There’s more than one way to be a lawyer
I love working in-house. You get to be a truly commercial lawyer working closely with the business and key decision makers. When you do your job well, you can turn even the most sceptical, who see lawyers as deal blockers, into raving fans who always get you involved at the start and value your contribution.
There are some drawbacks to a fixed position though, particularly after you have been in position for some time. Working for one business and industry can mean that you see a repeat of the same deals in a regular cycle and depending on where you are in your career, the flat structure often in place can leave the ambitious with no obvious place to develop their career.
It is not news that the legal marketplace is rapidly changing and with the flexible resourcing model an increasingly popular one with buyers, there are more opportunities than ever before for those looking for a long term career in legal consultancy or as a professional interim lawyer.
I am often asked how the life of a professional interim lawyer compares to being a permanently employed.
Of course, there is no traditional job security. No benefits, no pension, no holiday, just good old cash. However, in some alternative models, you operate via a limited company and structure your earnings to be more efficient. Our consultants are also financially incentivised to bring in their own contacts and clients, so there are opportunities to increase your income even further. This means that you can take home a good deal more every month than you might do as an employee.
As buyers become more educated when it comes to NewLaw and flexible resourcing alternatives, there is a huge demand for highly skilled and experienced commercial lawyers for interim and project roles. My experience is that you need not fear periods without work when you want it.
As an interim lawyer or consultant, you are in control of your career and how you manage it. You are not limited to four of five weeks’ holiday a year, but can choose to take breaks in-between client work and placements. I know an interim lawyer for instance, who spends breaks in-between assignments in the remote outback in Australia where he farms. Although I work as an independent consultant, I benefit from a strong sense of community at my company, which allows me to leave my clients an alternative point of contact in my absence. This means I don’t have to constantly search for a Wi-Fi spot whilst trying to have much-needed a technology detox!
As you move from one business to another doing placements and work, you experience a great deal of variety; new people, new businesses, new issues, new agreements and new challenges each time. If the stimulus of new experience appeals to you, then interim or consultancy work could be for you. Everywhere I have worked as an interim lawyer I have learnt new legal skills, made new business contacts, some of whom have become friends for life. The variety of this experience has enhanced what I offer as a lawyer to my clients tremendously.
Some further good news: as an interim or consultant, you needn’t worry about those difficult budget negotiations. If you are an interim General Counsel then of course, you will need to address budget issues, but you’re not going to get into that rut of the same, sometimes disheartening, budget round.
Office politics is something you sidestep as an interim lawyer or consultant. You can shrug your shoulders as you know you are only there for a short time, and because the other staff know that, you are unlikely to find yourself caught up in political game plays by others.
And finally, as an outsider coming into a business to fix a resource problem, I find I get a great deal of respect.
All in all, what is not to like about a career as a professional interim lawyer or legal consultant?
Linda Kabi is a highly experienced telecoms, IT and commercial lawyer and consultant with Halebury. She has 30 years’ experience working primarily in the international telecoms industry, having previously acted as GC at Nowtel. Linda has also worked as a senior lawyer in high-profile tech companies including BT, Inmarsat, Hutchison 3G and Vodafone. This article was first published on LexisNexis Future of Law on 16th April 2015: http://blogs.lexisnexis.co.uk/futureoflaw/2015/04/theres-more-than-one-way-to-be-a-lawyer/
Follow Linda on Twitter on @lindakabi
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