Interview

From Hollyoaks to Squire Patton Boggs: Meet the actor who’s taking a break from the entertainment world to pursue a career as a lawyer

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Sonny Flood thinks his acting experience will aid his legal career dreams

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The legal profession, to someone who’s not in it anyway, seems like a glamorous place; but it’s just not quite as glam as show business.

Legal Cheek has noticed a definite trend of lawyers making their way up these ranks, moving away from clients and court papers towards a life in the entertainment industry. Take comedians Bob Mortimer, Clive Anderson and Susan Calman — all are ex solicitors or barristers.

That’s why Sonny Flood (pictured above) caught our eye. The former Hollyoaks star has gone very much the other way, pushing his acting career to the side to focus on pursuing a much sought after place at the bar.

And while the 26 year-old resists the strong parallels often drawn between advocates and actors, after a quick chat with the aspiring lawyer it’s clear he’s hopeful his small screen experience will aid his barrister dreams.

Although Flood told us he “always knew” he wanted to become a lawyer, a scan of his work history would have had you fooled. He has been acting since he was 10 years old, and joined the popular TV soap when he was 15. He spent five happy years playing controversial character Josh Ashworth, and has also had minor roles in Casualty, Doctors, and Heartbeat.

Sonny

However, with his barrister dreams bubbling away under the surface, Flood made sure he didn’t let his academic potential go to waste. While working full-time with the Hollyoaks team he taught himself his GCSEs and A-levels, gaining an impressive spread of A*s-Bs. Although he tried to make it into school and sixth form whenever he could, he admitted he was so short on time he only managed to complete two full A-levels.

With such an unconventional education, it was a big step for Flood when he left the soap aged 20 and started to think about university. The wannabe barrister’s Cambridge plans were stopped in their tracks when the elite university rejected his application to study history, so he decided to do a straight law degree instead at the University of Manchester.

Teething problems aside, Flood told Legal Cheek he “really enjoyed” his time at the Russell Group university, and came away with a first class LLB overall.

Fresh out of university, Flood — who still has an acting agent — moved straight into the forefront of legal practice when he became a litigation paralegal at international giant Squire Patton Boggs.

After almost a year at the global outfit, he packed up shop earlier this month to save some cash on his mammoth Blackpool to Manchester commute for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), which he is planning on starting at BPP University in September.

Given his paralegal experience — plus work experience stints at, for example, Clifford Chance — you’d be forgiven for thinking Flood saw himself as the solicitor type. When asked why he chose the advocacy path as opposed to pushing for a training contract at Squire Patton Boggs, he told us:

Doing a training contract did run through mind, but I’ve always wanted to be a barrister. Listening to everyone at university bang on about commercial law firms in London does turn your head slightly, but I decided to go for something I wanted to do. Pupillages are competitive, but sometimes in life you’ve just got to take some risks.

Though he’s still at the early stages of his professional legal career, Flood is confident that the experience he has on the small screen will aid his search for the elusive pupillage. He told us he has “no regrets” at all about his time on Hollyoaks, despite the impact it had on his schooling, and while he doesn’t wish to “over-exaggerate” the parallels drawn between acting and advocacy, he did say:

Acting gives you the skills you need to walk into a room full of strangers and put on a confident persona. It also gives you drive and determination, and helps you understand the uncertain and gruelling nature of self-employment.

Whether it’s prepping for a GCSE or a court trial, Flood thinks his unconventional upbringing has taught him the value of hard work, and that putting in the hours can get you where you want in life.

Plus, with auditions and castings already under his belt, he’s really not scared of interviews — something we’re sure most of his peers will be very jealous about.

12 Comments

Anonymous

Two A-levels to get into Manchester … Hmm

(14)(12)

Anonymous

Aww I remember him! Good luck with everything Josh!

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Why in God’s name would anyone quit being an actor to become a lawyer? Just lol.

(For the record, I am a solicitor).

(9)(2)

Anonymous

He should have kept acting for a few more years to save money, and also done more A levels in his spare time. Once he’d gotten 3 good A levels he should have tried again for Oxbridge. Acting experience would probably have helped him a lot in the interview.

Going a TC would definitely be possible for him, but the bar is so academically focused that he’s really handicapped himself with his lack of A levels and his Manchester degree. Self-funding the BPTC is a big risk. I wish him the best of luck anyway.

(4)(6)

Barrister

I don’t agree – a first in law from Manchester gives him at least a reasonable chance.

(13)(0)

Pupil barrister who got a first from Manchester

I also don’t agree!

(5)(0)

Exluvvie

I quit acting to become a solicitor, commercial litigator. I was often on TV in the ’90s and toured with the RSC, had some good acting jobs. However, acting is not very intellectually challenging and can be a lot more boring than people think, especially TV work where you can sit in a winnebago for half the day doing cross-word puzzles and moaning. Some people who act are not really that into it and would rather actually be ‘doing’. Why are there rarely films about actors as opposed to about lawyers/doctors/soldiers etc? Because acting can be a boring pursuit, the thing that fuels most luvvies is a need for attention /adulation, take that away and there’s not much of substance to it.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

That’s not fair. Now I want to know who you are!

Could you maybe just name some shows you were in?

(4)(0)

Criminal barrister

Hmmm, sitting around moaning for half the day waiting to get on. It can be boring and it’s full of people fuelled by the need for attention/adulation. Sounds vaguely familiar.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

After winning three oscars, I felt I’d conquered the world of acting. Now I’m a credit hire paralegal in Stoke.

(35)(1)

Anonymous

Damn, puberty did its magic. Bae is looking fiiiiine. And apparently he’s smart too eh, a bonus, what a catch.

(1)(3)

Banters & Lash

Heh, not sure what’s worse: acting in Hollyoaks or joining Squire Patterned Bogs.

Could be worse tho, could have joined JonesDay as a woman… *shudder*

(7)(1)

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