Inspirational, Vario Stories

Doris Woo

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Doris Woo had eclectic careers in IT, management consulting and managing her husband's record label.  But she's now found her rhythm as a flexible lawyer through Vario.

Posted 12 August 2018

After graduating with a degree in computer science, Doris began working in the IT sector.  A colleague then suggested one day that she should consider pursuing a career within IP Law as she would be best placed for it with her existing technical knowledge.  After further encouragement from friends, Doris took the plunge and studied for her GDL. “It wasn’t easy getting a training contract or studying as a mature student but I made it” Doris reflects.

After working as a newly qualified lawyer for a traditional law firm, Doris was soon drawn to freelancing.  Doris had a passion for DJ’ing, a hobby she picked up from her equally musically-minded DJ husband.  “I started out small, running a podcast and it just snowballed.  I work with a booking agent now securing as many gigs as I can.  I’m even headlining a few major events this year” Doris explains.  Working as a freelancer allowed her to make time for her passion. “Having an extra day in the week to prepare or travel for a gig, or just to wind down after a show  is really helpful, which is more difficult to do if I was working as an employee” Doris adds.   

It was a friend who had previously worked as a partner at another law firm who recommended Vario to Doris as a solution to work/life balance:  “My previous understanding was that you had to be fairly senior, with extensive legal experience in order to be a successful freelance lawyer.  But she told me to give it a try and see.  I applied to Vario and speaking to the Vario team, they informed me that there were more junior roles that I could be placed on” she explains. 

As a 1PQE junior lawyer, Doris successfully joined the Vario hub of freelancers comprised of legal professionals of all levels of experience.  After a comprehensive personality profiling and interview process as part of the Vario application process, she was matched to an internal assignment working within Pinsent Masons. Doris elaborates: “Pinsent Masons is a very tech-driven and innovative firm and that has always appealed to me… I’m working for a firm I’ve always wanted to work for anyway, but in a much more flexible capacity.  In terms of quality of work, I honestly can’t tell any difference on a day-to-day basis other than the flexibility it allows”.

“People join Vario as we’ve got other things outside of work that enrich our lives.”

Doris’ previous experience working within data protection perfectly positioned her for her specialism as a junior lawyer and she still has a strong interest in the area today. However, working as a Vario, Doris also has the opportunity to keep involved in other areas of commercial law so that she can keep her options open in the future.

In addition to headlining DJ sets, Doris also enjoys finding time to help her local community: “I volunteer for a local charity in Birmingham which helps people who are socio-economically disadvantaged from the job market.  We receive donations of clothes and shoes and provide them to people about to go for a job interview who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.  We also give them advice to secure jobs.  It’s really rewarding and it’s nice to be able to take time to be able to do that”.

Doris provides some advice for other junior lawyers contemplating freelancing for a career: “You’ll never know what’s ahead of you until you try.  It’s a financial risk but there are things you can do to manage that.  As a freelancer, you’ll never be bored, as you can vary your work or assignments to accept” she also adds, “it’s good for more junior level lawyers to sample other work cultures and ways of working with clients too.  I have more freelance friends than employed ones and they all make it work.  Many of them work seasonally to allow them to make time for their passions.  You do need to be financially disciplined though.”

If you’d like to discover your work life balance without sacrificing your legal career development, get in touch with the Vario team and start your journey today.

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