S2 E7 6 September 2022
Taking the leap into
purpose-driven legal work
Legal Consultant | Integrative Lawyer | Changemaker
Blanca Leon is a UK based lawyer who offers legal consulting support on commercial matters and solutions, combining purpose and values with plain language drafting and visual design to create clear, collaborative and human centric legal documents.
In January 2021, after nearly 10 years, she left a corporate in-house role to explore a holistic approach to practising law.
In this episode, we talk about how Blanca came to her decision and made the leap from corporate to purpose-driven, and what her experience has been thus far.
Blanca Leon is a UK-based lawyer.
She offers legal consulting support on commercial matters and solutions, combining purpose and values with plain language drafting and visual design to create clear, collaborative and human centric legal documents.
In January 2021, after nearly 10 years, she left a corporate in-house role to explore a wholistic approach to practicing law, bringing into harmony her values, favoured ways of working, creativity, curiosity & compassion in order to support inspiring purpose-driven entrepreneurs and small businesses.
In June 2021 she was certified as a Conscious Contracts® practitioner & am working towards the Conscious Contracts® teaching certification.
She has a clearly enunciated VISION, MISSION and VALUES which you can find on her LinkedIn profile.
[2:13] Blanca relates how her involvement in the Conscious Contracts® course helped her develop her vision, mission and values.
[6:46] Blanca describes some of the tools she used to learn what her values were.
[9:40] In starting her purpose-driven legal practice, Blanca's vision and mission became clearer.
[14:15] Blanca reflects on how she evolved from an inhouse paralegal , to an in-house counsel, to where she is now and how she was driven by one of her values - curiosity.
[24:37] Blanca talks about what her purpose-driven legal practice looks like, who her clients are, and how she is creating it - including how she is expressing herself authentically so the 'right' people find her.
[30:22] In discovering her purpose, and aligning with it, Blanca has also had insight into how to apply her unique gifts to her work.
[34:55] Blanca offers her advice to anyone seeking to take the leap into a purpose-driven legal path.
Conscious Contracts® website
Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
New Earth lawyer podcast episode with Kim Wright
New Earth lawyer podcast episode with Chuck Kanafi
New Earth lawyer podcast episode with Rhiannon Thomas
Hello everyone and welcome to the New Earth lawyer podcast where we showcase lawyers who are changing the practice of law to change the world. I'm speaking to you from Melbourne, Australia, which is Boonwurrung country, and I wish to pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. Today I have the pleasure of speaking to Blanca Leon, from the UK. Blanca is a lawyer, she offers legal consulting support on commercial matters and solutions. She combines purpose and values with plain language drafting and visual design to create clear, collaborative and human centric legal documents. In January 2021, after nearly 10 years, she left a corporate in-house role to explore a holistic approach to practising law, bringing into harmony her values, favoured ways of working, creativity, curiosity and compassion, to support inspiring purpose-driven entrepreneurs and small businesses. She also in June of that year, was certified as a Conscious Contracts™ practitioner. And she's now working towards the Conscious Contracts™ teaching certification, which is how we met because Blanca actually facilitated a Conscious Contracts™ course, that I took late last year. So it's my pleasure to welcome you, Blanca. And I can't wait to hear what you have to tell our audience, particularly around vision and mission and values, which is something I've spoken about on this podcast before. So let's just jump right into it. Let's start with your vision and your mission and your values. Now, how did you settle on these? What do they mean to you? What are they?
So thank you. First of all, it's really nice to be here and connecting with you. How did they, well they're still evolving. You know, it's really interesting, because, as you know, from involvement with the Conscious Contracts™ model, it's a real invitation to practise what you preach. So before you're learning something, a tool and model that you share, and support clients with, you're being asked to do the work yourself, you know, to really embody it yourself. And that was really important for me, when I left the corporate job in January of last year, because I had given myself six months to just follow my curiosity. I wasn't even sure if I was going to practise law again. And as synchronicity would have it, the Conscious Contracts™ certification course came up, there was one place left, which had my name on it clearly. And, you know, again, I just, I entered it with curiosity. And just to see and to enjoy it, to experience it fully. And that's where I was invited to really think about my vision, mission and values, and it felt really clunky at first. And I found it like a really hard, challenging thing to really think about what is important to me, what do I want to embody in the world. But it's great. There's a book, I don't know if you've heard of it, it's called Women Who Run With The Wolves. And there's a passage that I recently reread. And it says at the beginning, when you don't know what you're doing, when something's new you imitate. And then, you know, you slowly start to weave in what your unique expression is. And so I did what I love doing, which is study and research, and I found different examples and also work that I did, my personal spiritual work. There was a programme that I participated in last year as well, which are some really important questions I've written down because I thought that they were important to share.
