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Becoming a consultant (in law)

(5 Posts)
LaTook Thu 21-Jul-11 20:47:11

I wonder if any of you have any experience/advice on joining a partnership on a consultancy basis?

I am currently employed, on maternity leave, due back in sept. For various reasons I don't want to go back and have been offered a consultancy contract.

Do any of you have any advice on becoming a consultant? What will I need to consider? I'm having a meeting regarding the offer next week, what should I be asking them?

The main things I think I will need to take into consideration at present are:

Income not guaranteed
No benefits (pension mat leave xmas parties grin)
am I capable of generating work/how do I do this (I will be fine at retaining clients)
Tax returns

The biggest upside for me is the fact that the consultancy contract will allow me to qualify in law (something that my current employers will now not do, a reason why I am leaving). The downside is the loss of a very good guaranteed wage

The offer sounds too good to be true flexible working, working from home etc can somebody give me some good down to earth advice. Is consultancy work a really hard road to tread or actually a very useful and viable option for working mothers?

Helenagrace Fri 22-Jul-11 11:46:11

I have a consultancy business and I run the back office functions of DH's consultancy.

For me it works well with children. I make it to their school events and do drop offs most days. I have good friends and the back up of before and after school club as well. My work is especially flexible as clients often want to talk to me in the evening anyway. Sometimes I pay for the time spent at school events - last Tuesday I was filing my VAT return at midnight because I was at sports day in the afternoon.

On the downside, if you work from home you sometimes feel on duty all the time. It can be difficult to ignore the answer machine flashing and the sound of a fax coming through. Get a business line and find somewhere to hold meetings. I use a local hotel and either meet in their bar or hire a meeting room by the hour. My local council has some hot desk offices that have meeting room facilities for hire at cheap rates to start ups.

With regard to generating work I guess it depends on the field you work in. Our biggest clients are in financial services so we've had an interesting couple of years to say the least. I go to some networking meetings but they can be irritating. The key thing with those is to get to the decision makers. Often companies send a sales person to them so you can't make a good contact yourself. Make sure you build some time in for marketing activity - and don't let it be taken over by anything else. I have a rule of spending two hours a week on marketing. If work comes in to the space I had set aside for marketing I make sure I move the marketing time elsewhere in the week rather than just let it be taken over.

We use a lot of direct approach - phoning a specific person we know and building a relationship. We will have had £130k of business this year from doing this but it has taken two to three years to see any benefit from doing this.

With regard to tax returns we do our own personal tax returns - it's not that difficult. We have limited companies so we need an accountant but until very recently I did all our day to day accounts. I did a basic book keeping course at a local college and set up a simple spreadsheet. I did buy Sage software but found it very complicated to use so went back to my little spreadsheet. I do a trial balance and profit and loss account and get a discount from my accountant because a lot of her work is already done. Apparently my acccounts are the best non-accountant prepared accounts she's ever seen grin .

There's a lot of help available to start ups. Talk to Business Link and your local council, who may have help to offer. I got some funding to do a business leadership and entrepreneurship course which was really good. The course also put me in touch with other useful people - so I now have a virtual PA and a HR consultant that I use on an ad-hoc basis.

I'm a business mentor for Business Link now so if you'd like any more help feel free to PM me.

emsyj Wed 27-Jul-11 09:58:40

When you say you will be qualifying in law, what do you mean? Will they be training you? It sounds an odd set-up to me (but then I am a cynic) - I am a solicitor and immediately would think:

* How will you qualify and what will you be when you are qualified? Solicitor, FILEX etc?? Are they accredited/regulated to offer you this qualification?
* Who will pay for your practicing certificate (if you're going to be a solicitor)? And for your CPD?
* Who will pay for indemnity insurance?
* Who will be liable if you give crap/negligent advice?
* Who does the time recording/billing?
* Will they provide you with access to legal research tools and resources?

Maybe I am just missing the point here, but IMO it sounds like a strange way to work as a lawyer. Is that what you would be doing? I am 6 years PQE and would not contemplate working at home unsupervised without any research facilities - it would be a huge weight of responsibility with lots of potential for tripping up. Even very senior lawyers often get someone to review their work before it goes off to the client or gets signed up. What sort of work would you be doing? <nosy>

hatwoman Tue 02-Aug-11 11:37:55

have a look at Scott Moncrieff - a law firm entirely set up to use consultants, rather than employees. Their website has a reasonable bit of info about how they operate.

re working from home - it's quite character dependent - and children dependent. some kids (includng mine) don;t really like it. or, rather, they struggle to see the benefits. when I pack them off to out of school club to sit infront of my computer at home, or when I send them packing out of the study and tell them to take their tummy ache/boredom/other complaints to daddy they don't "get it" - they think it's unfair. They think I "always" work. and no matter how many times I explain to them that it's part of the package that lets me come to sports day and pick them up 2-3 days a week they just haven't got the maturity and world view (not their fault) to see it. but I stick with it and just hope one day (maybe in 20 years' time hmm) they'll understand

NoMoreWasabi Tue 02-Aug-11 11:45:29

Are you saying you're not currently legally qualified but want to be and then to work on a consultancy basis?

My understanding is that consultancy can work quite well with experienced lawyers with lots of PQE but I'm struggling to understand how it would work if you're only just qualified.

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