Alumna Victoria Evans studied the LPC at our Guildford campus before starting a career in law that progressed into running a publishing company focusing on teenage health. We caught up with Victoria to discuss how her legal background helps in her current role and the positive impact of her Student Health Guide.
After graduating from university and spending time researching law firms and attending work experience placements, I was sure that I wanted to be solicitor. The LPC was necessary to achieve this. Following my LPC, I was recruited as a paralegal in the commercial property team at Clyde & Co LLP and was offered a training contract about a year later. Following seats in the corporate team and out on secondment at G4S, I became an Associate in the same team that I started out as a paralegal in.
I’m now an entrepreneur running a publishing company which produces health and wellbeing resources for young people that are used in schools, colleges and universities both in the UK and abroad.
Each day can look very different depending on where we are in the year. Most days I focus on sales – talking to people about our products and building relationships with contributors and industry figures. I also keep an eye on the accounts, make sure our marketing is ticking over and inbound enquiries are answered. Finally, between March and June each year, we commission new editions of all our products, so I work with contributors and designers to bring the new products to life.
In addition, I work on an ad hoc basis as an in-house lawyer to another publishing company. This allows me to use my skills learnt as a lawyer and retain my practicing certificate.
Whilst I was working as a lawyer, I was commissioned to write some magazine articles by a couple of friends who had an idea for a teenage health publication. Following writing the magazine, I was offered the opportunity to run the company in return for majority equity stake, so I left my job and did just that. I felt passionately that young people should receive no-nonsense peer-to-peer advice about health and wellbeing and there was a gap in the market for resources of this type.
As lawyers, we are trained communicate effectively both in person and on the page. Journalistic writing is different to writing a letter of advice, for example, so in the early days I employed a sub-editor to finesse the magazine and really bring it to life. As for the subject matter, we were all teenagers at one stage so I set out to write the magazine that would have helped me at that age. In my late twenties (or early thirties now), I am young enough the remember the issues teens face, but old enough to have the benefit of hindsight about what advice a teen living in 2022 needs to know.
Student Health Guide is the only holistic health magazine for teenagers and students on the market. This means that we deal with all aspects of health and wellbeing in one title, rather than focussing on just mental health or fitness, for example. We believe that all aspects of mental and physical health are interlinked and that making a change in one area (for example, exercise) can positively impact another (for example, depression).
From seeking investment to setting up a company at Companies House, being a lawyer first and entrepreneur second has had huge advantages. There is no doubt that when people find out that you are still on the Roll of Solicitors, it gives you a great deal of credibility. Perhaps more importantly though, the skills you learn through study and practice – analytical, problem-solving and communications skills – are keys to success when running your own business.
The feedback I’ve had about the guide had been incredibly positive. From the students who read Student Health Guide who have made positive behaviour-changes around their health and fitness, to the educators that use the magazines in schools, colleges and universities, all have said that the resources offer something unique and useful. The majority of institutions use our resources every year which is testament to the value they attribute to them.
We have worked with some institutions in Australia and are now turning our focus to other markets such as the US. There is a great opportunity for growth in both the domestic and international markets, particularly as health and wellbeing is rising to the top of the agenda.
I am proud of anything I write that elicits a positive behaviour change in young people. The content that achieves this will be different for each reader, but every time a reader is inspired to make a positive change, we know it can improve their life. It may be a really small change now, but over time can compound into something much bigger. That is what we have set out to achieve through this publication. Students tell us that they joined a gym, they try to drink more water, or they make an effort to organise their finances. Others tell us that they seek support from their institutions, often for help with their mental health. Perhaps most importantly, students also tell us that the magazine inspires them to provide support to friends or peers who they believe may need help.
Our content has remained consistent since the pandemic because mental health, physical health, diet, fitness and sexual health are as important as before. We have, however, included articles about coping with change and how to build resilience. This doesn’t necessarily focus on the pandemic, but rather discusses change and resilience in the context of all challenges we face in our lives.
We have seen increased demand from the education sector for our magazines, in particular digital magazines that were popular during periods of remote learning and have remained the preference for many institutions.
For those studying law, my advice would be to focus on getting good grades rather than spending too much time focussing on applying for vacation schemes and training contracts. Whilst it is important to make these applications if that’s your chosen career path, I often spent more time in a week applying than I did studying which is the wrong way round.
For those looking for a job in the legal profession, look for alternative ways in. For whatever reason, I struggled to get a training contract offer through application alone. It was only when I worked as a paralegal and showed my worth, that I was offered one within a year. This was at a firm I had previously applied for and had not been successful.
For those who may consider starting their own business, if you have a good idea and the dedication to give it a go, then do it. Early on I often wondered if I had made a mistake in giving up my role as an associate for a start-up but 5 years later, I know I did exactly the right thing. A successful entrepreneur is resourceful, good with people, hardworking and tenacious – skills most law students will have.