Yeah, it's that twin path, you know, it's like the inner and the outer and it asked the questions, what is, what are you most, what do you most love in the world? What are your deepest gifts? And what are your most important responsibilities? So it's like this inner and outer experience and so everything in my life was asking me to really dig deep and contemplate these. So out of that, there came one set, and then out of the Conscious Contracts™ experience came another. And over the last year, they have started to really merge. And so I've had to remind myself to be really patient and not push, and allow it to keep evolving. And there's no end point and that I give myself permission to continue to change it and refine it and pivot, you know, and see what's working and what isn't. And what's no longer mine, because I adopted it from someone else for the time being, and what's becoming more and more my own my own voice.
So this is really interesting, because it gets into the process. And I would love to get into the process, because I've tried to explain the process to people before around establishing your values, and then establishing your vision, and the mission that goes towards trying to achieve the vision. And it has been a very personal journey. Obviously, it is for everybody. But it has become such a part of myself, the values work, especially when I established what my values were, that I do sometimes find it hard to explain how I established them and how I weave them into my vision. So let's start there with the values. Was it difficult for you to say yes, this is important to me, or no, that's not important to me. For me, that was one of the easiest things, it was actually moving on to vision and mission that was a little bit more difficult.
Yeah, I think that there are tools to really support you in that, you know, there's some free tools that I share with friends with clients, where you take five minutes, and you go down a list of values. And, you know, again, there's I've realised that everything that happened before now has prepared me for this moment. So the work, the personal work that I've done, you know, we start to get out of our heads and a bit more into our bodies, I experience more of my body and that gives me an idea of whether something is resonating with me or not. And so it was really helpful to have those tools plus what I've come to experience myself as my intuition, my gut feeling, you know, my inner wisdom, whatever you want to call it, that voice I feel it in different parts of my body. And so if it's fear, anxiety, I feel it in my solar plexus and my belly. If it's something that inspires me, it comes straight out of my heart. And so those tools really helped to identify them almost intellectually but then I asked myself the question and feel where they are in my body and so I started to be able to narrow them down a bit and then inquire again, you know, it's an iterative process as I alluded to before, so I can ask myself again, you know, how is this showing up in my life? Is it relevant in the work I do with clients as well as my life, the person who I am on a day-to-day basis? Because I want every, you know, I'm striving for integration. I don't want these two separate parts of my life and so if it doesn't really fit in one but does in the other than that, again, is another question. What can we learn from it? Why might that be? And so, yeah, those tools have helped and I agree with you, I think the values part with the structures and the frameworks that are in place already was relatively easy but then like I've said it's an ongoing process to keep seeing, am I living those, are they really working in the work I do with clients and how I live my life my relationships because everything is about relationships, right, you know our relationship to self to others and the world?
And then did you do the values work first and then you know, went ahead to thinking about your vision and your mission? Did you have an idea of what that might be before you start the work?
You had a real journey.
Yeah, I had a real block so again, you know, it was, all of it is a spiritual journey, you know, when I feel those blocks, so and the resistance, it's like, okay, there's something here that's not yet healed. What can I learn from this? And so there was a, yeah, there was a lot of resistance around the, more the mission than the vision. The vision started quite big and I've noticed over recent weeks even because of more of the work that I'm doing with clients and just you know, embodying more the work that that's becoming a lot clearer, and I'm sure it will continue to get clearer, but the mission itself, like I said, I left my job and I didn't know what I would be doing. And so the mission part, the actual, what am I here to do?
