Aug 2022
The Rise of Self-Employed Lawyers

We don’t need to tell you that staff retention is the number one concern keeping law firm partners awake at night. The three biggest threats to law firm profitability right now are:

  • Acquiring talent
  • Retaining talent
  • Poaching staff and associate salary increases

Job adverts for London based associates are reportedly up more than 100% on 2020 and it has been suggested that a third of solicitors will be self employed consultants by 2026.

We’ve talked a lot, in our Insights, about the talent crisis in the legal sector and how we’re working hard, here at Carbon Law Partners, to empower lawyers to build their own legal practice on their own terms.

We believe in the power of taking control of your own legal career and practice as a means of prioritising your well-being. The fact is, the rise of the legal consultant business model and the self-employed lawyer is gathering pace. Ignore it at your peril.

The driving forces behind the rise in self-employed lawyers

Lawyers are voting with their feet

You may have heard the term ‘The Great Resignation’ floating around and a large part of this is related to disengagement of employees. Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report identified a 20% rate of global employee engagement. This combined with workload dissatisfaction, general distrust and a scepticism of the law firm model, and a post-pandemic exacerbation of these issues, more and more lawyers are voting with their feet.

We’re turning up the heat

The 2022 LexisNexis report stated that 49% of respondents felt that one of the biggest challenges facing them was attracting and retaining workers. And, consultancy law firms like Carbon Law Partners are turning up the heat  further on the traditional law firm model. Our willingness to allow lawyers to ‘embrace new approaches and have more autonomy over their pay and conditions makes [us] the biggest opponent to traditional law firms not willing to modernise their approach’.

Flexibility is no longer negotiable

The legal consultant business model has the opportunity to grow faster and be more successful compared to lockstep and acquiror models. An increasing trend of legal practitioners evaluating their situations and a lack of flexibility from established firms is a driving factor in making consultancy law firm models more appealing to ambitious lawyers.

People want more

The analogies are plentiful. Traditional law firms have been likened to a horse and buggy competing with Tesla. There’s a definite shift in mindset with lawyers no longer willing to run the rat race when the culture of a consultancy firm is more favourable. Also, the high cost of indemnity insurance cannot be ignored, with this one factor alone being a notable driver in why increasing numbers of solicitors want to join fee-share consultancies rather than striking out on their own and become self-employed lawyers.

What is the attraction of being a self-employed lawyer?

This seems to be the crux of the matter. The pandemic highlighted a need for a better work-life balance. The fact is, remote working is now an employment necessity not a ‘nice to have’. Tech firm Atlas Cloud conducted a survey into remote working and found that 67% of lawyers would like hybrid working and 22% would prefer to work remotely full time.

So, it would appear the rise in self-employed lawyers is directly linked to the disruption caused by the pandemic, which has focused a spotlight on what lawyers really want from their careers.  Lawyers want the ability to manage their work-life balance whilst also maximising their earnings, without partnership capital contributions. And, self-employed consultancy models like Carbon Law Partners provide you with everything you need to flourish. The advantages are clear:

  • Improved practice and risk management systems
  • A way of keeping regulatory costs low
  • Structure that focuses on the people, rather than large support costs and overheads
  • Attractive remuneration structures.

What’s not to love?

How we’re supporting self-employed lawyers

Carbon Law Partners’ founder and CEO, Michael Burne describes the platform as a collaboration based on a shared vision: freedom. Lawyers take home 70% of earnings and Carbon’s stakeholder model allows partners to buy shares in the platform. They provide you with everything you need to start your own business, and the ability to focus on delivering high quality legal services to your clients. In line with the evolution of the market, Carbon has also set up a sister company Bamboo Platform. Bamboo is a law firm operating system that enables lawyers to set up a law firm using an SRA-regulated structure on their own terms and under their own brand.

Want to learn more about how to become a self-employed lawyer? The time for change is now. If you are an experienced lawyer ready to make the move into legal consultancy, take the next step on your journey and  contact Carbon today.