Consultancy law firms are on the rise. At Setfords alone, we now have over 450 consultant lawyers working with us. We speak to plenty of lawyers who are considering making the jump to consultancy but are concerned about how they will adapt to the change, especially in the beginning. However, once they do join us, they wonder why they didn’t do it sooner!
Heather Wiltshire is a residential conveyancer who joined Setfords earlier this year, in March 2023. Here, she speaks about her experience of joining Setfords and how she’s finding consultancy so far.
A new way of working
Prior to joining Setfords, Heather had worked in private practice since 1999. However, she was becoming disillusioned with the way traditional firms work and was looking for something new. She says:
“I decided that I was getting fed up with the way firms were running conveyancing teams with unreasonable targets and high-volume work. I started to feel as though it was taking me away from doing the job in the way I enjoy and giving enough time and attention to my clients. I wanted to focus on great service so that the work comes from word of mouth and previous clients recommending and returning.”
This is a common theme among lawyers who join Setfords. They see that the way traditional firms work is outdated, however, they don’t wish to give up their legal careers entirely. At Setfords, we offer the alternative of freedom and flexibility, so lawyers can build a career that works for them.
For Heather, this means building her practice by providing a great service so clients keep coming back and recommending her to others. But, some consultants choose to do things differently, which is the great thing about the Setfords model. Our consultants are free to do the kind of work they want, in the way they want to do it, without tough expectations and high workloads set by a partner.
Established in 2006, Setfords was one of the original consultancy-based law firms in the UK. However, as this model becomes more and more attractive, plenty of firms have started to offer their own versions. So, why do lawyers continue to choose Setfords? For Heather, it came down to our superior support and values. She says:
“I did look at a couple of consultancy-based companies and felt that Setfords had the edge in terms of support and how their values were more like mine. My husband and I sat and worked out the figures, and whilst some other firms take a smaller cut of fees, they charge for all the things that you get with Setfords as part of the deal. So, it worked out better to come to Setfords and have the admin and wellbeing support, than have to pay for every little add-on with another company.
The onboarding process has been really good. I have been to Head Office twice so far for training, and both times was made to feel like part of the team there. The office is gorgeous, and the teams are so happy to help and offer guidance.”
We really pride ourselves on offering some of the very best support in the industry, and it’s all included in our fee split. This allows our lawyers the peace of mind that we are here to help them without charging them extra for support such as admin, secretarial, IT, compliance, and more.
As an alternative law firm, all of our teams are on board with our mission to provide a first-rate service to our lawyers, so they can provide a superior service to their clients in turn. Our modern way of working is something that has been noticed by Heather too, who says:
“I cannot fault any of the teams so far. I have been in communication with accounts, wellbeing, business development, marketing and reception, as well as other consultants. It has changed the whole way I view law firms. I was so conditioned into that old-school way of thinking I could not appreciate how much more liberating this model of working is. I also feel that “kindness” is at the front of what people are doing at Setfords. I have already received several wellbeing calls just to make sure I am OK, which is such a nice touch.”
A change of pace
Many new consultants who are coming from traditional firms worry about the adjustment to a brand-new way of working. They may be concerned that they will struggle to be self-motivated or to get out of the traditional law firm routine. This is something that Heather herself has experienced, saying:
“I have struggled to get out of the 9-5 mindset a bit, but I am starting to relax and realise that the greatest part of consultancy is the ability to work my own schedule. I can drop my children at school, pop to the shop before work, have lunch with a friend or just take a few hours for myself and perhaps do technical stuff in the evening when it’s quiet if I want. I think as time goes by, I will enjoy it even more than I am doing now. I look forward to my desk each day because I feel like I am working in a way that suits me AND stays true to my work values.
I did worry about not being in the office with other people, but Raj from the Wellbeing Team said to me that I can now be free to spend time with people I choose to rather than have to, and she was absolutely right!”
Once our consultants join, the vast majority find that the benefits of consultancy far outweigh their initial fears. The ultimate benefit is flexibility, allowing lawyers to fit work around their lives and not the other way around. This means more time to spend with family, on hobbies, travelling, or simply relaxing away from work. Setfords consultancy offers lawyers a work-life balance that can’t be beaten. We want our lawyers like Heather to enjoy their work each day, and the best way to ensure this is by giving them the freedom to work in whatever way they choose.
It’s clear that Heather has found the experience of joining Setfords to be a positive one. Her final words for anyone who may be considering consultancy too are:
“I would urge anyone who loves the job but is tired of doing it in a way that forces them to stifle their skills and personality to make the move. It is probably a good idea to have some financial support for a few months whilst building up, but I have had old clients find me and the BD team have sent work in my direction too. So, after only a month, I am now looking after around 13 cases and aim to try to take on around 2-4 a week so that I can have a steady work stream but not the stress I had before with 70 plus jobs in the filing cabinet and a team to look after. I may eventually take on an assistant and expand the numbers, but I always have in mind that client care is my ultimate focus.”
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.
The next step towards a better way of working…