Going Solo: time to say good-bye to the office

January 11, 2018

Historically, the legal profession has been a somewhat prescriptive space to ply one’s trade.

Once ensconced within a firm, a newly appointed lawyer has a rigid framework to operate within, and endless lists of protocols to abide by. True enough, for some lawyers this can be a source of comfort and stability, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, there are practitioners out there that yearn for the freedom that can only be forged by going solo. By taking control of their own career and designing the way that they want to operate their practice.

Over a series of blogs gunnercooke‘s Recruitment Director, Laura Fisher, will be running through the benefits of unpinning the shackles, and practising law whilst also being your own boss – but with the security and support of a wider network.

To kick start, Laura will be looking in particular at the reasons why you should consider running your own business.

Cheerio, office!

“This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.” Disputed though it is who first said these words, it’s a sentiment that resonates with many. The routine of waking to a squealing alarm set far too early, rushing through the front door half-choking on burnt toast, sitting in traffic whilst some imbecilic DJ waffles on the radio, before stepping into a beige-walled cube full of papers and ringing phones, is not everyone’s idea of a professional Shangri-La.

Setting up as a self-employed consultant is about more than simply dodging annoying alarms and rush-hour traffic though. It’s about extracting your practice from a prescribed locale and nurturing it in a way that wholly works for you. This brings about all kinds of professional benefits which we’ll cover later, but what does vacating the office for good mean for the self-employed consultant?

An end to the politics

The self-employed consultant will not be able to dodge the office entirely. There are still meetings to attend, clients to visit, admin issues to be sorted on-site, and so on. However, that pressure cooker environment of spending hours at a time in the company of the same people is eliminated. Great friendships can be forged when working in proximity with others. Shared work spaces facilitate shared ideas, banter and rapport with like-minded people. So too though, can conflicts. Personality clashes are all but inevitable in shared office spaces, and they can become a source of great unhappiness, even for those not directly involved. Removing oneself from an everyday office environment means removing oneself from many of these tensions.

Flexibility and freedom

If we were to say that typically, a lawyer might leave their home at 7 am, to return some twelve hours later at around 7 pm, that equates to an enormous amount of time every year where your personal life is on pause. Too early to take the kids to school, too late to prepare dinner in the evening. Deliveries are missed, personal appointments are awkward to organise, and the gym becomes a mythical place only read about in magazines.

When you are your own boss, all of this suddenly becomes possible. You dictate your own working day!

The end of the commute

The daily commute is not something people want to hear others grumbling about. Most must do it, and no-one likes doing it. But the daily commute is something that can get on top of some people in a serious way. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that the average Briton spends over a year of their life travelling to and from work. Time that can be spent doing little other than resenting the fact that this is how you have to spend it.

Indeed, Professor Jennifer Roberts, Dept. of Economics University of Sheffield said, “There is increasing evidence that [commuting] adversely affects our psychological and physical health – even after we account for the increased wages and larger home that commuting further may allow us to obtain.”

Bringing an end to the relentless daily commute isn’t just about receiving a windfall in the currency of time, it can also have demonstrable positive effects on both mind and body.

Time for other pursuits

It might be tempting to read this piece and think the self-employed consultant lives a life of leisurely get-ups, yoga classes, and brunches, with a bit of legal work thrown in. Not true. To earn the requisite money to finance a comfortable lifestyle, these lawyers must still put in the hours. The point though, is that the consultant decides on when and how those hours are completed.

The flexibility afforded by being self-employed is used by different consultants in all kinds of ways. Some dedicate time to pursuing hobbies, others travel, some even set up side-line businesses. You’ll have to work out yourself when you can set aside the time for these pursuits, but the point is – you can.

Next time, we will be focusing on how going self-employed, rather than being a risk to professional development, can actually be the best thing for it…

If you have any further questions on this topic or other recruitment matters, please do get in touch.

Laura Fisher, Recruitment Director at gunnercooke

D: 07979 144 697

E: laura.fisher@gunnercooke.com