I became a consultant in lockdown – here’s what happened next

Sue Cunningham-Sawyer

CONSULTANT BLOGS / Sue Cunningham-Sawyer

I became a consultant in lockdown – here’s what happened next

A distant memory of a wonderful Asian Cruise in February 2020 just before lockdown.

A distant memory of a wonderful Asian Cruise in February 2020 just before lockdown.

Sue Cunningham-Sawyer is one of over 50 lawyers who joined Setfords during the first 2020 lockdown. We spoke to her about her experience of switching to consultancy.

“I heard about consultancy at Setfords in May, and within two months I had joined.”

What led you to join Setfords as a consultant?

I thought I had fallen out of love with the job due to unrealistic timescales, workloads and pressure. I heard about consultancy at Setfords in May, and within two months I had joined. I think there were some very good lawyers ‘displaced’ during lockdown. I was an Associate and Head of Department, with an aspiration of becoming a Partner. But during lockdown, my focus changed and what I considered important, shifted. Now I work for myself and my clients.

My daughter’s wedding and one of the proudest days of my life.

My daughter’s wedding and one of the proudest days of my life.

Did you have any fears about taking the leap?

I was worried estate agents who said they would recommend me for work, were just paying lip service. They weren’t! They stayed true to their word, and I am grateful for that every day. Within three months, I had taken nearly 90 files through to completion (my choice). The only pressure I felt was the pressure I put on myself – I’m a tough task master!

“I thought the training and support was fantastic… In fact, I believe there is more support with Setfords than I have ever experienced in other firms.”

What were the biggest benefits you spotted immediately?

Less time commuting, being your own boss, managing your own workload, no office politics and being able to work in tracksuit bottoms if you want to – even if you have a Zoom meeting. Just show the top half! I thought the training and support was fantastic, and even though you work alone, you are never alone. In fact, I believe there is more support with Setfords than I have ever experienced in other firms. Combined with contact with all of the other consultants, it really does feel like one family.

Me and my husband at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Me and my husband at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

How did your family and friends react as you settled into your new role?

My whole family and my close friends have noticed a huge change. A happiness in my face and demeanour. I get to spend more time with them. If I want to catch up with my files in the evening or a Saturday, I can.

How easy has it been to keep old clients and attract new ones?

I believe I had a good reputation and a good returning client base, so it has been so nice that clients have “found” me and do come back. Setfords also provide you with work if you want it.

“I cannot emphasise how much I love being a consultant at Setfords – honestly!”

What’s the support structure like?

From the top to the bottom, receptionists, secretaries, partners – they have all been truly lovely.

A hobby that I enjoy with my family and our working cocker spaniels.

A hobby that I enjoy with my family and our working cocker spaniels.

Have you had much contact with other Setfords lawyers?

There is constant contact with other lawyers from either your own discipline or other disciplines. All have been most supportive and helpful, always.

Was there a specific moment when you realised you had made the right decision?

Day one. I cannot emphasise how much I love being a consultant at Setfords – honestly! I wish I had known about this many years ago.

“I love the flexibility.”

A gentle ride around Malaysia – with a little cheating on an E Bike!

A gentle ride around Malaysia – with a little cheating on an E Bike!

What does a normal day now look like?

Well, yes – they are longer, but that is fine. You take on as much as you want to. You are your own boss, and I set targets for myself and a forecast, and to date, I have exceeded those targets.

What are you enjoying the most about your new life?

I love the flexibility – more for me that if I want to work longer, I can, but for the benefit of my clients and myself. If I want to finish at four on a Friday I can, or if I want to go and have my hair done in the morning (pandemic allowing), I can.

What advice would you offer someone who is considering consultancy?

NIKE – Just do it!


Thinking about consultancy?

The vast majority who join Setfords as consultants go on to be a huge success, earning more money, experiencing less office politics, and enjoying a better-work life balance. The next consultant could be you. So get in touch today and take the next step towards a happier life.

The next step towards a better way of working…

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