Thinking of Becoming a Legal Consultant

 

What is a Legal Consultant?

A Legal Consultant is a Solicitor with usually a minimum of 5+ PQE, who may or may not have a client following. A Legal Consultant will work on a self-employed basis, under the commercial umbrella of a law firm,  utilising the firm’s services, while generating their own work to produce fees.

 

The Benefits of Becoming a Legal Consultant

There are many reasons why a Solicitor may choose to become a Legal Consultant, including but not limited to:

  • Financially rewarding – rather than working at Partner or Associate level and passing work to junior members of staff, as a Legal Consultant you can do the work and reap the rewards
  • Lifestyle – most people are now seeing remote working as an excellent lifestyle change, enabling greater choice and flexibility. For example, being available for the school run, avoiding rush hour traffic, no more late nights or high billable hours and targets
  • Be your own boss - have you reached a point in your career where you want to be your own boss? What better way to do this than to become a Legal Consultant, giving you total control over your professional life
  • Your network – have you spent several years building your contact/client network? Becoming a Legal Consultant allows you to capitalise and make the most of your hard work
  • Following – it is possible you may not want to pass on repeat business and as Legal Consultant you won’t have to. You can continue to give your clients the full care and attention they deserve
  • Decide on your caseload – pick and choose what legal matters you are interested in and want to work on. If the firm passes on any enquiries, remember you are under no obligation to take it in on

 Common Questions & Answers

Q. Can the firm increase their fee sharing split %?
A. This largely depends on the firm, but also depends on what you can bring to the table. If you have a client following, or work to be immediately undertaken, there is a stronger possibility of increasing the percentage

Q. Am I covered by the firms PI?
A. Yes

Q. Do I need to pay for my own practising certificate?
A. In some cases yes

Q. How will I work with no salary?
A. Ask yourself the question, am I financially secure, what do my most recent billing figures look like? Remember this is a self-employed opportunity, a risk vs reward role. It is important that financially this is the right decision and a viable proposition for you

Q. Why would I give a percentage cut to the firm?
A. You will be working under the firm’s umbrella, which will include the use of their IT systems, accounts, secretarial and IT support, use of office space and marketing assistance (please refer to Utilising the Firm’s Services and Support for a more comprehensive list)

Q. What are the firm’s Terms & Conditions?
A. Each firm will have their own Ts & Cs and can vary

Q. Can I do locum assignments in conjunction with being a Legal Consultant?
A. Yes, you are self-employed and you are free to work with other clients, as long as there is no conflict of interest 

Q. Will I be considered as a Legal Consultant if I don’t have a following?
A. Yes of course. Firms are not necessarily looking for a following, but like minded Legal Consultants, with the ability to build a client base and generate fees. You may be asked how you are going to generate work and to do a business plan

Q. Smaller Firms & Sole Traders - will the firm pay for me to close down my own firm?
A. In some instances there may be assistance

Q. Do I have to work from home?
A. Most of the consultancies have offices that offer hot desking space and some where there is a requirement to work from the office

Q. Do I have to work to targets?
A. The short answer is no. Working as a Legal Consultant means you don’t have targets to hit, however there will be an expectation that you will bill. Some people may not want to exceed certain billings, for personal reasons and just bill enough to get the income they require

Q. Can I still be part of a team?
A. Yes most firms put particular plans in place to keep an element of team work. This can include team meetings, social events, referral schemes, Christmas parties and team events etc

What key areas of law are popular with consultancy work?

 

Commercial Litigation

 

Civil Litigation

Privacy Law

Family

Banking

Dispute Resolution

Venture Capital

Employment

Immigration

Construction / Infrastructure

Insolvency

Shipping

Media & Entertainment

Tax

Pensions

Financial Services

Competition & Procurement

Risk & Regulation

Commercial Property

Information Technology

Data Protection & Intellectual Property

Private Client

Company Commercial

 

 

Utilising the Firm’s Services and Support

Most consultancy firms feature the following as a minimum:

  • Fee sharing, not just on work undertaken, but also on work the firm may refer
  • Practical law access
  • Full cashier support
  • Marketing assistance
  • Professional indemnity insurance cover
  • Electronic file maintenance
  • File storage
  • Client complaint handling
  • File reviewing
  • Full regulatory service, including access to expert advice
  • Voice recognition software
  • Paralegal  & secretarial support
  • IT support
  • Use of case management software
  • National network of offices
  • Ability to brand own business

Legal Consultant Myths

  • Only inferior quality Solicitors become Consultants -  this most definitely is not the case and in fact with some more research you will find a lot of Legal Consultants are ex-Partners and Associates of reputable firms
  • Becoming a Legal Consultant is only for those who can’t achieve partnership - many Legal Consultants are actually ex Partners. Other Solicitors take the route of consultancy, as they don’t wish to take on partnership responsibilities and want to fee earn
  • I can’t be a Legal Consultant because of IR35 – IR35 is not relevant to self-employed Legal Consultants, the key word is self-employed. You decide your hours, whether you want to work or not and you are not under the direction, supervision or control of anyone
  • I don’t have a following so I can’t be a Consultant – This isn’t always the case, providing you can present a solid business plan
  • I thought firms passed work to Legal Consultants – this is correct in some cases and some firms have more work to pass on than others. However, a true Legal Consultant will be responsible for generating their own work and not rely on being passed any
  • The quality of firms undertaking consultancy work are inferior - This is incorrect. Many firms are ranked in the Legal 500 and Top 100
  • It is illegal for the firm to expect you to work and not be paid – you will be entering into an agreement as a self-employed Legal Consultant, meaning you get paid for all the work you undertake


Want to find out more?

Please call and speak to one of our specialist Legal Consultants on the below numbers:

  • Birmingham (0121 454 1004),
  • Leeds (0113 320 0575),
  • London (0207 183 8586) or
  • Manchester (0161 850 0745)

Alternatively we can be contacted by email at enl@enllegal.co.uk; we look forward to hearing from you.

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