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Are we coming to the end of traditional law firms

by Sellick Partnership | 8 September 2016

Law has always been viewed as a highly sought-after career that can be very rewarding and fruitful, offering excellent long-term career prospects. However, the hours are often gruelling, and candidates often have to be extremely resilient and committed when entering the legal sector. What’s more, candidate attitudes are continuously changing, with the Millenial workforce expecting greater flexibility in their careers. There has been a large increase in companies giving staff huge amounts of autonomy and freedom in respect to their hours and holiday, with the likes of Virgin, Apple and Google offering generous remuneration packages.

But the question is, are traditional law firms offering the same level of flexibility?
One of the main motivations of candidates looking for a new opportunity is the scope for flexibility at work without it damaging their prospects for progression. Candidates are looking for the freedom to fit work around a busy work/life schedule. They want to be able to focus on enjoying the work they do, rather than feeling anxious about the number of billable hours they have to complete, or quite simply being remunerated fairly for the amount of work they have done.

So have traditional law firms adapted to the changing motivations of legal professional
The short answer is no. There are still a sizeable number of lawyers leaving their current positions, as a result of being over-worked and therefore setting up as sole practitioners. The reason behind the moves are simple; by setting up themselves they are able to have a better work/life balance and step into an arena that offers fairer remuneration packages for the work that they do because traditional law firms are reluctant to change. 
However, more recently an alternative type of law firm has begun to emerge, which is giving legal professionals the freedom and flexibility to work how they want whilst keeping a salary that is directly in line with the work that they carry out.  

Alternative law firms such as these are providing a fee share arrangement in which legal professionals take c.70% or more of what they bill. This means if you bill £100,000 in a year then you are on a minimum of £70,000 for that year. Firms like this are allowing their consultants to choose whether they work full-time or part-time, in the office or at home and around hours that adapt to their personal life. The benefit to lawyers of this model over that of being a sole practitioner, is that you do not necessarily have to face the additional challenges of running a business as well, but you will still receive the lifestyle and taxable benefits that a sole practitioner will have.

Traditional law firms however do provide more security, giving legal professionals a consistent salary whether they bring any business to the firm or not. However, if you are someone who has a book of contacts, bank or referrers or even just has a passion for business, then this alternative model will definitely benefit you. Your take home salary will generally increase, your work/life balance will be entirely dictated by you, you will be able to decide where you work from, you will be able take ownership of your career and you could be in a position to make all business decisions ensuring they are all in your own best interests and made without any false promises. 

If you are interested in hearing about how you could take advantage of opportunities like this please contact me on 0113 243 9775 or barney.gibson@sellickpartnership.co.uk, or browse our latest legal roles.