I just, I'll be honest, I blagged it for a while and I just hoped that it would become clear at some point. And as I do more, it becomes clearer, I actually, I do want to choose to work and call in clients that are purpose-driven, that are trying to create new models, a new paradigm, I want to be part of their journey. And so that's becoming clearer. But you know, like I've said, thread through this always is patience, and just trusting that it will evolve. As I do more of the work.
Well, that makes sense, really, the way you're explaining it, it's that you knew that you wanted to work in a space that was more compassionate, more courageous, that had to do with purpose. And now that you've actually started your practice, you're seeing the people that you're attracting to you or attracted to you, you're seeing them show up, and they are showing up with a particular kind of purpose and with a particular kind of work. And so you refine and you refine, you refine. And right now, so where would you say you find yourself with the work that you are doing? It's with these entrepreneurs, is it?
Yes, it's, it seems to be entrepreneurs and small businesses at the moment. I mean, that's at the end of the big corporate clients, you know, experience that I had in-house, and I'll be honest, maybe at the moment that feels safer. But the truth is, that challenges me just as much, you know, it's not the same type of work that I'm doing every day, each client comes with its own project, or business in different areas of law, that I may not have had that much experience in different ways of thinking, and really stepping into that curiosity, really being courageous. And just each time being curious and reminding myself whenever that voice of not enoughness comes in, reminding myself I have this experience, I have these tools, I am resourceful. And where I don't, then that's okay, too. Because I have a network, a community of very generous and smart and experienced people in this growing community of people that are happy to share or exchange and, you know, help you along your way, or you build collaborations with other lawyers or professionals that can kind of support you know, so again, it's really shifting my my mindset on it to ensure that I just keep the channels open and trust that, you know, a client that comes to me, I can take them a moment to contemplate whether we're in alignment with the values and you know, if it's a project that, you know, I'm capable of working on and really want to work on. And then we go from there. And yeah, just, yeah, it has to be trust and curiosity.
So let's go back now to before January 2021. So 2020, which was the first year of COVID. And maybe we might have to go back a bit further, but when, what was that experience like working in house and preparing to take the leap?
Yes, as you say, you know, it goes further back than that, and the opportunity to speak to you has really got me reflecting now, it's a good amount of time since I left and returning to those experiences, that those feelings that I was having just before handing in my notice, and all the unknown, the uncertainty of it, but it does go back a bit further. I mean, I was actually with the company for 15 and a half years. I had a languages degree when I joined, I was doing an administrative role. I had no real idea of direction of of my profession, my career. And then I ended up working in tenders and contracts for six years, and then got the opportunity to join the law department and retrain. So I trained in-house and that was my lens, you know, my legal lens. And it was a great experience, I realised that you know, synchronicity, it just, it dropped in at the right time. It wasn't something I chose necessarily, you know, actively chose. I follow people, I really liked the collaboration, collaborative relationship I had with the local lawyer, and then he was hiring. So I was curious. And he was really honest with me and said, well, we'll support you through the training. But law is like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it. So why don't you give it a go? For those who don't know, Marmite is like a yeasty, quite very strong tasting spread.
We have Vegemite here.
Do you? Right, exactly. And so he gave me that, you know, that permission to give it a go. And, you know, I was thrown in at the deep end. Whilst it was a paralegal role, I was actually doing pretty much a junior lawyer role, and studying at the same time, and working with clients I built up a relationship with over the past six years. So it was a really unique experience. But starting to study law really gave me a different perspective of the world. And so it started to open my eyes. And to ask questions. And so outside of work, I was exploring, you know, the world and how it works and its imbalances along with the spiritual practice. And so these two worlds were, you know, going on at the same time, and then at some point, I just, I felt that there was too much of a divide in the two and there was this conflict, this inner conflict, and I wasn't sure what I was, I didn't know what the answer was. I didn't know what I was supposed to do next. But I felt that there was all these different parts of myself that I couldn't fit into this role, or any other role that was available to me in-house. And I guess this is a reflection of our culture, right? It's very compartmentalised, reductionist, hyper-specialised. And so we feel, we can feel the pressure of being forced into these boxes. But I never felt like I fitted into any of the boxes. In the same way, I was very unconventional with the way that I was training as a lawyer, most of the lawyers around me had trained in a more conventional way, and had a more conventional route to practice. And so yeah, I sat with this for a really long time. And I tried to weave in my, you know, other parts of myself, my creativity, my mindfulness practice, I had opportunities to, to bring those in to my work, but it was, in addition to my legal work more often than not. And so 2020 happened, and for the first time, there was this space between, this geographical space between me and my place of work. And it's that pause, that space that I think, really invited people to think, what is this, what am I here for, you know, suddenly, my daily life is completely different. And I have these different spaces to deal with, and with whatever I want. And so I was able to really contemplate a bit more and like I said, I didn't know what was next. But I knew that the inner conflict was growing and growing. And so on the 7th of October, I always remember the date, in 2021 I handed in my notice, and like I said, I've given myself six months I had, I was really fortunate enough to be financially comfortable enough to save enough money and say to myself for those six months, just follow my curiosity and see what happens. So that's how it happened.
