After the turbulence of the past year, lots of people are now considering a legal career change. If you’re reevaluating your working life, read on for our advice, drawn from our experience of helping hundreds of lawyers change track over the years.

If you want to work less…

The pandemic has made most of us focus on what’s truly important in our lives. If you’ve come to the conclusion that work is taking up too much of your time, then now could be the time to go freelance or part-time.

If you’re currently in a full-time role, think carefully about your next move. Can you afford to work less?  And if the answer is “yes” right now, is that likely to be the case longer-term?  You need to consider issues such as your pension, possible university fees or other support for older children and your longer-term income security. Making a legal career change isn’t just about the financials though.

Jane Leader, Recruitment Manager at Obelisk Support, says it’s important to think about other dimensions of your work life too.

“You need to think about the other rewards that come from work. Are you the sort of person who would miss being connected to the big decisions and day-to-day team dynamic if you worked part-time or as a contractor? Do you truly feel that you’ve made all the progress you want to in this stage of your career and, if not, will you feel fulfilled if you remain working at the level you’re at now?”

Jane Leader - Recruitment Manager, Obelisk Support

Find more advice to help you think through the move to freelance lawyering in our free ebook here.

If you’re enjoying not commuting…

Whilst for some the commute between home and work provides some necessary physical and mental separation between the two, many of us have welcomed having the extra time (and money!) back. If you’re looking at the prospect of being expected back in the office soon, what are your options?

 

Explore hybrid-working with your current employer

Lots of firms and companies have used the lockdowns to take stock of the best ways of working and are looking at introducing hybrid-working, where office time is reduced to two or three days a week. To make the case for reducing your time in the office, set out the benefits to your employer – one less desk to maintain, extra productivity and greater predictability (no more train delays). Be prepared to attend some meetings, away-days and even to agree to one or two regular days on-site.

 

Start working as a freelance lawyer

One advantage of working freelance is that you decide where and when you want to work. However, before you make the leap, be prepared for the fact that you may still need to travel. If you are working with in-house legal teams, especially in areas such as financial services, clients may want you to work onsite. Also, think about your workspace at home. If you’re making a permanent career change to working independently, you’ll need to have space where you can work in comfort, make calls securely and without interruption and have top-quality internet access.

If you want to work more…

If the pandemic has impacted your finances and you need to work more than you have been, then the good news is that there’s currently extra demand for full-time freelance lawyers. In-house legal teams and certain law firm practice areas (M&A, corporate) are extremely busy due to a combination of deferred projects and extra work caused by the pandemic, so now is a good time to pick up extra work as an interim lawyer.

If you already have commitments to some part-time work, a flexible provider like Obelisk can look for extra engagements for you to fit around your existing contracts. Or, working as a legal consultant full-time for six months or a year can be a good way to keep busy while you look to secure a permanent position. If you’re making a career change back to part-time, Jane advises giving your CV a refresh.

“Update your personal statement at the top of your CV to draw attention to some of the great experience you have picked up while working part-time and make it clear that you’re committed to the extra challenges of a full-time role”.

When it comes to interviewing, make it clear that you’ve thought about the impact of moving back up to full-time hours and that you’re excited about the prospect.

If now’s the time to come back to work…

With the impact of home-schooling on those of us with family responsibilities, the last year has seen many people, especially women, putting plans to come back to the legal profession on ice. Now that the outlook seems more settled, many are feeling now is the time to get back to their legal career.

If this is you, start by thinking about what type of work you want to do and how much time you have. Once you have a clear idea in mind, you can then tailor your CV to suit and start looking for opportunities, either through services like Obelisk or your personal network.

“Invest some time in shaping your story”, advises Jane, “Prospective employers are much more receptive to returners than they used to be, so you need to show them the skills and experience you are bringing from your past work history and give them a sense of your commitment to the future journey.”

Invest some time in preparing your household for your work commitments too. Childcare provision is not yet back at full capacity in all areas, so do some research if you are planning to rely on after-school and holiday clubs. And make it clear to the rest of your family that some of your responsibilities at home will need to be shared going forward!

For in-depth advice and an action plan on your legal career change, download our ebook for returners here.

If you want to do different work…

The changes of the last year may also have you thinking that now’s the time to do something else entirely – or make a different type of legal career change. For many Obelisk consultants, legal consulting is a way to work alongside a creative interest, such as art or music. Others are using it to support themselves as they start their own business. There are also increasingly different opportunities to put your legal skills to work, in legal tech businesses or legal operations.

To start down this path, begin with your CV. Identify relevant transferable skills and experiences and bring them to the fore. Then think creatively about your network.

Finally, good luck! If we at Obelisk can help you with your next career change in any way, feel free to get in touch, drop us a line and one of our Talent Team will be happy to arrange a call.

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