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From professional footballer to lawyer

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Legal Cheek Careers meets former Charlton and Leyton Orient midfielder Bradley Pritchard, who is currently studying the LPC part-time at BPP University Law School

Simon O’Connor
Simon O’Connor

Juggling professional football with studying law is not easy. Indeed, on a couple of occasions former Charlton and Leyton Orient player Bradley Pritchard has found himself sitting Saturday morning Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) exams before turning out in Championship matches in the afternoon.

At the same time, having an interest outside the beautiful game has helped keep the 30 year-old sane amid the emotional rollercoaster of professional football. Pritchard, who is just finishing his first year of the part-time Legal Practice Course (LPC) at BPP University Law School, reflects:

It can be very challenging because football is a profession that doesn’t allow for a great deal of future planning. It is an absorbing world to be a part of. Every win can be euphoric, while every loss is disastrous. And it’s so important to be able to cope with these emotions in a balanced way. For me, studying law gives me that perspective. Whatever happens after the final whistle is irrelevant when I go to my next class or revise for an exam.

It has been an amazing few years for Pritchard, who entered the professional game late after completed an English degree and masters in sports science at Loughborough University. Having worked his way up through non-league football, he got his break at Championship side Charlton in 2011 before moving on to League Two outfit Leyton Orient in 2014 on a two-year deal. However, he always knew that this career wasn’t going to last forever and, keen to pursue a long-held interest in the law, Pritchard enrolled on the part-time GDL at BPP University Law School’s Waterloo campus in 2013.

Simon O’Connor
Simon O’Connor

Really enjoying the course, he caught a glimpse of a future career “that would give me some of the excitement of football but also allow me to make a more direct difference in society” and began the LPC in 2015. Having combined the course with regular outings in Leyton Orient’s midfield last season, Pritchard will take a step closer to becoming a solicitor this week as he starts work as a paralegal at top London law firm Mishcon de Reya. He tells Legal Cheek Careers:

Right now I’m a blank page and I will be learning as I go along.

Pritchard has selected immigration and employment as his two LPC electives next year, and is hoping to secure a training contract that gives him experience in these areas, but he is also open to the idea of drawing upon his past experience to forge a career in sports law.

It would be a natural choice,” he says, “but I am still at an early stage and we will have to see what happens.

So what do Pritchard’s new Mishcon colleagues and LPC coursemates make of his footballer past?

A bit like me looking from the outside and being impressed by what lawyers do, I think you always look at other peoples’ careers with interest.

As for his former teammates, Pritchard chuckles as he recalls the “banter” that his law student sideline used to generate:

They often warned me not to try to argue my way out of things, but mostly they were just interested and allowed me to get on with it.

Pritchard’s advice to other potential career changers thinking about a legal career is to “go for it”. However, he caveats this with the following message:

Studying isn’t the only way to create a future career, and the investment — financially and time-wise — should always be considered before making the commitment.

Continuing, he adds:

I decided to study law because I wanted make a difference to current human issues when I finished football. It originally was something I was quite intimidated to do. I didn’t think it was for me, but I am glad I took the risk.