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On the legal beat

On the legal beat

Nicole Billett

As the CEO of a virtual legal practice which offers legal professionals a more flexible and alternative career path, I meet many legal professional people with real challenges, writes Nicole Billett.

These challenges come in all different shapes and sizes, but a constant theme in them all is the need for the legal industry to evolve, to provide its people and those it services with a more dynamic work solution and a more sustainable service proposition.

Take for example an energetic, impressive young lawyer whom I met a few weeks ago. He owns his own practice but is at a crossroads.

His challenge is he loves being in control of what he is doing, but he is spending a lot of time on non-legal and non-business development activities. This is both frustrating and not the best use of his time.

Further, he is also finding that running the business drains a lot of the profit from each job, so in the wash-up, the return to him personally for all the work is less than rewarding. He can’t see his way out of this mess.

It’s a pretty common theme out there in legal professional land – young lawyers looking for flexibility, autonomy and control over how they apply their legal skills and knowledge.

What struck me particularly about this challenge was that here was a legal professional with a strong desire to pursue the business development side of running a practice. This is not a very common trait among lawyers, who are generally not that keen on marketing their services, but arguably one that should be fostered and rewarded in our industry.

Perhaps even more interesting, though, is that he is a relatively young lawyer looking for more experienced lawyers to help him service the clients he has had no problem in finding.

As you know, normally when professionals enter a law firm, they are given the work, whatever work the partner they are assigned to gives them. This can then have a strong influence on what kind of lawyer you end up being. 

This guy needed an alternative business model. A solution where he could remain in control of how and when he worked, where his business development skills would be put to good use and where he could continue to learn how to be a better lawyer.

He also needed a model where he could pursue the activities that interested him, in this case business development, in the work he’d like to gain experience in.

And he needed the resources of a team when he needed to get the work done. Oh, to be flexible. While new-age law businesses such as ourselves are offering more flexible solutions, will this come soon enough to save many young lawyers in similar positions?

Nicole Billett is the CEO and managing director of Teddington Legal.

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