How to Quit Big Law and Become a Business Owner – Laura Brunnen – S5E2

This week on the Legally Speaking Podcast, our host Robert Hanna welcomes Laura Brunnen. Laura is the founder and director of ‘The Legal Strategist Limited’ a B2B legal consulting and education business in which she brings expert ‘big business’ legal advice to new and growing businesses.

In 2017, Laura became the first woman to lead the winning private equity team of the year at the British Legal Awards and in the same year founded ‘The 1973 Club’, a social network for women in private equity. If this wasn’t impressive enough Laura is a speaker and advocate for gender equality and in her spare time is an avid baker!

In this episode, she discusses the following:

  • Her experiences working as a private equity partner at ‘Reed Smith’
  • Her experiences in transitioning to building her own start up ‘The Legal Strategist Limited’
  • What are the advices she can give to anyone thinking of starting their own business
  • Creating a social network for women in private equity – ‘The 1973 Club’
  • The benefits of having women in leadership positions

Show notes

Here are 3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Listen to Laura’s experience working as a private equity partner at global law firm, ‘Reed Smith’.
  2. How to create a social network and the benefits of having women in leadership positions.
  3. Learn about starting your own business.


Episode highlights:

Laura’s background:

  • Laura went to her local state comprehensive school.
  • She was the first in her family to do her GCSE’s, A-Levels and go to university.
  • She started her career with Slaughter and May, in 2000.
  • In 2007, she worked at Kirkland and Ellis as a public M&A takeover code specialist.
  • She turned herself into a private M&A specialist whilst at Kirkland and Ellis.

Laura’s start-up – The Legal Strategist Limited:

  • Laura had been a corporate M&A lawyer in the city for 20 years before her start-up.
  • There were many things which frustrated her and she wanted to make decisions for herself, so set up her company.
  • She has kept her own personal regulation as a solicitor.
  • The company has 2 arms:
  • The 1st is a M&A shareholder investment advisory work. This includes buying, selling, running and restructuring companies.
  • The 2nd is the business side. Laura is building an online programme to put small business owners through. This is to equip them with everything they need to know and understand regarding a business.
  • The Legal Strategist Limited has clients from law firms and new clients from LinkedIn.

Advice for starting your own business:

  • Spend some time working out all the areas of your business you need to cover.
  • Learn how to market, how to use LinkedIn more effectively and what you need to do on Instagram to build a brand.
  • What is your name going to be? What is your logo? What fonts are you going to use? This is part of your visual branding.
  • Your actual branding includes who you are, what you stand for, who your client is, what you talk about and how you talk about it.
  • Figure out different components of your business and what you should outsource.
  • Work out what the minimum you need to get started and just go for it.

Free resources Laura offers with The Legal Strategist Limited:

  • A free discovery call. They are between 20 – 30 minutes long.
  • During the call, you can ask as many questions as you like and discuss issues around setting up a business.
  • With Laura’s consultancy, she also offers 30 – 45-minute discussions.
  • Laura is offering a guide – ‘how to apply for your UK trademark’.

Laura has been featured in:

The 1973 Club:

  • A social network for women in private equity.
  • The aim is to get to know other private equity associates in an informal environment.
  • The Club done their launch at Burberry and another event at a Mayfair Jewellers.
  • They have also had trips to places like an Art Gallery.
  • The Club has partnered with a charity called Child’s i Foundation.

The benefits of having women in leadership positions:

  • Women possibly try to understand the other point of view a bit more.
  • They will adapt to responses and deal with other people, depending on what they’re like.
  • Women in leadership sometimes need too much consensus and care too much about everyone being happy.
  • It’s about having diversity of voices because we all can learn from each other.
  • More diverse organisations are more profitable.

Advice to young women entering the legal profession in 2021 and beyond:

  • Be clear in who you are and what you are interested in.
  • Get as much experience as possible.
  • Learn from as many people as you can.
  • Try and get a real sense of what drives you and interests you.
  • If you’re going to be in this career for the next 20, 30, 40 years, it’s got to be doing something you love.
  • Do not just do it for the perceived prestige or for the money because one day that will not sustain you.

