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Professional Support Lawyers - tips please!

(6 Posts)
theonlynonblonde Fri 03-Aug-12 14:00:00

I am very excited to be moving into a PSL role in 3 months' time or so. i've been a fee earner for 10 years now, and basically am totally burnt out with the pressure and stress of it all (I'm in commercial litigation).

Can any existing PSLs give me any tips as to how to manage the transition from fee earning to PSL-ing? i'm not going to be doing much by way of the 'traditional' psl stuff like precedents, it's more like business development, training (internal and clients), doing some chargeable work but in a support capacity to my team, rather than client-facing.

any advice welcome.


thinkfast Sun 05-Aug-12 16:42:58

No advice other than to say I'm jealous. Am a company commercial lawyer and went back 2 months ago after maternity leave. Hating the stress, the late nights, and that panicky sinking feeling...need a change of career I think sad

blueshoes Sun 05-Aug-12 17:23:15

I think that the description of your PSL role sounds fantastic.

I left fee-earning 10 years ago and have worked in various business support roles in a law firm (for better and more control over hours). One of them was in knowledge management but in a central role working with systems and process for delivery of knowhow, rather than in a PSL role.

Part of my then role was to set and implement the knowledge strategy for PSLs around the firm. In terms of what is appreciated by clients, it was not so much updates and brochures (every firm does it) but client training and seminars. It is great you don't have to do precedents because very often it is difficult to deliver because the fee earners who ultimately have to sign off often do not devote the time to do this, so it looks like you do not achieve any deliverables.

In a non-fee earning role, you have to make sure you concentrate your efforts on where the firm values your input. Too many PSLs hide away doing updates or research. If you can, raise your profile within the firm and outside as much as you with talks and being on consultation groups. Impressing clients, e.g. during pitches, is much more appreciated by the fee earners than a well written legal update.

Right now, in this climate, it is all about clients. Focus on that, and you will be fine. In business support, you have to earn the fee earner's respect, get their engagement and justify your role. Don't take it personally if your status drops because you are no longer fee-earning. It is natural.

Murtette Mon 06-Aug-12 18:42:35

Is it the same firm or a new firm? I think the challenges at the same firm can be greater as they'll still see you as a fee earner for several months or even years. So, are they expecting you to do marketing to "your" clients? If so, how do you feel about that? What chargeable work are you going to be doing? Is it a set percentage of your time or a specific role? If not, I'd be a bit nervous about that as they may just bring you in as an extra pair of hands but not give you any of the glory. How specific are the other aspects of your role? I spend about 40% of time doing stuff in my job spec and the rest of the time doing things which have come up as a result of other projects.
Not only may your status diminish but you may realise you suddenly have a lot less in common with colleagues now that you don't have clients or late nights to complain about together!
Be prepared to be a sounding board for people whether its a legal question, career advice or a personal issue. My colleagues know that I don't tend to have urgent deadlines so can spare some time to listen to them. Luckily, my department have decided its a good thing to have a departmental agony aunt! In this context, get to know the trainees & juniors as you may find that they come to you when they've made a mistake as they're too nervous about going to a more senior person on the deal, especially if that person is a partner. In the year or so I've been doing my role, I've gone along to hold the hand of a junior as they have "confessed" on two occasions & have already had a chance to think about what solutions there are.
I agree about doing something which the firm/department values as you are now an expense rather than a fee generator.

slaveofsolitude Mon 06-Aug-12 21:33:02

One important thing is to keep an eye on your longer-term, less immediate objectives and not let them drop off the to do list. Fee earning is quite reactive and deadlines and objectives are usually clear and short / medium term. Some PSL objectives are a bit nebulous and their execution is solely down to your ability to master them and see them through.

Thinkfast - have a look at this

pacific2832 Sat 11-May-13 19:16:01

Hi there,
I have just taken on a job as a PSL and came across this very useful thread. I am still finding my feet, but what I am noticing is that it's still an all-consuming job. I am worried I am going to "blow it" simply because my propensity towards workaholism (the scourge of most lawyers, and I guess particularly female ones) will mean that I work far more than my prescribed 2.5 days. Being on a discounted salary this will eventually grate, and what with the costs of childcare my husband basically probably won't tolerate it. I have to find a balance, but refuse not to work to the highest standard I can.
So far I have also been dumped with various fee-earning and other non-PSL tasks. Being new, I am a "yes man", but I'll eventually crack if I don't manage it all better. Any advice?

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