Interview

I quit the magic circle to become ‘the new Nigella’, and I have no regrets

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Ali Alt waved goodbye to the City to be a full-time foodie

Image via baliboosta.com

Full-time food writer Ali Alt is living the dream. Her blog is nothing short of a foodie’s paradise; no wonder she has been dubbed “the new Nigella” by the Mail Online.

Yet just last year, 28-year-old Alt’s life was a far cry from pizza recipes and blog posts. Then, she was focused on getting through four demanding training seats at magic circle giant Linklaters. Stints in the firm’s corporate, project finance and real estate departments, plus a client secondment in Citibank, saw the King’s College London graduate battling 18-hour days. She didn’t mind:

I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for Linklaters.

A second year philosophy undergrad, Alt admits she was lacking direction. Seeking work experience in every field she possibly could, a taste of magic circle lawyer life at Freshfields got her hooked.

After converting into law, Alt started her Links TC in 2014. There were some exhausting moments — working long hours to tight deadlines is a sure fire social life killer, for starters. But she makes clear to us from the outset: “I didn’t leave Linklaters because I hated my job.”

Team spirit, interesting work, inspirational partners, second to none training and great friends spurred Alt through what could have been a really arduous two years. With, in her words, nothing but love for the top City firm and two associate offers on the table (corporate, litigation), her decision to quit may leave some readers perplexed. She explains:

My now husband used to work at Deutsche Bank, but he left and now owns a restaurant in the City. I watched him wake up everyday feeling so inspired. I began to realise I too could be that inspired by my job.

She continues:

I wanted to be able to dictate my own hours. I dreaded Monday mornings because I never knew how late I was going to be in the office or how my week was going to be. So I knew my career was going to go one of two ways: make partner, or leave and go it alone. And I knew if I went for the second, it would be harder and harder to leave once I’d qualified.

Quitting was a very difficult decision. The security and salary of a magic circle associate position was a pull, and Alt knows her new venture won’t be a money-spinner in the short-term. But, her ‘young working woman making magic in the kitchen’ brand depended on a quick exit. “You live once,” she reflects, “and I knew if I wanted to pursue a career in this field, I had to do it now.”

Alt waved goodbye to the firm, and its sizeable salary, in July 2016 to dedicate her life to cooking and food writing. The dream, she says, is to write a weekly column in a magazine or newspaper. The bigger dream is to have a cooking show and product line. And it would appear Alt is well on her way to foodie fame. The lawyer turned blogger has already amassed over 60,000 followers on Instagram.

Regrets? Alt has none. Though her move out of the law was met with wariness from some, “it’s the best decision I ever made.” She adds:

There are certainly times I miss working with people. When you’re working for a company, especially a big company like Linklaters, there’s a ladder and a structure and people giving you praise and telling you you’re doing great. Now I’m making my own path. And sure, there are moments I miss Linklaters and I miss my friends there, but I really don’t regret what I’ve done with my career to date, not at all.

Not least because a legal training from one of the top firms in the world can only come in handy in her journey to Nigella-level stardom. Gazing over contracts, for example, is that much easier with commercial lawyer glasses on. “I know my training contract will help me in the future in everything I do,” she concludes, “how could I possibly regret it?”

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82 Comments

Paul Daniels

I once thought about quitting the Magic Circle to pursue a new career, but Debbie wouldn’t let me.

(41)(2)

Anonymous

I thought you were dead.

(2)(2)

Whoopsie Goldburg

Da fak is dis dumb shit Katie?

(34)(5)

Anonymous

Pizza looks like shit.

(18)(1)

Anonymous

Yellow and red bread = not pizza.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

No doubt its laced with saffron and made with Madagascan wheat only available at Whole Foods.

(16)(0)

Feral Ogre

Her IG account is some of the most ridiculous, contrived shyte I ever saw.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(22)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The LC censor strikes again. Well done Tommy.

(5)(0)

Does not know Katie King

I’m sure that many people have dreamed of sacking off a stressful but stable career in order to become yet another instagram foodie, with no evidence of any actual writing gigs or significant sales a year later.

But just remember: all you need to do is marry a former Deutsche Bank employee who now owns a restaurant.

#blessed

(84)(0)

Pauper

Or have a dad who is the Chairman of the Invetment Banking division at Rothschild…

(63)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Why? Ridiculous.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

His name is Tony Alt, you can look it up.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

A quick google shows that Tony Alt is currently chair of investment banking at Rothschild, rather than a restaurant owner. More likely this is her father, and is bankrolling both her and her husband’s restaurant venture.

Fair play to her. Smart enough to get into the MC and smart enough to quit.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

That’s what I meant mate, do follow.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Anon @5:10, you are super thick.
And no fair play to her, her father has connections. A post by someone else was removed which gave further speculation re publicity on this, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

All this for 4526 virtual likes.
>.>

(6)(0)

Anonymous

There was another Linklaters solicitor lady who has done a similar thing that Legal Cheek featured in the last 12 months.

