Twobirds trainees leave behind war and wickets

Two Bird & Bird trainees turned their backs on their jobs in the armed forces and the world of sport to carve out successful careers in law.

First-year trainee Peter Lee ­managed not only to pursue a career as an officer in the Army, but also put himself through a four-year law degree with the Open University – and even studied for some of it in Iraq.

The 32-year-old, who was ­sponsored to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) by Bird & Bird, said: “My interest in the law developed during my first tour of duty in Iraq. My unit was responsible for a town near Basrah where Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party had controlled anyone in authority, including the judges and lawyers. These people were removed from their positions and we were involved in rebuilding the legal system in the region.”

Lee added that, although retraining for a new career was risky, the skills he picked up in the Army have proven useful for law.

“A sense of perspective has been helpful,” he said. “Occasionally, when a piece of work becomes stressful, it’s useful to be able to step back and remember that, although it’s important, it’s not a life and death situation.”

Professional cricket player turned trainee Paul McMahon studied law at Oxford University, but then played cricket for Nottingham for eight years before he gave it up to train as a ­solicitor.

“Professional cricket can be quite an uncertain environment and there can be a lot of nerves around the time when contracts come up for renewal, so it was great to have the knowledge that I had a career waiting for me,” he said.