From struggling single mum to running her own office: Sarah Gillbe celebrates 10 successful years as a consultant solicitor at Setfords.
SARAH’S STORY: HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Long days and even longer nights, drenched in stress – this was Sarah Gillbe 15 years ago. Her only certainty was knowing that she would leave the office every night to begin her long commute home feeling unfulfilled and unappreciated, only to do it all again the next day.
“I was struggling single mum; I was getting up at lunatic times of the day to study for my CILEX exams and managing a full-time job. It was really tough.”
REACHING A GLASS CEILING
After spending time working at a traditional firm, there came a point for Sarah where she knew that the only way to continue progressing upwards was to become a partner. However, she felt that the added stress of hitting targets and the pressure of managing a team took away from the work that she loved to do, not to mention the additional hours and office politics.
“I realised that I could be looking at partnership or head of department in a large firm. I just didn’t want the lifestyle of being under constant pressure with targets, having to worry about what everyone else is doing as well as what I’m doing. I looked at what Setfords was offering as a Consultant Solicitor and what I’d have if I were somewhere else, so I knew I had to make a change.”
BUILDING UP A BUSINESS
Sarah and her daughter at a carnival
Sarah realised that she wanted to have more control over her working life. In 2010 she met with Guy and Chris Setford with their new and ground-breaking consultancy model law firm. They offered Sarah a life as a lawyer with no targets, no pressure and total control over when and where you work.
“Guy and Chris were brilliant, and they had tonnes of vision and energy. It all sounded so exciting, so I said ‘I’ll come and join you!”
Sarah signed on in 2010 and worked on building up her caseload with the help of the Setfords support team. By 2014 Sarah had been so busy that she had to take someone on to support her full-time.
“I was so busy! I couldn’t manage answering the phone, dealing with the clients and all the stuff that you have to do, so I hired Fiona. Fiona has now been here seven years and is completely indispensable in everything that she does. Then in 2019, where my caseload was growing rapidly, a very good friend of mine, Neil, came to work for us.”
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Sarah has found huge success at Setfords and loves it so much that she has been at the firm for over ten years! She has gone from working at her kitchen table to running her own office.
“Here I am now – I’ve essentially built up my own office, I’ve got staff, I’ve got returning clients. I’ve got happy Trustpilot reviews. It just feels like all that hard work paid off, and it’s all come together. I’m just really proud of what I’ve achieved so far.”
The tailored support Setfords can offer to consultants, like Sarah, allows them to progress as they would like to. Setfords has dedicated 15 years to building the largest and most efficient support team in the industry.
“I can focus on the clients and building my caseload because I’m working in a supportive environment. The support team is energetic, and there is always somebody to ask – all my post, typing, compliance, accounting and admin is sorted for me.”
Not only has Sarah found business and financial success, but she is a lot happier. Setfords allows her to take on the clients she wants, work the hours that she wants, and from where she wants to, with no one to answer to:
“I prefer to get on with things and do it my way, and Setfords let me do it. I don’t have to be at my desk nine to five if I don’t want to. I can see clients when I want to, go out for lunch, and network on my own terms. I don’t have a boss that I have to report to. I’m the boss!”
Co-CEOs Chris and Guy Setford are delighted to see all Sarah has achieved in her time at Setfords.
“Huge congratulations to Sarah! We are delighted that Sarah has been with us for over ten years. We are so lucky to have her as one of our longest serving consultant solicitors. Her success is a reflection of the fantastic work that she does for her clients. She is a credit to the firm and the perfect example of what a brilliant and focused lawyer can achieve with the best support behind them.”
Sarah and her daughter
Sarah and her Tilehurst office colleagues
Driven and focussed, Sarah has built her own successful practice with Setfords and has big plans for the next ten years:
“I am going to carry on at Setfords; I can’t imagine going anywhere else. Nobody could do a better job of this model. I plan to build up my practice and hopefully hire more staff. Now my daughter is at university, so maybe at some point, I will start to relax and have a bit more time off because I can afford to do it!”
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