Diary of a private client practitioner: 11th August 2023

“A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t…”

I read this quote a few months ago and it has stuck with me ever since. It feels quite apt to use as a starting point for my diary entry this week.

I have been very open on here (and to those that I have been lucky to meet and catch up with over the past few months) about the challenges I have faced in 2023 as I am a great believer of avoiding small talk, that being open helps create connections as it shows you are human, and is a step in the right direction to help normalising that we can open up about difficult issues.

We work in an area of law (whether probate, private client, or disputes arising from these) where we help our clients deal with death, and can see them going through grief, every day. I am always in awe of how many dedicated and talented people I work around, and how resilient people are. To those of you that have taken the time to reach out to me, whether in private messages, or in person, particularly to those that have shared their own stories (I apologise to those that have reached out and I have not yet responded to – please be aware that these have not been overlooked and stick in my mind) a big thank you.

Gwyneth Paltrow, star of 1998 film “Sliding Doors”

When I look back over the past 12 months, 2023 has been a huge learning curve. I have had some big life-changing events happen. Did you (like Gwyneth Paltrow and myself) have a sliding door moment …?

SOMETIMES, being an adult feels so overrated… often overwhelming. What I think I forget (and maybe others do too) is that just because we may look like we are older on the outside, it doesn’t mean that we feel any more than a day over 21 years old in our heads. Just because we look confident or go about our daily grind, each in our own ways, does not mean that this is actually the case. SO, this week, instead of focusing on the challenges, instead of looking at what could be the uphill battles or negativity, I wanted to look at something slightly different: what I do (and what we each do) to balance out and recharge our batteries so that we do not burn out, that we can fight for our clients, whatever that may be, and that we can take on the world.

Switching off today feels more difficult than it was before mobile phones. Our down time is a precious commodity, and as a profession, lawyers seem generally quite bad at work/life balance. Turning off, particularly when there are a lot of plates to spin at work, and the pressures can follow you home, whether making ourselves available out of core hours, going to events after work, picking up emails or phone calls at weekends or on holiday, seems commonplace. Even trying to deal with management and administrative responsibilities on top of our day jobs is increasing. What we each do in our down time is more important than ever before. I appreciate what I do may not necessarily be for everyone and that for some it is getting up with your mini-me’s at the crack of dawn, watching or playing sport (although some teams, naming none, would be better to watch than others), going shopping, trying out new foods, watching a show, going for some drinks, or something as simple as taking time to sloth out…

Growing up in the country, in a town outside of Exeter, I am fairly “simple”… I love being:

  • Outdoors: hopefully without being too cold, but I do love being covered in mud after a trail run, or spending a night out under the stars…
  • Front and centre on a hockey pitch battling for my next win…
  • Out socialising: whether in the company or friends or family. Usually with a cider in hand (in true southwest style) and my puppy by my side…
  • Out and about taking part in a triathlon, usually the more challenging the better. And for 2023, I know I have taken on a big one. In less than 28 days (eek!), on 3rd September 2023, I am off to take part in Ironman Wales in Tenby: IRONMAN Wales – Anything is Possible.

Hopefully, I haven’t taken on something that is too big, but for those of you that aren’t aware of what is involved in an Ironman, this means that across one day I will be looking to get through:








26.2 MILES

AKA 42.2KM


Ironman Wales also has the added “benefit” of throwing in some curveballs, such as swimming the sea and 2800 metres of elevation up some hills on the cycle. Once I get off the bike, I do think the run (certainly in my case) becomes more of a shuffle to survive. So… counting down over the next 28 days… and apologies to those that have had to grin and bear with me (if you have been around me you may have had no choice, particularly during my training, or if you have shown some interest in triathlons) as I have talked about it non-stop…

Triathlon components: swimming, cycling, running

Half of me is excited… Half of me is nervous beyond belief. All of me wants to get round.

Getting through each day, and through the training has been challenging. Balancing that out so that I can also get through work, and still have a few drinks, has been a difficult balancing exercise. However, I am a great believer that life is for living and that if you don’t push yourself then you don’t know where your limits are. Hopefully, this time, I haven’t pushed myself too far…

However, it ends up, I have ordered the champagne so that I when I get over the finish line, I can celebrate in style, even if my body is broken… I just know if it takes me until midnight and the entire 17 hours to get round on 3rd September 2023, that I will go right until the end!!

Work/life balance is so important. Making sure you make the time to recharge the batteries, particularly so you have the right bounce to get out of bed on a Monday morning raring to go (or at least willing) helps to ensure that our careers are for the long term, rather than ending up burnt out early on, which can be a big issue in our line of work. I love hearing about what people get up to, even more so the challenges they face to balance out the stresses and pressures at work… here is to you getting through your Ironman, whatever that might be.

Sarah Bolt, Managing Associate at Freeths LLP

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