Stephanie Szeto, Head of Asia for Peerpoint, offers advice to lawyers considering a career in legal consultancy.
Legal consultancy is a career option that allows lawyers to experience the benefits of the gig economy, and with the right platform and support, consultant lawyers can progress their careers while diversifying their experiences.
A law firm career is traditionally linear: typically, a lawyer enters the profession as a trainee, qualifies as an associate and works towards partnership. The alternative is to work in a corporate legal department or in the public sector. Jobs are advertised by PQE – post-qualification experience – but time is no longer the only measure of professional value.
The world of work has changed, and law firms and corporate legal departments are embracing alternative service delivery models, which are opening up more opportunities for skilled consultants.
For lawyers approaching a career crossroads or looking to kickstart their practice, consultancy is a career that you can fit to your personal and professional circumstances without losing sight of your goals and ambitions.
Peerpoint is a professional platform for lawyers looking to change location, specialism or career direction and the opportunity to gain more control over their time and the work they choose to do.
Why choose consultancy?
- Work-life balance: some professionals seek greater work-life balance for personal reasons such as family responsibilities, a passion business, studies or hobbies. The flexibility to remain in the workforce (with the option of returning to a permanent role) without putting the rest of life on hold, is a powerful tool.
- Relocation: for lawyers who are accompanying their spouse on an ex-pat contract consulting is a supported route into a new job market.
- Exploring the options: consulting offers the opportunity to work with different firms, companies, sectors, and teams.
- Reskilling: consultancy can be a springboard into a different practice area. If a corporate lawyer wants to work in a tech company or a financial services lawyer wants to move into a fund, an interim role will give them relevant experience. Consulting enables informed decision-making.
- Consultancy as a career: lawyers who are looking for a permanent portfolio career may have niche specialisms or wish to combine their professional practice with other activities. Others may be at a stage in their life or career where a permanent, full-time role would be impractical, but they want to keep their skills relevant and current.
Is consultancy for you? Ask yourself some hard questions…
- Start with self-assessment. Ask yourself some questions and set your criteria for change. How much work do you need and what are you looking to achieve? What are your priorities and ambitions? What do you bring to the table? What would you like to learn? What do you enjoy about your work, what would you like to be different?
- Is this the right time to change? Consultancy can bring valuable experience in a relatively short time – but only if you have the transferrable skills and experience to handle interim roles. Is this the right time for a new career trajectory?
- Consider the practical challenges. The average consultancy assignment is six months. Consultants cover spikes in workloads, ad hoc need for specialist skillsets, maternity leave, sabbaticals, and staff turnover. Do you have the resilience to manage a less predictable income and a more dynamic calendar? Hours, location and remuneration vary across assignments, and there may be gaps between assignments. There are also unexpected opportunities. Interim assignments can lead to permanent work, including matches that neither the consultant nor the client would originally have anticipated.
Peerpoint: A safety net that helps you succeed
Peerpoint gives consultants the best of both worlds: an independent career with a strong safety net. We support lawyers transitioning into consultancy, provide feedback on assignment performance and help consultants leverage each new experience and boost their skills along the way. Our consultants benefit from A&O resources, Peerpoint’s own training, and development programmes, regular networking events, and one-to-one support.
As regular clients often engage consultants concurrently or consecutively, A&O and Peerpoint help incoming consultants prepare for interviews and assignments. This helps them to hit the ground running; creates an immediate peer group, and ensures they live up to the Peerpoint brand.
Consultants need to develop their own professional brand and communicate their value with clarity and confidence. Here Peerpoint’s coaches work with individual consultants on developing their skills and choosing assignments that support their long-term career aspirations.
As legal consultancy becomes more popular, platforms such as Peerpoint go the extra mile to help their consultants achieve their career objectives and extend their professional network. Law is opening up as a portfolio career and legal consultancy has become its platform.
If you are located in Hong Kong or Singapore and would like to learn more about a career in legal consulting please contact Stephanie.