Fiona Coombe

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Management Consulting
Job title: Director of Legal and Regulatory Research
Subject of study: Law
Year of graduation: 1984
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Staffing Industry Analysts

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I qualified as a solicitor in 1987 and worked in private practice until 1998 when I became Head of Legal Services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, one of the largest trade bodies in the UK with 3500 recruitment company members to whom we provided legal services. I left in 2010 to set up my own consultancy business but dissolved this to join SIA in my current role in 2014. My job involves keeping up to date and reporting on legal and regulatory issues globally that will impact staffing firms and buyers of staffing services. This involves aspects of employment law, tax, data privacy and specialist knowledge of the evolving workforce solutions industry.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I chose to be a solicitor in all honesty because I knew the law as both my father and brother were lawyers. I didn’t really enjoy private practice but have had a very fulfilling career specialising in the recruitment sector.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I joined the Musical Comedy and Greek societies.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I enjoyed the variety of the law and although I was not very engaged in EU law as a subject I enjoyed a trip to Luxembourg and Brussels to visit the institutions. I have since been to Brussels and Strasbourg in my capacity as lawyer for the trade body REC in a lobbying capacity.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I loved the campus environment and the city and surrounding areas. I made some good lifelong friends too.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It was between Sheffield and Exeter and it was warmer in Devon and I had family connections with Devon.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Adaptability. Not allowing myself to be held back by fear of a challenge. Applying common sense to the law and making it clear for non-lawyers to understand. Being curious about the client and their business and asking questions or challenging beliefs.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Get your qualification but try to reflect on what you like and don’t like about aspects of the law and what makes you tick. Try to get a feel for this with varied placements/internships. So much can depend on the office environment – city or provincial, in-house or private practice, small/medium/large firm; the legal discipline – are you interested in people (employment, family, crime) or things (property, finance, corporate); do you enjoy a long project with an uncertain outcome (litigation) or a shorter job with a definite resolution (property/corporate deals).

What are your plans for the future?

Personally I would like to have a more portfolio career, advising, writing articles, working as a non-executive director.


Similar Alumni

Jamie Mendoza

Rowfield Commercial. I worked for 3 years as a microbiologist running EU projects. Then I underwent an MBA specialising in project management and switched fields to the electricity industry.

Jasmine Murphy

Gatehouse Chambers. After leaving Exeter in 1998 I undertook Bar School part time while working part time in London as a receptionist. In 2002 I obtained a pupillage at Hardwicke Building, following which I was offered a tenancy. I have practiced there (although we changed our name to Gatehouse Chambers in 2021) ever since and specialise in personal injury and professional negligence work.