It makes me realize just how easy it is at these firms. Yes, they have a barrier to entry, and long hours, but imagine if they let someone over the barrier just for the sake of it. Eg someone who had a 2.1 in law and a decent grade at the LPC.

Is that person when walking into a meeting room at Linklaters suddenly going to say “OMG, having researched Loan Agreements and Debentures for a client meeting with Shell Oil, I walked into the meeting room I was unable to speak English or understand what the client wanted. Reading and drafting documents, which I had done so well at my former lowly station in life, suddenly seemed impossible” ?

No. I don’t think so. I think it is just as easy or hard to discuss putting an oil platform in the Arctic with Shell in the City as it is to discuss the intricacies of an asset split in a divorce in Solihull. You will not be discussing the divorce at 2am and the numbers in Solihull will be far lower, but give both those lawyers a level playing field, such as being a foodie on instagram, and there would be nothing in it. It is this fact that reveals there is nothing in it between law at Linklaters and law in Solihull – if both are done well. The only thing is barriers to entry.

To prove this, or to disprove it, you could swap two lawyers around. I guarantee that the Solihull lawyer will not say “suddenly, when taken to the City, I couldn’t speak English and reading and drafting were completely beyond me”.

(1)(35)

Does not know Katie King

I’m sure there is a point here, but much like a drunk pornographic actor, I am struggling to grasp it.

(40)(0)

Anonymous

Dafuq is dis krap?

(13)(0)

Anonymous

I think the problem here is skim reading and concentration. If you only skim read, and you cannot concentrate for long, then many forms of the written voice will be beyond you. You may be confident enough to say publically that the comment is not succinct or well written, but, if it obviously is both, then the problem lies with an apparent tendency to skim read. Justa fort innit [spit].

(1)(13)

Anonymous

Yeah the problem is with everyone else (they are all apparently skim reading and cannot concentrate), and not with your own communication skills. You obviously are brilliant.

You replied to the wrong comment by the way, but I’m sure that was an intentional part of your brilliance.

(7)(1)

Does not know Katie King

I just read your post again and it still doesn’t make sense bro

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Linklaters is easy
You can tell by the intellectual depth of people who are freed from there
Two women have been freed and set up food things like this
Linklaters solicitors as a rule would see themselves as superior to a family solicitor working in Solihull
But if the Solihull solicitor was good at what they do you could actually swap them
This would never happen in real life unless the barrier to entry at linklaters was deliberately removed to effect the swap
Shell oil are likely to be a client of Linklaters
A Solihull lawyer could talk to a project manager of shell oil at 2am in the city of London without losing his or her skill as a lawyer
It would be very interesting if a tv programme would do this.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

This is so weird and convoluted, I’m really not sure what to say.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

This is the most f*cked up post I’ve seen on LC.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

High Street regional firms and City firms are both equally valid career paths and one is not necessarily easier than the other.

If you want to work in either type of firm you need to be able to make your point clearly and succinctly. Just a thought.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Yeah, but one does involve you spending the rest of your life in a council block, shopping in Iceland.

(6)(3)

LL and P

Not a single green thumb up….lol…for both your comments.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The comments will have wound up a number of city lawyers who read legal cheek, who will have understood then all too well, but pretended not to. Lawyers in the Midlands will be a rarer breed on here. If they ever do read it , they will smile at the haters 😉

(2)(4)

Anonymous

Once again, as you are so obviously brilliant this must all be a conspiracy against you by city lawyers. Your bizarre rants have left them all fuming. There can be no other explanation for your lack of support here.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed.

(0)(0)

Batman

Lawyers in the midlands can’t read (Y)

Know your place fool.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I agree that you don’t need to be one of the great intellectuals of our time to make a decent fist of it as a lawyer.

I agree that commercial law is not intrinsically more complex than other areas of the law.

I agree that you do find good lawyers in small firms.

However, as a barrister who is instructed by City firms and the odd regional practice, I have to say that you do occasionally come across shockingly poor solicitors who don’t have a clue what they’re up to. And they’re not in the city firms, they’re in the smaller practices.

More or less everyone who works at a well-regarded firm will be more or less decent. This is not true of smaller/less prestigious places.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Thankfully a decent barrister appears amidst the posturing dross. Agreed. I did qualify the comment that the Solihull lawyer must be good at what they do. Also, what may be hidden from you in the inns is how easy but highly paid it is for city solicitors to tweak standard form commercial documents. Perhaps a poor lawyer in solihull could manage that with the secretarial support linklaters offers.

