Professional Support Lawyer/Part time Solicitor(15 Posts)
I left work (magic circle firm) at 5 years PQE about 6 years ago to have the first of my 3 DCs. I am now hoping to get back into work, but would like a part time PSL type role, or a part time solicitor role. We live in Surrey, and ideally, I would like something in that area, but I am willling to travel into the City too.
What are my chances of getting into this type of role, do you think? I have strong academics and really good experience, despite me being out of the game for 6 years.
Am I hoping for too much?
Have you been in touch with your old firm? Often the PSL role seems to evolve and there may be a dept that are being swamped and need support. Or write to the heads of the specific departments of firms you'd like to work in - I've known this to work a few times much to HR's panic. Sounds like you've great experience/quals. I would emphasise in any letters/calls that you're properly interested in what being a PSL entails ie internal client focus, intellectual rigour, juggling conflicting demands, able to organise own time. I don't know much about part time solicitor jobs or anything outside of London but if it's in Corporate I'd suggest avoiding the unpredictable side of it...but am sure you know that already!
I can only comment on part time solicitor roles not professional support.
The only way I found a part time role was in the public sector. As you'll be aware times are pretty tight so I know a lot are only generally allowed to recruit internally if at all, but they have recruited externally in the past year where specific skills were needed.
I am part time but I moved to public sector as a ft role then made a request to go part time further down the line. I don't know how many roles would be advertised part time but it could be that with reduced budgets they only have money for a new part time role, although I've more often seen two specialisms clump together to pay for a ful time person working different days in each dept.
But this could be very much where I work rather than general trends.
I think either of these is likely to depend quite a bit on your practice area. MC experience and 5 years PQE sound like really good starting points, but if you are in a technical area where things may have moved on quite a bit in 6 years you may struggle to find a position either PT or PSL.
You would struggle massively at my old City firm to get a PSL or part time position in that situation I am afraid.
PSL rarely gets to external adverts because there are often internal candidates. Even if it does, they will want someone with their finger totally on the pulse in all the areas I can think of. I can't imagine six years out of corporate law, litigation, IP, employment, banking, etc puts you in the best position to be the go-to resource for know how.
Part time, they might consider four days if they thought you were the absolute dogs' whatsits. Anything further and they'd want you to be a known quantity so that they were sure you could balance client demands with your schedule. But again, I think six years out after only five years PQE would be a hard sell.
Sorry if that's brutal, but you did ask. I think a smaller more local firm might be a better starting point.
I'd say consider in-house as well so that you have a defined flow of work that you can manage as you need to.
5 months ago I went down to three days a week as a fee-earner at a silver circle firm. Lots of people said "ooh how perfect, you've found the holy grail" and it was fine at first as I was still working on lots of matters I had been allocated when I was full-time (and closed them to the clients' and partners' satisfaction). Since most of those deals have closed it's honestly getting worse and worse. I don't get put on matters where there is a perception that someone working three days a week will not be able to service the client's needs (even though I am more than willing to be flexible) and isn't fully dedicated to the job. I trained here and they know me well, so it really is just the part-time thing that's the problem.
My numbers are absolutely horrendous and I am constantly scrabbling around for anything but BD and non-billable work, even as the rest of my department are at 110% capacity and staying late every night as I rush home to relieve the nanny. I'm not sure what else I can do to get more work besides ask for it at every turn, but I know it will be held against me. I'm absolutely dreading my review and I never have before.
what was your specialism as that will have an impact.
have you thought about trying PLC? They are very flexible, often recruiting and apparently it's a great place to work. I agree that you may struggle to get a PSL role from a standing start, although often when we have looked, the candidate pool has not been strong (everyone wants to stay fee-earning these days) so you never know. Also agree with Petronellas that your old firm may have a bit of freelancing, training projects etc you could help with to get your skills back up again. Absolutely no idea about Surrey though. Well worth a chat with a recruitment consultant.
Agree with pp...it's no walk in the park to get a PSL role these days. Most roles are filled by internal candidates and, if advertised externally, there will be a lot of competition. I got a PSL after 1 year out (on mat leave) and it was a very challenging to get through interviews and, more importantly, to actually get to grips with the demands of the role. I think after 6 years out you will need to do a lot of work to bring yourself up to speed (enrol on refresher courses / maybe do some pro bono work in a law centre?).
Another point to think about is that being a PSL is not the "soft option" it perhaps once was. Honestly, my role is just as demanding as fee earning. Although I have more autonomy about when I work (so generally can get away on time) - there are still deadlines and pressure (and several late evenings a month). The modern PSL role now includes a certain amount of client facing work (training, virtual PSL service) as well as the more traditional internal facing activities. Plus, you are expected to be a source of technical expertise (fair enough) which entails a lot of reading / thinking - which generally has to be done at weekends / evenings as you don't have time during your working day. Obv very hard to do with young kids.
As pp said, don't mean to be brutal but it's better that you approach it with your eyes open (wish I had!).
I'm a p/t solicitor but I don't know anyone who is part time that hasn't been full time with the firm, then reduced hours after returning from mat leave. People are just not recruited as part timers, irrespective of experience and quals. I agree that you're probably going to need to get yourself upto speed before applying for jobs so you can demonstrate you're back up to date and just persevere. There will be opportunities out there, but you're going to face some tough competition.
I was offered 2 jobs on a part time basis (4 days per week - I think less than that and you would struggle, they basically agree to 4 days as they know you'll do full time work in 4 days and they'll get to pay you 20% less in my experience...) in summer 2011 - I think the bigger issue here would be the length of time since the OP has last worked.
You really can't know until you look. I have just returned to work after 4 yrs out. 3 days a week, company / commercial. You just can't know what's out there until you look. This firm were keen for extra help in an expanding department but didn't want to take on and pay another full time employee (times are tight) which worked out just fine for me. I doubt this would happen in the City firm I used to work in, but I'm in the provinces now and things are different.
I'm part time, got my role while on maternity leave rather than having worked full time for the firm before. Like Nelly I think some firms are possibly seeing part time as less of a risk in the current climate. I'm high street, only 1 year PQE and not in London, so a different world from some posters on this thread. but it can be done.
There are in-house part time roles that do come up from time to time. City quals always help.
Call recruiters and start talking to them. The market has changed a lot in the last six years, and not for the better. Recruiters can give you lots of great advice about strategy and what's out there.
At risk of committing the dual cardinal sins of reanimating a zombie thread and shamelessly plugging something on MN, I am recruiting solicitors who want to work part time from home and choose their own hours. Please PM me, or check out my ever-so-professional job ad on Mumsnet: Solicitors wanted
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