Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve still got questions swirling around your mind, check out our FAQs below, or just give us a call
About Vario (3)
A Vario is a freelance lawyer who has gone through our rigorous assessment process and joined our community.
Vario is based on a freelance/flexible model. We are not able to contract with our Varios in an individual capacity; Varios are required to deliver their services through a corporate vehicle. Typically this will be a personal services company, although some Varios choose to go down the PAYE Umbrella company route (we don’t advise the Varios on which route to take, this is for each individual to decide what works best for them).
As a successful Vario applicant, you will go through an on boarding process to make sure you are assignment-ready. We will then keep in touch with you and as soon as a suitable assignment opportunity comes through we will let you know. As the assignment opportunities are very much driven by client needs, we can’t guarantee work; however being as flexible as possible on your side will help us place you into assignments. By the same token, Vario is not an exclusive arrangement, so there is no obligation on you to accept assignments offered to you, and you are free to accept work from other sources. All we ask is that you keep us updated around your availability.
No, if you are brought into the Vario hub you will still be able to pick up work from other providers/agencies all we ask is that you keep us informed of your availability so that we can contact you when you become available again.
Application Process (3)
To provide insight into an individual’s natural behaviours, style and personality, and their fit for freelance work. Freelancing requires a different mind-set and a particular set of skills and behaviours, and fantastic lawyers might not always make fantastic freelance lawyers. This questionnaire will also help you understand whether or not freelance work might be right for you.
You’ll complete an online application form on our website. There are then several stages including an online personality profile, interview and references. The full process is outlined on the apply page. We aim to complete the recruitment process within one month, at which point, if successful, you’ll become a Vario.
For Germany-based applicants, please apply via https://xenionlaw.com/en/you-want-to-become-a-xenion-lawyer/
Every client is different and your briefing will include insight into how they tend to integrate freelancers. Whilst there will always be activities reserved for permanent employees, most clients will include you in the majority of team events and will make you feel welcome!
This varies for each Vario depending upon factors such as their location, experience, current market conditions and expected day-rate. The more willing a Vario is to work in a flexible way, the more frequently they tend to be on assignment.
A very wide range! Our client base covers sectors from banking to TMT and infrastructure, and from FTSE 100 companies through to public sector organisations. The common thread is that each client is seeking a flexible legal resource to help them meet their challenges.
A large proportion of Vario assignments are with Pinsent Masons’ clients, although not all. We also offer assignments within Pinsent Masons’ in-house teams where support is required.
IR35 is anti-avoidance tax legislation which sets the rules to make sure contractors working through personal service companies (PSCs) pay the correct tax. The rules are in place to address what HMRC describe as “deemed employment”, where individuals operating through PSCs work like employees and they should pay broadly the same income tax and NICs regardless of the structure they work through.
The first piece of legislation came into force in April 2000. In April 2017 the government introduced the “off-payroll working reforms”, a separate piece of new tax legislation applying to the public sector. This is being extended to the private sector from 6 April 2021.
Under current rules, it is the responsibility of the individual worker to ensure they are complying with the IR35 rules, and properly accounting for tax through their PSC. Come 6 April 2021 the responsibility for determining the employment status for tax purposes of off-payroll workers will (where services are being provided to non-SME end clients) shift from the individual contractor to the end client business or organisation. The changes also impose payroll obligations on the business that is paying the worker’s PSC or other intermediary.
• Responsibility for determining how an assignment should be taxed will move from the Vario’s PSC to the end client (which might be either Pinsent Masons or an external Pinsent Masons’ client).
• The end client will be responsible for providing a status determination statement (‘SDS’) confirming their IR35 assessment.
• For assignments falling inside IR35, liability for income tax and national insurance contributions, payable by operation of the IR35 rules, moves away from the Vario’s PSC, and Vario/Pinsent Masons as ‘fee-payer’ will have an obligation under the new legislation to make the relevant PAYE deductions.
• For assignments falling outside IR35, the Vario’s PSC will remain responsible for accounting for tax and national insurance contributions as appropriate.
• There will be a dispute process in place for a Vario to challenge an IR35 assessment – this is a requirement of the new legislation.
Vario has a dedicated project team working with Pinsent Masons’ tax specialists and specialist external IR35 advisers to ensure we are as well-placed as possible to ensure continuity of service for Pinsent Masons clients, and help and support our Vario lawyers navigate the changes. Vario have a range of engagement solutions, both PSC and PAYE . From April 2020 Vario will continue to support Varios operating through PSCs, whether individual engagements fall inside or outside of IR35. Vario already provides payroll support to PSC contractors undertaking public sector assignments which fall inside IR35, and, from 6th April 2021, will provide support to PSC contractors undertaking private sector assignments caught by the IR35 rules. Vario also has in place alternative PAYE solutions including a PAYE (Umbrella) model, alongside finalising other non-exclusive employed solutions to provide the best-possible choice and flexibility.
A significant proportion of our assignments are in London, the South East of England and Scotland however we are seeing increasing regional and international opportunities as Pinsent Masons grows their global office network.
This depends on the specific requirements of the client and assignment. Many Varios do split their time between on site and home working, in agreement with the client, however most (although not all) assignments do require some on site presence. In terms of working hours, this will again be specific to each assignment and will be clear for both parties from the outset. Typically, Varios work a professional working day (including occasionally working above core hours if workload dictates).
Typically you’ll cover travel between your home and a client’s offices. Any expenses incurred in performing a role will typically be recoverable. Expenses policy is assignment-specific and will be discussed at this time.
We understand the day-rate that each Vario is seeking to meet their personal expectations, and filter opportunities for them accordingly. You remain in control of the decisions you make.
Typically, the freelance market remunerates through the use of daily rates. We agree a day-rate band with each Vario, appropriate to market and individual expectations. Each Vario invoices Pinsent Masons whilst on assignment, and fees are paid by the firm. Overtime policy is also assignment-specific.
Our assignments span the breadth of legal experience, from paralegal to Director or General Counsel, all across a number of sectors.
Training & Support (2)
When on assignment, Varios are placed on Pinsent Masons’ professional indemnity (PI) policy. We also provide access to a professional support lawyer and access to online legal resources LexisPSL.
When you join the Vario community, you can subscribe to our newsletter – Vario Life – that includes firm-wide training opportunities, some of which carry CPD credits. We also offer Vario-specific training events whilst on assignment. Finally, many clients support additional training opportunities whilst you are working with them.