5 powerful quotes from this episode:

  1. “…your brand is not about your fonts and your logos and your colours, that’s your visual branding. It’s about what you stand for, who you are, who your client is, how you speak, what you talk about, how you talk about it”.
  2. “…another way of saying done is better than perfect, and is one of the phrases I keep seeing”.
  3. “I want to build something because the ultimate goal is to have a business that is more than me, and can run without me”.
  4. “…diversity of voices and different thoughts and different ways of dealing with people because we all can learn from each other, you know, no one’s perfect”.
  5. “your business it’s like it’s made more money, if you sort of more open to bringing in different people to the table”.

If you wish to connect with Laura, you may reach out to her via her Website, LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook

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To learning more about the exciting world of law, Robert Hanna and the Legally Speaking Podcast Team.


00:00 Rob Hanna:

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by Laura Brunnen. Laura is the founder and director of the legal strategist limited, a B2B legal consulting and education business in which she brings expert big business legal advice to new and growing businesses. Prior to this, Laura worked as a private equity partner at the global law firm Reed Smith, advising on international private equity transactions. In 2017, Laura became the first woman to lead the winning Private Equity Team of the Year at the British legal awards, and in the same year founded the 1973 Club, a social network for women in private equity. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Laura is also a speaker and avid advocate for gender equality in her spare time is a very avid baker. So a very, very warm welcome, Laura.

00:57 Laura Brunnen:

Wow, thank you for that, Rob. Well, I don’t quite recognize myself from that! It’s weird when you hear someone saying it, but thank you very pleased to be here.

01:06 Rob Hanna:

It’s an absolute pleasure. And before we dive into all your amazing achievements and experiences today, we do have a customary icebreaker question here on the legally speaking podcast, which is on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series ‘Suits’ in terms of its reality?

01:27 Laura Brunnen:

Okay, confession time, I’ve only ever seen snippets. Okay, so my rating is going to be based on my snippets and going to have to vote a one. This is because I’ve never come across any partner that looks like or acts like Harvey. And there’s no way, what’s the guy called, Mike? No way he could just sneak in without some sort of proper legal qualification. So that, that always annoyed me that he was able to do that. So I’m going to have to give it a one. But that’s, you know, all legal dramas pretty much, they’re not very accurate, so I can’t really hold it against ‘Suits’ really.

02:04 Rob Hanna:

No, exactly. I think I think one given that, you know, I think it’s pretty unlikely most lawyers are getting in without any form of qualification. So fair, fair comment.

02:15 Laura Brunnen:

And having been in New York law firms and walked around their offices, they are not like that

02:20 Rob Hanna:

Okay, but let’s start at the beginning before we get there. So tell our listeners a bit about your family background and upbringing.

02:28 Laura Brunnen:

Oh, gosh, well, I come from a very ordinary working class family, went to my local state comp, first in my family to do GCSE and A levels. And obviously, then first in my family to go to university.

02:42 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, good stuff. And then you started your career with Slaughter and May. How did you find that period of your life with them?

02:51 Laura Brunnen:

So it’s one of those things, I was talking to someone else about this the other day, because, you know, they were like, did you really comprehend when you were at Slaughters what sort of, you know, blue blood firm you’re in? And I think the answer is not really. So I started at Slaughters back in 2000, so 21 years ago, now. Gosh, totally clueless. I ended up at Slaughters because when I applied for training contracts, there was only one of three firms open to start in autumn 2000. I managed to get through the training contract interview and I turned up and I got in, as I say, totally clueless and you know, training contracts in those days were very different what they are now, you spent a lot of time paginating, proofreading, you know that the sort of the experience that trainees get now as they actually get to sort of work with clients and work on proper transaction documents, you know, that was sort of lightyears away from what we did as trainees. but, you know, Slaughters, you know, is one of these places that has got a bit of reputation. But actually I thought is a very nice, friendly place to work. You know, I can’t think of a bad word to say about anyone to be honest.

04:03 Rob Hanna:

Good, good. And then as I mentioned in my introduction, you previously worked as a private equity partner at Reed Smith with some amazing clients, such as L’Oreal. So what was that like? And what experiences did that provide you with?

