, and, and ultimately was just on that sort of traditional legal path. There was nothing at all exotic about my arrival in the law, I’m afraid to say. It was a very, I wasn’t gonna say, it’s a tough journey, but back then, you know, this was, this was sort of 96. It was tough, but I think people probably today have it even tougher. I think there’s probably more competition and there’s more expectation than there was then saying that. I know that for the training contract at DLA Piper that I secured, I know there were 1600 applicants for every place.

Suzanne Dibble (04:08):

We have to give a presentation to a panel of partners, um, and various of the aptitude tasks. So it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park to get that job, but I imagine it’s, it’s harder today. And then yeah, did my training contract and actually the Manchester office of, of DLA Piper and then moved down to London on qualification. And, um, I have to say, you know, it was, it was the right law firm for me. I loved my time at DLA Piper. I still think of it. I still talk about it as ‘we’ even though I left in 2006, but it was very instrumental in my legal career.

Robert Hanna (04:42):

Okay. So that’s interesting! Let’s build on from that, because you mentioned DLA because before running your own business, you’re a corporate lawyer. Um, I believe mainly working on private equity and private company matters. So what was that like, what experiences did that provide you with?

Suzanne Dibble (04:57):

Yeah, it was, it was fascinating when I was a trainee in Manchester. I was, I wouldn’t say running, but I was the number two, there was the partner and myself on a hundred million pound deals, which was fantastic experience. And I loved the, uh, the cuts and thrusts of it. I love the fact that it was the kind of deals that you’d be reading about on the front pages of the FT or financial sections of the newspapers. Uh, it was, it was very exciting for, uh, you know, ultimately I was (in my) mid twenties, uh, some great life experience. I was in room full of, yeah, sort of 30 middle-aged men with me negotiating with those men. And it was, taught me lots of lessons. Um, yes, I experienced some sexism. The best was when I went to a meeting when I was a trainee shook the, and I like to think of myself as a confident and assertive young lady, put my hands out to shake the hands of the client.

Suzanne Dibble (05:49):

And he gave me his coat rolled up and shake my hand. And no, the obvious assumptions that I was there to make the tea and things like that. But, you know, I think as a general comment, I never really felt at a disadvantage because I was a woman. And, um, I, I think of them as very humorous examples, but I didn’t feel that there was any discrimination within, within the firm. Great experience in terms of project management. I was project-managing deals across multiple jurisdictions with hundreds of professionals, um, working on those deals, exposure to multi-national board level-clients from a very early age and being seconded to work with Richard Branson was fantastic. It’s always great to have a celebrity story to break up the monotony of a legal career and, and to be able to go to parties at his home in Holland Park, we went for dinner, just four of us to a restaurant just off of Kings Road.

Suzanne Dibble (06:42):

We went clubbing after that. So to have these stories about such a legendary entrepreneur, particularly with what I’m doing now, working with entrepreneurs and small businesses, they would literally eat their right arm off to have any kinds of face-to-face contact with Richard Branson and say, for me to have, have had that contact and to have known him was it was a fantastic experience. And, and again, the way that that word was, it was that very first secondment at Virgin. And I was up against, I can’t remember exactly how many, but it was a good number of, um, lawyers from other law top law firms. So, Allen, certainly Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters Freshfields, and I don’t know what I did in the interview, but they liked me and I was their very first, um, secondee and got to work on some really very interesting matters and very broad ranging as well.

Suzanne Dibble (07:29):

Uh, you know, because of the diverse nature of the Virgin Group I was doing a deal in that they had the Balloons, Virgin Balloons company at the time. So I was doing, I was doing a deal on that airline in Australia, I was looking at all of their new venture capital proposals that were coming in because they had quite a large venture capital team within Virgin Management. They have hundreds a day of people, you know, writing like, would Richard like to partner with me on X, runs my idea and that, but they did take, you know, quite a few of those through and actually invested in those, um, partnered with the Virgin Brand, so seeing that process was eye-opening as well! I always say, when people ask me, why did you become an entrepreneur? I think it really was from that time of Virgin, where I got very excited about the whole entrepreneurship world and seeing what was possible and just seeing the Virgin emphasis on making the consumer experience better.

