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Consultant Life | Father in Law | Time for a Change?

Posted on 12 June 2022

Journal of a busy father, balancing life as a Commercial Property Consultant Solicitor and family in the West Midlands…this week’s topic is Change.

Welcome back to my semi-regular blog posts about life as a Consultant Solicitor. I work as a Commercial Property Partner with Nexa Law.  Mixed with this I am an active parent to my two boys aged 6 and 3, with my fantastic wife. Consulting is the best balance I have found yet for juggling the two.  In this column I am ranging over different aspects of life as a Consultant.  Maybe you are considering consultancy as your next career move?  Maybe you are curious as to what you are getting when you instruct a Consultant Solicitor?  If so, read on…

Embracing Change

My son taught me a valuable lesson a few weeks back.  He turned 6, and was whizzing about on his brand new bike.  It was his first time on a bike without stabilisers.  He was off and away first time – very proud Daddy moment.  How did he manage this you ask?  Is he a sporting genius?  A new Chris Hoy or Jason Kenny in the making?  Well, no, he’s been practicing.  But how?  Simple really – I’ve been taking him to school on a balance bike for the past 6 months or so.  When it came to transition to the pedal bike, it was no problem at all – the same principles apply, but you pedal rather than scoot.

I have to admit I was sceptical when my wife first suggested we get a balance bike.  They didn’t exist when I was learning to ride.  I thought he should do exactly what I did – get used to riding with stabilisers, and then be weaned off them when he was big enough.  But things change, don’t they?  New ideas, new ways of doing things, they can really transform life.  We rely a lot on what we were taught growing up, or what we have learnt through experience.  But if we don’t try new things, we won’t know how they can help us.

Agent of Change – Going Paperless

In the working sphere, I’m a lot more open to change than the above anecdote would suggest.  Lawyers are notoriously slow on the uptake, but I’ve generally been at the forefront of some of the big changes to the way lawyers work.  I was the first (and probably the only) lawyer in my team at my previous firm to go paperless pre-pandemic.  I was working between offices in Birmingham and Kidderminster at the time, and unless I wanted to be hulking a filing cabinet with me every day, I saw pretty quickly that I would need everything to be paperless, electronic, and available at any time whatever your location.

How that helped when Coronavirus hit.  It made very little difference to be suddenly working from home full time, as when you work paperlessly you really can work from anywhere.  Great for clients too – they were always impressed that I could lay my hands on their documents when they called, whenever or wherever that was.

More Change – Electronic Documents

Another example is electronic documents.  Following the decision in Mercury Tax Group Ltd & Anor, R (on the application of) v HM Commissioners of Revenue & Customs & Ors [2008] EWHC 2721 (Admin) (13 November 2008) (bailii.org) legal practitioners have been able to create a form of electronic documents for over a decade.  As part of my paperless working, I started using the Mercury signing protocol.  Documents could be emailed out, a signature added, and then electronically created and stored.  Even the Land Registry adopted the process during the Coronavirus pandemic.

And yet, most of my fellow solicitors are still religiously wedded to printing paper documents out, posting them off, getting them signed and lovingly storing them in a strong room (only for them to get lost in the archiving process, or misfiled into the wrong deeds packet and never seen again).  I still speak to lawyers now who confess to not having heard of the Mercury case and not understanding that life could be so much easier for them, and more importantly their clients.

Now I also use Adobe Sign where I can (not always feasible or practical where there are lots of witnesses required), but so much simpler for the client when signing engagement letters, contracts or other documents.

Change in the Legal Sector – the Old Way

The legal sector is changing.  Traditional practice is modelled on generating maximum profit for the partnership.  The partners bring in the work, sell the firm to the client, and then offload it as quickly as possible down the pyramid structure below them.  The work gets pushed down to Associates and Senior Associates, who are encouraged to push it further down to Assistant Solicitors, Paralegals and Legal Assistants.  The pyramid gets wider and wider and more and more people get involved.  The lawyers in the middle of the pyramid have an ever increasing target to achieve, to sustain the weight of the structure.  Clients who were impressed by the credentials of the partner they met in the first instance end up having their work handled by someone with few qualifications, if any.  In many cases they may not know this, because the work is still “fronted” by the partner.

Change in the Legal Sector – a New Model

A consultancy based practice like Nexa Law is different.  People work with people.  You instruct the Consultant Solicitor that you like, and that Consultant actually does the work.  They are able to do it because they have not been overloaded with too much work, which is required to sustain the pyramid structure of a traditional law firm.  Change, and change for the better.  A Consultant controls how much work they take on, meaning they can deliver consistent client service at all times.  As a business owner in their own right, they are incentivised in an entirely different way to an employed solicitor.  Completing your job efficiently and effectively is in the Consultant’s interest in a far more direct way – they care about the outcome in the same way that you do, as it is their business behind it, rather than just another job piled on an overloaded pile.

My clients have directly experienced the benefits of this.  On a recent lease instruction, my client advised me at the outset that he had previously instructed another solicitor.  However, after they had taken a month to even issue their Client Care Letter, he was seeking an alternative.  And he got it.  The job was complete in less than a month.  I had positive feedback from all sides – the client Landlord, the Tenant and the Agent.  A hat trick of great feedback, and a positive result for all parties:


“John acted for me on a new lease of an office at my business premises.  John acted swiftly and effectively to get the new tenant in as quickly as possible.  I have been very happy with his service, and am happy to recommend him for commercial property leases.”

Nicholas Favell, Director, Favell’s Garage Ltd

“We worked with John on a recent office lease, which John prepared for the landlord, and could not be happier! He was helpful, supportive, and above all, was efficient and very responsive. I have no doubt we will use John in the future, and I would highly recommend him!”

Rob Spence, Director, Paragon Sales Solutions

“I thought your service has genuinely been outstanding throughout this transaction. Your thorough explanations where necessary and prompt responses at all times are certainly the reason we were able to progress this so quickly.”

Joe Dodd, Surveyor, Andrew & Ashwell


So, in summary, you have a choice.  You can do things the old way.  Sure, you know where you are, and you know where the problems are.  If you are teaching your child to ride a bike, it’s going to be painful to wean him off those stabilisers.  If you want a lease doing, it may well be a painful few months while you wait for your overworked usual solicitor to work through his or her pile.

Or, you can do things the new way.  Embrace change.  Use a balance bike, and watch your son or daughter fly when they get on a “real” bike.  Use a Consultant Solicitor from the outset, get your job completed on time and on budget, and get back to enjoying the rest of life.  Like teaching your son or daughter to ride a bike.  Or whatever you do in your spare time.  You can make it easy or hard, and I know which I prefer.

Change?  Sure, embrace it, and get better work done and a better life outside it. 

Contact Me

If you are an employed solicitor, and are interested in finding out about consulting, then do get in touch for a confidential chat on 07538 216906 or john.mclean@nexa.law.

If you are a client who would like to take advantage of the flexibility and experience that Consultant Solcitors have to offer, then do contact me.  For a no-obligation, free, quotation you can contact me via enquiries@mcleanlegal.co.uk or on 01384 872069 or via my Free Enquiry Form.  I carry out all work through Nexa Law Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the SRA.

Check out my LinkedIn profile and Facebook page too.

Thanks for reading my above article, and I look forward to seeing you on the next blog post!



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John McLean is a Partner with Nexa Law, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Licence Number 633024). All work is carried out through Nexa Law.

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