Henry Burkitt

Henry balances freelance legal work in financial services alongside the running of his sailing adventure business.

Mar 29, 2017

‘I’ve always enjoyed legal work, but private practice wasn’t for me. I wasn’t prepared to put my life on hold to get to the top. The opportunity of freelance work presented itself when a friend told me about Vario. I’ve got seven years of PQE, and working in this way allows me to dip in and out of well-paid contracts as I’ve been building up my business. Sailing has always been my absolute passion, and now I can pursue this whilst maintaining the level of financial stability my young family needs. A four-month contract provides a cushion that allows me to focus on the business for six months.

For me, it’s a fair exchange of time and expertise, for money. The expectations that people have of you as a freelance lawyer are much more balanced — you’re not locked in and you retain control of your working life.

I’ve experimented with different freelance work patterns — working full-time for several months versus ongoing part-time work — to see which is the best balance. Currently, I’ve just started a contract two days a week with a regulatory agency, which is really interesting as I’m learning new skills.

It can be difficult to switch from complete immersion in my venture, to complete immersion in a legal contract (and back again), so I’m hoping the current arrangement will allow me to stay on top of both!

The support I receive from Vario is invaluable in ensuring each assignment is the right fit for my situation. The team is consistently available and helpful, and the clout of Pinsent Masons adds to the confidence I feel walking into new environments.

A great freelance lawyer needs to be personable, embrace change and be happy outside of their comfort zone. You need to go into contracts with an open mind, reacting quickly to situations and doing the right thing without putting people’s noses out of joint. The success of a contract is determined as much by how you behave, as by what you know.

 

“The support I receive from Vario is invaluable in ensuring each assignment is the right fit for my situation. The team is consistently available and helpful, and the clout of Pinsent Masons adds to the confidence I feel walking into new environments.”

 

Obviously, you have to plan ahead for this type of lifestyle and make sure you have the funds to support yourself if the market is slow or if your business needs your full-time attention. But I honestly don’t think I’d have been able to make my dream a reality without working as a Vario. It’s been a transformational experience for me, facilitating my entrepreneurial spirit and giving me the right work-life balance.’

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