Robert Hanna (08:22):

I love that, and what an incredible accolade to, to, to achievey And I guess that was going to be my next question in terms of, you know, obviously being seconded through Virgin, working with Richard Branson, what was the one key learn you would take from that experience? You said that obviously gave you your entrepreneurial bug, which is great, but is there anything from that particular experience, thinking from the legal side for maybe lawyers listening in that you’ve gone from being so close to a serial, you know, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs of all time?

Suzanne Dibble (08:48):

Certainly! In terms of managing people, he was one of the best because what his real skill was, was in finding the best people, and then letting them get on with it and empowering them to get on with it. And then what he did alongside that was really lift the brand. So, I mean, we all know that the old, the public facing things that he’s done, all the publicity stunts that he’s done, here’s the brand to an extent, but when we went out to dinner at a very small and intimate restaurant in Chelsea, somebody across the way on, on the table next to us, saw him and started chatting and he could have been, you know, he could have shut them down and said, well, actually, I’m here on a private dinner. Actually within 20 minutes, the entire restaurant had pulled up a chair around our tables and Richard was regaling them with stories of the Virgin Brand.

Suzanne Dibble (09:38):

And I think if anybody hadn’t have been a fan of the Virgin brand before that night, they certainly would have been after. And he did that in everything that I saw. Um, and he really did lift the brand. So they were probably the two things that I took away from him in terms of how that legal’s function, um, was built. Um, it was, it was lean and mean actually, you know, at the time I was there, Helen, Helen, the summer hall, um, who’s still a great friend was, was the Group Counsel. She did a fantastic job, but then probably a few, a few years after I left, um, she moved to Paris and Josh Bayliss, uh, took over. And he’s obviously now CEO of the entire group, which is fantastic for a lawyer to have taken those steps because it’s not that common that that happens, somebody who goes in as an in-house, he was the general counsel of the group, but then very quickly actually was promoted to CEO with the whole Virgin Group. But yeah, it was a very lean and mean team. It was, it was me and Helen there in the head office and then probably one or two in each of the larger group companies. So for the size of the group and for everything they did really, it was, it was efficient. It was, it was lean.

Robert Hanna (10:48):

Okay. That’s really interesting actually, cause you probably would have thought the opposite, so thanks for sharing that! Okay. So it doesn’t stop there. You’ve also worked for some other really impressive companies and you were previously Senior Legal Counsel at ITV. So what exactly did that entail? And what would you say was the most interesting part of that role?

Suzanne Dibble (11:08):

Yes, so I left work at ITV again, mainly because you have brushes with celebrities in the left! So, you know, chats with them can lift, brighten up your morning. As I said there, my time with Victoria Wood; I chatted with, um, Ricky Gervais, regular contacts with celebrities in the lift makes your day. Um, the most interesting thing legally that I worked on was the Digital Switchover Project. So when the TV switched from analog to digital signal, I was the, uh, the only lawyer on that, which was a billion pound deal, the biggest deal that ITV have ever done or probably likely to do – that was a great experience! And, um, and we, I worked very closely with one of the commercial guys they’re called Simon Pitts. He’s now CEO of STV up in Scotland and I tip him for coming back and ultimately being CEO of ITV. He’s a fantastic individual, but to work with him and to have been involved in, and as I say, the only in-house lawyer on, obviously we had the external counsel because it was such a big deal, so just really,us two leading such a key project, not just for ITV, but for the television industry was, uh, was hugely demanding and interesting.

Robert Hanna (12:25):

Yeah, it sounds super interesting, and yeah – it’s not a bad life bumping into good old auntie! There can be more…

Suzanne Dibble (12:31):

He wouldn’t talk to anybody by the way, that’s how you know. You think there’s a big one and a small one, they’re both tiny.

Robert Hanna (12:38):

There you go, there you go!

Suzanne Dibble (12:40):

I moved to Hamptons Estate Agents for a couple of years after ITV, I was headhunted to go there and be their Legal Director and was quickly promoted to be on their main board. And as a result of that, was listed in the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite for two years on the run. I think the only reason I was is because I was under the age of 35 and on the board of they, um, I think they were turning over for like sort of 150 million at the time, something like that. So I think that’s purely the basis on which that was done. And that was fascinating as well. That was my first board experience. And again, gave me some great commercial insights then that sort of journey from pure law over here towards more (of) the commercial side and entrepreneurship. So in 2010 I was pregnant with my first child and I thought, hmm… I want to have more flexibility because even in house, it was a demanding job.

