How corporate lawyer Tim Westhead chose to work less and live more as a Setfords Consultant Solicitor

Commercial property lawyer Tim Westhead imagined a time when he no longer needed to go into the office: then he would finally have time to enjoy life. However, as a ‘young 63-year-old’, Tim realised that he didn’t want to quit work completely. He simply wanted to find a way to work less and live more.

The pandemic made Tim realise that he could still work but also enjoy all the benefits of retirement – no commute and more time spent with his grandchildren.

“I spent many years in a traditional law firm, and though I wanted to retire from the city, I didn’t want to give up altogether. I’ve always enjoyed my work and been very ‘hands on’. I had some very good clients for whom I had acted for a number of years. Setfords offered me the freedom to leave the city life but the flexibility to continue to act for some of my clients.”

Establishing a Healthy Work-Life Balance

After many years of making the long and early commute to London, Tim traded the traditional firm life for a short walk along the hallway and complete control over his working day. The Setfords consultancy model has allowed Tim to focus on the things that mean most to him whilst allowing him to continue working as much or as little as he likes with no pressure of hitting any targets.

Tim Westhead

“I think having lifestyle balance is what brings happiness in life and having commuted for 35 years up to London, and not getting home until eight o’clock at night, you really appreciate being able to work from home and work around clients requirements. Now I work about three days a week and can fit in what I want to do – I love to spend time with my grandchildren, plus I can mix in my sporting activities and working here on the smallholding.”

Though earning a high salary isn’t Tim’s primary motivator, Setfords fee-earning structure ensures that he is well-rewarded for his work:

“Working full time as a partner in a City firm, you’re under a lot of pressure to bill as much as you can. At Setfords, I can continue earning and, although it’s not the same kind of money that I was earning working all hours in London, it works better for me. Obviously, it is important that I still get properly remunerated for the work that I do – if I didn’t then it wouldn’t be worth me doing it, but I am very happy with what I earn now – it’s a great balance.”

Smells like Team Spirit

After years in a traditional firm, many consultants fear that working as a consultant solicitor will leave them feeling isolated and unsupported. Tim recognised that he needed to join a firm that offered a comprehensive and extensive support system across admin, marketing, sales and compliance.

“I was looking for an efficient back-office support team that could deal with the now; there is a huge amount of work we have to do on the compliance side before we can open files for anybody. I have to say the accounts department is excellent at Setfords. They’re very responsive, and they’ve never let me down. The most important thing in any property transaction is making sure that the money gets there at the time you want it to get there. They have been excellent in that respect.”

Tim also wanted a firm that offered him support from his peers – a wider network that he could rely on for assistance. Setfords consultants have access to more than 400 other lawyers across multiple disciplines. This gives consultants like Tim the opportunity to serve their clients better because they can seek advice from or cross-refer work to other highly talented lawyers when needed.

“I was looking for a firm that had a wide-ranging group of consultants who could jump in with the other skill sets that I don’t possess. One of the great things about Setfords is the sense of community among all the consultants. It gives you a real feeling of team spirit; although we’re all spread across the country, you do feel part of a bigger whole; it’s not as though you are just working on your own in an office somewhere.”

This sense of camaraderie really came to play in June when Setfords’ conveyancers processed 2500 property transactions in the five days leading to the stamp duty deadline. This resulted in a record-breaking £1 billion worth of transactions for the firm.

“They moved heaven and earth to do hundreds of completions per day throughout the final week of that stamp duty holiday, and they didn’t let anybody down; it was absolutely fantastic.”

An Alternative to Retirement

Retirement might seem ideal at first, but it would turn sour if we sat at home all day long — many have already had a glimpse of that during quarantine.

For many lawyers, including Tim, it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Working a happy medium at Setfords ensures that Tim wakes up with a smile on his face.

“At Setfords, you get so much flexibility, you get all the benefits of working full time for a firm, and yet you get the ability to choose, as and when you do that work, how you do it where you do it. You win all around, and your clients will win all around. I’m very happy with where I am now and wish I could have done it earlier.”

Is consultancy for me?

Get in touch to find out more about becoming a consultant solicitor with Setfords. Don’t worry about traipsing into our office to find out more. We’ll chat to you on Teams if it suits you better. If we agree we’re a good fit for each other, you’ll be joining a firm that was created for lawyers to do their best work.

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