By Greg Plummer
The Times They Are a Changin’
The legal profession in Australia is changing. It’s slowly but surely moving away from the ‘adult day care’ model of practice, where junior lawyers fear the repercussions, judgement and wrath of leaving the office before seniors, and often even their own peers.
The traditional culture of getting in to work at the crack of dawn and leaving well after dark (except occasionally on Fridays) just won’t fly with this new generation of young lawyers.
They expect to work in a different way. They want more flexibility and versatility, while still getting the training, mentoring and excellent quality work of a developing lawyer.
Pinsent Masons is an innovation leader and was the first law firm in Australia to adopt a fully agile working environment. The mantra is that work is an “activity not a location”. Trust is what it is all about. You trust and empower people and it engenders loyalty and productivity.
It’s that innovative spirit that saw Pinsent Masons right at the inception of the legal contractor model in the UK in 2013. Today, Vario is the largest law firm backed offering in the world.
At the heart of Vario is a ‘hub’ of lawyers. Many of these lawyers often run their own businesses and who engage through Vario to work with Pinsent Masons’ clients and also internally within the firm, on discrete assignments. It’s integrated into the firm, so Varios get to know Pinsent Masons, the partners and a range of different clients.
Time It Right
For junior lawyers, under 3 years of experience, services like Vario begs the question, when is the right time to start freelancing?
In the future, my view is that traditional law firm structures will evolve into bands of predominately contractor workforces, with lawyers called upon as dictated by the needs of particular pieces of work. But, we aren’t there yet as firms generally lack the training infrastructures to really make it successful.
True, there are some lawyers that have started their careers contracting, and it has worked very well. But, it’s not yet mainstream.
A common myth associated with that, is that those lawyers aren’t as interested in their long term career prospects, but more in short term financial benefit.
However, in the vast majority of cases, that is simply not true. The conscious choice of path to reach one’s ultimate career goals might be different, but the goals are often exactly the same – i.e. to have a meaningful, long term, legal career, with continual advancement and job satisfaction.
Every developing lawyer benefits from mentoring, development of technical skills and client engagement, be it as an employee, or through contracting on roles where experienced lawyers are strongly engaged. So, if you decide to not go down the traditional law firm training route early in your career, it’s wise to make sure that each and every “gig” you accept is valuable to you. Look at the type of work, the team, and importantly the mentors, and other leaders. If the answer to the questions of “Will this role teach me a new skill and /or help set me up for the next, more senior gig?” if yes, then go for it!
If you are interested in starting your freelance legal career, get in touch with Vario.Read another case study