In our Careers Clinic, we hand over to you, our community, to send in a question on career progression.
This month, Associate Director Kelly Reid answers this question from a lawyer interested in learning why becoming a self-employed consultant at a fee-sharing firm has emerged as a popular option for senior lawyers.
I’m a private client solicitor approaching 10 PQE and have spent my career so far at regional and national law firms. I’ve really enjoyed being part of large teams and have been very well supported by the firms I’ve worked at as I’ve developed my expertise.
However, I feel like I’ve reached a plateau in my career and am thinking about making a change. I know that fee-sharing firms are becoming more and more popular, especially amongst lawyers with my level of experience. What are the main benefits of becoming a self-employed consultant?
“There are several reasons why joining a fee-sharing firm is a really attractive option for lawyers, like you, who have had a successful career so far but would like to try something new. First of all, at a fee-sharing firm, there’s the potential to earn a lot more than you would at a traditional law firm. You have complete control over how, where and how much you work, so how much you make at a fee-sharing firm is up to you.
At a fee-share firm, you typically take home 70-80% of everything you bill, with a proportion of the remainder funding things like marketing, accounts and secretarial support as well as an optional office space. This support provided by your firm makes it much easier to work for yourself than it might be if you were to ‘go it alone’ as a self-employed lawyer.
Secondly, there’s no micro-management or office politics, and you’re also able to handpick your clients, which can be refreshing for lawyers used to a more traditional way of working.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that self-employed lawyers are fully responsible for generating their work. While many fee-share firms facilitate networking at events and often encourage cross-referrals amongst partners, if you go down this route, you need to have some business development experience and be confident in your ability to self-generate.
As I mentioned earlier, self-employed partners enjoy a fantastic amount of flexibility so they can make their work fit around their personal life and spend more time with their loved ones or away from the office. Some of the self-employed lawyers I know have found that they’re working fewer hours than ever before but are earning more!
Lastly, while you might start off as a sole self-employed partner, there’s also the potential to build a business of your own but with the support and under the umbrella of your fee-share firm. I know of a Partner who initially moved as a sole practitioner but has now recruited a senior solicitor and two junior solicitors to work with her.
I recently spoke to Maria Lonergan and Heather Roberts, two partners at Bexley Beaumont in Manchester who have made the move you’re considering. I’d recommend checking out their interviews to learn about their experiences.
Or if you’re looking to learn more about transitioning to a fee-share model firm and the kinds of opportunities currently on offer, feel free to get in touch with me for a confidential chat on 03300 245 606 or email email@example.com.”
About the Career Accelerator
The Careers Clinic features in our Career Accelerator mailout every few weeks. It is designed to help you develop your skills, get advice from leading lawyers in your practice area and better understand the current legal opportunities on offer. You can sign up to receive the Career Accelerator straight to your inbox, by completing the form below.