In January 2020, the Financial Times research reported that while there are now more women practising law in the UK than men, just under half of associates and a fifth of senior lawyers are women.
As of February 2021, 61% of Setfords’ consultant lawyers are women – a figure highlighted by The Lawyer as one of the highest female to male ratios in a UK top 200 Law Firm. Furthermore, female lawyers make up 62% of Setfords’ top 50 billers. Setfords’ exemplary commitment to promoting gender diversity both within the workplace and to the wider community has been recognised with the award for ‘Law Firm of the Year’ in the Women in Law Awards 2020.
The rigid framework within traditional law firms means that successful lawyers often face a difficult choice between their career and their family or other interests. The vision of CEOs Guy and Chris Setford has always been to create an inclusive workplace where everyone is equal, regardless of their gender, age or background. The Setfords consultancy-model allows lawyers uncapped earning potential and control over when and where they work. This way of working allows the flexibility and freedom that talented lawyers need to achieve their ambitions.
This International Women’s Day, three of Setfords’ female lawyers discuss how the consultancy-model helps them to achieve their career goals and what it takes to be a successful consultant lawyer.
The vision of CEOs Guy and Chris Setford has always been to create an inclusive workplace where everyone is equal, regardless of their gender, age or background.
Maria Schultz is a Chartered Legal Executive and Licensed Conveyancer who made the move to Setfords in 2020. Maria wanted to find a law firm that better addressed her needs:
‘I knew I needed to change my career path and try something new when I was reviewing how much I had billed over the last year and how much I was missing out on. I wanted to earn more, but, most importantly, I wanted to spend more time with my family. I needed a more flexible arrangement that would allow me to manage my own time and find work on my own terms. Unlike in a traditional firm, at Setfords nobody is looking over your shoulder – targets are your own, and you don’t feel like you are competing with anyone. I love that it’s all up to me – what I do, when I work, I’m the master of my own destiny.’
Rather than ‘work from home’ Setfords allows consultant lawyers to ‘work from anywhere’, and many practice internationally. Faye Griffiths divides her time between her home in Vancouver (where she lives with her husband and young son) and London:
‘The consultancy model has been on my radar for several years, but it was only in the past year that I looked at it from this angle of working for a UK consultancy from overseas. The ability to live in a beautiful part of the world, still be able to undertake high-quality work and then ski in the afternoons is one of the key drivers for me in pursuing this route.’
“I love that it’s all up to me – what I do, when I work, I’m the master of my own destiny.”
The Setfords model is ideal for lawyers who welcome autonomy in their careers. Every lawyer is supported by Setfords’ 100-strong central team, including admin, marketing, business development and wellbeing – all of whom ensure that consultants have what they need to thrive.
Kiran Dhaliwal, a Family Law Consultant, made the move to Setfords in March 2020. Kiran had worked as a consultant solicitor previously but had not felt sufficiently supported:
‘Setfords has been a completely different experience as I feel valued here. The admin, business and marketing teams at Setfords are always reliable, professional and helpful. The directors are there if you have any issues you want to discuss. Now I can focus purely on client care, which I am truly passionate about – helping families to rebuild their lives. It is so rewarding every time I receive a positive review from a client on Trustpilot. It gives me assurance that I am providing my clients with the best possible service.’
“Now I can focus purely on client care, which I am truly passionate about”
Faye also found support from the wider network of Setfords consultants:
‘In my practice area there can be lots of different issues that arise and often I need to talk about strategy or other areas such as litigation. It is important to recognise when you need to go to someone else for advice. The friendly culture at Setfords means that I can pick up the phone to any other consultant when I need to and I have found I can develop effective relationship across the business. These relationships have really helped me to build up my confidence as a consultant.’
“The friendly culture at Setfords means that I can pick up the phone to any other consultant when I need to”
Being a self-employed consultant lawyer can be challenging, as every fee-earner takes responsibility for all the clients they take on. However, it’s ideal for women who welcome the possibility of self-determination and flexibility.
‘Consultancy isn’t for everyone. You need to stay focussed and believe in yourself. I feel so proud that I persevered with consultancy. I like that my targets are my own at Setfords, so it is always my own personal achievement. I couldn’t believe it when I hit the 70% fee share mark so quickly. I reach my targets my way – I choose my hours and service my clients the way I choose. I wish I had joined Setfords earlier.’
Becoming a consultant often requires confidence and determination to ‘take the leap’. Despite a challenging start, Maria was surprised by the success she has achieved:
‘I was like a rabbit in the headlights the first month, but I told myself ‘I am going to do this’. I had 5 instructions at the end of the week, 10 the next, then 30 at the end of the month. I have ended up being more successful than I had ever imagined; I am earning 8 times what I had expected! You just have to go for it and be determined. The longer you think about it, the further you are away from having your own business. You’re just lining the pockets of the partners whilst you are contemplating.’
“You need to stay focused and believe in yourself. I feel so proud that I persevered with consultancy.”
A Brighter Future
Setfords’ consultancy-model has enabled women to pursue their careers on their own terms, in comparison to the pressures of a traditional firm, where this is often impossible. Equally, it is there for lawyers who want to cut ties with internal politics, not having to deal with staffing or admin costs, and those simply wanting to focus on their clients and maximise their earning potential.
Setfords is committed to supporting and amplifying the visibility of women at Setfords both amongst consultant lawyers and the wider workforce.
Find out more about taking the next steps towards achieving success at Setfords. FILL IN THE FORM BELOW.
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The vast majority who join Setfords as consultants go on to be a huge success, earning more money,
experiencing less office politics, and enjoying a better-work life balance. The next consultant could be
you. So get in touch today and take the next step towards a happier life.
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