And so you handed in your notice and January came around and you had this blank slate. So that's when you started to bring about, to really manifest your practice, I suppose, in 2021, and the Conscious Contracts™ course came along you did your work around values and vision and mission? And where would you find yourself now in terms of your practice? Would you say that it's what you had thought it would be? Or, you know, you'd mentioned it's still evolving? Do you feel like your curiosity has led you down the right path, essentially?
Well, it feels good in my body more often than not. And so that's a good sign that I am on the right path. I think what it's important to say is that I was very conscious before I left the role, that those things that cause me discomfort in that role, or in that system, I don't think it's the role itself or the company itself, or the industry, it really is a systemic thing, you know, this on this treadmill, and anxiety and my relationship with work and overworking and pushing myself too hard. There's so many aspects that I invited myself to contemplate before leaving, in order to not carry them with me to the next thing. So whether it was in your role and your career, career, which, you know, in inverted commas, because it, that word doesn't really resonate with me. But whatever I took on next, I wanted to make sure that I was very conscious of those things. And I invited more inquiry and maybe some healing around them in order that I didn't carry them to the next thing. So actually, what happened was that space, that pause was really about resting, my body was exhausted, I, you know, I was very focused on the legacy that I wanted to leave behind. It was a company that I had been at for a really long time. I loved the people I worked with, and, you know, the clients and the projects that I'd worked on, I was always trying to improve and create and develop processes, and, you know, programmes and training and so on. And so, yeah, I was exhausted afterwards. So I think what is always important for me, and I hope that I continue to do it is to keep asking myself and keep creating opportunities to stop, pause, and reflect, really listen deeply. Listen, what, you know, is this serving me? Am I still practising old patterns that no longer serve me, you know, that I can feel when I'm pushing, and I'm trying to fix something or fight, find the solution or force it to be something rather than allowing it to evolve, and unfold. And so that's as much of the work as the actual bringing myself to creating a business really, that that comes with all of its challenges, and learnings as well.
So just on that point, that creation of a business, which I actually find fascinating, the creation of an enterprise is a creative endeavour itself. Just like the creation of a life, or a livelihood, is an act of creation in itself. And it can be fun, just like creating a piece of art can be fun. Or it can be, you can get stuck trying to create it. It just it is very much like the creative process when it comes to art, which we're more used to thinking about in creative terms, lives and businesses and careers - I know you don't like that word - but you know, same thing, you create towards that. So the practice that you are creating, what does that look like? What did you through all your experiences, and the journey that you've been on and the reflections you've had, what have you changed about the way you approach your clients?
Well, as I was reflecting, before we talked today, I realised that actually, I was already practising some of what I do now, you know, I haven't become this whole other new person, even though it can feel like it because I'm constantly on the edge of my comfort zone, you know, so much of it feels new. But I already had, having worked in-house, having ongoing clients, building that relationship, being a trusted business partner, I love connection, community, and, you know, holding space for people, whether it was outside of the corporate environment, with mindfulness. I was training as a sound healer as well, you know, co-hosted retreats and so on. It was about that holding space, and for being inquisitive and taking that, you know, taking that zoom out and understanding how whatever it was that the client wanted to do, how did it fit in to where we are, legal and non-legal, commercial, whatever. And so, it's, I'm grateful for everything that's come before, because that I can do you know, it feels like there's this integration of it, it's bringing my wholeness to how I serve my clients, I can use the tools and the knowledge and the experience that I cultivated in house. And I can bring how I've held spaces, whether it's been for mindfulness, healing, or creative spaces, outside of the corporate environment, and hold clients like that. I love that exploration, inviting them to that inner inquiry, getting quiet, and really asking themselves those deeper questions of what's important to them, you know, what are they here to achieve, and even helping them set healthy boundaries, you know, because so many people, in businesses, or in service, give so much of themselves that they often forget to set healthy boundaries for themselves or their business. And so I love the process of being able to hold the mirror up for them, and help them navigate that space to get really clear on their vision, mission and values and then start to weave it into their legal documents. And whatever else it is that I'm supporting them with?
