Legal Consultant Profiles: "The Flexible Mid-Level Consultant" Rolf Sperling.
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
To start with, I am from the Netherlands or Holland, whichever you prefer. I have only signed up with KorumLegal last February, after eight year as a lawyer of which five years in Amsterdam and three years in Hong Kong. Amsterdam is a great place, but I still enjoy Hong Kong a lot. It has plenty to offer both personally and professionally and it is a great base for exploring the Asia-Pacific. I am also taking my Hong Kong motorcycle license test at the moment, which is really combination of an exercise in form over substance and slapstick comedy. Slowly but surely I will get it though (learner’s license is in the bag!). Last but not least, I can be a bit particular with my coffee (single espresso or a double shot cappuccino, not from a paper cup nor those big Starbucks mugs).
- What path led you to be attracted to the legal consulting path and the flexible work model?
Wanting to switch careers and leave private practice, but I didn’t know exactly what or where. I did know that I wanted to be in Hong Kong and KorumLegal had a great assignment for me to start with. Working as a legal consultant, it gives me the opportunity to look in-house at a client, but still be flexible.
- Was it challenging transitioning from BigLaw to NewLaw? How did you overcome the challenge?
For me, it was more of a gradual transition that started a few years ago. Working in a big office in Amsterdam with tons of colleagues and just focusing on the job at hand was very different from my time in Hong Kong. There I was part of a small office with a handful of colleagues, but with a lot of autonomy and flexibility. I had the ability to take initiative on wide range of things, be flexible and explore the business side of Asia. I was able to take those positive aspects of my previous position with me to my current role. That there’s even more flexibility and freedom now is something I still have to get used to though.
- What kind of clients have you worked with and on what type of matter?
I am still fairly new, having started in February, and am currently working for one client. However, it is an excellent assignment for which I have spent a month in their office in Bangkok and I have to revisit them regularly. The project itself can best be described as assisting the client in building and expanding their compliance and legal functions, with regulatory aspects throughout all regions where the client is active. A number of KorumLegal colleagues are working on this project simultaneously, with me assisting for a large part on project management and being “the man on the ground”. It is a great opportunity to experience the change management that the client is going through, which is also the most challenging aspect of the job. It is very satisfying that we can finally see some change in mentality at the top level of the client and it is exciting to be in the middle of it.
- Do you have any tips for consultants looking into joining the flexible workforce? Any Dos and Don’ts? (Productivity tips?)
I do struggle every now and then with focus when working on my own and feeling a bit isolated. I assume like many lawyers, I was used to immediate demands from clients, colleagues and partners. That pressure is what I needed to reach peak focus. But since that pressure was not always the most fun part about the job, it is not a circumstance I am trying to replicate. For me, there is no perfect fix to regain focus so I use different things. Whether that is changing my surroundings by working at KorumLegal’s office or from home or going out for a bit and doing something else. That can be going out for walk and a coffee, but also going to the gym. That is what makes the flexibility at this job so great (and tempting!).
Apr 30, 2019