04:17 Laura Brunnen:

So I actually started doing projects at Kirkland and Ellis back in 2007 and that was a real contrast. So you know, I spent over six years at Slaughters working for public listed companies doing public m&a takeovers, all that sort of stuff. And I actually went to K and E as a public M&A takeover code specialist. And then, great timing law, that’s when the market fell out. I got to do one from beginning to end and we worked on a couple of others. So I turned myself into a private M&A specialist at K&E and the contrast between the clients was really interesting. So you know, we’re PLC clients, you’re sort of at the top of, the way I describe it is that you’re at the top of like this little gentle, not even a hill, it’s a gentle slope, so just trying to nudge them down the slope. So like, it’s fine, you can do this, there’s no problem, just this is something you can do with, you know, with PDA clients, certainly then it was more, you know, they’re dangling off the edge of the cliff, and you’re desperately, you know, holding on to them by the ankles trying to stop them doing something really stupid. I mean, that’s a bit of a facetious way, and I’m sure my more recent private equity clients would be quite offended to hear private equity described like that. But, you know, it’s just a sort of a fun way of trying to demonstrate the difference between the sort of the client thinking, you know, with the, with the PLC clients it’s all very constrained by things like their listing rules, and, you know, all the public perception and you know, all the quarterly reporting and everything else, as compared with private equity, obviously, where they’ve got a lot more leeway to run the business as they see fit, and so forth. So it’s very, you know, it’s very fast paced doing private equity, I’d say more so in some ways than m&a, the public m&a, public, m&a, tends to have a fixed timetable and you’ve got to do certain things by a certain deadline, and so on and so forth. Whereas if Private M&A, it’s always, like, we’ve got to get this done, get this done now, we’ve got to get this done  yesterday. And, you know, it’s quite funny the amount of times you get heads of terms and or a letter of intent, that would say, right, exclusivity period runs out in six weeks, and we must get the deal signed within six weeks, and you sort of look each other and go ugh. 90% of the time, that never happened, 90% of the time, it probably went on for another six to 12 weeks. But you know, it’s always like this false sense of urgency if that makes sense.

06:42 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, no, and I love it and your career, you’ve always sort of taken on challenges and that’s what brings me on to my next point. So as I mentioned, you’ve also recently began your own startup, the legal strategist limited! Why did you decide to take this transition and tell us a bit more about your exciting company?

07:02 Laura Brunnen:

