It was a Head Hunter last week who reminded me that I was approaching 7 years as a Setfords Consultant.
I didn’t realise I’d been here so long, longer than I have stayed at any of my former firms. I concluded that I am obviously enjoying myself as it has gone so quickly! When pressed as to why I did not feel it was time to venture in to pastures new, it made me stop and reflect as to why I actually found such talk abhorrent.
Setfords is not a law firm to me it’s a way of life.
I was one of the early Consultants taken on when the whole concept was still somewhat of an experiment and a lot of the processes and procedures that we now take for granted as a firm were still in their infancy.
I remember my interview with Guy and Chris Setford very well. Armed with my 75 or so questions I began to feel a little apprehensive as to what sort of firm this really was. While I sat on the train my questions grew as I kept writing down all of the things which would be a deal breaker for me. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was physically and mentally exhausted from having an extensive caseload but being overworked, underpaid and generally undervalued in my previous positions.
Having left my last position with no job to go to, I decided that this time I wanted things on my terms. I certainly did not want to impair my CV by joining a “virtual” law firm or a bulk Conveyancing outfit. I wanted flexibility. I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to be sure that the fee split was “as advertised” and there were no strings attached or hidden expenditure. I will give them their due, tedious as it must have been they answered every single one of my concerns.
And so it was I realised my life was about to change when Guy Setford gave me the staff manual and said “Rose we’d love to have you. When can you start”?
Two weeks later I plugged the Setfords’ office phone into my computer in the corner of my dining room which was to become my home office for the next 6 years. My computer was pretty old and useless for personal work, however when I logged into the Setfords system it was as though I had a brand new beast of a machine.
The technology was amazing then and continues to improve every single day. That is one of the strengths of the Setfords’ model together with the fact that all of the staff have a ‘can do’ attitude. If something hasn’t been done before they are more than willing to give it a go and try to accommodate my requests.
When I looked back at my accounts for the first year I realised that I had earned exactly double the amount that I had previously earned as a full time 37 hour per week harassed underpaid and undervalued employee for four hours work.
I remember when I first started I used to work four hours per day.I would take my older children to school in the morning, then do a bit of work in between feeding my youngest daughter, popping the washing in and having a general tidy round. Then I would to take my youngest to the park in the afternoon before collecting the older children at around 3.30pm. I didn’t realise it then but they were the “glory days”. When I looked back at my accounts for the first year I realised that I had earned exactly double the amount that I had previously earned as a full time 37 hour per week harassed, underpaid and undervalued employee for four hours work. Yes I did say double!
Since then my business has gone from strength to strength, to the point now where I do have a formal office in West Bridgford (having outgrown my dining room) and now have two staff assisting me with the my ever-increasing volumes. The whole experience has just been fantastic.
I believe the simplicity and flexibility of the Setfords model has made this possible. I have no targets to meet. This is my business and it is therefore up to me how much or how little I take on. I have no admin to deal with as this is done centrally for me by the Setfords admin team. Despite having worked at the Land Registry I used to find the registration aspect of Conveyancing quite tedious and so am grateful for our dedicated Registrations Team at Setfords.
If I have a compliance headache there is a compliance team to deal with that. In fact all of the normal pressures of running one’s business are reduced significantly by operating the Setfords’ model as they deal with all of the usual business side leaving me to just deal with the Conveyancing which I absolutely love.
No one bats an eyelid when I take time off
Because I am less stressed I can offer a better level of service to my clients. No one bats an eyelid when I take time off to see my youngest daughter collect an award at school or appear in a school play or indeed if it is a nice day and I just feel like having the afternoon off!.
When I was in private practice I had a headache every single Friday. In fact my staff used to refer to it as my “Friday Head”. It was quite a bad migraine actually which I believe derived from the stress of working in a traditional firm and all the pressure that entails. I have not had a Friday Head since starting at Setfords, in fact my head has never been clearer.
So as I explained to the Head Hunter there is simply nothing that anyone could offer me to leave.
Here’s to the next seven years
I feel privileged, honoured and very lucky indeed to have stumbled upon Setfords and to have enjoyed such a fantastic relationship with the Directors Guy, Chris and David. They are not my employers, they are my brothers, they are amongst my greatest friends. So in answer to the question posed by the Head hunter as to whether I have the “seven year itch” the answer remains an emphatic “no way”. And to the Guys all I can say is “Thanks for the ride so far … here’s to the next seven years”.