The legal profession is constantly evolving, and with that comes new opportunities for lawyers, paralegals and legal operations specialists. Consulting, one such option, is a career path that gives you more control over the type of work you do and where your career goes next, with plenty of room for personal growth and professional development.
The benefits of legal consulting are varied, including more freedom to balance work and life, develop a passion or new business idea, continue your education, or spend more time with family. With the right approach, you can also harness consulting as an opportunity to diversify your skills and experience, and play a proactive role in building a better legal profession for us all.
Here are five benefits of consulting that may make you think differently about the next steps in your legal career:
#1 Prioritise your wellbeing
Study after study has suggested that the legal profession in the UK faces high levels of stress, long working hours and a lack of work-life balance, which can contribute to burnout. The competitive nature of the profession and the pressure to meet billable hour targets often intensify these issues.
In a survey of legal professionals in the UK who have switched jobs at least once, 24% cited work-life balance as the major reason for leaving their jobs. While some City lawyers are only clocking off, on average, after 11pm, there is a growing realisation that the traditional culture of long hours and presenteeism is neither necessary nor desirable.
A shift to consulting is an opportunity to prioritise your well-being and establish a better blend between your career, family, and personal interests. Having a greater sense of control over your time and how it is spent can lead to greater overall satisfaction with life.
#2 Think beyond the partner track
Becoming a partner in a traditional firm may be the ultimate career goal for some, but it’s not the only way to build a fulfilling career in the law.
The partnership track keeps getting longer. While a decade ago, FT reports that it took an average of eight years after qualifying to make partner at a so-called ‘Magic Circle’ law firm, this increased to more than ten years in 2021.
Women and ethnic minorities face additional challenges, and continue to be underrepresented at partner level. The 2021 Solicitors Regulation Authority survey found that only 35% of partners in UK law firms are women, despite women making up 61% of lawyers. Furthermore, in larger firms with more than 50 partners, only 8% of partners are from an ethnic minority background.
While it is critical to correct these imbalances in every way we can, consulting helps to build a more equitable and diverse legal profession, in which legal professionals have more routes to career success.
#3 Benefit from a portfolio career
Rather than having one permanent job and career path with a single employer, legal consulting gives you an opportunity to build a portfolio career, in which you divide your time between multiple different roles.
This is an ideal approach if you want to move into a new area of the law, earn an income while launching a new business venture, or completely pivot your career into a different industry. You may even want to carve out more time for a volunteer role that gives back to your community and contributes to your personal growth and development.
With a portfolio career, you can pursue your passions without sacrificing your legal career or income. By offering diverse experiences, new challenges and skill development, this approach also helps you stay marketable and prepared for an unpredictable future.
#4 Better manage your caring responsibilities
A third of lawyers in the UK have primary caring responsibilities for children (33%), up from 32% in 2019. A career in consulting allows you to set your own schedule around caring responsibilities, so you don’t have to choose between your role as a parent or primary caregiver and your success at work.
As a legal consultant, you can choose which projects you take on and access more flexible working arrangements that give you a chance to continue building your career and earning an income while meeting your caring commitments.
#5 Help drive progress in the legal sector
It’s time to rethink and recalibrate the established – and often harmful – working culture in the legal field. While top leaders in the industry hold significant responsibility, legal professionals can also take action.
Building a career as a consultant helps to retain your valuable skills and experience in the industry, at a time when a shortage of talent is a concern for 88% of top 100 UK firms, according to the 2022 PwC Annual Survey. Consulting, with its flexibility and independence, enables more legal professionals with different circumstances and obligations outside work to continue making contributions to the industry. This enriches the diversity in the legal sector and fosters a culture where everyone is given a chance to succeed, no matter their background or gender.
Today more than ever, more of us are willing to admit (to ourselves most of all) that we don’t desire a full-time job with just one company. If you seek a balance between work and personal life, more time for your caring commitments, diverse skill development and experience, or prefer a flexible schedule and location, we are here to help you step into a rewarding career as a legal consultant.
Obelisk Support’s network includes large corporations, small businesses, and law firms, and we have the tools and experience to match you with projects that align with your unique abilities and experience. If 2023 is the year you want to explore a new way of working, get in touch. We’re here to guide you and answer any questions you may have.