Home Truths: Why city centre offices don’t appeal to everyone

A 20% salary reduction to work from home? – NO THANKS!

LAWYERS. HOW DOES THIS OFFER SOUND? ‘Continue doing exactly what you are currently doing but give up 20 per cent of your salary.’

That’s what’s on offer at London law firm Stephenson Harwood for lawyers who prefer to work from home, according to a BBC news story. So unattractive is the offer that even the law firm itself is reported to have said ‘we don’t expect many people to take up the offer to work remotely full-time!’

So has the job role for the lawyers changed? No.

Have their billing targets changed? No.

Simply put, they are doing the same role just in a different location… but for less money.

At Setfords we have over 400 lawyers working effectively remotely. So, it is difficult for us to understand why a law firm would make such a disappointing offer. All of our consultant lawyers work from home, or from their gardens, or from anywhere around the world. Incentivising experienced people to travel into city centre offices seems to miss much of what’s going on in the world right now and, even worse, seems to underestimate the lawyers themselves.

Working from home has become normalised since 2020

In March 2020, lawyers, in tandem with many others, were compelled by the government to work from home when coronavirus hit. It was a huge change for many people to get used to, but for many others, it completely changed their approach to work and their lives as a whole.

Working from home has been particularly beneficial for those with children or other responsibilities like caring for elderly parents. For this group, qualifying for a higher salary by travelling into the office each day may simply mean handing the additional 20% paycheque over to carers or childminders.  Many argue that this policy discriminates directly against working parents, particularly women, even going so far as saying that the policy is penalising lifestyles evidentially preferred by a specific gender.

At Setfords, many of our consultants are working parents who celebrate the opportunity to have a successful career and to be there for their children. No parent is penalised for wanting to be there at drop off or to attend sports day.

The best talent chooses where to work

Stephenson Harwood have argued that lawyers are less productive when working from home. The fact that there are plenty of reports suggesting output is up among home-workers which weakens the argument that lawyers should commute into offices to maintain their salary level.  At Setfords we have seen first-hand that lawyers who work remotely are often more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Not only have many Setfords lawyers earned more than they have ever earned in their careers, but there is also no compromise on the quality of their work, as demonstrated by their consistent 5 star Trustpilot ratings from clients.

There will also be those who feel the policy discriminates against people who live further away from the office. For city-centre dwellers, it is easy to hop across town to work for a better salary. If you’re out in the suburbs or countryside, the sheer hassle of leaving and arriving home in the dark to commute to and from an office is a different matter. Looked at in this rather dim light, the policy looks much more attractive to proximate professionals. But are all of these people actually the best talent?

Work to live, don’t live to work

Office life does not appeal to everyone. Let’s imagine you’re a really talented solicitor with a passion for, say, sailing. For obvious reasons, you buy a house so close to the sea that your front doormat is made out of sand. From home, you’re likely to allow at least two hours to get into a city-centre office for an acceptable time. How attractive does the additional 20 per cent salary look to you?

Or perhaps you are one of the thousands of people who have moved out to the countryside for a better quality of life with an abundance of fresh air. How attractive does that 20 per cent extra salary for boomeranging back and forth to a city centre office look to you?

Remote control

The fact is, only a minority think ‘it’s fair to pay homeworkers 20 per cent less than their office-based counterparts,’ according to research published in the Lawyer.

Becoming a consultant at Setfords means you can work remotely all of the time. Which opens up the opportunity to walk through the hills where you live each morning, or drop your children off at school, and open up your laptop to work whenever suits you best.

Not only would you gain the kind of freedom to enjoy whatever it is you like to do in your free time, but working for Setfords also means enjoying the benefits of our fee-share model that allows you to keep up to 80 per cent of your billings. Our lawyers have the total flexibility to work when, where and how they want every day, giving them complete freedom with their careers and lives.


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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        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