The legal profession is continuing to change.
Evolving client demands, developments in technology, a mercurial economic landscape. All are having a significant impact on establishing one of the UK’s longest and most esteemed professions.
An observable trend is 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. In this series she examines 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.
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 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, that there is nothing wrong with this.
However, it’s a model that loses its appeal quickly for many, as a result of another reason too. There’s little opportunity to meet new people. Setting up as a self-employed consultant liberates the lawyer from routine and subsequently 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.
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, therefore they can choose the sectors and clients they work alongside.
By building a varied portfolio of clients, creating all different kinds of opportunities, from all kinds of sectors meets professional needs. 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.
“A good reputation is hard-won and easily lost.”. 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.
As little as over 12 months of consulting work can result in finding that their client-base is swelling 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.
Such are the numbers of lawyers setting up as self-employed consultants, consequently bespoke networking events are now widespread. The events are open to both consultants and business leaders who require freelance legal interventions. Companies employing lawyers can not match with the regularity and scale of these events.
A positive attitude, an eagerness for conversation, coupled with a pocketful of business cards, can mean 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