Okay, so I’ve obviously, I’ve been corporate M&A lawyer in the city for 20 years. There are lots of things that frustrated me about it. And it’s sort of one of those, it’s one of those situations where you think actually, you come to the conclusion, it’s not them it’s me. If that makes sense. And I’ve come to this stage where my career is like, well, I’ve got probably another 20 years of working, there are various things with this way of working in a big law firm, that don’t fit with my personality, and don’t suit me or the way I like to work. And that’s so that’s, you know, that’s not me being derogatory about the big law firms, because obviously, they’ve got a lot going for them, and they work for a lot of people, but I’ve come to, I mean, I’m 45 now. I’ve come to a stage where I sort of understand myself a bit more, and maybe it’d been good if I could have got to that stage a bit earlier. But actually, you know, I want to be able to make those decisions for myself and run things and talk about things in a way, this sounds cheesy, but that’s true to me. And so, you know, I did look at going to one of the virtual law platforms, like Keystone or something, but then I thought, well, actually, why don’t I just do it myself? Because, you know, nowadays, you know, with the deregulation of the legal industry, I’ve set up a company, and I don’t have to be SRA regulated. So all that side, you know, what I do m&a advisory doesn’t have to as it isn’t, isn’t a reserve service or isn’t a reserved activity. So I’ve kept my own personal regulation as a solicitor, but my company doesn’t have to, you know, deal with all the red tape or the overheads that SRA regulation brings with it. And you know, so my company has sort of got two arms to it. So the first arm is sort of m&a shareholder investment advisory work, sort of really building on what I’ve spent the last 20 years doing, which is buying and selling and running and structuring companies. And so I’m working on that with you know, M&A boutiques, I’ve got a couple of ex corporate, you know, corporate, a couple of ex clients from from the law firms, getting some new clients as well from LinkedIn and elsewhere. And that’s sort of the one to one consultancy, advisory work. And then on the other, the other side, which is gonna take a little bit of time to build up is what I’m calling the one to many side of the business, right. And there were nearly, there’s nearly 6 million small medium businesses in the UK. And I can’t remember the numbers off the top of my head but I think I think there were like nearly 700,000 new ones, new companies set up last year in 2020. And you know, the SME market generally feels like it’s not served very well by the legal sector. You know, people have got all these perceptions of lawyers: we’re wordy, we’re expensive, we find problems, we’re pompous, we treat people like idiots. And so there are lots of things that are barriers, or perceived barriers, to sort of smaller businesses using lawyers properly. And so, you know, on that side of the business, I want to build and am building an online program to sort of put run small business owners through, to sort of equip them with everything they need to know and understand with regards to running a business, right. And that sort of plugging a gap, I think, because there are some, obviously, some people can go to lawyers, and they’ll be prepared to spend 5-10 grand setting their business up. Others, understandably, are not. And then you know, there are some people that will go and buy a bunch of templates, or try and Google legal templates from the internet, which just makes me want to weep. So I’m trying to, I’m trying to sort of plug the gap and provide some sort of hybrid products. Because yeah, when I was working out what I wanted to do, one of the things I enjoy, and I think I’m good at is teaching. Which is a bit ironic, but you know, something I’ve done with the junior associates for a long time is mentoring and teaching and so on and so forth. And I thought, how can I translate that to a different market. So now the idea is to teach and educate and help small business owners implement these things to get their businesses in, you know, in a better position than they otherwise would be. And stop those small, annoying things that crop up from time to time, drain your energy, take up a lot of time and distract your focus. So if you’ve got all of that stuff sorted, you can then focus on you know, what you enjoy doing in your business and growing it and building it.

11:54 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, and I just think it’s wonderful what you do, because there is a need. And I think, you know, a lot of small business owners, a lot of startups, you know, are scared, you know, when they hear the word lawyers and legal fees, and you know, whether they can afford it, whether they’re going to get an advisory service, whether there will be left on the shelf. So I think you really do, you know, have a wonderful service offering where people are getting a very high caliber service, but without all of the sort of, you know, the red tape and all the hassle that goes with it. So no, I think it’s wonderful. So really excited to see the journey of the of the company, but on that, what advice would you give to someone about thinking about starting their own business from your own experiences thus far?

12:35 Laura Brunnen:

Spend a bit of time working out what all the areas of your business you need to cover up. So for example, I spent a bit of time learning about marketing and sales and branding, before I launched, because, you know, I learned how to market and how to use LinkedIn more effectively and what you needed to do on Instagram, building a brand. You know, I wrote down oh, what’s my name going to be? What’s my logo, what fonts am I going to use and then I went on a brand program, which was excellent, actually, at the beginning of the year. And she’s like, you know, your brand is not about your fonts and your logos and your colors, that’s your visual branding. But the, the actual branding goes much deeper than that. It’s about what you stand for, who you are, who your client is, how you speak, what you talk about, how you talk about it. So I would say, spend some time figuring out what all the different components of your business are and what you can do yourself and what you need to learn about, and what you should outsource. So for me, I outsource a lot of the tech, I got someone to help me build my website, connect all the widgets together, for one of a better word, because it just stressed me out, it would take so much time and I’d rather you know, spend some money getting someone who knows what they’re doing to do that. So for me, you know, obviously did my own legals, I learned about branding and sales. And I’ve been doing all of that myself. But having educated myself about it,  I’ve obviously outsourced to an accountant, I’ve outsourced the tech. So just sort of think about almost think about your business as in all the different departments and what you need, really and try not to be over ambitious either, just sort of start out with minimum viable products. I’ve got a funny story about this. So back in, this must be in back in June, I was desperately trying to get my, my website ready. And I had some ideas about, you know, certain things that needed to be perfect before I launched because I was a lawyer and I had to show best practice and practice what I preach. And anyway, I was talking to one of my friends who is a, not a web designer, but he knows all about how to put websites together and how, you know, SEO and all that stuff that frankly, I don’t understand. And I was getting stressed out, I was like I’ve got to do all these things on my website, and I’ve got to put this together. And that’s when he said, Laura, who’s gonna look, no one’s gonna care. All right, but it’s, but it’s got to be right. He said, no, no, no one’s gonna care. And by the way, I would delete three quarters of what you’ve written on your homepage, because no one’s going to read it, no one’s going to care. And, you know, when you do launch, there’s probably going to be crickets, or certainly it’s not gonna be as busy as you would like. So use that time to get some of this less important stuff done. So that’s another way of saying done is better than perfect, and is one of the phrases I keep seeing and is winging its way around LinkedIn. So just work out what the minimum you need to get started is and just go for it. Because if you start trying to make sure everything’s absolutely perfect and good to go, you just drive yourself crazy. And you know, and what you think is important might not be important to your customers anyway

