Lawyers going consulting?(15 Posts)
Any lawyers out there considering going consulting post-baby? I'm an employment lawyer and really keen to set up an HR/Employment Law consultancy, but I can't see how it can be done without coming off the roll and not being able to offer privileged advice or really highlight that I can offer a legal service. So many rules - so frustrating!
But no you can't work as a lawyer without being regulated as a lawyer.
It isn't that hard though to set up a one person firm. You just have the costs associated with running it ie PII, public liability insurance, practising certificate, indemnity fund payment etc.
It's the costs I and extra paperwork I want to avoid. The insurance is very expensive for a sole practitioner and there is a lot of paperwork and client care that would be disproportionate to the service I want to provide. I only plan to work two or three days per week at first whilst my daughter is young, so looking for a way to keep things simple!
If you are an employment lawyer, I presume you wish to offer legal advice on employment litigation. If you are conducting litigation, it is an SRA reserved activity and you would need to be a solicitor and regulated as one to be able to provide it, including the need to carry professional indemnity insurance. As the cost of insurance (including run off costs) is crippling, you could try to conduct it under one of the virtual law firms such as Keystone or Axiom Law which is a platform for self-employed lawyers. The platform provides insurance, time recording and other practice management systems for a cut of your invoices. It is useful for pt lawyers because you only have to pay if you bill. The advantage is you can offer legally privileged advice. You will need an active PC.
If you make it clear you are not providing legal advice, then you can do it as a non-legal consultancy. You would probably still want to buy professional indemnity insurance to cover yourself, but it will not be as much as for a practising solicitor, I don't think.
May I ask what an HR/Employment Law consultancy does? Do you help companies devise HR policies and advise on HR systems and procedures. Will you advise on data protection?
Thanks for your responses. To be honest I don't intend to do employment litigation at this stage (not very compatible with a 1 year old!).
My plan is to offer contracts, policies and procedures for the employee handbook and training on how to use them on the HR side. None of which I would particularly need to have a practicing certificate to do. But coupled with that I would expect to advise on how to manage employees, sometimes leading to dismissal, which could lead to a formal dispute with the employee. It would be better if my advice was privileged for these sorts of things. I would also offer advice on the more legal side of things such as small scale redundancy procedures and settlement agreements. It's that side of it that's giving me the headache because in order for my advice to be privileged I need a practicing certificate which means staying on the roll!
Ah, to answer your last question. O will pay lip service to data protection questions. I focus on employment law but would be able to advise on data protection as a side issue.
I am an employment lawyer. I have set up my own firm. Actually if you have a clear record no complaints, no claims the insurance isn't too bad for employment if you don't run a client account and do employment and nothing else at all. It depends on what you think your turnover is going to be as to whether it worth it but yes the run off is annoying. You'll also be forced to carry £3m insurance (even though employment lawyers rarely need that level of cover in reality).
You can't do what you want to do without coming off the roll. It is annoying since non lawyers can do it but you as a solicitor can't. Your advice won't be privileged if you're not a practising solicitor and so a client would be very foolish to engage you for advisory work. You clearly can't sign settlement agreements without being a solicitor.
What is your client base like? It isn't a viable proposition anyway unless you have a really good client base, particularly with policy work where clients can just pull them off the internet for free nowadays and non lawyer "consultancies" are doing it for peanuts.
You'll be better off approaching one of the fee sharing companies and working for them. PM me if you are interested in working on that basis.
As Newts says, the PI insurance costs are far cheaper if you do the less risky work, don't have a client's account, don't handle client monies, etc. One of my clients is a part time self employed lawyer whose PI insurance is in the hundreds per year which is easily affordable - no prior claims, no client monies, and basic low risk legal work meant he got a very cheap insurance deal - but he had to shop around quite a bit and did get a few quotes in the thousands.
That's really helpful, thank you - I don't suppose you could give me the name of the insurance company?
Lowest I've ever had for employment work was a good few thousand
"You can't do what you want to do without coming off the roll. It is annoying since non lawyers can do it but you as a solicitor can't. Your advice won't be privileged if you're not a practising solicitor and so a client would be very foolish to engage you for advisory work. You clearly can't sign settlement agreements without being a solicitor."
This seems quite specific to employment law. I was a non practising for ten years and it worked really well.
That's fair enough if you don't do employment law, but in fairness to NewtsSuitcase, I did ask about doing employment law work - that's the area I specialise in, so need to look at the rules with that area of work in mind.
You're right though that it can work very well in other areas of law just to go non-practicing. It's the advisory side of employment work that gets in the way!
Yes, the likelihood of a dispute going quite far is very high in your area.and I understand the tribunal fees have gone down again.
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