Alum David Bearman Shares Career Insights at 'In Conversation' Event

The School of Law welcomed back Mr. Bearman for a talk on his transition from law to entrepreneurship, emphasizing the enduring value of legal education and offering practical career insights.

The University of Leeds School of Law recently hosted an insightful 'In Conversation with' event featuring alum David Bearman (LLB, 1990) on 29 February 2024. David, the Founding Partner of Firefly Capital, engaged in an insightful dialogue with Dr Virág Blazsek, a Lecturer in Commercial, Corporate, and Banking Law at the School of Law in front of a student crowd.

The event offered a unique opportunity for undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in the intersection of law and business, entrepreneurship, career transition, and non-traditional career pathways, to gain valuable insights into David’s professional journey and hear advice for their own career paths.

David’s career trajectory is as unconventional as it is inspiring. After earning his law degree from the University of Leeds and completing his professional exams at Guildford College of Law in 1990, he embarked on a legal career specialising in corporate finance with Berwin Leighton (now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner). However, David felt a creative yearning that eventually led him to transition from law to the investment sector.

David left law to follow a more entrepreneurial path and joined Durlacher Corporation in 1997 as a founding member of its corporate finance division. Durlacher was a leading European research driven technology investment bank. At Durlacher, David worked on several innovative principal investments and public market transactions, including the first listing on techMARK, the technology segment of the London Stock Exchange.

In 2001, David was appointed as the CEO of Eden Group Plc. Eden established Marble Bar Asset Management LLP, a highly regarded pan European Hedge Fund Manager, built a wealth management business with £1bn of assets under its management, and an institutional brokerage serving banks, hedge funds and traditional fund managers. 

Following the sale of Eden’s institutional brokerage business in 2011, David spent 18 months at Marex the acquirer, before laying down the foundations for Firefly Capital in 2013 for which he is now a Board Member and leader of its real estate activities.

During the conversation, David reflected on the impact of his legal education on his career, emphasizing the value of legal training, saying,

There hasn’t been a day I haven’t used my legal training…Law provides an incredible framework for all sorts of careers.

David also underscored the invaluable toolkit that law provides for various careers, citing skills such as precision, accuracy, and honesty as particularly beneficial in his journey as a businessperson, entrepreneur, and investment professional.

Discussing his decision to transition from law to investment, David shared insights into the challenges and rewards of pursuing a more entrepreneurial path. He highlighted the importance of following one's passions, emphasizing the inevitability of taking risks and the necessity of cultivating high-quality relationships that endure over time; saying,

Focus on cultivating high-quality, long-term relationships that will sustain you.

Addressing students' queries about career preparation and navigating transitions, David underscored the importance of mentorship and cultivating high-quality relationships. He encouraged students to embrace change, step out of their comfort zones, and seize opportunities for growth.

Reflecting on the event, postgraduate student Hieu Nguyen, says,

I learned a lot from how David navigated his career, and I truly believe that his advice will be valuable for me and other students in our own career.

Others like first year LLB student, Yi Zhou, found inspiration in David’s story, saying,

During the conversation, I admired David’s courage and wisdom in his business activities. Opportunities are everywhere. Courage and wisdom can challenge everything.

The 'In Conversation' event provided an invaluable platform for students interested in pursuing careers in commercial law, offering firsthand insights from an accomplished alumnus who has successfully navigated the intersection of law and entrepreneurship in the investment sector. As Dr Blazsek summarises,

Alumni events, conversations with our distinguished alumni, are inspiring for current students and uplifting for faculty. This conversation with David was extremely informative and educational for our students. Based on my conversation with students after the event, students felt encouraged to take reasonable risks in the future and to get out of their comfort zone to find their potential and calling in their professional lives and beyond.