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Everyone has probably heard of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon. Boiled down to its nuts and bolts, the idea behind the GR purports that employees will collectively realise in the coming months, as borders open, that there’s more to life than work – and will resign en masse. To do what, you ask? It’s anyone’s guess. Travel, freelance, spend more time with their family, run their own business, all of the above, perhaps? There’s an equally loud school of thought that says there will be no such ‘wave’ of resignations.
In any case, the proof will be in the data pudding soon enough.
What we do know is that people want to work where they work best, where they can make a difference, and be meaningfully rewarded for it. What this looks like will differ from person to person. However, being an employee is not cutting it for many – whether it’s being forced to return to the office full-time, not being able to pitch fresh ideas because of rigid hierarchies, or just not feeling valued or appreciated. (We work hard on creating the opposite environment at Littles!)
For those in the law who aren’t heading off to backpack around Europe, this might mean quitting to go and set up your own business, or taking the plunge and purchasing shares with your current firm . I’ve done both, against a background of enormous change in the profession, and thought I’d share some insights. This is a blog, so I’m keeping it short – I’ll probably expand on a few ideas here further down the track.
(I use the terms ‘partners’ and ‘shareholders’ interchangeably, but to be clear, I mean ‘shareholders’ in the context of an ILP. Anyone thinking of setting up a vanilla legal partnership in 2021 is, in my humble opinion, quite mad.)
First and foremost, you need to weigh the pros and cons against your ultimate goal. As I said, we all have different levers, which may make one path better suited to us than another. Here are some things to think about:
I’ll wind up with a bit of ‘true and false’. These are the things that after 30 years of practice, I know in my bones to be fact:
Finally, whether you are running your own firm, or buying shares, maintain a zero dickheads policy (that includes the so-called ‘brilliant’ ones) – and don’t become one. No one will want to work for you – or at least, not the ones you need. Speak plainly, constantly and critically evaluate your own performance. Argue your position strongly but accept the decision once made and get on board with it.