Legal Consultant Profiles: 'The Remote Lawyer' Gretchen Lennon.
1. Hey Gretchen! Can you tell us a little about yourself? What led you to legal consultancy?
I am based in Verbier, Switzerland, where I have been working as a freelance legal consultant for clients based all over the world, but mostly in the UK, for the last six years. I advise clients on a range of corporate, commercial and employment law matters, as well as share options. When I’m not working, I try to enjoy life in the mountains as must as possible – hiking, skiing, biking, paddle-boarding, etc.
I trained at Latham & Watkins in London and qualified into their Employment and Benefits over ten(!) years ago now. At the time when I was ready to move on, I spoke to various recruiters and was left feeling a little uninspired by what opportunities were out there for lawyers who didn’t necessarily want to be in either traditional private practice or in-house roles. I decided a ski season in Verbier would be a great tonic for my frustrations! At the end of that season, I knew I definitely wanted to continue my career as a lawyer, but in a more flexible way that allowed me to base myself in the mountains. This led me to discovering legal consultancy, and in particular KorumLegal, which offers the ideal combination of a flexible working lifestyle, but with interesting, high-quality work. That over six years ago now, and I haven’t looked back since!
2. How has work changed since lockdown?
I’m quite fortunate in that I have always predominantly worked from home, so lockdown has not had a substantial impact on my daily work routine. We’re also lucky here in Switzerland that the restrictions have not been as rigid as those imposed in the UK, so I’ve still been able to see friends (albeit in smaller groups). In terms of the type of work I’m doing, I have definitely been advising a lot of clients on furlough and sadly redundancies as a result of the pandemic, but there are also plenty of other more positive things happening with some clients too, like entering new joint ventures, or hiring new team members, so it’s reassuring to know there are pockets of hope and positivity out there!
3. Do you have any tips for lawyers considering a move into legal consultancy?
DO IT! The key thing that is likely to be holding anyone back is the fear of lack of financial security, but with organisations like KorumLegal, there are so many opportunities to find work, and the benefits of being in charge of your own working life, and having the ability to take a step back, or ease off altogether for a while are invaluable. In the last two years I have spent two months travelling and working in Costa Rica, and then six weeks doing the same in New Zealand. Being able to just bring my laptop with me, and find a co-working space wherever I am, and reduce my workload as/when necessary to allow me this freedom is invaluable!
On a more practical note, I was given very helpful advice when I was just starting out as a freelance legal consultant – make sure you have enough money saved up to get you through 3-4 months. By then, the work will certainly be coming in, and you will be feeling pretty established. Having that financial buffer makes the leap feel less scary. Also, always remember you can go back to a job in private practice or in-house any time you want/need to, but I’m pretty sure once you’ve enjoyed the freedom of legal consultancy for a few months, it will be very difficult to go back to a life where someone else is in charge of you!
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