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Keeping you informed on the latest NewLaw thinking and insights

James Croyston - Our Featured Consultant.

This month's featured Consultant; James Croyston - Consultant at KorumLegal.

1. What made you leave the more ‘conventional’ legal practice to join the ‘Gig Economy’ as a Consultant?

I spent ten years working in the City in London, in private practice and in-house, starting as a twenty-something and ending up in my 30s with a young family. Having a baby at home and leaving early in the morning and not knowing if I could make it back for bath-time really focused my mind. I wanted to keep using my legal experience but in a different context, one that gave me the freedom to enjoy my young child and to find the fabled work/life balance.

I’m lucky that this new way of working in the legal sector has developed at this point in time as it has provided me with the options I wanted which simply weren’t available even a few years ago.

2. How has your experience outside law helped your legal skills as a consultant? - What have you found is the "value add" or "special skills" that you bring to a client as a legal consultant? 

Many of my clients are entrepreneurs. Previously, I would need to imagine what it was like to be in their shoes. Now, I am actually in their shoes. To work as a Legal Consultant you learn about how to provide services differently, to differentiate yourself from competitors, to keep learning, to understand your own brand and value proposition, the value of speedy iterations. This helps me to really appreciate the critical issues for my clients, and gives me a viewpoint I may not have gained if I had remained working in traditional legal services. 

3. Can you tell us more about the lows and highs of your career in Law so far?

The biggest panic that springs to mind is at the signing ceremony of a multi-year, £200m+ contract that I had been working on as a trainee for many months. About two minutes before signature in front of cameras and a big crowd, the lead partner asks me if I am 100% certain that I have inserted the correct form of signature block. I had researched the requirements and assured him I had – he was not persuaded by my answer and asked me to insert a manuscript additional witness block, which I did, hands sweaty and trembling, suddenly second-guessing myself. Turns out I had been correct, but I can still vividly recall thinking this was an ignominious end to an unexpectedly short legal career.
On the flip side, one of the highs was being able to work on that same deal. The learning curve was huge, and set me up for the rigors ahead. Also, as a 3-year PQE lawyer leading a complex, multi-jurisdictional, mission-critical IT procurement was one of my more memorable moments.

4. Any surprising or juicy anecdotes of your experience being a legal Consultant?

Who, me? Never. 

5. What would you say to lawyers in private practice or in-house who are considering a more flexible work style?

I love it, but it isn’t for everyone. I don’t have support, so manage my own diary, arrange my own CPD, I work from home so can’t grab a coffee with a colleague during my break, format my own documents and don’t have access to colleagues in the office next door who can provide an instant answer to an obscure point.
I do, however, have time to take my son to nursery, take holidays when it suits me, feel true ownership over every matter I work on, add real value to my clients, have insights into the “hustle” of entrepreneurship and know what it means to live in a world that is brought closer by technology – my clients in Zurich, London, Hong Kong, New York, Singapore and Malaysia are all served from my home in Manila. Truly astounding.

6. Tell us two interesting truths and one white lie

I shared a cigarette with Michael Douglas in a parking lot in LA
I played for Australia under 12's football
I had a job handing out toothpaste dressed as a giant tooth

Last months white lie: Lisa Lam -  I study I Ching and practice Taoism.

Read our next newsletter to find out the one white lie.

Liam Dransfield