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Going Solo: do you crave the opportunity to network effectively?

January 26, 2018

The legal profession is continuing to change.

Evolving client demands, developments in technology, a mercurial economic landscape are all having a significant impact one of the UK’s longest established and most esteemed professions.

An observable trend has been the number of lawyers breaking out of traditional office life and setting up as self-employed consultants. gunnercooke’s Recruitment Director, Laura Fisher, has been sharing her ‘Going Solo’ series, examining the draws to this alternative path.

Last time, we looked at how self-employed consultants are enhancing their own professional development in ways suppressed by traditional, office-bound models. In this third bulletin, we look at the advanced networking opportunities available to the self-employed lawyer, and how best to work them.

Welcome to the Network

Ultimately, professional success depends on other people. Your ability to win friends and influence people is the number one deciding factor in your ability to win work. It is through meeting other people, establishing rapport, and building and nurturing relationships that we become exposed to new prospects and opportunities. Often, lawyers practising within the confines of an office, begin to feel that they are limited in their ability to meet new people, and explore new avenues. It’s a feeling not shared by their self-employed counterparts.

A new-found freedom

A significant degree of routine binds the office-bound lawyer. There is a place of work to attend at a certain time, company procedures to rigorously follow, hierarchies to abide. This suits many practitioners of the law, and it should be stressed, as I have done in previous pieces, that there is nothing wrong with this.

However, it’s a model that loses its appeal quickly for many, and for another reason as well. There’s little opportunity to meet new people. Setting up as a self-employed consultant liberates the lawyer from routine and returns control of their working day to them. This includes who they are able to meet, because there are no longer any restrictions on this. They can approach the clients who they feel they could best serve, and take on new clients without the approval of any line manager.

Variety of sector and client

A common complaint amongst lawyers, is the monotony that can weave into office-based practice. The same people, the same types of case, the same procedures. Self-employed consultants don’t experience this, they can choose the sectors and clients they work alongside.

By building a varied portfolio of clients, opportunities are created to meet all kinds of different professionals, from all kinds of sectors. Obviously, it depends on the hard work and endeavours of the consultant, but the potential to connect with otherwise hard to reach clientele is hugely enhanced.

Personal Branding and faster spreading reputations

“A good reputation is hard-won and easily lost.” It’s an idiom we all know. There’s less sage advice on how quickly reputations can be won. One thing’s for sure though; if you’re doing the same thing day in, day out, in the same place, and with the same people, then it’s a lot harder than if you’re constantly mobile, meeting and working with new people.

Self-employed consultants find that often, and as little as in 12 months, their client-base is swelled with those who have come to them via recommendations. When a consultant does a good job for one organisation, reports of their efforts spread, and they spread quickly.

Networking events

Such are the numbers of lawyers setting up as self-employed consultants, that bespoke networking events are now widespread. The events are open to both consultants and business leaders who require freelance legal interventions. Events of this scale and regularity are not matched for lawyers who are employed by companies.

A positive attitude, an eagerness for conversation, and a pocketful of business cards, and consultants can walk away from such events to a slew of emails and phone calls requesting their services.

Poignantly, the ‘Going Solo’ series will come to an end with our upcoming fourth and final instalment. However, the series ends on a compelling note by looking at what is probably the most influential factor in incentivising lawyers to become self-employed consultants; the earning potential.

Until next time…

If you have any further questions on this topic or other recruitment matters, please do get in touch.

Laura Fisher, Recruitment Director at gunnercooke

DD: +44 (0)7979 144 697

E: laura.fisher@gunnercooke.com

Laura Fisher, Marketing Director gunnercooke

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