As businesses continue to face budget constraints and headcount freezes resulting from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, flexible legal resourcing is a lifeline for corporate legal departments who are looking to cover extra demands on their busy teams with top-quality interim support. Consequently, although we have had to adjust to market shifts and the impact of lockdowns on key sectors and regions, it is almost business as usual. For the UK, any uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a trade deal is now resolved meaning many businesses can press ahead with their post-Brexit plans.
While both the UK and APAC economies continue to move between lockdowns and various forms of social distancing, we are actively recruiting legal consultants onto our panel. And although there is reduced demand in some practice areas, it is already clear that legal consulting is not experiencing the same slowdown as the permanent job market. The majority of demand we are seeing is for lawyers with two to seven years post qualification experience. The key skill-sets we need vary by market, so interested lawyers are encouraged to view our latest opportunities here.
Legal consulting as a career option
Why should you consider legal consultancy? Newcomers to consulting can expect to apply their knowledge and expertise to a variety of markets, organisations and tasks. While this is exciting, each interim assignment may mean adjusting the way you work and rapidly learning new systems, processes and even skills. And the rewards are significant: the ability to gain experience by working in different organisations is an opportunity to make lasting connections and fast-track your career, even in today’s uncertain business environment.
At a time when many businesses are putting promotions and pay rises on hold and some lawyers are facing the prospect of redundancy, legal consultancy is a way to avoid a potential career hiatus. It is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in prestigious organisations, broaden your skillsets and develop your expertise.
If you are a lawyer with an entrepreneurial outlook, it allows you the independence to control your own career direction and manage your workload while benefiting from Peerpoint’s strong support network and Allen & Overy’s legal and business resources and global brand.
Recruitment - online to onboard
Of course, it is a challenge to explore an alternative career path while maintaining social distancing. Most businesses are functioning predominantly through a virtual presence, and Peerpoint is no exception, conducting our entire recruitment and onboarding process virtually. Candidates are interviewed via video conference and all documentation and identity checks are completed online.
These online processes have accelerated recruitment to the Peerpoint panel and in some cases onboarding to assignments. Candidates no longer have to travel to Peerpoint and client offices and our teams have found that because everyone is now accustomed to virtual meetings, video interviews are generally more relaxed and very authentic and effective.
Additionally, our corporate clients benefit from a broader talent pool as home working means, in theory, consultants can take on assignments in non-local locations. However, while the pandemic has forced organisations to accept remote working, some workplace cultures still prefer at least some in-person meetings and the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ working pattern is still unknown.
Many organisations, particularly in APAC, have policies in place to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to, such as split team working, and this means the office setting looks very different. Moreover, although offices in some markets have been able to reopen, there is always the possibility that a resurgence of the virus may require strict social distancing measures to be reintroduced, as we have experienced in the UK. These dynamics obviously require flexibility and adaptability on the part of consultants.
Flying with a safety net
Working as a Peerpoint legal consultant is akin to flying with a safety net. As well as having access to an A&O partner, professional support lawyers and knowledge resources while they’re on assignment, consultants benefit by having remote support from our consultant management team, who help them settle into new assignments. The team also offer coaching, training and development, and help consultants work towards their career goals and aspirations. There is a strong consultant community supported by online talks, seminars and virtual networking.
Becoming a valued team member while social distancing
While the need for excellent technical and interpersonal skills has always been important, working from home has placed even more emphasis on soft skills. Particularly in regions which have not traditionally embraced remote working, consultants who communicate effectively – both to demonstrate their technical competence and quickly establish trusted working relationships – are the ones who integrate well into client teams.
As well as demonstrating organisational skills, versatility and resilience, successful interim consultancy is about building and maintaining strong connections with multiple stakeholders, and maintaining visibility with colleagues you may not have met in person.
Our consultant management team help consultants prepare for interim roles in today’s remote and changeable working environment and develop relevant skills that will boost their career at Peerpoint and beyond.
Keep your goals in sight
For lawyers who are moving into consulting because their personal and career plans have been diverted by Covid-19, consultancy can be a stopgap with the potential for career development. However, interim consulting is the same as any other role in that it pays dividends to be clear and transparent about your career plans and goals from the outset. If we know these, we are better enabled to place you in assignments that leverage your expertise and experience, or help you transition between specialisms, practice areas or locations. Having said that, the most successful consultants are lawyers for whom the flexibility and variability of roles and organisations is attractive, particularly if they are looking to work as soon as possible.
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Article updated: 22 January 2021