‘The pandemic made me realise that I wanted more than just to be at my desk,’ says Michael Walsh, a former Covington & Burling associate who founded The Urban Apiarist last year 🐝
Michael Walsh has an impressive CV: the Cambridge law graduate trained and qualified at magic circle firm Clifford Chance before moving to the London office of US firm Covington & Burling. The project finance specialist then decided a year later to quit legal practice to pursue his passion for beekeeping, setting up The Urban Apiarist, a corporate and residential beekeeping company, in December 2021.
He’s now a beekeeper for some of the major corporate firms in London and keen to hear more of his story, I spoke to Walsh about his time in law and how his new business is buzzing along.
What spurred you to quit legal practice and set up The Urban Apiarist?
The pandemic made me realise that I wanted more than just to be at my desk. I wanted to do something which both helps a species in need and helps the environment. I’ve been beekeeping for a number of years so it was something which I was familiar with, enjoyed and knew could be used to make a difference.
Beekeeping is a rather unusual hobby. How did you get into it?
I first got into beekeeping when I was ten years old at my local beekeeping club. I then had a long hiatus before I got back into it six years ago, returning to the same club I started at all those years ago.
Tell us a fact about bees that we might not already know
One-third of all the food we eat is dependent on bee pollination!
How has your background in law helped in what you do now? Were law firms generally supportive of your interest in the environment and sustainability?
Law has helped me with my business. It’s helped me in negotiating contractual terms with clients and organising the tasks I need to complete. The nature of a conditions precedent checklist has come in handy when splitting up the tasks and requirements to get the company going. It’s been like a transaction, where you work through all the tasks to help a client with financing or in the case of the bees work through all the tasks before you can install beehives.
Law firms have been really supportive of bees! A number of firms across the city have hives on their roof. There has been a trend over the last few years of law firms realising the importance of the environment and sustainability. This has been positive for pollinators, whether that’s through working on helping pollinators on-site or using their legal skills in an attempt to prevent the bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides from being reintroduced into the UK.
How are you creating a ‘buzz’, so to speak, about your new venture?
Keeping people sweet with honey and spreading the word on Instagram. Follow me for all your bee needs: @theurbanapiarist.
Are you a beekeeper for any law firms? Why should law firms and other major corporates set up apiaries?
Yes, I’ve got legal clients.
Bees are a species in need, whether that’s honey bees or solitary bees. Companies can always help if they have the space, from installing pollinator-friendly flowers or installing beehives if appropriate. I’m keen to work with companies to help them develop their environmental goals and advise on what they can do to achieve these goals.
What’s next for The Urban Apiarist?
Taking over the world, one hive at a time!
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