Life Before Law: David Brescia

What did you do before you studied law?

As an undergraduate I studied History at the University of Oxford. I interned at several think tanks, then after a couple years working in the business relations team for a political party, I went into business.

Did you have a career prior to becoming a trainee lawyer?

Before joining Birketts, I worked for ten years as Chief of Staff to an ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneur in his family office in Mayfair. In that role I gained a great deal of commercial and paralegal experience in the business’s operations including real estate investment, construction and development, commercial and residential lettings, M&A, natural resources including a timber harvesting operation in Russia, and a British fashion brand.

What motivated you to think of law as a career?

About 50% of my workload at my previous job was law-related: primarily contract preparation (construction and leases), employment law and intellectual property, but also carrying out evidence research, interviewing witnesses and assisting lawyers and counsel with putting together our company’s defence or claims for several lengthy litigation cases. I most enjoyed the legal-related aspects of my job; therefore, training to become a qualified solicitor felt like the natural career progression.

What have been the positives of choosing law?

I appreciate the structured training and clear path for career progression. It is also nice working for a firm with excellent IT resources, which make legal research and case management very efficient and productive, so that one spends less time on admin and more time adding value to clients.

It must have been hard starting again, how did you keep yourself focussed and motivated?

I was motivated by the pleasant discovery that many of the concepts I was studying on the PGDL and LPC course were already somewhat familiar to me from my previous career experience – especially in my elective modules of Commercial Law & Intellectual Property, Advanced Commercial Property, and Employment Law.

Why did you choose Birketts?

Having spent nearly 30 years in London, I was keen to try life at a regional firm. Birketts stood out as a dynamic and growing full-service law firm, with Tier 1 rankings for its region in the practice areas that I am most interested in. Birketts has an excellent reputation for its teams in Employment Law, Corporate and Commercial Law, and Commercial Property, as well as for its quality of training generally. I was also impressed by how friendly everyone I met at Birketts was, during the interview and vacation scheme.

What advice would you give someone thinking of making the same move?

As a career changer, you will probably find you get the same interview questions from most of the law firms you apply to: ‘Why are you changing careers at this particular moment?’ ‘Why law?’ ‘Will you have any difficulty adjusting from formerly a senior position to starting again as a trainee?’ So have answers ready for those.

What does your previous experience bring to Birketts and its clients?

Having a ready appreciation for the business context of many of the matters brought to us by clients helps in understanding their issue and being able to give commercially pragmatic advice. For an area like Tax Law – my current seat – having a breadth of experience across multiple business sectors (including real estate and M&A) is particularly helpful in enabling me to quickly understand the facts of the client’s transaction, so I can focus on the legal research side.

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