16:03 Rob Hanna:     

Such good advice. And, you know, I’ve fallen into that trap myself. And I started my own businesses. And I think, you know, I’d always say, you know, imperfect action over perfect, you know, inaction any day of the week.

17:11 Rob Hanna:

So with the legal strategist, you also very kindly offer a number of free resources. So can you tell our listeners a bit about this? And how they can access them?

17:19 Laura Brunnen:

Well, sure, so a couple of free resources. So I offer a, you know, a free, what I call a free discovery call. Yeah, well, you know, which is, depending on what you’re looking for, is 20 to 30 minutes long. And to be honest, it’s normally a bit longer than that, because I don’t say “Oh 30 minutes is up let’s disconnect”. So you know, I’ve, you know, I’ve helped a lot of people with my free 30 minutes, because, particularly if you’re, you know, if I’m asking you to spend X amount in fees with me, you need to get a sense of, you know, are we going to work well together? Can you understand what I’m saying? So people come to me if they’re thinking about setting up a business, and we can sort of talk around some of the issues that might come up and what they need to think about, just generally with my consultancy, as well, I’ll do a free, you know, half an hour, 45 minutes discussion. And then the other free resource I have at the moment is a guide to how to apply for your UK trademark. So you know, I’m a big advocate of where you can do things for yourself for free, where it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s relatively risk free, then us lawyers shouldn’t be hogging the knowledge and the know-how. With trademarks, you know, for most of us, we only need one or two, we don’t need a whole portfolio of them. And so I’ve put together this resource, which sort of walks you through how to apply for it. And it comes with a couple of videos as well. And then obviously, I’ve got my Instagram account, which is @IamLauraBrunnen, and I often post you know, legal tips and advice there. You know, I’m always happy to hear from people if there’s things they would like me to cover or talk about more, because from, from my perspective, it’s all about demystifying things. You know, I have a myth buster series, a jargon buster series, legal tips. You know, one of my myth busters was ‘does your business have to be a company?’ because everyone’s obsessed with setting up a company and being a company director. And, you know, out of I think, as I said earlier, about 6 million small businesses in the UK, 3.5 million are sole traders, they’re not limited companies. And so should those sole traders be limited companies? Well, maybe some of them should be but you know, there are different ways of structuring your business. And I think people get too hung up on, you know, the whole being a company thing. And then when they do think about being a company, they get worried that there’s a lot of bureaucracy cost and red tape. And again, if you’re a small business, or you know, there’s one or two of you, you can do it relatively, relatively smoothly with not too much bureaucracy or red tape. And, you know, if you’re, if it’s just you, then it’s relatively easy, and there’s not lots of paperwork or filings or anything like that. So I’m just sort of trying to demystify things and sort of say to people, this is important. Yes, that’s important, but you don’t, don’t, you know, don’t lose sleep over these things at night. Like you know, GDPR is a perfect example of that. We all need to get data privacy, right and make sure we’ve got proper policies and processes in place, but don’t get super stressed by it. When you go on the Information Commissioner’s website about fines that have been levied, I think they’ve issued 72 since 2018. And it’s for people that are totally spamming people with like hundreds of 1000s of emails or calls. It’s not fitting most small business owners that have messed up a couple of things. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it and get it right, but try not to get so stressed and, you know, turn it into this huge problem in your head.