Suzanne Dibble (13:33):

So I thought, right, I’m going to set my own practice. And I really actually wants to start something that was nothing to do with law. But very swiftly came to the conclusion that I didn’t know anything about anything else other than law. So I set up my own legal consultancy and very quickly became oversubscribed to the extent that I was working the same hours as I had been in the city, but for significantly lesser pay. So I thought, well, something’s got to change here. And I was really passionate about helping small businesses, particularly mums like me, who’d left corporate jobs to work around their families, and I wanted to help more people than I was able to do. So I thought, well, I can either expand by taking on lots of lawyers or I can look to put in place of one-to-many model where I could productize my expertise and help more people and keep the costs very affordable, but they’re still getting the legal support that they need.

Suzanne Dibble (14:23):

And I decided on the latter, which I thank my lucky stars for pretty much every day that I wake up because I’m really not the best people manager and you know, who doesn’t love the idea of earning money while you sleep. I certainly liked that when I wake up and check my bank balance and see that it’s grown overnight. And so I put in place the Small Bbusiness Legal Academy, which is effectively an online platform, which has all of the resources that small businesses will need. So things like obviously legal contracts, display them as policies, procedures, video guides, checklists, case studies, ongoing trainings, everything that I can think of that will help them to put the necessary protections in place and an online course that guides them through the kinds of issues that are likely to pop up and how they then deal with them. And what I was hoping is that I can educate and empower small businesses to put protections in place so that they don’t have the problems that I see so many small businesses experience, which is always so much harder, more time consuming, more costly to actually put, right, rather than have the one page document in place that it would ha-e taken to prevent the problem in the first place. Um, so that’s what we did. We set that up in an early iteration actually in 2011, but we put it into the, sort of, the online platform was built in 2013. And yeah, since then we’ve helped tens of thousands of small businesses via that and various social media channels and yeah, we’ve, we’ve lived it. And when we keep putting more in expanding on it, obviously we’ve got ongoing trainings that keeps more business owners up to date with what’s going on and what they need to know. And yeah, it makes me exceptionally happy to be able to help as many small businesses as we can do, um, in a very leveraged way so that, you know, I’m not burning out in the process of doing it or, or having to have huge unwieldy teams that, um, that I’m not brilliant at managing.

Robert Hanna (16:17):

Yeah, I can relate on the, the management pieces as well. So you’re talking my language. I think there’s room for improvement from my side on that, but I love what you’re doing and you’re doing a fantastic job. And I believe you recently ran a five-day ‘Spring Into Action’ challenge to help reinvigorate online businesses. So can you tell us a little bit more about this?

Suzanne Dibble (16:35):

Yes! So I, like I said, I’m all about education and empowerment and I’ve been running my own small business now for 10 years. Um, so I’ve made a lot of mistakes just generally in business. So I wanted to help my small business community by bringing together other experts in the field. So we had four other speakers as well as myself. And it was effectively a free course, a high-value course, but it was free, um, to help small business owners to put things in place. Like, obviously if we had a whole session on the legals, um, but also things on sales, overcoming objections, social media, and how to excite and engage your audience, um, joint venture partnerships, and how to make those work for your business and also how to scale without overwhelm. And we had a fantastic response. We had nearly 2000 businesses registered for that.

Suzanne Dibble (17:24):

Um, the feedback we had was tremendous, and I know that from reading that feedback, but it’s made such a difference to people’s businesses already people by the end of the challenge, there’s only five days. By the end of the challenge, we’re already sharing success stories from what they’d learned and already implemented. So we liked giving back and doing things like that, but we’ll say it was a great opportunity to promote a new product that I was launching off the back of that. And that’s been tremendously successful. What I hope to achieve with tissue, small business scientists, how firstly, why it’s necessary to protect that business and then how it can be very, very easy to do. So if you’ve got the right guidance and the right resources and importantly, how it can be affordable because the studies still show that the majority, the vast majority of small business owners go it alone in terms of legals, they don’t have any support at all. Um, and with the average cost of a problem for a small business owner being nearly 7000 pounds, it’s my mission to educate them as to the risks that they’re taking and then show them how they can very simply and affordably put in place the protections that they need.

