Feature

Why I quit the London office of a US law firm to pursue my passion for beekeeping

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‘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 in his London apiary

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.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

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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12 Comments

Anonymous

Massive respect – must’ve been hard to say no to all that money 👏

(76)(1)

Realest Realist

Fair play to him, but looking at his resume on LinkedIn and the fact he was able to study abroad at Georgetown and then do a second undergrad at Cambridge, I suspect his family is not short of a bob or two. So it does make the decision a lot easier. But he has made the right decision for himself so respect to him.

(99)(4)

Just saying

Lol, ever heard of student loans? More than one way (i.e. family wealth) to cut a pie…

(0)(49)

FYI

Studying a second undergraduate degree is a very good indicator of family wealth:

First, you are ineligible for government student loans. You will either have to rely on private funding or the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Second, tuition fees are higher than standard fees. At Cambridge, the annual fees for students taking a second undergraduate degree are be £11,328.

Third, you also have to pay a fee towards College-born costs that regular undergraduates do not have to. In Trinity College (where Michael studied) this is £14,615 but can be reduced to £9,500 with a bursary.

None of this is to take away from Michael who, by all accounts, seems like a lovely chap. However, in tuition alone he will have had to cough up over £40,000 in two years, all without the support of student loans. This doesn’t even account for maintenance.

There is more than one way to cut a pie. But in this case I think we see just how it was done.

(77)(2)

Beachcroft NQ

Law’s loss, nature’s gain. Would love to chew the fat (metaphorically obviously as I’m Vegan with a capital V) with Michael over an organic bottle of white from Somerset. Absolute high net worth individual environmentally speaking

(24)(2)

Dust

Legend. This guy will have a much happier and fulfilling life.

(52)(2)

NQ

I’m not sure what all the buzz is about

(52)(5)

Not NQ

The person who downvoted this can buzz right off.

(19)(7)

Nicholas Cage

NOT THE BEES!

(30)(2)

Associate

Absolute chad move, always great to see someone both happy and doing good.

(32)(6)

Oh no

“chad”? Seriously?

(8)(12)

Roger That

BEADS?

(10)(1)

Comments are closed.

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