21:04 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, you’re absolutely, you’re absolutely right. And you know, on a, on a sort of positive note as well, you’re no stranger to the media, you’ve been featured in The Telegraph, The Lawyer, Bloomberg Law. So tell our listeners, the sort of things you tend to get interviewed for.

21:16 Laura Brunnen:

Well, pre jumping off by myself, I used to just I used to get interviewed, you know, for things to do with m&a tips or what was going on in the m&a market? Or, you know, last year, I think it was last year, last year private equity insights. I was, you know, I was on a panel for top 40 under 40, diversity and inclusion. So, you know, I was I was often asked to comment on things, you know, from a legal perspective. I think back in 2017, I was featured in The Lawyer, you know, as one of the top female, deal makers in the private equity space. And there’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of people on that front cover that, you know, people that, you know, familiar with the PE space will, will recognize that. Yeah, that was quite nice to be featured like that. Since I left and set up by myself, it’s more about why I’ve left, what big law was like, what could be better, how I’m finding life as a startup, you know. I sort of hesitate to use the word, you know, an entrepreneur, because that sounds at the moment, it’s just me, but I do have plans to, I don’t want this just to be a job, Rob. I don’t want this just to be me, churning out legal work by myself for the next 10, 15, 20 years and then I come to retire and the whole business just goes poof, you know. I want to build something because the ultimate goal is to have a business that is more than me, and can run without me. And ultimately, it’s something that I can exit when I decide I don’t want to work anymore.

23:01 Rob Hanna:

Good for you! Good for you. And I’m sure that’s definitely going to happen. I’m excited to see the journey. So you’re also the founder of, as I mentioned in the introduction, the 1973 club, so a social network for women in private equity, tell us a bit more about the network and why you felt the need to create it.

23:19 Laura Brunnen:

So I came up with the idea for that about four and a half years ago, actually, when I just joined Reed Smith and I joined Reed Smith early 2017. And I, you know, as a woman in private equity, you’re used to being one of a few, but it got to the stage where I’m like, this is this is getting a bit ridiculous. I know there are other females in the PE space, but where are they? You know, and you’d go to the main networking events and it was, you know, you were just so outnumbered. And it’s not like most of the chaps were unpleasant or horrible, nothing like that, but you know, you just feel like you can’t quite be yourself, if that makes sense. I you know, I think that the tip of the iceberg, you know, the thing that pushed me over the edge was I worked on a transaction, and I’m being in a meeting and there were 22 of us in this meeting to get this deal done. There were 11 on one side and 11 on our side. And out of the 22 there were two women in the room, me and a senior associate working with me on the deal. The rest of it was blokes, and then a closing dinner for a different transaction. Again, there must have been about 20-25 at this dinner, you know, it was the PE house, the investment bank, the management team, the accountants, you know, you name it, the lawyers, again, it’s even worse actually, I was the only woman. And again, no one, no one’s unpleasant, although it did make me laugh. At the dinner, they did a quiz because we’d sold a business related to cars, I did a quiz about Formula One. And they sort of said at the beginning sorry, Laura. You know, it’s fine. The first question I didn’t know the answer to and my client got the question right, and won a bottle of champagne, and gave it to me, which is so sweet. And then the second question, I got right. And there are a bit like, who’s this? Well, I used to like Formula One, don’t anymore. But anyway, so I but I graciously declined to take my second bottle of wine. But anyway, so that was sort of a long way of saying, I just knew there are other people out there and I’d finally started working with private you know, female principals at the private equity houses and I knew they’re out there. And there was obviously other organizations out there that were level 20, which has been set up by the PE houses themselves, but that was very structured, if that makes sense. And also, it’s more focused on the women in the, in the PE houses rather than the rest of us. So anyway, so I thought I just wanted to so we get to know each other and informal environment. So I put a proof of concept together, went to Reed Smith management, they were very supportive and loved the idea and came up with it. And so you know, the BD team really helped me and we  sort of held two or three events a year, we did fun things. So we started off, we did a launch at Burberry, we did another event at a Mayfair jewelers, we did one at Space NK, we went to an Art Gallery, and it was very lovely. But it was just it’s meant to be fun and relaxing. And we also partnered up with a charity called Childs I foundation. So it was Women Helping Women. And it was, we sort of worked together to help raise money for them as well.

