We’ve all seen them, exciting, flashy posts about how brilliant it is working for disruptor firms, on a consultancy “fee share” basis, and how lawyers should abandon ship from the boring traditional law firms, to instead move to the land of milk and honey. I have had dozens of approaches from such firms, their recruiters, and even the lawyers themselves (who often get paid a nice referral fee for each convert) telling me why I should be swapping. It’s a sales pitch like any other. However, I don’t see too many posts about why traditional law firms are still the place to be though… so here’s one.

We as solicitors and lawyers have lots of options when it comes to choosing our career paths. From traditional law firms and in-house legal departments, to disruptive newcomers and self-employed consultancy models; the choices can be overwhelming – particularly if you believe what you read on LinkedIn and other social media platforms from wannabe “legal influencers”. They’re all difficult paths, but some are more suitable for our own personal circumstances than others. While the allure of independence, flexibility and innovation may be tempting (and perfectly appropriate) there are compelling reasons why many lawyers should still (and do) opt for the stability and support offered by employment at a reputable law firm… like Scott Bailey 😉. See, I can use emojis too – it’s not just for Chat GPT authored posts and legal influencers (there’s that term again).

Here are a few points to consider when deciding why a lawyer (whether solicitor, legal executive, licensed conveyancer, trade mark attorney, barrister or other) may want to work employed by a law firm, rather than joining a so called disruptor firm (is it just marketing spin?), or pursuing a self-employed fee-share consultancy type of arrangement:

  1. Stability and Predictability: employment provides a level of stability and predictability that may be lacking in newer, disruptor firms or self-employed consultancy models. With a steady salary, benefits package (including sick pay, parental leave, pension contributions and so on), and established infrastructure, lawyers can focus on their legal practice without worrying about the uncertainties of freelance work or the viability of a start-up firm.
  2. Career Development and Growth Opportunities: Employed lawyers at law firms often have access to structured training programmes and additional qualifications, mentorship opportunities, and a clear path for career advancement. Senior partners and seasoned practitioners provide valuable guidance and support, helping junior lawyers to develop their skills, build their professional network, and progress in their careers – whether that means partnership (or directorship if a limited company) or something else.
  3. Access to Resources: Law firms typically invest in robust resources and support services, ranging from legal research tools to admin assistance and marketing. These resources can significantly enhance a lawyer’s productivity, efficiency, and ability to deliver high-quality legal services to clients. This in turn helps lower the worry for the lawyer.
  4. Brand Recognition and Reputation: Reputable law firms often have a strong brand presence and established reputation within the legal industry. This brand recognition can attract clients, instil trust and credibility, and open doors to opportunities that may not be readily available to lawyers working independently or at flash in the pan disruptor firms.
  5. Collaborative Environment and Professional Community: One of the most significant advantages of working at a law firm is the sense of belonging to a professional community. Lawyers have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on complex legal matters, exchange knowledge and expertise, have a laugh, and foster meaningful friendships both within the firm and with clients and peers in the wider legal community. It’s almost always harder to do that if you only ever email, message, or meet via video call.
  6. Work-Life Balance and Well-Being: While the legal profession is known for its demanding nature, many law firms are increasingly prioritising work-life balance and employee wellbeing. At Scott Bailey LLP, most of our staff (including our lawyers) leave around 5pm most evenings. Some may choose to stay, or work from home, but that is a choice – not mandatory (or encouraged!). We also have a number of staff working part time, condensed hours, time for school runs, a day or two from home and so on. So, is working from home permanently that much of a perk really? By offering flexible work arrangements and initiatives to promote inclusion, law firms like ours create supportive and inclusive environments where lawyers can thrive both personally and professionally.

Disruptor firms and self-employed consultancy models may offer enticing promises of innovation and autonomy, and for some they may work really well. However, it still strikes me that the genuine benefits of being employed by an established law firm should never be overlooked – particularly for new and junior lawyers with much to learn by osmosis from more experienced colleagues. From stability and growth opportunities, to access to resources and a supportive close knit community, law firms like Scott Bailey LLP provide a solid foundation for lawyers to build successful and fulfilling careers. They can also be really good fun. Of course, most law firms (or consultancy firms) won’t be as lovely as ours 😁.

If you are thinking about a career move, whether you are a solicitor, legal exec, paralegal or other, why not drop us your CV and a cover letter or take a look at our careers page? We’re always on the lookout for the right people to join our team of solicitors and lawyers in Lymington, Hampshire.

Ben Ironmonger is a Partner and Solicitor at Scott Bailey LLP in Lymington, Hampshire, and is head of our Company and Commercial Law department.