And do they realise that they're dealing with a different kind of lawyer when you do this? Or do they just go, what are you talking about? Do they come to you being prepared? Or do you lead them gently down the path?
I think what I've noticed is because I've been, because I took the decision to be so expressive about my vision, mission and values and very intentional about the language I use. On my LinkedIn profile. I think it's hard not to see that I'm outside of the box. And that wasn't intentional. It just I asked myself, if I have committed to myself to sharing my truth with courage and compassion, am I going to be courageous enough to put it all out there? And that's what attracts the kind of clients that I am working with. Some part of it resonates with them, you know, how often do you see someone talking about their vision of a world where we lead from love, intentionality and deep curiosity? And yeah, again, I talk about, you know, diving into, and really leaning into our innate creativity as humans and our collaborative nature, and having reverence for the, you know, the natural world. And so it's kind of all out there, they get the type of, you know, the flavour of my being already. But yes, I give them an example of what it is that we're going to do, and they seem so open.
But you know, I think it's not as out of the box as it was, I think more and more people are embracing that. That sort of holistic way of looking at the world. And people are intentionally going and starting businesses that are creating more of an impact and are more purpose-driven. So that kind of language probably resonates with more and more people. I think as lawyers, we tend to think that it is really out there. But when you get into the, into the world, which is less corporate and less big-end corporate and into more of the smaller businesses and the entrepreneurial businesses, I think you'll find a lot of people are moving towards that space or in that space already. So it's actually, I found that I was educating or being educated into the changes that are actually already happening out there. Yet in my old world, it was just like, whoa, this is so unconventional, but in the new world that I inhabit, which is quite, quite a lot like yours, it's not that weird.
It's not that weird. You're absolutely right. And I suppose, for me, perhaps, the comfort or the pull towards being that explicit comes from the fact that I had a life before becoming a lawyer, I had work experience in the world, before retraining. And so a former coach of mine always said, you know, maybe you're that person that straddles, you're the bridge, you know, that has a foot in each camp on either side of the old and the new paradigm and you translate things in a way that helps people kind of understand and feel safe to, you know, to try.
You bring up a really important point. And that is that purpose work helps us unearth the gifts that we can bring. So the experiences that you've had, that are unique to you, the qualities that you have, that you were born with, or that you've spent time nurturing, suddenly, when, as you're doing purpose work, they all, all the pieces that start to fit together. And then, I figured out why I had trained as a corporate lawyer, I figured out why I had certain interests, and so on and so forth. And I think it's very much the same with you, when you say that you, from want you've told me, not only did you have that previous life before you were a lawyer in the professional world, but you also allowed curiosity to lead you, or you allowed yourself to follow your curiosity. And, you know, that's just part of who you are. And now you bring that to your work. It's actually quite beautiful, all the pieces come together, and it helps a person, helps me anyway, feel whole.
Absolutely, it is very powerful for others to hold a safe space for you to really explore what your gifts are. Again, I found that incredibly difficult. And yeah, I'm really fortunate to have people and resources that have had me asking that question in different forms for many years, for many, many years. But it's incredibly powerful. And following your curiosity or, you know, as Joseph Campbell said, Follow your joy.
