The day-to-day life of a solicitor employed by a firm often involves long working days, sometimes difficult commutes with high levels of stress and office politics. The amount of control a solicitor has over their workload can be relatively limited. One option that many solicitors are now choosing to consider is becoming a sole practitioner. This will not suit everyone but with careful planning and consideration it can be a career path that is very rewarding and satisfying.
What is involved in being a sole practitioner
Working as a sole practitioner can give you the freedom to focus on the work that you are interested in with a varied client base and working hours that suit. However, working on your own does have its issues that need to be taken into consideration. There can be a regulatory burden on sole practitioners, and such requirements can significantly eat into your time that could be spent elsewhere, e.g. on billable hours. Not only can this cost you money, but you can end up spending even more if you decide to hire someone else to take care of your administrative and regulatory obligations. Any marketing and business development is completely down to you and ensuring you have a strong reputation that attracts clients is a major job in itself. You may need to find business premises and fund and manage the administration of your practice yourself. You also need to ensure you have professional indemnity insurance and are accepted on lenders’ panels.
As a sole practitioner, you do have a lot more freedom but this also means there is an increased level of responsibility. You also need to prove to prospective clients that they should instruct you even if you don’t have the backing of a large firm behind you. This can sometimes be one of the hardest issues. You are also in charge of all billing and finances (as well as chasing of unpaid bills), which needs to be done promptly to ensure your finances remain healthy. It will probably be necessary to use an accountant and this needs to be factored into any costings. If your earnings become significant you will also need to register for VAT.
How Scott-Moncrieff can help
Another route that is worth considering and can offer the best of both worlds is working as a freelance lawyer providing your services through an established firm, such as Scott-Moncrieff. This allows you to work where you want and when you want with hours that suit. You can work from home and spend more time with family or even travel while still earning an income. You can regain control of your work practice at a pace that suits you but without all the stresses of being employed at an office. At Scott-Moncrieff, our freelance lawyers can work from home or at our Temple, London offices. We provide a state-of-the art case management and accounts system as well as a fair fee-sharing arrangement. We can offer supervision and guidance together with comprehensive administrative support and marketing advice and assistance. We also encourage our freelance lawyers to meet regularly, which can help prevent feelings of isolation and encourage professional development.
By joining Scott-Moncrieff you can enjoy all the advantages of being a sole practitioner together with the practical support that you would expect from being part of an established firm.