It would be interesting, I think, for the tv programme to feature someone such as yourself in a shot to camera discussing the likely findings of the project in advance and the eager troll above doing the same. With me as well. Naturally I would be proved correct as the programme unfolded – in the name of show business -and the troll would look stupid. 😁

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Did you even read what the decent barrister wrote? It completely goes against the point of your rant.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

No it doesn’t. He agreed with a number of points. He begged to differ on a point I had closed off. Don’t skim read. Don’t be over confident. Don’t over promote yourself. It would be great to have you on the tv show – law society swap shop 😁 have I wound you up a bit suggesting, on the back of the evidence provided by this foodie lady, that linklaters is easy ? Diddums. It is. That is why you can earn a living in the city.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Ali, if you don’t return fire on this one, all the best with your new venture. It’s nothing personal and i think you have to agree that law society swap shop would make a good tv programme 😃

(1)(0)

Anonymous

‘When you’re working for a company, especially a big company like Linklaters’

Linklaters is not a company. It’s a limited liability partnership. Starting to see why she left…

(22)(3)

Anonymous

Depends if she clarified it in her definitions with “a reference to a company [in my Legal Cheek article] shall include any company, corporation or other body corporate, wherever and however incorporated or established”.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Terrible chat

(8)(4)

Anonymous

Ok, in the alternative she was most likely using the term ‘company’ colloquially, as she also makes reference to becoming a partner. You are just being a pedantic arsehole.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

The pedantry and arseholery are the reason why LC exists.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Wasteman scally

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Links trainees are employed by Linklaters Business Services Ltd. If you’re going to be an arse and point out a technical mistake that doesn’t matter, you’re better off not being even more technically wrong.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

JD Partner

You must be the vacs schemer we had in the other week.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

“18 hour days”? How true is this? And how often?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Very. Every day. Forever.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

And. Ever.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Until you die.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

and the firm will then milk your death for PR.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

In my experience pretty rare. 12 hours are common as muck, but 15+ isn’t the norm at all.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Can’t fault her, has good foundations and steady progressive career in something very popular right now.

(4)(9)

Anonymous

“Career”? Are you high? Posting pics of yourself pretending to read a book and eating a pizza is not a career.

(23)(0)

Liberturd Leftie

“Are you high?” #PRICELESS! Made me chuckle…

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Hi Mrs Alt!

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Spoilt bourgeois trades in one cushy job for another even more cushy job. What a ground-breaking story.

(18)(1)

Anonymous

“I miss Linklaters and I miss my friends there”… false, she has no friends there.

(15)(2)

Sauce for the Gander

This article should be removed as it breaches LC’s comments policy (if it had one).

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Very easy to be “inspired ” to do something when there’s no financial risk behind it all. I’d be more interested in reading about people who actually take a genuine risk and do something socially useful or productive. This, sadly, is just irrelevant puff.

(31)(2)

Anonymous

I’m sorry, but after looking in more detail at her blog, what exactly does she do for a living?

(10)(1)

Anonymous

She spends money.

(15)(1)

Anonymous

And eats.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

What a nauseating article. How brave she is to quit her highly overpaid job for a cushy housewife role in no doubt some leafy part of South West London.

Maybe if she’d gone and done something socially useful, especially in these times of such crass economic inequality, she would got a modicum of my respect.

Cooking, getting your hair done and taking selfies is not a job. Its rather a sad indictment on a broken nation.

(33)(3)

Anonymous

The headline should read… Rich girl quits good job because it is too much like hard work and takes up hobby…

(28)(1)

Anonymous

Gold.

Solid gold.

I can’t believe she did this interview.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

“Wed shredding”

WTF

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Definition: When you finally decide to settle down, and need to dispose of your adult art magazine collection.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I think that quitting your corporate job to write a book is something that should be applauded. Less so when the book is entitled “how to come better than his mother” (vom), but still. I am sure it’s right that it was easier for this girl, but I’d do the same in her position (well ok not writing a sexist cookbook, but quitting corporate law for a creative life, yes, in a heartbeat, if I was rich, or braver).

(2)(2)

Links 3PQE

She was known to regularly pass noxious gas as a trainee.

In our department we used to call her ‘Chemical Ali’.

(26)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not brave when you have a husband and father backing you up.

It’s only brave when you have no one to back you up.

(14)(0)

Jason

It sick it piss it’s revolting it’s insulting

(0)(0)

Snowflake

No ragrets

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I’m also not sure about “The Generous Jew” tagline… seems odd as it implies that Jews are not, by default, generous or are different to the human average in this regard.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Fair play to her, but it all seems terribly frivolous and actually quite dull.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Seems very old to qualify at 28.

No doubt she spent many years helping out at Law Centres and Women’s Refuges before taking the plunge in the Law.

And yes, her pizzas do look revolting. I wouldn’t give them to my dog.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Good luck Ali! Great to see how successful you are already with your blog and finally the press attention is coming your way after all your hard work!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Why did she refer to her “now husband” – is she contemplating ditching him?

(0)(0)

Katie King

Hello, no, it’s because they got married very recently.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.