Anne Thomas

Setfords makes ‘Phenomenal Difference” for Family Lawyer

In this article, we speak to Anne Thomas, a family lawyer who joined us as a consultant in July 2016. From joining us for the flexibility to opening her own successful office, Anne is a perfect example of a lawyer who has made the most of everything that platform law at Setfords has to offer and changed her life for the better.

Leaving Traditional Family Law Behind 

Like many of our consultants, Anne joined Setfords because traditional law just wasn’t working for her. She says:  

“I joined Setfords because I had become disillusioned with the traditional law firms that I had spent the previous 15 years working for. I seemed to be working extremely hard on demanding caseloads whilst having vast fees targets without receiving a great deal in return. At the time I joined Setfords, I had two young children, and I was exhausted with juggling commuting, two sets of childcare and not having any flexibility.

Now, almost eight years on, how has Anne found her Setfords experience? 

“Working with Setfords has made a phenomenal difference to my life for so many reasons. I can now work locally or from home, meaning no more commuting. I can work around the children and attend their school productions or sometimes just have a random day off!  As consultants, we have the ability to choose the type and volume of cases, so our workloads can fit around other priorities.” 

Family Law at Setfords Horsham 

While the majority of our consultants work from home on a daily basis, our model’s flexibility enables them to work from anywhere they wish. Anne has certainly made a success of consultancy, even opening her own office, operating under the Setfords brand to serve clients in her local area. Anne says:  

I spent the first few years of my consultancy journey working from home, but in late 2019, I joined forces with another family consultant, Deborah Sandford, and we formed Setfords Horsham, taking an office premises just outside Horsham town centre. At that stage, we both favoured being in an office environment to separate work and home life a little more, and to have the use of a regular meeting room whenever we needed it, so that clients could come and see us. Clients like that we are central but in a discrete location, which can be important for the type of work we do.  

Whilst we are very much a part of Setfords, we run our own entity within the main company. Deborah and I have collaborated on many cases and have over the years become great friends, and what could be better than working with a friend?  

The biggest challenge we faced was very shortly after we had set the office up, the first Covid lockdown forced us out, hampering our initial efforts, but we got back on track a few months later and have been extremely busy ever since. We are well known in the Horsham area now and the majority of new clients come to us via word of mouth. Deborah has now also become head of the family department, heading up a team of over 40 family lawyers.” 

Support Makes the Difference 

At Setfords, we’re here to support our consultants in whatever way we can. Whether this is providing designs for office signage or support with daily secretarial tasks, we’re here to help. This is something that Anne has noticed, saying: 

I think that the support from Setfords is second to none and is derived from so many teams, including secretarial, admin, marketing, IT, accounts and business development, so whatever crops up, there is someone to assist. The company has a good ethos and staff work extremely hard, but are happy. 

The wellbeing team provide additional support in the form of webinars about skills that will assist us in working as consultants. I attended one recently entitled “Know your Worth” which was about charging structures, bringing yourself in line with competitors and altering mindsets to charge the correct fees for work rather than undervaluing time. It was so incredibly powerful that I have altered my mindset significantly. As a result, my billing is up, my confidence is up, and I’ve had no issues with clients as a result.” 

Finally, Anne has some words of advice for lawyers who may be considering consultancy.  

“I think the two biggest worries for prospective consultants are firstly, leaving behind the security of a salary and secondly, how they will secure work.  This can seem overwhelming and uncomfortable. However, with assistance from the business development and marketing teams and self-motivation, which is essential as a self-employed person, these can be overcome.  

Your income may reduce initially, but within six months to a year, you will likely be earning more than you would have done in a previous role.  I think that you have to look at the evidence (so speaks a lawyer!) which is that Setfords have more than 500 lawyers nationwide who have taken that step and have made it work for them.  

I often speak to other consultants, and everyone says the same thing – having made the jump and realised how consultancy can alter life for the better, they would never return to traditional practice. The saying “fortune favours the brave” springs to mind.” 

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