Amy Chapman tells James Rose why being a construction lawyer beats getting paid to drink wine …
You started out in the wine trade. How did you become a construction lawyer?
When I finished my law degree at Birmingham University, I didn't think I wanted to be a lawyer, so I found a place on the graduate scheme at Majestic Wine Warehouses in London - it was the perfect way of adapting from university to the world of work. We sold wine and drank a lot of it, too.
But eventually I decided I really wanted to be a lawyer and went to law school at the College of Law. If you had ever asked me as a trainee if I would end up as a construction lawyer, I would have said no, but when you are training you spend time in a number of seats and I got stuck in construction for six months. When a job came up in construction, I went for it because I found I liked the clients, the variety of work and the fact that there was a tangible product at the end of the work. There are lots of other areas of law where there isn't a physical product.
You joined Mace from Eversheds - why did you decide to leave private practice?
I fancied a change. I liked the idea of working in a business to be closer to the client. I was also looking to move back to London. Working in industry is massively different. I'm with my clients and with the business all the time and I'm more involved in the commercial side. With private practice you're always one step removed.
Do you still fancy yourself as something of a wine expert?
Once I've started on something I like to follow it up - I recently did a course at Coventry University and ended up taking trade exams with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. They gave me an award for the top exam result of that year.
Do colleagues or clients ask you for tips?
I can't go out for lunch without having the wine menu thrust at me. I don't really mind because it gives me free rein to decide what we drink.
So what would you recommend to Building's readers?
Rioja is always a favourite of mine but at the moment I think the pinots noir from New Zealand's South Island are really good value. They have a fresh and rooty taste. The best is the interestingly named Mount Difficulty - it's not difficult to drink.
What's your ambition?
At Mace, I would like to get our legal practices more streamlined. The work is so fast-moving that I spend a lot of my time fire-fighting.
If I won the lottery, though, I would love to own my own vineyard. Ideally, I would have been born into a rich wine-growing family with a few hundred hectares …
Name: Amy Chapman
Job: Senior legal adviser, Mace
Employment history: Graduate trainee at Majestic Wine Warehouses. Following legal qualifications, became a construction lawyer at private firm Eversheds, based in Birmingham. Moved to Mace in 2003
Qualifications: Law with French degree, legal qualifications (LLB Honours), member of the Law Society, Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma
Lives: Hackney, east London, and Solihull, near Birmingham
Hobbies: Wine appreciation, watching motorsport