Robert Hanna (18:27):

Yeah. And I think, again, once again, it sounds super, super-helpful what you’re trying to do to typically to support that community. So as we’ve been talking about, you know, the Small Business Legal Academy helps small businesses legally protect themselves, but what’s the key piece of advice you would give to anyone thinking about starting their own business, what’s the reoccurring issue that you see that people really should think about, um, before perhaps getting started?

Suzanne Dibble (18:52):

So you’ve got to be really clear on who you’re helping, what their problem is that you’re helping them with and why you, the best person to be helping them say marketing basics, really just making sure that you’ve got that viable product, making sure that you’ve identified your audience and it’s an audience that you can easily reach. I find a lot of people say, but I can help everyone. Well, that’s great, but unless you’ve got a huge marketing budget, you’re not going to be able to find everyone. So to have a marketing niche is really key. And to really understand that nation and understand how they think about things, understand what their problems are, understand what’s important to them and then work out how you can solve those problems and best communicate that to them.

Robert Hanna (19:35):

Yeah, I agree. And I think, you know, I would strongly encourage people to check out what you are doing because it really is supporting right from the start, the small businesses that are trying to get off the ground. So we must also talk about your book, GDPR For Dummies, which has been an Amazon number-one bestseller. So can you tell us a bit more about the book and have you always had a passion for writing?

Suzanne Dibble (19:57):

No. Um, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, uh, I had RSI from typing it. And, uh, my publishers were not very, um, understanding, let’s say when it came to my RSI and deadlines that we were coming up against. And, but the reason that it came about was because I obviously on top of my small business community, since I set up my legal academy and GDPR came into force or was coming into force in May 2018 and towards the start of 2018, I started to see that there were lots of questions about it in various Facebook groups and people – not legal Facebook groups, just business Facebook groups, and people were answering the questions about it without any knowledge whatsoever of GDPR or the law. And, and, and nine times out of 10, we’re giving incorrect answers and people were just taking that on face value.

Suzanne Dibble (20:53):

And a number of times I had to step in and say, that’s absolutely not the case. And I just realized that there was nobody really serving the small business community in terms of demystifying GDPR, which at the end of the day is a very complex regulation. And what I found was that actually GDPR is obviously building on an already existing data protection framework, but most of all business owners have no idea it was all about it. It was only really because of the increased major exposure and the increased fines that it became an issue for small business owners. So I found that they were very confused as to what to do. They didn’t understand the basics. So on the 28th of February 2018, I can remember that moment very clearly, I was walking the dog in cops, I thought, right? How can I help these people? And at that point, I committed to post a video a day for 90 days, which was the period of time until the GDPR came into force from that point.

Suzanne Dibble (21:48):

And I did that. I formed a Facebook group. It very quickly grew to 40000 members or within a couple of months. And I pasted a video a day with the aim of really breaking it down and making it really accessible for small business owners. And it was all free, obviously that was a massive help to so many small businesses. We produced a GDPR pack off the back of that. And that made me a lot of money, which was very nice, but it wasn’t really the reason that I set the group up. I just want it to help small business owners know more about this, this subject. And it really annoyed me that they were going, they’re getting free advice to people who knew nothing about it and were generally just the people that shouted the loudest in networking groups. Um, so, so that was a great success.

Suzanne Dibble (22:30):

And then about six months later, I thought, well, the group is great, but what I think people need is a, just a really comprehensive resource that they can cause underline bits, they can flag a bit so they can go back to it just, it’s easier to access than all of the video guides. And so I approached Wiley, who do the, the Dummies, uh, series of books and, um, said, you know, how about it? And they bit my hands off. Um, they previously actually been in touch with me out of the blue to ask me to write the Dummies’ Guide To Law For Small Business. And I said no to that. And actually Clive Rich of LawBite ended up writing that one. So I just reached out to my contact, who’d initially made contact with me and said, how about it? And they said, yes. And so, yeah, we, we finished it about a bit (later), we got a really detailed table of contents together. I mean it’s 443 pages long. It’s weighty, and it’s, it’s big pages with small writing on it, but we wanted to make it comprehensive. And obviously the reason I was keen on partnering with the Dummies Brand is because they are all about taking complex subjects and making it so easy that anyone can understand it. I did it for small businesses, but actually what I’ve been really surprised by is the number of data professionals and DPOs who bought it and have just emailed me out of the blue to say what a great resource, thank you so much for writing this. So I think at the last count we’ve had 195 reviews on Amazon and the vast majority, I’d say 90% of those have been five-star. Um, and, um, and yeah, I’m really pleased that I wrote it. I know it’s been an enormous help to so many people, but it did kill me. And if you asked me if I would write another one, the answer is probably no.

