If any industry has a slightly old-fashioned image it is the legal industry, yet a number of legal firms have embraced flexible working to help attract high calibre individuals and differentiate themselves from the market.
Cognitive Law is one of these great businesses so we reached out to them to see if rolling out flexible work was a worthwhile endeavour.
1) Please can you tell us a little bit about Cognitive Law
Cognitive Law was founded in 2014 as a consultancy based law firm, offering solicitors a new way of working by changing the way legal services are delivered. We offer a range of commercial legal services including commercial property, dispute resolution, debt recovery, insolvency, and employment; as well as family law. All our solicitors work completely flexibly and are located nationwide.
2) What made you decide to have focus on flexible working? What different types of flexible working do you encourage/allow?
Cognitive Law as a law firm and the desire to create a completely flexible working environment, was born out of the need for change for one of the company’s Directors. Lucy Tarrant worked in a large regional law firm which encompassed all the traditions of a law firm, including long office hours, strict targets and very little flexibility. Lucy wanted a law firm where everyone could manage their own time in a way that suited their lives. She wanted to create a place where solicitors could work to live and not live to work. Lucy felt sure that having a passion for the legal industry shouldn’t mean being sat at a desk in an office all day, every day. Along with her business partner, she wanted to build a firm that would give solicitors their lives back, and enable them to make their practice work for them. Cognitive Law was founded to allow solicitors to be their own boss; and to manage their own time, their clients and their workload. The aim was to create a new way of working for solicitors. This has been achieved with our organisational structure and our passion to change the way legal services are delivered. This is what sets us apart from other law firms.
Flexible working is not just an option at Cognitive Law, it is a given. The firm’s culture encompasses and promotes flexible working across the entire company. Every solicitor works where, when and how they like. They set their own targets and work as much or as little as they choose. There are no set hours or days that solicitors are required to work. We operate a fee share model which means solicitors are paid a percentage of what they bill. This means solicitors simply choose how much work they take on in a period of time, and they do that work completely flexibly around their lifestyle.
3) What advantages have you seen by promoting a flexible working culture?
The impact our flexible working culture has had on our solicitors’ lives has been phenomenal, and quite literally life-changing. Since starting in 2014 with 1 consultant we have grown to 6 consultants, a paralegal, an Operations Executive and a Marketing Executive. All the solicitors work where, when and how they want. Our business structure has no location restrictions, which enables solicitors to live and work nationwide. We are in regular contact with all our solicitors and the feedback we have is overwhelmingly positive. A number of our solicitors have provided us with the following quotes. Darren Stone, talking about joining Cognitive Law says, “The pros were obvious, control over my work, a genuine work-life balance, flexibility and importantly being able to implement my own business plan without it having to fit into a grander design that somebody else was trying to develop.” Annabel Cole talks about how flexible working has helped her. “Cognitive Law has given me the freedom and ability to prioritise my family at a time I needed. The ability to plan my work around my family has been invaluable.”
4) For balance – have there been any disadvantages?
We are happy to say we’ve never had any negative feedback regarding our flexible working model from both our solicitors and clients. Although I think they would all agree that self-motivation and self-discipline are two of the keys to success.
5) What sort of feedback have you had from your clients…if any?
Only positive. As long as we are accessible or contactable they are happy.
6) How easy has it been to recruit suitable staff?
All our solicitors join us because the flexible structure of our organisation appeals to, and works for, them and their families. They are all ambitious and career focused with a passion for what they do so recruiting quality lawyers has not been a problem.
7) What advice would you give to other businesses who are thinking of implementing a flexible working practice?
First of all, grasp the nettle and just do it. The benefits are so overwhelming that any misgivings will soon be overcome. Secondly, act from the top down, and show everyone throughout the business that flexibility can work at every level. Finally, sing your flexible working successes from the rooftops. The more widely the positives are spread, the better for everyone