Fighting Resistance to Change: How a Growth Mindset Could Revitalise your Legal Career

As we begin 2023, attention is turned towards how we can all make the New Year a success.

At Setfords, we’re pretty proud of what we have achieved in the last year, but we want to make 2023 even bigger and better. We’d like to share some of our ideas with you, to hopefully inspire you in your journey too.

Today, we’ll be tackling 12 misconceptions about consultancy and how, with a growth mindset, they can be overcome.

Now, many of you will already know about fixed and growth mindsets.

Fixed mindsets

You can read all about the differences between the two in this Forbes article. Fixed mindset people believe character and intelligence are static. And as they believe that those traits are as hardwired as your DNA, they have to keep proving themselves right because, well, who wants to be wrong all the time?

Growth mindsets

The same article tells us that people with a growth mindset believe you can change if you put the effort in. These people still fail. But they see failure as a springboard to success. Failing is just a form of learning.

Stanford University psychologist Carol S Dweck is seen as the grandmother of the power of the mindset. One of her studies offered four-year-olds a choice between redoing an easy jigsaw puzzle or trying a harder one. The fixed mindset kids redid the easy one to affirm their ability. The growth mindsetters stretched themselves with the harder puzzle because their definition of success was about becoming smarter (not about being smarter).

But what does all of this have to do with consultant lawyers? Well, at Setfords, we like to think that we’ve always had a growth mindset. We’re constantly looking at ways of evolving and making out offering even better for those lawyers who want something more than traditional law firms can offer.

Today we’re looking at 12 of the most common misconceptions about consultancy, using real comments that we’ve received during the last year. We want to show how the people who held those views may be able to progress their careers – or win more business for themselves or their firms – if they could appreciate a new perspective.

Setfords success

But firstly, what makes us qualified to talk about growth? Well, we were finalists in the Growing Business Awards 2022. We also won the Law Firm of the Year Award at the Women in Law Awards 2020. That was before we won the Regional Firm of the Year Award 2021. Oh, and 2022 was also the year we entered the Sunday Times’ 100, Britain’s Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Still not convinced? Then it may be worth thinking about what that says about your mindset…

Here’s the list:

1:“Lawyers should aspire to work in a traditional firm.”

Really? Unfortunately, there are reports of stress, burnout and impossibly high targets and a toxic culture at many traditional firms. Of course, many lawyers can be happy and successful with a traditional career, but that mix doesn’t strike us as an aspirational cocktail to enjoy this Christmas.

2: “Isn’t legal consultancy for women who want to fit work around their kids?”

Excuse me, are you from the past? Consultancy works for everyone who looking for flexibility and freedom in their careers. Gender is irrelevant: we have men who became consultants so they could fit around their kids, women who don’t have children but still enjoy the benefits of consultancy’s freedom, and everything in between.

3: “Men are the ones with ambition.”

Setfords’ men want flexibility and freedom. Some want the freedom to work on other things, enjoy personal projects or to spent time with (wait for it) their families. Plus, just because our lawyers (regardless of their gender) want to enjoy what consultancy has to offer, this certainly doesn’t mean that they lack ambition!

4: “Women consultants just want to earn less and be part-time.”

Is that so? We’ll pass that message on to Setfords’ two top billers, both of whom are women. As are over half of our top 50 billers. The great thing about consultancy is that every lawyer gets to choose exactly what works for them, whether that’s working full-time, part-time, or a mixture of both.

5: “It’s unstable being a consultant solicitor, especially in a recession.”

Unlike, say, working at the international law firm that was recently reported to have started a redundancy consultation because it found ‘more efficient ways of working’ during lockdown? Setfords is a UK Top 100 Law Firm, and we’re not planning on going anywhere.

6: “It’s difficult to generate work as a consultant.”

The fact that we’ve grown in terms of lawyer numbers and revenue year-on-year belies this fake news. At Setfords, we also help our consultants find work. For example, we drive more leads to our consultants than any other fee-share firm. This equates to millions of pounds worth of work every year.

7: “Traditional firms have bigger support departments.”

We have over 140 support staff, plus a dedicated wellbeing team. We invest millions in tech each year, allowing our lawyers to work more efficiently and effectively, from anywhere in the world. While some traditional firms may well have bigger support departments, we think that ours is the best in the business in terms of efficiency and getting things done.

8: “Traditional law firms are better for clients.”

We think this is an outdated view. Gone are the days when clients would work with the same firm for generations. And, traditional firms’ targets compel their lawyers to take on as many clients as possible. This may be great for the firm, but it doesn’t suit the clients whose cases slip down the priority list.

9: “The peak of your legal career is becoming a partner.”

Maybe in the past, but now we believe that consultancy offers a better option. Politics, bureaucracy and management tasks deter many lawyers from chasing a partnership. Often, they come to Setfords to focus on their work, earn more than ever, and still progress in their careers.

10: “Being in a consultancy firm means working on your own.”

Not if you don’t want it to. All of our 400+ consultants are encouraged to communicate, collaborate and refer work to each other. Our wellbeing team also checks in with them regularly.

11: “You have to work harder as a consultant.”

We think that you have to work harder to move away from your fixed mindset. At Setfords, you work as many hours as you like, when you like, from wherever you like. But if you don’t want to work hard at all, maybe a legal career isn’t for you…

12: “You only become a consultant when your career is coming to an end.”

Tell that to some of our consultants, who are more successful and busier than they have ever been! Free from the constraints of traditional law, consultants choose how they work and what they work on. Plus, we take on consultants from five years PQE, so many of those who join us are still at the start of their careers, with long and successful paths ahead of them as consultants.

Open your mind to success

So, there you have it. Open your mind to consultancy and enjoy freedom, higher earnings and less stress. Or simply keep thinking you’ve already got it right…

We wish everyone, whatever their mindset, season’s greetings. Here’s to more growth in 2023.

Is consultancy for me?

If you want to find out more about 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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        This allows us to send you the information you need to know about consultancy

        This enables us to get in touch and discuss life as a Setfords consultant

        Currently, we can only work with lawyers qualified under one of these regulatory bodies