Subscribe to Newsletter
Upload CV Sign up for Job Alerts

Search for Jobs

Click here to search for jobs


alternatives to the traditional law firm

Share this on social media...

For interesting work, avoid law firms

kirstie penk the legal director

“For lawyers, alternatives to the traditional law firm can offer a more varied case load. ”

By Kirstie Penk – Of The Legal Director

If you’ve taken a break from your legal career in order to raise kids, you might be thinking that a return to work will involve joining a law firm.

Perhaps the very firm that you left, or possibly another: let’s face it, it’s a tough job market out there.

In which case, I have a confession to share with you.

I too am a lawyer. I too have kids. And I too appreciate the flexibility of family-friendly employment.

But the last time I worked inside a traditional law firm was in 1994.

How come? Basically, it’s been my experience that there’s more interesting work—and more enjoyable work—outside law firms, than inside law firms.

When I left that law firm back in 1994, it was after spending six months, just after I’d qualified, working in the commercial property practice of a 40-partner firm. Already, I could see myself becoming pigeon-holed into becoming a property lawyer and that idea filled me with dread.

So I took a job with a NASDAQ-listed American computer networking company, working as its sole in-house lawyer in Europe.

I helped to set up a manufacturing plant in Ireland. I helped to acquire another NASDAQ-listed business, based in Israel. I was running the company secretary and intragroup structure for 36 subsidiary companies all over the world.

And for six months, I spent Tuesday to Friday of every week in New York, helping to spin-out part of the business, and float it separately on NASDAQ.

Later when we spun out another part of the business, the company retained a 10% stake in the wireless part of the business, with two board seats—one of which fell to me.

Life was interesting. Very interesting. And a lot more interesting than commercial property. Plus, I was learning a lot.

Do you remember the dotcom crash? I do: the business went into receivership, and—together with four colleagues—I bought a piece of what was left, in a management buyout, running it for a further four years.

Again, it was an interesting—and educational—experience.

In 2006 we put the business I owned into liquidation and following the birth of my first child in 2006, and my husband and I decided to relocate back to Yorkshire. 2 years later, my second child arrived, and after 18 months I was ready to return to the world of work.

But I didn’t want to work the kind of hours that I’d worked before. I didn’t want the same crazy amount of travelling. I wanted to work part-time. I didn’t want a boring role in a law firm, and nor did I want to work in-house where the only part-time role I would get would be working in a large legal team pushing bits of paper around.

So I joined The Legal Director, which was just starting up. We’re a firm providing corporate clients with their own part-time general counsel, or legal director.

Typically, our lawyers will work for a client for between one and six days a month—perhaps on-site at the client, perhaps from home. Many of our lawyers—the majority, in fact—are women.

Today, I’m a director and a shareholder. Together with my colleagues Ed Simpson, who is in London, and James Mallender, who is in Bristol, we manage a team of 29 lawyers nationwide.

What do they do for their clients? Just about anything: the businesses in question are generally in the £5m–50m range, so as their clients’ sole and senior legal adviser, our lawyers are expected to deal with a wide variety of legal work—general commercial or IP matters, employment and compliance issues, and so on.

It’s interesting work. It’s family-friendly, too. And as we grow—and we’re on track to grow our revenues by 50% this year—we’re always keen to hear from lawyers who might like to join the team.

Click here to apply to join the team

the legal director logo

Share this on social media...

Sign up for Job Alerts

* Salary ranges based on full time hours earnings.

*mandatory fields

New Customer?

From here you will just upload a CV – no registration needed.

Upload CV

Upload CV

Log In