Kate Jackson is an ex-City lawyer who left the suits, books and courtroom behind to launch party dating website ClickTonight. She has since launched TableCrowd, a real life social network where you can meet people over food. She lives and breathes dating, eating out, and cycling.

I escaped the City back in 2007 but I now seem to be delving back into it. Let me explain… I co-founded and am CEO of TableCrowd – a real life social network to meet people over food. We run tables daily for our members to meet at UK restaurants. Prior to TableCrowd, I co-founded ClickTonight, a website that helps people meet quickly through its online community and off line events.

I use TableCrowd primarily for networking with other startups. It is a great platform for meeting other people on the same entrepreneurial journey as me to share connections and experiences. However, I decided, as an ex-commercial lawyer myself, to host a dinner for people wanting to leave the law. I thought it would be a good forum for people wanting to share ideas, vent frustrations about their current roles and explore other options informally and socially with others who would totally ‘get it’. The first dinner was at the end of last year and it was a great success. It was a baby step for people who didn’t necessarily know what their escape plan was and who weren’t ready to commit to any formal training or direction, but just knew change was brewing for them. The people that came along were a mix of ages and at different stages in the process, one had just escaped a few days previous and for others, the penny had only just dropped that law wasn’t for them long term.

We dined at a quiet restaurant, so people could operate undercover, and everyone shared their predicaments, told horror stories of their current roles and why they wanted to move on. Details were exchanged where help could be offered between diners and I was (and am) more than happy to make introductions and help people interested in the tech world with advice.

An interesting revelation for me was that the lawyers that attended perceived that their skill set was not seen as particularly transferable when applying for non-law positions. I have always held the opposite view and have in fact targeted lawyers particularly when looking for people to join our team. I was set straight that this was due to me personally having a law background and a deep understanding of the industry. This was a surprise to me and I think that non-law employers need to be better informed on this matter – the campaign starts here!

For 2013, TableCrowd is running a series of dinners for people wanting to escape the City – not just the legal profession – to provide a social outlet for the dramas that go with this big and bold decision – the objective being to meet other people in the same boat. The dinners will be listed here.

Also relevant are the weekly startup dinners for people that have already escaped and want to meet others heading out on the rocky entrepreneurial road. The startup dinners are listed here.

I hope to meet some of you at a TableCrowd dinner soon or you can reach me here if I can help you out in any way: kate@tablecrowd.com.

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