26:57 Rob Hanna:

Brilliant, and so wonderful. And I’m glad about that. And yeah, good for you maybe not taking the second bottle. And what was the question? What was the question? Do you remember?

27:04 Laura Brunnen:

I can’t remember but the answer was Jackie Stewart. I can remember the answer.

27:11 Rob Hanna:

Thanks, good stuff. Okay. And as we discussed earlier, as well, you are a speaker, you’re an advocate for gender equality. And in 2017, you became the first woman to lead the winning Private Equity Team of the Year at the British legal awards. What do you think are the benefits of having women in leadership positions?

27:28 Laura Brunnen:

Well, I mean, we just, you’ve asked me questions I’ve not thought that deeply about Rob. So this is all completely off the cuff. But I, I don’t want to stereotype because we are all different. But I think, I think generally speaking, women possibly try to understand the other point of view a bit more, and try to play the man, if that makes sense, not the ball. So you know, I will adapt how I respond and deal with people, depending on them and what they’re like, and I sort of try and map out, or if they’re going to do this, then maybe I’ll do that, because then they’re more likely to do what I want them to do. Whereas I think, again, very, very generally speaking, I think men in leadership positions tend to sort of just push things through with less concern, you know, they don’t need the consensus. And maybe, maybe, you know, I think sometimes women in leadership, we need too much consensus, and we care too much about everyone being happy. Right. So I think there’s a happy medium to be held there. But also, it’s just, it’s not just about women in leadership, it’s just about people generally being in leadership, you know, the more difference voices there are, and also just there being role models for you know, for kids and young people coming up through the system, and just seeing, you know, people up there and going well, I, you know, they’ve made it, so I, you know, I might have a shot at it too. Whereas if it’s just a bunch of, you know, sorry, sorry, chaps, but you know, white middle aged men. That’s, you know, that’s not very inspiring for a lot of people, unless they happen to be a white man who wants to be a white middle aged man. Well, I’d have thought most young white men would want to be middle aged, but you know what I mean? So it’s, I think it’s just about having, you know, diversity of voices and difference of different thoughts and different ways of dealing with people because we all can learn from each other, you know, no one’s perfect. No one’s got all the answers. And, you know, I think McKinsey did some reports on this. You know, that actually, more diverse organizations are more profitable. Now, I don’t know if that’s, you know, a core causation not correlation. You know, there have been various reports about that. So if you look at it from a more selfish perspective, then you’re gonna make your, your business it’s like it’s made more money, if you sort of more open to bringing in different people to the table.

30:07 Rob Hanna:

Really well said, and I couldn’t agree more. And finally, before we wrap up, what advice would you give to young women entering the legal profession in 2021? And beyond?

30:16 Laura Brunnen:

I’d say be clear in who you are, and what you’re interested in, get as many experiences as you can, learn from as many people as you can, but try and get a real sense of what drives you and what interests you. Because you know, if you’re going to be in this career for the next 20, 30, 40 years, it’s got to be doing something you love. Don’t just do it for the perceived prestige or for the money because one day that won’t sustain you.

31:05 Rob Hanna:

I couldn’t agree more. And if people want to follow or get in touch with you about anything we’ve discussed today, what’s the best way for them to do that? Feel free to shout out your website links or relevant social media. We’ll also make sure we share them with this episode for you as well.

31:19 Laura Brunnen:

I think the best place is probably to find me on LinkedIn. So I’m the only Laura Brunnen I’ve ever found on the internet. So look for Laura Brunnen on LinkedIn. I also have a website I’m also on Instagram @iamlaurabrunnen because although I’m the only Laura Brunnen, someone else has nicked Laura Brunnen on Instagram, even though she’s called Laura Bruneli. I’m like, give me my name back!

31:51 Rob Hanna:

Instagram challenges! But there we go, thank you so much, Laura, for coming on the show. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on wishing you lots of continued success, with the legal strategist limited and everything you’ve got planned for the future but from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast over and out.


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