New Zealand Law Society - Sophie Gilmour – from law to entrepreneur

Sophie Gilmour – from law to entrepreneur

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Why did you study law?

It was actually by process of elimination – I wasn’t a Maths/Science student and I loved English and History but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career. I remember being thrilled to be invited into second year and relieved to have survived that year, so I just kept going and before I knew it, I was finished!

What prompted you to get involved with the New Zealand Law Society Auckland Branch Young Lawyer Committee?

I completed my last year of law at the University of Copenhagen on exchange with a friend Henry Moore and he roped me in to start the Young Lawyer Committee with him. My penchant for organising parties would have made it very easy to get me over the line!

Sophie Gilmour

You are a co-founder of Bird on a Wire, what prompted you to move from law to hospitality?

I had always worked in hospitality part-time job at school and university, and I actually continued moonlighting at Ponsonby Road Bistro throughout my first and second year at Kensington Swan. I love the energy of restaurants and the industry seems better suited to my (extroverted) personality than the law. I jumped ship from a Junior Barrister role into Bird On A Wire because we learned very quickly that it needed time and attention from us as young rookie owners if it were to have a chance at success.

What are some of the things your learned from law that were useful in your business?

Professional communication is actually a rare skill that I learned when practising law. Understanding how to interpret legal documents is useful in business – I hadn’t recognised that it’s a language unto itself. Negotiation and persuasion also helpful in business of course!

Would you encourage your children to study law?

I wouldn’t have admitted this at the time when I left, but I would. I used to disagree when people said law was useful for other things, but over time I have certainly called on the skills I learned during that time.

What are some of the ways of moving the economy forward during these difficult times?

Spending your dollars with the businesses you would like to see survive and succeed after this tough time.

Any tips for lawyers looking to switch careers?

Take the leap before you’re too well paid or it will feel like a fall from grace! I have always been grateful I jumped before I had a mortgage or children or become accustomed to a big salary, it would have been much more difficult otherwise.

What is your favourite cuisine? Most inspiring countries for food ideas?

That’s a difficult one which is a bi-product of how we are lucky to live in New Zealand and eat the way we do. It would have to be a close competition between Malaysian and Italian food, but Vietnam was the best food holiday of my life. Delicious!

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