Robert Hanna (24:16):

Well, at least you’re honoured, but testaments all the hard work you put into this success you’ve been receiving, so thanks for that! And as we mentioned, you are a business lawyer, you set up your own company, author of a book, you know, on your own website, you run a blog, you provide all these free resources. Now, how do you manage it all? And what do you put your success down to?

Suzanne Dibble (24:35):

It’s a good question. Um, I think we’ve, we’ve helped is the answer. Um, so obviously I’ve, I’ve had two children during that time and, um, and that’s been hard to juggle everything, but my mum lives close by. She was an incredible support in the early days. My husband’s very supportive. Um, I had a full-time nanny, I’ve got housekeeper, you know, I’ve got a team because I really, I think it’s my tribe to help more people together with a team that believe in me and who are great at what they do. That’s, that’s how I’ve been able to juggle it all.

Robert Hanna (25:09):

Yeah, no, I love that. I think you can’t do it with the right support and infrastructure around you. So I love that you shared that. Okay. and finally, as a female business owner, someone who has successfully moved out of the corporate well to their own business, do you think women are currently reaching their full potential in terms of leadership positions of power?

Suzanne Dibble (25:28):

It’s a very interesting question. I was very ambitious about climbing the ranks of DLA Piper in my twenties. I had my eye on the managing partner role, I was on the fast track to partnership and ultimately it got to a point where there were two pivotal things on why I left the law firm. One is I was 30 and wanted to have children. There were no real female role models, certainly in the corporate department at that time who had children. Um, in fact there was one female partner who had a young son and I heard her on the phone on a Monday night saying “Don’t cry, darling, I’ll see you on Friday.” And that memory has stayed with me all these years. And indeed, one of the reasons that I was thinking that it’s just not going to be what I want. I don’t want to have a full-time nanny where I never and never see the kids.

Suzanne Dibble (26:19):

Yes. I’ve had a full-time nanny, not all the time over the past 10 years and in parts of that time, but I’ve been around as well to see the kids. And I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck in a law firm and never see my family. So that was one issue. The other issue was, was down to health and I was just getting recurring minor illness after minor illness. And one of the partners at the law firm actually suggested I should go and see doctor and the doctor did all the blood tests and all the checks. And talk to me about my lifestyle and said, well, you’re lucky. There’s nothing wrong with you now, but you really need to take this as a wake-up call and start doing things differently, or you will have something that will be a serious problem for you.

Suzanne Dibble (27:00):

And this was in the backdrop of two of the corporate lawyers, one had been off on long-term sick and suffering with (an EA) and the other, another one had a similar, similar illness. So it was, it was not, um, you know, I was certainly on my mind, I didn’t want to drive myself to the point of that and, and really burnout. Um, so both of those things really just made me evaluate what I wanted in life. And, um, and I took the, what was at the time, a very big step too, because I loved that job. I absolutely loved it, I left the firm and, and I loved it, but those two things, the health side and the ‘not being able to spend time with my family’ side really were instrumental in me thinking it’s just not going to work as a career for me. Now I don’t know if it’s changed, you know, this was, this was sort of 15 years ago. And has it changed? I don’t know. Maybe there’s less need to spend as much time in the office. I don’t know if that’s changed. Maybe it’s, you know, there’s more family-friendly, flexible working arrangements. I don’t know. I suspect it’s still incredibly difficult if I’m being perfectly honest.

