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Lauren Riley: Brains and beauty

SASSY: Solicitor Lauren Riley

SOLICITOR AND former BBC Apprentice contestant Lauren Riley is a force to be reckoned with. Beautiful, successful and poised, it is no surprise that she intimidates many.

As a participant on The Apprentice she remained in Lord Sugar’s good graces until week seven. Her exit from the show did not stop the ambitious young woman from knowing exactly what she wants and making no apologies for her success.

As a practicing family law consultant with St. Albans-based Labrums, Riley, 29, decided to use her business training background to establish a new venture known as The Link App – an online tool that she designed to improve communication between lawyers and their clients.

On her website, she describes it as “the ultimate tool for busy law firms looking to thrive in an increasingly competitive market, improve customer service, save time and money, and increase productivity”.

Here, Riley talks to Life & Style about her Apprentice experience, her Jamaican roots and plans for the future:
What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I think from my public profile people would be surprised to learn that I am actually quite good fun and quite a good laugh. I am a lawyer so I do try to keep a serious persona in a professional environment, but I do like a good giggle as well.

What made you decide to audition for The Apprentice?
The Link App is now a business but at the time, it was an idea that was born out of me listening to the grievances of my colleagues about interruptions in their working day and with their workflow. So I had the idea but I didn’t have the finances. I did have some experience with business but I was looking for a business partner, someone who could take it off the ground so that’s why I auditioned.

Do you think being on the show has affected your legal career in a negative way?
No I don’t think it has affected me negatively. I still practice as a solicitor and I have had really positive feedback from colleagues and friends based on my time in the public eye.

How did you establish The Link App?
In terms of establishing the software, the App is in two parts, there is a desktop App for the solicitors and a mobile tablet App for the clients to use. I have worked really hard on it and I had a very good team with me. Next year I will market it to law firms and establish The Link App in legal space.

IN THE BOARDROOM: Lauren Riley (right) on this year’s The Apprentice

What were some challenges that you faced in getting this project off the ground?
I must admit the biggest challenge was the mindset of law firms, or more specifically, the senior partners in these firms because although the general public and a lot of lawyers are recognising the value of it, the people at the top in law firms tend to be of a different generation to me.
For example, I am in my twenties, they are probably more likely to be in their 40s and 50s and so many are not a part of the ‘smart phone generation’.
However they are recognising, along with everyone else, that technology enhances people’s lives. It makes things better and easier. The app will make their working day more productive and productivity equals profitability and that is what they want at the end of the day.

What plans do you have to develop The Link App in the future?
Going forward I have so many ideas of where to take it. I want it to be global as well. I am really focused on the legal sector because I know how to make a big difference to lawyers, being one myself.

We heard you have Caribbean roots?
I am mixed with Jamaican, English and Polish. My grandfather is from Jamaica. We visited last year and stayed in Montego Bay but he is originally from a little fishing village called Old Harbour Bay. Jamaica is just beautiful. I am very proud of my Jamaican roots and heritage. I would love to spend more time over there.

Do you think you have a good work and personal life balance?
If I am absolutely honest, no. My passions are fitness, travel and fashion. I am trying to do as many of them as I can. Last year I went on loads of holidays but this year, I have been working everyday but I love it because I don’t think of it as work. Every minute that I spend in the business I can see it progressing and I can see the change. My life and work balance isn’t great at the moment but I try to exercise at least three times a week. That is massively important for me. Hopefully 2015 will be a little more balanced, but I am young enough and enthusiastic enough and I am happy doing what I’m doing.

What advice would you give to young people, in particularly young women, about following their dreams?
I am enjoying my time in the public eye because I get to help people. I have had a lot of young women [contacting] me via my twitter or my website and say that I have inspired them. I don’t hold myself out to be an inspirational character but the fact that young women are looking to me as that is a great compliment.
What I would say to young women is to be true to themselves [and] find something that you enjoy doing,
If you want to get somewhere in life, you have to work hard. Do something that you enjoy and try to find a balance.
I enjoy being a family lawyer because I am passionate about people and I enjoy making a difference. Family law is the area of law that I am most passionate about, I don’t think I would be as happy in any other field of law.

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