She who shall remain nameless

How anonymity tells you everything you need to know about a relationship.

“I WASN’T EVEN INVITED TO THE CHRISTMAS PARTY” is the poignant headline of an article published, coincidentally, when many lawyers were last enjoying a festive knees-up with their colleagues.

The Law Society Gazette article was written (we suspect) by a female consultant lawyer who feels lonely. She misses that “warm fuzzy feeling” she got at Christmas. She misses the opportunity “to put some slap on, see friends and colleagues at court”. Clearly, all is not well with her relationship with the small provincial firm to which she is attached.

Otherwise, everything outside of her work seems ok. She has “a full social life and family life and other places to be”. Which makes it all the more surprising she felt so impassioned as to write 1100 unpaid words to email to the Gazette.

Broken relationship

Clearly, the relationship between the writer and the firm is broken, or cracked at best. She writes anonymously to protect herself as well as the firm. It’s reminiscent of the approach used by The Secret Barrister, who hilariously spilled the beans on the criminal justice system in 2018. The author of that best-selling exposé chose to remain anonymous to avoid the inevitable repercussions of disclosure. After all, caution is wise when you’re calling out your paymaster’s failings, or the failings of a system as a whole.

We’re not the only ones to have noticed the problem between the two parties in the Gazette article. In one of the comments below it, Ravstar writes:

“This is an excellent article. However, relationships require commitments on all sides and the author admits never having attended the office.”

Ravstar makes a good point. Relationships – personal, family, at work – do require commitments from each party. However, in a post-Covid society, have we not yet learnt how easy it is to maintain positive communication without having to be face to face?

The importance of communication

The lawyers within the provincial firm in question must be willing to pick up the phone occasionally to speak to their colleagues. The call doesn’t even need to be about work, but to find out how lawyers are in themselves. Empathy and care is what we, rightly, expect from employers in the modern world.

At Setfords, we’re hugely conscious of the need to make an effort, not least because we’ve been learning since we began in 2006 that this was a concern among lawyers thinking of joining us. Understandably, they were used to traditional offices, regular hours, being around colleagues throughout the working day. Our dispersed model, to some at least, looked far removed from that.

Keeping in touch is second nature for us

It’s because we’ve grown up as a consultancy firm – as opposed to the kind of firm alluded to in the Gazette article – that makes it second nature for us all to keep in regular contact with one another. Because everybody works from home, nobody is excluded. There’s no them and us. All of our consultants are in the same boat. This is at the heart of our collegiate culture and leads to constant collaboration. Our wellbeing team has a proactive approach, running regular webinars on topics that help our people flourish. Our book club encourages extracurricular meetings. Our efforts to create and nourish relationships means nobody is left behind to write hurt, 1100-word anonymous articles.

Of course, we could not have grown from a micro start-up to a firm working with over 400 lawyers had we not found ways to make all of our people feel welcomed from the get-go. It’s not just that we call consultants working from their home-offices. We also encourage consultants to work together on projects and share expertise, as they would in a traditional firm. We also have regular events throughout the year, including our annual Christmas party, to which all our staff members are invited.

Don’t just take our word for it…

But you would expect us to say all that. So, let’s hear from a couple of our consultants, happy to put their name to their thoughts about working with Setfords:

“I love all the events at Setfords. They really make an effort to get everyone together. I’m genuinely so fond of many, many permanent staff there,” says Sue Cunningham-Sawyer, Senior Consultant Licenced Conveyancer.

“In traditional law firms, you can wander in somebody else’s office or their desk space and say, ‘what do you think about this?’. But consultants work from home and are spread across the country. One of the great things about Setfords is the sense of community. Whether you have a simple question, require cover or assistance, you can email the group within your practice area or to the wider firm. Everybody is always eager to help and chip in. The great thing is no one has a fear of asking those questions. It gives you a real feeling of team spirit, despite us being spread across the country,” says Consultant Solicitor, Tim Westhead.


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