Tom Mitchell is a consultant solicitor at Setfords primarily focussed on helping businesses with a wide range of commercial, employment, and regulatory issues.He has particular expertise in the travel and leisure sectors. He has spent the last decade advising firms ranging from start-ups to household names on all aspects of their businesses. Tom lives in Leeds with his wife and two young daughters. Thoughts of a move to become a consultant solicitor first entered Tom’s mind in 2014 as he started to become disillusioned with the constrained and static nature of the traditional law firm. “A rigid daily commute, repetitive workload, and fixed hours regardless of output had me questioning whether this was even a profession I wanted to be a part of anymore. The grass didn’t look greener at any other firms and setting up as a sole practitioner looked intimidating with all it entailed. That all changed when I began to research the consultancy model, and it was at this point I identified Setfords as a progressive firm that seemed to offer the best of all worlds.”
“I identified Setfords as a progressive firm that seemed to offer the best of all worlds”
Tom continued in the traditional firm for the time being, and Tom and his wife welcomed their first daughter in 2015. Tom’s wife went back to work full time, working long hours as a head teacher and, for a period, they fumbled through the intensity of both working long, inflexible hours, with childcare fitting around work. However, neither of them felt happy: “I remember a client describing an employee they had an issue with as coasting and sleepwalking along. That description struck a chord; I didn’t want to look back in a few years and have become that person. The impending arrival of our second daughter was the final kick I needed.” In August 2017, Tom decided it was time to take the leap and became a consultant solicitor at Setfords. Despite initial concerns about job security and a feeling of uncertainty about the future, particularly with regards to obtaining client work, Tom felt excited about his new role.
“Day 1 was a surreal experience – in fact, I forgot to even connect my phone! However, the uncertain start didn’t last long, and the work quickly built up. The relationship with the business development team is very positive, and they have helped me to grow my business. At Setfords, I have the back office support of a Top 200 firm behind me, which is invaluable.” Going from an office-based environment to working completely remotely can be daunting, but Tom has been surprised by the friendly culture and supportive dynamic at Setfords: “Despite physically working in isolation most of the time, it is far and away one of the more social firms I have worked for. There’s a strong shared ethos and entrepreneurial spirit amongst consultants; we have all chosen the same path, after all. When you want it, the Chancery Lane offices (amongst others) are available to work in, and networking opportunities are aplenty.”
“There’s a strong shared ethos and entrepreneurial spirit amongst consultants; we have all chosen the same path after all”
Above all, Tom has found that he is much happier now that he can achieve career success in his own way – with far greater freedom, flexibility and control over his working life. The progressive way of ‘working from anywhere’ has revolutionised his work-life balance and allows him to focus on what is best for his clients: “I can go out on my bike at lunchtime if the mood takes me, collect the girls and go to the park on the way home. I will go and work in the Alps and spend the day cycling when I want. The notion of ‘annual leave’ seems antiquated as now I can work when and where I want, at home or abroad; what is essential is getting the work done, not how and where I get it done. To me, what is important is doing the best for the client, and my life fits around that objective. I can be found at 6am happily dealing with emails in my own time with a coffee as the sun rises, or preparing on an evening or working on a weekend when the client needs it. I know I can take time off another day when I need to without needing to justify it to anybody.”
“The notion of ‘annual leave’ seems antiquated as now I can work when and where I want”
For Tom, he has found a way of working that rewards output and does not focus on input, which has left him feeling renewed and energised in his career. He feels that despite working harder, he enjoys his work far more because he is fully vested in the success and development of his practice: “It has been a positive and life-affirming change, and I only wish I’d made it some years earlier or known that is where I was heading. It would have made laying the years of groundwork a lot more palatable! Who knows what the future will hold, but adapting and developing my practice is what I enjoy and I’m very much looking forward to achieving further success.”
“You are quickly reminded that what is important is doing the best for the client, and my life fits around that objective.”
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