Inspirational, Vario Stories

Rachel Wood

From practicing solicitor to project management. Rachel found a permanent position through Vario.

Posted 29 January 2019

Rachel originally qualified as a solicitor in corporate law, moving from a fee earning solicitor role at 5 PQE into a PSL position at McGrigors LLP in their corporate team as one of the firm’s first PSL lawyers.  After a number of years in that position, she then became Head of Knowledge before McGrigors merged with Pinsent Masons after which Rachel retained her position.  During her time as Head of Knowledge, Rachel helped manage a number of projects including business transformation projects and large scale IT change projects, working closely with the Pinsent Masons Project Management team from 2012.

After leaving her position at Pinsent Masons, Rachel was hired as Director of Risk and Knowledge at another law firm which she enjoyed thoroughly.  However, the firm was later taken over and she helped integrate the two firms into one before her role was made redundant.  Rachel then thought to try her hand at consulting.

“Being based in Scotland, jobs aren’t as plentiful as in London but there are job opportunities within risk and transactions. Project management specialised within the legal field is a new discipline, but I had so much experience in delivering change and also a background in law as a solicitor.  It’s like a natural evolution…it all fits together quite well.” Rachel explains.

The Vario team got in touch with Rachel to discuss joining the Vario hub for an internal assignment at Pinsent Masons to help to start up a new client and legal management team.  Reflecting on her application process with Vario, Rachel comments; “It was a very smooth operation.  I was onboarded very quickly. The client was urgently in need of a project manager, so it was good that I could be fast tracked to help the client as soon as possible.  It was reassuring speaking to my Account Manager who was able to give advice and guidance regarding the freelancing aspect of working as a Vario.”

Rachel was one of the first project management Varios in our hub, a resource increasingly in demand from our clients to help them with projects of varying size, scope and complexity.  Our Vario project managers are adept at delivering legal projects or managing legal resources but Rachel was in a unique position with experience as both a project manager and a fully qualified lawyer.  This special combination of skills across the two disciplines made Rachel a real asset for the project.

In regards to freelancing, Rachel is very pragmatic; “I’m working in roles at a very senior level but I enjoyed the autonomy.  I’m quite excited to try out different things.  I could have gone in-house with a client; for example in a GC role, but I liked being my own boss.  Overall, it’s been a positive experience.  I wouldn’t rule out doing it again in the future.  The only downside in my opinion is that there is a lot of paperwork and admin which you have to do yourself.” she notes.

Rachel continues: “I definitely see working as a freelancer through Vario would have benefits in terms of work life balance, being able to take time off and enjoy the quiet spells, but I’ve not really had any chance to enjoy that as I was placed on assignment as soon as I signed up to become a Vario and will become a permanent employee at Pinsent Masons once more once my assignment has finished.  Had I carried on as a Vario, I would have taken more time off after my assignment and enjoyed the periods off.”

Vario is not only a great way for legal professionals to enjoy the benefits of flexible working as a freelancer, but also an excellent avenue to find full time work also, which was Rachel’s motivation for joining Vario; “I’ve always wanted to work full time and Vario was a different way for me to do that.  Other Varios I work with within Pinsent Masons on assignment often comment how much they enjoy the benefits of freelancing as a Vario.” Rachel adds.

Although Rachel is no longer a Vario as she has accepted a permanent position within Pinsent Masons, Rachel offered the following advice for other potential freelancers; “Consulting is a great way to try different things; different companies, cultures, industries. Vario is a good way to strike out on your own but still have a support network behind you so you don’t feel you’re on your own.  There is a learning curve being a freelancer, but with Vario it’s a good way to ease into that lifestyle with a support network too.”

If you believe work life harmony can exist, balancing legal work with your other life passions, apply to join our hub of like-minded legal professionals today.


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