Robert Hanna (28:05):

Yeah, I think it is a little bit, but I also think this pandemic has been a wake-up call that it can’t stay like that…

Suzanne Dibble (28:11):

Let’s hope so, because I think if those two things hadn’t been pressing, which ultimately both the health side was, you know, due to the hours, it was due to the fact that if you didn’t have time to eat, right, there was no time to exercise, it was incredibly high pressured. It was all due to the, just the, the fact that you were expected to work around the clock, if that’s what it took, you know, and I think you’ve got to, law firms have got to be better at managing client relationships and putting their people first and saying, that’s it, you know, that’s just not sustainable for us. That’s not how we do business. And what I love now about being my own boss is I have the ultimate flexibility and the ultimate freedom, and I do whatever I want to do if I want to, when I get up in the morning, if I want to do something, I’ll do it. And if I don’t, I won’t and I’m, and I just absolutely love that. I think I’m actually unemployable now because I wouldn’t trade that for anything really. So yeah, it’s, um, I hope that it will, it will change, but ultimately, whilst, whilst women don’t even think about it, we physically have the children. We generally want to be the ones that are there for the children when they’re younger. And, um, and say there’s always going to be that inherent inequality. If you like in, in terms of, um, being able to progress through a traditional law firm. I know some women who’ve gone back to it after a career break, some actually have done it incredibly successfully, and haven’t really, they don’t seem to have missed a rung on the ladder. They’ve, they’ve gone back in at a high level, but I think that very and far between certainly all of the women that I went to law school with, and we were, we all had jobs at top city law firms.

Suzanne Dibble (29:47):

There’s about 10 of us. None of us are working in those law firms now. And some of them have been teaching assistants, some of working at home part-time for in-house for certain companies as a lawyer, as a lawyer, but none of them are in those, those roles anymore. So it’s, it’s a shame because such talent, um, and I’m sure the legal industry could, could really do with that talent and that investment that’s been made in that careers. But until there is no longer that presenteeism in the office and the attitude of we’ll work as many hours as it takes to keep the client happy. I don’t think that’s going to change.

Robert Hanna (30:23):

Yeah. And you, you touched on so many points that I, I relate to as well as I’m a business owner and just testament to your values, family first, health is wealth, look after yourself. ‘Cause, if you can’t look after yourself, you can’t look after your clients or anybody else; and flexibility, you know, it’s on your terms. So it’s a risk and you know, but the risk does equal the reward if you put in and you’re passionate about what you do. So you talk all of my language on that, and that really brings to a lovely close our, our discussion, Suzanne. It’s been lovely learning a lot more about your career and all the amazing from celebrities to high profile, legal work to your own business and tons and tons of success. So if people want to follow or get in touch about anything we’ve discussed today, what’s the best way for them to do that? Feel free to shout out any web links or relevant social media. And we’ll also ensure that we share with this episode for you.

Suzanne Dibble (31:09):

Yeah, the best way is probably on Instagram, actually. I’m trying to build my Instagram account after years of neglecting it. So it’s only been in the last couple of months that we’re actually doing anything with it, but I’m enjoying it as a platform. And it’s a natural follow on from clubhouse where I believe, I don’t know if that’s still the case because I’ve had a period of absence from it, but I do believe that I have the most followers of any UK lawyer. So, um, so that’s still the case I’ve got there, nearly 11,000 followers on clubhouse, um, in, in literally a couple of months, which is fantastic. So yeah, so Instagram, you can follow me. It’s just @suzannedibble on Instagram and, uh, that’s probably the best place. Um, and then you can obviously private message me through Instagram. I do keep an eye on my, my DMs. Uh, so yeah, that’s probably probably the best place. And you can see more about me on my website,

Robert Hanna (31:58):

Fantastic! Well, thank you so so much, Suzanne, it’s been a real pleasure having you on the show, wishing you lots of continued success with all of your entrepreneurial and legal pursuits, but from all of us on the show over and out!

Robert Hanna (32:09):

Every week, we’re going to read a review from Apple Podcasts. This week’s review comes from Stephie(dot)57. Stephie says perfect podcast for law students and beyond to get engaged with the legal world, really helps you kickstart thinking about law in practice and bridge the gap from academics to the real world. 10 out of 10. Thanks so much for a fantastic review, Stephie! It really means a lot to all of us who produce the show and motivates to keep bringing you the very best quality podcast. Make sure to leave the podcast a review on Apple Podcasts, if you want a chance to be given a shout-out next week!

Robert Hanna (32:50):

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast! If you enjoyed the show and want to help support us, remember to leave us a rating and review on Apple iTunes. you can also support the show and gain exclusive benefits bonus content and much more by signing up to our Patreon page, which is Thanks for listening!


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