For me, I started to feel what actually feels right. Yeah, I was honest with you, just before the podcast, I get really nervous before speaking before, you know, teaching or holding space. And yet, there's something pulling me towards it. Because I know that my true joy comes from learning, integrating and sharing. And you know, that sharing piece might be teaching. For example, like you said, we met on the Conscious Contracts™ introduction course, at the end of last year, which Chuck and Kim hosted, I'm creating a course with Rhiannon Thomas, that will come out in October. And so these things that I'm uncomfortable with, you know, that I'm being asked to, to heal those to hold them gently, but to keep following the joy, the curiosity because that's where my body lights up, you know.
And hearing you talk about your journey, as unique as it is, I think that there would be learnings for others. Just as we started talking about how we look to others, you know, when we first start doing our values work and our purpose-driven work, we look to other examples. And then that helps us decide, determine what's truly ours, comes from inside. So someone starting on on a journey might look at your example and think that there are things in what you've done that would resonate with them, and that will help them find what is unique to them. So what learnings or lessons do you think you might be able to impart to someone who is also thinking I want to really do purpose-driven, legal type work?
Oh, there's so much. I would first say that, you know, whilst elements of my journey might resonate with people that maybe jumping ship isn't the answer for you. And I remember years ago, a spiritual teacher saying you know, even if you're ready, you know, you know that you want to leave a job, but you are not yet ready for financial or other reasons. Still give all of yourself to where you're at, and your relationships there and to try and weave in what you can. Because it was such a training ground for me, you know, I was given permission in my previous corporate community to try things out to follow my curiosity within the confines of the role and, you know, the law department and the organisation and so on. And so I can see that all of that was preparation. So that's one piece of advice I would give. Also, it can be very tough on the nervous system to be trying new things all the time. So constantly ask yourself, you know, what conditions do I need to create to support myself in this next chapter in this next emergence of have of me, and be prepared to ask for help, because we don't have to do it alone. And as you would know, from your spiritual journey, there's always people further ahead that can kind of support you. And then in turn, there's always someone further down the path that you can also support and hold in that journey. So yeah, it's really asking yourself, what would support you and for me, it was even, you know, when I was still in corporate is finding things that really inspired me just in the moment to stay in the moment and stay connected to the feeling of what I wanted to move towards. I didn't know what it was. There were lines from poems, for example, that I would save on my phone and have it pop up every morning. So I would see it every morning. As these three lines from a poem that Matt McCartney wrote, which is: We are not born to avoid dying by lying low and playing safe. We are born to live. We are born to leave the garden more beautiful than we found. And so whilst I felt like I was in this dark space, or I didn't know what I was supposed to do, I was tapping into how I wanted to feel. And that starts to create that resonance and invites in opportunities, I think, and different ways of seeing them.
So just with that dark space, there's one word we haven't really touched on, but I got asked about a fair bit when I decided that I wanted to finish my time at a large partnership and dealing with very large corporates. I got asked about fear, aren't you afraid? What would your response be towards that sort of question? Weren't you afraid?
Yes. There's always fear. It's part of life. And I think that's what's so, so powerful about values based work, the Conscious Contracts™ model as well, it really uses fear or conflict, to help people ask the question, what information is this giving me, you know, what needs of mine are not being met? And so that's a con- yes, the short answer is, yes, I continuously do experience fear. And that's part of the, there's information in that, there's inquiry that we can have. And especially like I said, if you're constantly on the edge of your comfort zone, old stuff's gonna come up, you know, limiting beliefs and so on. And my yoga and meditation teacher this week introduced me, which you might know of already, that the acronym in mindfulness RAIN: recognition, acceptance, inquiry, and non-attachment. And things like that support you, they're these little tools to help you get back into the moment to take a deep breath to remember that we don't have to boil the ocean, we can take baby steps. You know, some people thrive on taking massive leaps. And, you know, and that might seem like, it might seem like I've done that, but believe me, there was loads of tiny steps that move towards making any decision. And that's how I support myself in those moments of fear, but it is absolutely part of the journey.
Well, that makes sense. Reading your values when you say that one of your values is about leaning into uncertainty with curiosity, creativity and courage and trusting the process. So you work with fear, and you get the most out of it. That makes sense.
Blanca, I really want to thank you for sharing your journey with us. It's been very inspiring. Also it has really shone a light on the process that goes into changing oneself, in aligning oneself with one's values and working towards vision and mission. So, thank you so much for your time.
Thank you so much. I've really enjoyed it.