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Calling a solicitors - thinking of moving back to private practice , advice please

(10 Posts)
ScaredySquirrel Sat 13-Oct-12 11:35:33

Hi I also posted this in the employment section so sorry for duplication.

Hi all. I currently head up a legal team in-house and am thinking of moving back into private practice. The reasons for this are solely financial - I've become a single parent, and just can't afford a house on my salary (and we can't afford 2 places on both of our salaries). So I am thinking about moving back into private practice.

I would be aiming to go in at partner level, or at least senior assistant (I'm very qualified!). I don't have a following, but I know, from my initial chats to recruitment people, that I am not a lost cause at this level. It would be London, but not (probably) the City as I don't think I'm prepared to do the hours there, and also the culture - which I did put with for years.

It would be really helpful to know if you are doing this, how you combine family. I wouldn't be a corporate solicitor by the way. How flexible can your work be? Can you work from home on a regular basis? What hours do you do?

Also, because this is for financial reasons, if you could share your salary (sorry for being nosy and please name-change!), but I need to be clear that this would actually benefit me a lot financially, as i am very happy in my job at the moment, and am only really thinking of leaving it to make more money.

Thanks!

ScaredySquirrel Sat 13-Oct-12 11:36:21

Sorry about typos I'm on my phone at kids music class

mumblechum1 Sat 13-Oct-12 15:58:58

What's your specialism? I think that will be one of the main factors in how family friendly the practice will be. I recently retired from High St practice in Family and Wills, and found it to be reasonably flexible, ie I could change days to fit in around school events etc, but of course it worked both ways, so if I had to be in court, family stuff had to work around that.

Salary wise I wasn't at Partner level, I was a legal exec with 20 plus years experience and was paid £42k (I was part time), plus bonuses if I went over 3x salary. I'd expect that if you're going into a London firm at Partner level you'd be paid around the £80k plus mark, but I honestly don't know.

ScaredySquirrel Sat 13-Oct-12 16:31:26

I'm a company commercial solicitor specialising in one pretty small sector - not banking or listed companies!

At the moment, I earn £68k in house. which I appreciate is a very good salary, but not, I think, for Central London - and my children are at school in an expensive part of London and I can't move them. BUT I now am a single parent, we need 2 houses and i have a large family. I don't know whether I do want to move as I do enjoy my job, and its very flexible, but I want to see what I could earn and then think about it.

My H also needs to look at what he can get - he's also a solicitor, currently a partner, but I think he's underpaid (but then again i don't know what the normal levels are outside the magic circle firms which neither he nor I would want to work in again). He's a property litigator.

VerityClinch Sat 13-Oct-12 16:38:06

I think at a small firm you will struggle for a partner gig without a following - it's just one more person to share profits with.

At a larger firm who need "client servicers" as well as "client generators" I think you will smack right up against the long hours presenteeism culture which is SO not compatible with family life.

If you have an industry specialism from your time in-house can you find an "of counsel" or "legal director" type role where you can be a technical specialist, higher paid than a senior associate, but not have to originate?

Thamesmead Sun 14-Oct-12 21:06:59

I posted on your other thread. Now that I know numbers I stand by that. I'm hunting at the moment, and keep going in house out of London for jobs in the £75+ range. In London with City partner level experience should get more than that. Plus bennies! (I do CoCo as well)

thereonthestair Mon 15-Oct-12 11:15:52

There are a few places i can think of in London where perhaps you coudl go in as a partner without a following.

I am a partner, in a comemrcial ish field of work, non city, work 4 days per week (ish) and am flexible, but it's flexible in both directions. I always always have my blackberry with me and always answer it. Somedays I pick my son up, some days I don't. Almost never work weekends, late nights more so. Need to be very organised therefore and have good emergency backup.

FTE for partners in my firm varies from £90k - £290k.

thereonthestair Mon 15-Oct-12 11:18:13

Oh and yes I can work from home, some days, try not to if possible, try not to travel too much. Usual hours 9- 6.30 ish or 8.15 to 5.30 ish plus whatever hours calients demand and being available on all the days off apart from when I am properly on holiday.

I have a sector specialism and a following as well as a demonstarted ability to grow a practice.

ScaredySquirrel Mon 15-Oct-12 16:01:56

Thanks for this - opposing views! My stbxH thinks I'm mad to look into this - he's in private practice and finds the marketing/billing etc really hard to deal with. but it's interesting to hear a positive viewpoint too. I don't have a following, but the job I'm going to see about is inheriting a retiring partners clients, so it does sound quite interesting.

i'm also looking around in house. Ideally though I'd like to stay in my sector, so would rather go into private practice to advise clients from my sector, rather than change sectors in-house. I do know that recently jobs in-house in my sector have offered considerably more than mine.

JessieMcJessie Wed 31-Oct-12 15:03:59

I am a senior associate in a mid- tier litigation firm, hopefully being made up to salaried partner next April. I worked in- house for about 3 years and went back into pp ( with a firm I used to instruct) for the money and the promotion prospects. So far so good.....

How long have you been out of private practice ? You need to think carefully about the different demands on your time and the vast difference in how your performance will be measured. Private practice is all about the numbers. Don't underestimate the sheer drudgery of going back to time sheets and generating and chasing bills. You say that there is a job in which you'd inherit a retiring parner's clients but you'd be responsible for keeping them/ maintaining the current number of instructions from them and if they vote with their feet ( does the firm have competitors in the field ready to try and snap them up?) then you'll not be able to justify your existence. They will have no personal loyalty to you and if the firm is having to recruit laterally to service the clients rather than promote from within, sounds like there are no other team members to whom those clients will have loyalty either. There is bound to be some wastage and you will be expected to generate business to fill that gap. How do you feel about that? Could you get instructions from your current employer?

Being a partner is basically being self- employed but without the luxury of autonomy because the other partners will all have opinions and power, much more than you will. It's really hard to gauge partner politics at interview stage, could be a can of worms.

Do you currently have a blackberry and are you prepared to be glued to it and respond quickly? Flexibility in terms of where you are at what point during the day is probably possible, but it won't be flexibility to switch off, and failure to respond quickly to a client is the easiest way to lose one. There is also the headache of all clients thinking they come first and that you don't have any others to service. On the other hand the colleagues you serve in-house will be prepared to wait till you come in the following day or have finished dealing with other more pressing tasks. They may not be happy but they are a captive market.

It's also all about gearing so you'll be expected to supervise and train juniors and you have to be there for them to ensure that they are properly managed. If you are head of your own mini-dept you'll also have support staff to manage and motivate. If a small partnership you may be asked to assume a managerial role at firm level too eg HR partner, money-laundering/ compliance etc.

All food for thought- let us know how you get on.

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