Over the past few months our law firm has been running a series of articles: A Day in My Legal Life. We have interviewed some of our consultants about their working lives because we want as many lawyers as possible to know about the incredible opportunities that working as a consultant lawyer can offer.
But what always surprises me when I read one of these interviews is the little details that emerge about how consultancy has enabled our lawyers to achieve positive change. It is these little details that convince me that working as a consultant is the secret to a happier life for a lawyer, and therefore a better experience for their clients.
Greater rewards, less pressure, less politics
Head of Real Estate Tom Flatau spoke about turning down equity partnership for consultancy because he wanted to work for great clients, without the pressure and responsibility you get working in a management role within a traditional firm. For Tom, billing targets are a thing of the past and that means less stress even though, as he points out, the rewards can be substantial (Setfords lawyers earn up to 80% of what they bill). Tom also explained how office politics no longer holds him back from putting his own ideas into action. Nearly every lawyer I speak to has a story like this. By working for themselves they leave behind a lot of the white noise you find in office life, where the internal machinations become a distraction from doing the actual legal work they love.
Joanna Abrahams balances family life with a successful career as an expert in family law
Time for your family (and your pets)
In her interview, Head of Family Joanna Abrahams mentioned she walks her dog, drops her children at school, and then starts work. Straight away we have two examples of how consultancy allows lawyers the flexibility to not only do their jobs but enjoy a family life as well. Home-working makes it that much easier to do things like the school run or have an animal that requires attention. You manage your hours and your clients. Where and when you work is entirely up to you.
John Newell has swapped time commuting for time spent learning to row
Time for your passions
For some lawyers, consultancy also means more time for them to pursue their passions. Litigator John Newell, who counts Kevin Keegan amongst his clients, spoke of how he is now able to easily juggle a successful legal career with his love of rowing, finding space in his week to take a sculling course at Marlow. This is not unusual – many consultants tell how they have been able to indulge their passions and make a very good living. If your clients are getting a great service, do you think they care you spent the morning on the water or perhaps flying a light aircraft in the afternoon?
Licensing lawyer Caroline Matthews now has more time both for herself and her clients
Better relationships with clients
With so many lawyers enjoying a happier life it is easy to forget the great benefits this way of working has for our clients. But it is actually at the heart of the consultancy offering. By removing targets and freeing up our lawyers to focus on the legal work, they can devote more quality time to those that matter most, their clients. Licensing lawyer Caroline Matthews is a good example. Caroline explained how being a consultant gives her the freedom to invest time in her relationships with her clients, without having to worry about always billing for it. In her line of work relationships are everything and where before she might have felt the pressure of targets, that feeling is now long gone. I love stories like this. Who knows better how to manage their clients? The lawyer? Or the managing partner that believes every second one of their lawyers spends building a relationship with a client should somehow be billed for?
Chris Setford says happier lawyers equals happier clients
We need more consultants
Reading these interviews has made me more sure than ever that we need more consultant lawyers – both for the good of the legal industry and for the people they are serving. Happier lawyers mean happier clients. Both myself and my business partner, Guy Setford, strongly believe that. And when I read about how our consultants are enjoying more satisfying working lives and more nourishing personal lives, I am further convinced this really is a better way of working. Everybody wins. And the more lawyers who can enjoy this way of working, the better.
Read all of the previous A Day in my Legal Life blogs below: