Ex-partner now a flexible consultant
We spoke to a leading technology lawyer who was a partner in the City for eight years. After feeling cash-rich and time-poor, he now works as a consultant lawyer to two City firms through IV League Talent Limited and says he wouldn’t change it for the world. You can also read an interview with IV League’s CEO here.
mtl: Hi, please can you tell us about your career before you changed your way of working?
Consultant: I qualified at a major City firm, specialised in technology and became a partner in 2001, working at a mid-size City firm and a US firm along the way. I left partnership in 2009 as I wasn’t enjoying it and wanted a change. I had begun to find it a grind and didn’t enjoy several aspects of the job as well as the fact that I didn’t have the quality of life or balance that I wanted.
I would happily have worked half the time and earned half the amount but that wasn’t possible. If I’d left partnership to be an assistant again, I would have earned much less for not much less work, another lateral move as a partner didn’t appeal or I could have left law altogether. I did consider becoming a PE teacher but it would have been a huge change in the quality of my life while still working long hours.
1993 – 1995
Training contract, major City firm
1995 – 2001
Technology assistant, City firm
2001 – 2009
Partner in a mid-size City firm and a
Working as a consultant lawyer through IV League
My aim was to do the same work (which I enjoy) while finding a way of earning a similar rate but with fewer hours involved. I considered setting up on my own or working through a virtual firm, but then my existing clients would no longer have used me as they needed service from other departments.
mtl: So, how does your current set-up work for you?
Consultant: I now work through IV League as a consultant to two City firms. Most importantly I get to do what I like doing and nothing more i.e. I speak to clients and work on deals and don’t have to get involved in management, politics or e.g. write any articles for the sake of it that nobody will read!
I only earn when I work, which at first was slightly scary but so far it has been far better than I expected and I am busy. I get flexibility and can work when I want – and when I’m not busy I don’t have to stay late in an office just to be seen to be there. I have been busy this year on a project and generally work around three days a week with some longer chunks when necessary. I get to see my children a lot more and take holidays when things are quiet.
I have offices in both of the firms that I’m linked to but most of the time I work from home or at client sites and don’t go in often other than to client meetings. I have secretaries at each firm and can use meeting rooms as if I was a full-time employee. I am paid by the firms and am covered by their insurance policies.
mtl: How does it work for your clients?
Consultant: For my clients it is as if I am a partner or a senior lawyer heading a team and they instruct and are billed by the firm, not me. I use teams within both of the firms as my clients need volume and breadth and I couldn’t do the work on my own.
The client can choose which of the two firms to use and I can give them impartial information about the strengths and weaknesses of both firms – it doesn’t matter to me which one they use. Before my transition some clients had initial concerns but then realised there is no difference in their service - and now they have a happier and more dedicated lawyer!
mtl: What’s in it for the firms?
Consultant: For the firms there is no financial risk because if I am not working, they don’t have to pay me. They receive revenue from the work I do personally and obviously for the other lawyers working on my projects. Although some of the partners in the firms I work with are interested in the mechanics (which may be tempting to them on some level) I haven’t created too much of a stir as generally they like the security of their own positions.
mtl: Who does this sort of arrangement work for?
Consultant: I can flip that around and say it is not for people without a following or a client base and not for the risk averse as there will be times when you will be wondering where the next project is coming from. Of course you have that worry as a partner but it is not so immediate.
mtl: Why do you do this through IV League?
Consultant: IV League specialise in this kind of arrangement. It is quite difficult for an individual to know which law firm to approach and to then have a conversation like this with a department. IV League know which firms are interested in and comfortable with this model and can facilitate the move. They also offer assistance with the back office processes i.e. tax and accounting. Another real benefit of working in this way is that the fixed costs and start-up costs of being self-employed are genuinely minimal and earnings can be comparable to those of a partner if you are busy.
mtl: Thank you for your time.
If you know any other lawyers who have gone and done something interesting or unusual with their lives or who have a great work/life balance then please get in touch.
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