Consultant Solicitors Jane Lockyer and Clare Nicholls Celebrate Ten Years at Setfords

2022 marks the ten year anniversary for two of Setfords’ most long-standing consultants, Jane Lockyer and Clare Nicholls

In 2012, commercial property lawyer Jane Lockyer and property solicitor Clare Nicholls made the decision to join Setfords and become consultant solicitors. Ten years ago, this was a relatively uncommon career move, but both lawyers are testament to how well it can work, having built up their own successful careers.

Here, we are celebrating both Jane and Clare’s successes with Setfords, and reflecting on the amazing ten years they have spent with us so far!

Jane has over 21 years of experience working as a property lawyer and specialises in landlord and tenant work. She trained at a City firm and worked there for a number of years before heading up the retail and restaurant team as a partner in a large west end firm. However, for Jane, she found that the daily admin and bureaucracy took away from her ability to service clients. This was one of the main draws of the Setfords model.

Jane says: ‘I was running my own law firm but found the administration and accounting aspects of the job too difficult when also fee earning. Setfords seemed to offer a nice compromise between working in a traditional firm and running a small practice’

Consultant solicitor Clare Nicholls has been a property lawyer for over 25 years. After 15 years in a traditional law firm, Clare found that she wanted a more progressive approach to law – exactly what Setfords offers:

‘I personally had come from a traditional well established firm and I really wanted to grow my client base through marketing, as I could see the landscape of conveyancing was changing and it was going to be important to grow and not stand still. Consultancy enabled me to do this.’

The Dawn of a New Era

Clare and Jane were brave enough to make the leap to become consultant solicitors in 2012 when legal consultancy was still a relatively new concept, often viewed as a risky alternative to the traditional legal path.

“I was not sure what to expect, but the move has been a positive one, obviously with me still being here after ten years!” says Jane.

Clare says:
“CEOs Guy and Chris had a vision which was in its embryonic stage a decade ago, and the business Model felt “new”. Setfords has grown and invested in support and admin and case management. The number of consultants has grown over the years and there is almost any area of law you wish to “tap into” available at Setfords.”

Over the last ten years, the consultancy model has overcome initial scepticism to gain acceptance from lawyers and clients, and Setfords has been at the forefront of this change. Both Clare and Jane have found that becoming a consultant solicitor has benefited their careers and helped them to overcome the challenges they faced in traditional law firms.

Jane found that she had more time to focus on generating leads and her clients’ needs:

“You have more time to spend on the actual client transactions as there is less administration and no partner’s meetings to take up time. We don’t now have formal targets and no time recoding which makes for a pleasant change. There are also no office politics to take up time and energy. Everything is dealt with digitally which takes a bit of time to get used to but is now second nature.”

A Better Life

Not only does life as a consultant solicitor help these lawyers in their work. It also benefits their lives. Jane has found that the freedom she has to work when and where she wants has rejuvenated her passion for her career:

‘Freedom to work when and how I like makes my working life so much more pleasant.  I could not go back to being a partner at a traditional law firm where you constantly feel like you have sold your soul!’

Jane’s life now looks very different from spending every day stuck in a city office glued to a screen:

‘Now I start work when a normal office would open.  I am at my desk all morning unless I have a meeting or site visit. In the afternoon I work until about 6 pm but take my dogs out for a walk halfway through the afternoon. If I need to run any errands I will also do so.

I can choose to take time off when I want and then be available to clients in the evening as I have access to the Setfords’ systems and documents at all hours.’

Clare has found that she has more time to enjoy her family and structure her day to accommodate an effective work-life balance:

‘I like the flexibility and the control over my day that I have as a consultant solicitor. The systems are in place at Head Office and there is as little or as much support as you need. The overriding benefit of being a consultant is the flexibility which makes consultancy an easy choice for providing an effective work/life balance to suit individual circumstances.’

A learning curve

The last ten years have not been without challenges for Jane and Clare. Building up a caseload, learning a new system and adjusting to life outside of a large firm can be tough at first. However, Setfords puts the needs of each individual consultant first and works with them to help support them in the best possible way. That’s exactly why we’re able to retain talented lawyers like Jane and Clare for over ten years!

Over Jane’s time at Setfords, she has worked closely with management and support staff to help overcome any issues she has faced:

‘I found it challenging as my caseload built up not initially having a support network available to help cope with too much work. This has evolved over time so I now have a dedicated secretary to help me and an assistant who can take work on. I have found that Setfords are supportive of me and my practice and look to find ways to assist me in finding ways of working that suit both me and my clients. They are prepared to listen to what I need and adapt their service to evolve with me’.

Success

Jane and Clare have both found considerable success as consultant solicitors at Setfords. They have worked hard to build up a caseload and established an excellent reputation amongst both clients and lawyers alike. Jane has found the challenge of building up a strong client base incredibly rewarding:

‘Building up a decent client base who consistently instruct me on new matters so that I can support myself without needing work from other solicitors. Repeat business is a satisfying aspect of success. I’ve been more successful than I could possibly have imagined’

With her vast experience as a consultant solicitor, Jane offers her advice to lawyers considering consultancy:

‘If you have a client base that allows you to move to consultancy, then I would say give it a try. I don’t think you’ll regret the move to take more control of your life and destiny.’

Clare agrees, adding ‘The last ten years have flown by but Setfords feels like a great place to be!’

We’d like to congratulate Jane and Clare on all of their success over the last ten years, and thank them for being such an important part of the Setfords journey.


Is consultancy for me?

If you are interested in becoming a consultant with us, get in touch. We are happy to conduct interviews remotely for suitable, UK-qualified candidates with five or more years’ experience. If you’re a good fit, you’ll be joining a team that was created for lawyers to do their best work.

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