Alexandra Leonidou

partner

Head of Data, Privacy & Information Security

What was your life and career before Foot Anstey?

I grew up in Devon, but left at 18 and went to uni in London (UCL). I joined City firm Travers Smith as a trainee and a couple of years after qualifying moved to work in-house at Warner Bros., operating at director level in a big team engaging with business teams all over the world. We were a collection of ambitious and high-achieving lawyers doing really interesting, high quality work. I loved it.

Describe how and why you moved to Foot Anstey?

Two words – family and geography. We had two young children and wanted to move to back down to Devon to be near my family and the coast. I had prepared myself for compromise, assuming that leaving London (especially after six years in-house) would mean taking my career down several gears.

But why did you choose Foot Anstey? 

Essentially it was ambition. Fully 'braced' for a career nose-dive, I saw in Foot Anstey the unexpected but very welcome opportunity to actually accelerate my career. The firm recognised my drive and the value of my experience, and were keen to back me to set up a strategic, specialist, market-facing practice.

Five years on, I have built a high-pedigree team, and we have a growing reputation for high-quality, specialist work, for high-calibre clients. It’s successful, it's exciting, and it’s resolutely embedded in the firm’s sector strategy.

How does being based in the South West affect your practice? 

Location is irrelevant. Most of my clients are in London, others are in major UK cities, and a handful are in the South West.

I didn’t expect to do proper work for proper clients, all while living in Devon.

What do you enjoy about your work at Foot Anstey?

I really enjoy the fact that as well as being successful in its own right, my practice is also highly integrated and as a team we work very collaboratively with a number of other teams in the firm. I think that this is the vision that Foot Anstey had when they brought me on.

Starting a new, specialist practice from 'scratch' is a big deal in any law firm, but certainly in a regional base. Having the vision to support me to do this says a lot about the firm, its culture and its success.

I also love the fact that at Foot Anstey, the answer to most sensible propositions is: “Yes, you can.” This is truly refreshing.

What’s different about Foot Anstey that has made your career success possible?

It’s cultural, I think. There’s a genuine recognition that there is more to life than just work and this is part of the DNA at Foot Anstey. My view is that this is perhaps missing in many City firms.

At Foot Anstey, you’re allowed to – encouraged to – have a life. But you can still be ambitious.

What else is different about Foot Anstey?

It’s OK to fail. If you have a good idea that is aligned to the firm's strategy, you’re encouraged to go for it even if there are risks. Here, it’s more important to not miss the opportunity.

What would be your advice to someone who might be considering making a move?

Whether you’re someone who’s ambitious for partnership, or someone who wants to do top quality work with other talented people and build a steady career over time, perhaps whilst kids are still very young, there is opportunity here.

I now recognise that I spent too long agonising over whether or not I was prepared to accept a career downgrade when I moved from London to Devon. When I actually got on with it, I found that I really needn't have been concerned.

Essentially – just go for it.

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