Setting a precedent for flexible working: Cognitive Law

We are thrilled to welcome Cognitive Law to the 2to3days Hood. This contemporary law firm, built on traditional foundations, empowers its team to manage their work-life integration with its consultants working on a virtual and flexible basis. Lucy Tarrant, founding partner and Managing Director, explains how they're making change happen in the legal sector.

A few years ago I thought I was about the least entrepreneurial solicitor on the planet. I’m naturally quite risk averse, and I had achieved partner status in private practice. What more could I want from my career?

I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t happy either. Don’t get me wrong, my firm was great, and I genuinely enjoyed being a solicitor (and still do). But as a lone parent, working full time, my going to the office every day was becoming a bit of a slog. Working part-time wasn’t a financially viable option for me. However, I still wanted to take my daughter to school, go to every assembly and have her friends round for tea. I wanted some more time for me, perhaps to enjoy that costly gym membership or be able to go for a run in the daylight. In short, I wanted to cut myself some slack, without compromising my career.

And so it was that Cognitive Law was born in September 2014, with the aspiration to allow solicitors to be their own boss, to manage their own time, their clients, and their workload. 

Flexible working is a given

Cognitive has been a consultancy based law firm from the outset. Flexible working is not just an option here, it is a given. 

All our solicitors work completely flexibly and are located nationwide. The firm’s ethos encompasses and promotes flexible working across the entire company. Every solicitor works where, when and how they like. They set their own targets and work as much or as little as they choose. There are no set hours or days that solicitors are required to work.   

We operate a fee share model which means solicitors are paid up to 70% on their received fees. This means solicitors simply choose how much work they take on in a period of time, and they do that work completely flexibly around their lifestyle.  

We appreciate that sometimes it’s not a question of work/life balance but work/life management. There are times when we all need to spend more time in a particular area of our lives, and our business structure allows the scales to tip in whichever favour it needs to. 

We afford all our consultants the flexibility to plan when and where they are, managing their client work as only they know how.  We have technology and systems in place which allow our solicitors to access their work on a central management system from any location. Therefore they can not only work the hours they want but in the location they like, whether that be one of our office bases or remotely from home, or anywhere in between.  

Full support provided

We provide full back office support so each solicitor works in a way that suits their lifestyle whilst having the support of a larger team. All our consultant solicitors are provided with: 

  • Online case management system with installation and training provided
  • AML compliance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Invoicing & credit control
  • Guidance through the office set-up process, whether at home or in office space
  • Ongoing support, including a number to call for instant advice and help
  • A designated phone number
  • Business cards
  • A telephone answering service to field calls when consultants are on holiday or in meetings
  • Cognitive branded stationery and letterhead
  • Regular social events with other Cognitive solicitors
  • Marketing & business development guidance and planning

Making a genuine difference

The impact our flexible working ethos has had on our solicitors’ lives has been phenomenal, and quite literally life-changing. Since starting in 2014 with 1 consultant we have grown to 9 consultants, 1 legal manager, 1 Marketing Manager and an Operations Executive. We now offer a range of legal services including commercial, commercial property, dispute resolution, debt recovery, insolvency and employment, as well as family law, contentious probate and later life/wealth management legal advice. We are in regular contact with all our solicitors with daily emails and telephone calls, quarterly meetings, and visits to each solicitor’s base, ensuring a supportive team culture has also been established across the network. 

I recently asked some of our current consultants how they felt about taking the leap into a consultancy role and these are the answered I received: 

The pros were obvious, control over my work, a genuine work-life balance, flexibility and importantly being able to implement my own business plan without it having to fit into a grander design that somebody else was trying to develop.” Darren Stone, Insolvency Solicitor

Cognitive Law has given me the freedom and ability to prioritise my family at a time I needed. The ability to plan my work around my family has been invaluable.” Annabel Cole, Employment Solicitor

 “Being a consultant changed my life – for the better. Working in this way has allowed me to finally crack the work/life balance conundrum. Working for a firm in Kent for 14 years, I quickly progressed to partnership. I thrived in a busy commercial litigation department but when I started a family, things became difficult and there was very little time left for my family. You quickly become accustomed to having complete control over everything you do – and when you do it.  And knowing that the more you work, the more you will earn is satisfyingly refreshing.  I simply can’t ever see myself going back to the traditional legal firm model. Cognitive are friendly and supportive, with excellent back office support. Whilst you don’t have a secretary, they will help with pretty much any request, deal with all billing and credit control and proactively help with marketing the firm and you personally. As a mother of 2 it has given me the freedom to be a solicitor and still have the time and energy to be a good parent and spend quality time with my children. In my first year my youngest was not yet at school, so I broke myself into this new way of working gently.  By the end of my second year I have more than doubled my fee income and am now looking for more new and exciting ways to develop my practice.  I set my own hours – and can actually turn down work if I don’t have time for it.  This was unheard of in my old practice!  I have even found time to take up running and ensure that my self development is as important as my work and family life.” Karen Blakesley, Commercial Solicitor

APPLY NOW for one of the great Consultant Solicitor opportunities on offer and for more info feel free to call or email me for an informal chat on 0333 400 4499 or email me on lucy.tarrant@cognitivelaw.co.uk