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Down to a fine art

Law and the creative arts may seem worlds apart, but Elizabeth Hannaford's former legal career gave her the tools to cope with the tough world of fine art – where hard work, discipline and commercial awareness are just as vital

28 September 2009

When I was ten my art teacher said, ‘Elizabeth, never forget your art’ – and I never did – but my transition to the art world was preceded by a lengthy but useful detour via legal practice.

In comparison with life as an impoverished artist the law offered good remuneration prospects. I was also attracted by the idea of being a bit of a trail blazer, for it was a time when the legal world was an almost exclusively male domain. So I read law at Leeds and had a whale of a time – with only a handful of women in a class of a hundred!

I served my articles in private practice in Oxford and, after qualifying, joined the firm’s property department, where I worked until the birth of my first child. There was no maternity leave in those days, so I had to leave. But I wanted to bring up my kids myself, and so property, which I’d rather fallen into, turned out to be a good choice; it is particularly suited to part-time work, which is what I did off and on for the n...

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