At the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020, law firm workplaces had to adapt quickly to working from home and running businesses remotely. This became the catalyst for many firms realising that a physical office is not necessary to run a successful business. Firms who had trust in their employees and an open working culture, found that productivity continued as it should have done and, in some cases, even better then when all staff were office based. This was recently borne out in the Law Society’s Annual Benchmarking Survey.
Fast forward 2 years and many law firms have implemented a hybrid style of working. Some rotating office days, some offering flexibility in working hours; and others closing offices for good and setting up remotely on a permanent basis. The Law Society have guesstimated that this has advanced the profession by about 7 years, in one fell (pandemic) swoop.
Prior to the pandemic, law firms like Cognitive Law unapologetically marketed their consultancy offering as a “new breed” of firm, offering work from home as the norm. Because at the time, that is what set them apart from other law firms.
So, this begs the question – is becoming a consultant solicitor still relevant in this new age of hybrid working? And is it still as good as it sounded pre hybrid working days?
The answers are both resounding yeses!
Consultancy is not just about where you work – in fact, that is just a small part of the benefit that come with being a self-employed consultant solicitor.
Here are just some of the reasons why consultancy is still a fantastic move for ambitious solicitors wanting to take control of their working lives.
When you are a consultant solicitor at Cognitive Law you get 100% flexibility. That means there is no requirement to be in the office at all – unless you want to be. There is no rotation of office days and no questions asked as to where you will be working week in and week out.
And unlike a well know law firm in the legal press recently, we do not reduce your salary by 20% if you opt to work from home all the time. In fact, we reward our consultants by paying them 70% of their fee income from the very beginning.
No commuting costs, no sporadically expensive train tickets
As there is no requirement to be office based, there are also zero commuting costs. Think what you could do with the savings on petrol or public transport fares! And because there is no random or sporadic requirement to be in the office at short notice, there are no last-minute tickets to purchase or disruptions to your daily routine.
No hot desking/desk sharing, wondering where your stapler is…
Along with the new hybrid working structure comes the concept of hot desking, i.e., no desk is your own again! No family photo on the desk, or snacks left in the draw. Or even worse, having to carry your laptop everywhere you go, with all the risks that brings with it. It is every fee earner for themselves when it comes to hot desking, so do not forget an extra bag to carry your working life in!
But fee earners do not have to worry about that at Cognitive Law. As all consultants are based remotely, there is no need to label your stapler and strap your mug to yourself as you move around the office. There is no need to pre-book a desk, hoping it is your favourite one; or having to decant your possessions into a locker when you leave for the day.
No lugging files back & forth, particularly if your case management system is not up to much
Without the need to come into the office there is no hassle of having to lug your files back and forth– hoping you have not forgotten anything. Again, fully remote consultants can have their files neatly organised in their office without ever having the need to move them around. That said, Cognitive Law has a fantastic case management system which enables a paper-light way of working wherever you are.
Our CMS is totally cloud based and can be accessed literally anywhere (as long as there is an internet connection!) by desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile. Now that E-Bundling is a litigation requirement, it is literally just a few clicks of the mouse to produce it from home. What a refreshing change from photocopying, paginating, tippexing, re-paginating, re-photocopying, and sending by courier.
No having to put in requests for annual leave or juggle holiday – take as much as you like
This is probably one of the best benefits of consultancy for solicitor parents. No longer are you battling with the rest of the team to get the school holiday dates, putting in requests 2 years in advance. When you are a consultant solicitor you do not have a set number of days holiday. You control everything about your working life – and that includes holiday. Take as much or as little as you like. Plan it in advance or take it at a moment’s notice, the choice is yours.
If, like one of our consultants, you like sailing – head out when the weather is right. If you play golf, get a round in whilst the sun is shining – which it invariably is not at the end of the working day. It is your time, your life, so use it as you want.
No internal team meetings
Meetings for meetings sake. A staple in every traditional law firm. How many times have we sat in a meeting for hours at a time debating the same issue for it not to be resolved, ending in another meeting scheduled to continue the debate?
You can forget about tedious internal meetings when it comes to being a consultant, and an end to the office politics for that matter!
At Cognitive Law we have quarterly catch ups in person, and a zoom team chat every few weeks where we discuss the firm’s activities. It keeps everyone in the loop and is a friendly, relaxed chat to see how everyone is doing; sharing ideas, and enjoying some lunch together. But again, it is not compulsory.
No checking in that you are working, as a consultant nobody cares when you get your work done
You have probably got a little bit of an idea of what working as a consultant solicitor at Cognitive Law is like now. You have probably guessed that we are not into micromanaging and that we prefer to empower our consultants to get on with doing what they do best, at a time best suited for them, with little disruption from us. Some of our night owls do their best work at 11pm. Others like to get their work done at 6am. We do not care!
Our head office team are always on hand to support consultants with everything they need from the start, and throughout their consultancy; but we certainly do not check up on them or set KPI based targets. After all, they made the decision to become a consultant to take back control of their working life. In short, we trust them to do the work, do it well, and do it when it suits them best.
No billing targets or minimum hours – earn as much as you like
Last but by no means least, a huge advantage to becoming a consultant is the freedom to earn as much as you like. We do not set billing targets or minimum hours, the only targets consultants have are the targets they set themselves. They decide their charge rates and fee structures with clients in a way that works best for them, and of course their clients. That is just one small way we ensure not only fee earner control, but client service.
Speaking of client service, we have been overwhelmed by how many of our clients love the fact that they always deal with the same fee earner. We do not have a hierarchy, and we do not put our name to (or charge for) work that has been done by a fee earner with less experience. If a client instructs a fee earner at Cognitive Law, that is the person who looks after them throughout.
So, there are just a few reasons why consultancy is still a very favourable route to go down for solicitors looking to move their career into a new direction.