To think about a change of career (solicitor)
DropsofJupiter1980 · 11/07/2017 13:14
I'm looking for some words of wisdom so am posting here for traffic. I've tried to summarise as much as I can, without outing myself!
I'm a 10+year PQE solicitor, specialising in intellectual property litigation. I work for a small firm in the South East. I've had a lot of personal things going on over the last 3 years or so - to summarise, I had a very difficult pregnancy (where I developed a life-threatening condition) followed by a year's maternity leave. Shortly after I returned to work, my husband passed away very suddenly, so I had a period of compassionate leave. I returned to work but, admittedly, it took a while to get back up to speed. I met a new partner and am now 5 months pregnant - again, it's not been the easiest pregnancy. I am planning on taking a year's maternity again.
Several people, considerably more junior to me, have been promoted above me, over the last 2/3 years. I get it - I haven't been there - but it's still humiliating.
However, it's been made clear to me that while I have children, and I am not available 24/7, I will only be considered to be a part-time employee and will not be put on the bigger cases or given an opportunity to "prove myself", and can therefore forget about any promotion. I can't commit to the evening business development/networking opportunities or trips abroad that they want me to. I feel that my career has stagnated and I can't see a way out of it, at least here. I know I need to accept that my career has to take a backseat now I am a mum but it's hard! I also feel that I've been here for too long - 11 years - and am almost seen as part of the furniture. It's also a pretty sexist environment - the sort of place where blokes get slapped on the back and taken for a pint when they announce that their wife/partner is pregnant/has given birth, but the female solicitors are marginalised and ignored - all of my client-facing work has been taken away from me and I am currently "helping" with business development, which mostly entails editing documents prepared by more junior lawyers to help them get their names out there!! Given the things that have happened in my life over the past few years, I know there are more important things but I'm finding it all very stressful at the moment.
Are there any other lawyers on here who have had a change of direction? What can I do?! I appreciate that I can't do anything right now given my pregnancy etc, but I want to start considering my options while I am on maternity leave. I've thought about opportunities for LexisNexis, PLC etc and PSL roles, but would appreciate any feedback or other suggestions - thanks in advance!! x
MassDebate · 11/07/2017 13:29
Have you considered moving in-house? There are lots of opportunities for IP lawyers at the moment so it's worth serious consideration. I recently moved client side after 13 years in private practice and have found being in-house a completely different world: I am genuinely appreciated, seen as an important part of the business, and given a high degree of responsibility. It is also far more flexible and family friendly than private practice imo (hard work is still expected so it isn't the lifestyle choice many believe it to be, but I find it easy to work from home occasionally and can always leave the office if I need to).
There is good money available too (it doesn't always mean a drop in pay these days).
Bellaposy · 11/07/2017 13:32
Sorry I don't think I can be of much help but I'm in a similar position. 5 YPQ solicitor in the north west with a 1 year old. I've returned to work after mat leave and I hate it. The hours just aren't conducive to family life. I hope someone will be along with more help!
Me264 · 11/07/2017 13:58
I am nearly 6 PQE with a one year old and understand where you're coming from. My firm have been pretty good but I was denied a promotion this year that I was expecting and frankly deserve while someone more junior than me in another team has been given one. It is very frustrating.
I have also considered Lexis/PLC type roles as I don't want to move to London and it only seems to be larger city firms that have PSLs. They're not terribly well paid from what I hear.
I would look more into going in house as others have suggested. I'm not too familiar with IP being a commercial litigator myself but a good friend has recently managed to move into a general commercial in house role at 10 PQE as a litigator. You won't find an in house position doing IP litigation I suspect but if you're open to doing non contentious IP or some commercial work then there will be more about.
Tulipblank · 11/07/2017 14:20
I was a corporate lawyer in private practice. I'm currently reviewing a lease, drafting an IP assignment, dealing with £10m of construction build, selling and buying various very high value items (don't want to out myself) and in the past week I've actually done some corporate support work, for the first time in 5 years.
It's the transferable legal skills that a business looks for in an in house lawyer, not a narrow expertise. Definitely looking for in house roles. (In fact if you're south west my employer may be recruiting......).
DropsofJupiter1980 · 12/07/2017 09:12
Ah that's a shame Tulipblank! I definitely think I need to widen my horizons and focus on my transferable skills etc rather than narrow practice area. Think I will spend the next couple of months before I do on maternity leave brushing up these skills - it's not like I've got anything else to do!! x
TheClacksAreDown · 12/07/2017 09:16
I would look at in house but probably focus on looking at job in places where IP is pretty core to the business as they are most likely to be interested in your background. Whereas say a bank or insurer wouldn't be that interested unless it was for a specific IP role.
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