All around us, lawyers, old and young, are moving on: to another firm, a different job, a new life.
As always, there are myriad causes, many of which are systemic and global; most obviously the pandemic has hastened societal changes that were already simmering.
In particular, we have all developed newfound expectations around working arrangements, control and balance in our lives, family time, healthy lifestyles and the difficulties of commuting.
We are also seeing a new generation of professional coming through with altogether different expectations and aspirations.
These pyschological shifts play extremely painfully into challenges that the legal industry has grappled with for so long, where cultures of long hours, face-time and hierarchy demanded complete and utter dedication to the cause, at any cost.
As a result, the big firms, and many of the larger corporates, are beginning to struggle to attract and retain talent, more remarkably than ever before, which of course has played out in significant pay rises and round-robin recruiting across the industry.
WHAT’S CAUSING PEOPLE TO MOVE ON?
The big firms and corporates have by and large stuck to the same models, the same approach to work and pay. Long (and longer) hours for a stable (and in case of the big firms, increasingly large) payslip.
Lawyers trade control over their time and their lives for a form of certainty and (in the big firms at least) for a shot at the equity. This obviously isn’t new, but the reality is far more pronounced of late and, crucially, is exacerbated by the recent evolution in societal attitudes.
When times are busy, the only two options lawyers in the big firms or corporates realistically have (from juniors up to the most senior ranks) is to carry on at full tilt or to quit.
There aren’t many people with the psychological agility and physical stamina required to thrive in these environments, particularly with the pressures of high-end City practice, but also with some of the more extreme requirements of in-house teams. As a result, we are seeing increasing and worrying levels of burnout across the profession as well, of course, as huge numbers of resignations.
For those with young families, particularly those who want to be present spouses or parents, it can be harder still.
With huge numbers of job openings around the profession, many are deciding to move on to a new start in a similar organisation, hoping that the grass will be greener. Sometimes it is; sometimes not.
There are new models emerging though, opening up new paths for highly-skilled, driven professionals who have a huge amount to contribute but who have grown disenchanted with the what is on offer from the status quo.
These new models can cater for premium, sophisticated work, but can give individual lawyers the control many of them want over their lives and may even produce better financial outcomes.
In fact, there is no limit to the flexibility that we can develop in our profession. We are limited only by our imagination and the practising vehicles we build. New organisations continue to emerge to fill this void, our organisation is one of many.
HERE AT CLEARLAKE LAW
At Clearlake, we want our lawyers to be free to work with whom they want, when they want, as much as they want. We hold that as sacred.
But we want more for our lawyers too. We want them to have a premium practice, variety of work, a supportive community of like-minded people, to have the opportunity to make a contribution to society and to embark on a lifelong journey of self-directed personal and professional development. We have carefully built a practising vehicle and business model to cater for all of these endeavours, and we are here to support our lawyers all the way.
We believe it’s time for the workplace to offer new solutions, to give lawyers new options, which are credible, significant and lucrative, but also offer more of what people expect in the 21st century: flexibility, control, tolerance, ethics.
The trade-off, of course, is the guaranteed payslip. Under our model, those who work long hours will make extraordinary returns. Those who work less, will make less. But that is the point.
For us, control over our lives and the opportunity to live life on our own terms are paramount. We encourage those who are considering their options to talk to us, privately and completely confidentially, about how we could help.