Andrew MoodyFew people make dramatic life changes to improve their opportunities and deliver a real difference to the industry sector they love. Andrew Moody is just such an individual!

From Panel-beater to Barrister - read how 'The Independent' interpreted Andrew's change in career!

The car mechanic who decided to be a barrister

Andrew Moody spent 15 years working as a car mechanic and panel-beater before deciding he'd had enough and that he wanted to follow his dreams. It was only then that he started to think about how he could retrain as a solicitor.

The married father-of-two had to remortgage the family home in order to find the £50,000 required to fund his part-time degree and subsequent courses. So his changing careers was a major leap of faith for the family.

But it is a gamble that has paid off in the long run. Now he has not only successfully qualified to practice as both a barrister and solicitor, but also runs his own business advising people on motoring disputes.

"My background in the motor industry and the qualifications I have are ideally suited to the work I'm doing now, as I have a real understanding of the trade," he says.

"I never thought that I'd be able to become a lawyer - but I managed to surprise myself and I'm sure other people could do the same."

However, it was a long road. Andrew, now 37, first had to spend five years doing an English law degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. He couldn't afford just to give up work, so he opted for a part-time course. That involved studying two nights a week, and getting up at the crack of dawn to study before heading off to work at the garage.

After qualifying with a 2:1, Andrew quit his job to go full-time on a Bar Vocational Course at Manchester Metropolitan University. And just to make things as stressful as possible, the course began just as his wife, Tracey, 37, was about to give birth to their second child, John.

The couple, who also have a daughter, Emily, worked out their finances and decided to borrow the money necessary for the year. "It cost £37,000 for those 12 months when you take into account the course fees and living costs," he says. "We had to remortgage the house and took out the maximum student loan to afford it."

Andrew then did a Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test, via Central Law Training, to become a solicitor and, after working for a number of organisations, finally set up his own company - Cambridgeshire-based Retail Motor Law - in 2005. Only then did the family feel as if they were back on track, but Andrew believes all the sacrifices and hard work were worth it in the end.

"It really feels like I have achieved something," he says. "I always felt let down by the education system, as the careers adviser at school told me the only professions suitable were mechanics or bricklaying."

Extract from The Independent - 20th January 2007