ANNABEL CHRISTIE, Senior Partner at AH Christie Legal LLP
There was a time when lawyers could have been expected to work their entire lives in the same law firm. In a world where the only thing more certain than job security was that all the lawyers were men, this model might have worked. Yet, this rigid framework still leaves much to be desired today, especially for female lawyers.
Last year, The Lawyer magazine reported that just 18.6% of partners across the UK's top 20 law firms are women. In the top 10 law firm less than 10% of partners are women. Successful female lawyers often face an unenviable choice between firm and family. Why should women be forced to choose? This leads to a huge waste of legal talent. So, can a woman be a successful senior lawyer and a mother? Yes, she can.
I realised there was a need for a new kind of law firm that addressed the needs of senior female solicitors. What was needed was a more flexible arrangement that would allow successful female lawyers to manage their own time and find work on their own terms.
In 2011 I therefore, founded A H Christie Legal LLP Solicitors, where family law solicitors and or mediators can work on a fee-sharing consulting basis. This makes solicitors responsible for their client matters which they generate through their own established referral base and autonomy over their work and time. The firm specialises in family law and in turn provides the infrastructure and compliance support that high calibre family law solicitors need to thrive. Lawyers build on an existing client and referral base, are free to take on all the clients they want, work the hours they like and work from home.
Being a self-employed lawyer consultant can be challenging and hard work, as every fee-earner takes responsibility for all the clients they take on, from start to finish. However, it's also ideal for women who welcome the possibility of self-determination and flexibility. This model gives experienced lawyers autonomy in their career and a way to find a balance between work, family and lifestyle.
For now, this model is a rare occurrence in the legal scene. Yet, as more and more lawyers seek to create a better work-life balance, this model will set the trend for what will become the accepted norm as flexible working is in demand. What lawyers at A H Christie Legal LLP have in common is the desire for high quality work, within a flexible framework, outside of the traditional model. We are looking for fee-sharing lawyers, to find out more visit www.ahchristielegalllp.co.uk/join-us-2/. To arrange a meeting email CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.