A heavily tattooed lawyer who hid her inkings for years now proudly shows them off and refuses to wear suits to help “humanise” the profession.

Alice Stephenson, 42, has always loved tattoos and has ink covering her right arm, neck, chest and back.

She was constantly told she “wouldn’t be employable” and it was “unprofessional” and felt forced to hide them for three years while working at law firms.

But the mum-of-three, wanted to be her “authentic self” and took the plunge to set up her own law firm, Plume.

Now she has ditched the suits and shows off her ink with pride to help “humanise” lawyers.

Alice, the founder and CEO of Plume, from Bristol, said: “I felt like I was wearing this mask every day – both physically and mentally.

“Tattoos really fed into that – I would always cover them.

“If anyone ever caught a glimpse there would be some kind of sarcastic or defamatory comment.

“When I started my business I thought I wasn’t going to cover up my tattoos.

“I wanted to show I was being my authentic self.

“My whole dress sense has changed – I visit clients in jeans and trainers.

“I’m humanising lawyers.”

Alice – who is now living in Amsterdam, Netherlands – took a long route into law after falling pregnant at 18 and not getting the grades she needed for her university course.

After studying sociology, she worked in HR for three years before getting the funding for a law conversion course in 2007.

Alice started her law training in 2009 before moving around law firms.

She said: “I really hated it.

“If I left at half five to pick up my children – people were frowning at you.

“As a junior lawyer the expectation was that you are one of the last people to leave.

“I felt uncomfortable.”

Alice would wear a suit every day and says she would hide her tattoos and personality.

She left in 2014 and started freelancing for businesses as an in-house lawyer before deciding to set up her own firm in 2017.

Alice said: “I started it on my own – everyone thought I was nuts, they thought I would fail.”

Alice also made the decision she was no longer going to cover up her tattoos and wanted to wear what made her feel comfortable – which meant ditching her suit.

She even got her hand tattooed so there was no turning back.

Alice said: “I’m breaking down barriers between lawyers and clients.

“It set me apart from other law firms.

“The suit – that’s all gone now.”

Alice said her humanisation has made lots of clients want to work with her as it is “refreshing”, but she said there is still a long way to go.

She said: “It’s still a mindset – that lawyers shouldn’t have visible tattoos.

“That it is unprofessional.

“I was always told – ‘never have any visible tattoos or you won’t be employable’.

“But you’re painting yourself grey at the door.”

Alice said there are stereotypes of what a lawyer “should look like” and said people often see tattoos on women to mean they are promiscuous and heavy drinkers.

She said: “I hired a trainee who had a tattoo on her foot and was told to wear a plaster to cover it up.

“Some people wear long sleeve jumpers which can be uncomfortable.”

Alice says her tattoos don’t impact her ability to be a lawyer or run a business – and wants to encourage others to feel “empowered”.

She said: “I could never go back.

“I have got the best job in the world.

“The industry is so good at alienating people that don’t fit the bold.

“We need more individuality and creativity.”

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