It wasn’t planned and it certainly wasn’t as eloquent as I would have hoped – a bit too much Bridget Jones for my liking. But the words were out and I wasn’t taking them back.
Just like that "I’m done!"
After more than 20 years working in law firms, I was leaving. Once I got past the financial fear, the feeling was one of utter relief.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great job. My career has been completely unexpected for a girl from a small country town - it has taken me around the world, presented me with amazing opportunities and I have met (mostly) wonderful people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
It was just that it wasn’t fulfilling anymore.
I was turning up each day because I was the main breadwinner in our family of five but I didn’t feel that what I did mattered any more. That was leaving me with a sense of despair and lack of purpose, and I was plummeting fast. I knew giving up time with my children and husband to do this would cause me to look back with regret. In fact, I was already feeling that regret.
Law had been hijacked by managers and I didn’t want to “manage” the lawyers. I wanted to be an integral part of their team. Maybe it was because I used to be a lawyer and I was living in the world of what could have been.
That is a story for another day.
I left wondering if I had done the right thing, feeling a sense of relief but my stomach churning from being so far out of my comfort zone.
What would I do without my regular paycheck and a place to be every day?
Turns out there was heaps I could do, and so many generous people who have helped me along the way.
I had some vague ideas. Over the years people I worked with told me that I was great at my job, I understood their businesses and their challenges, and delivered value in every meeting. I loved these aspects of my role but could I turn that into a business?
Also, I knew I wasn’t the only one struggling to cope in a law firm. The hours are horrendous, the pressure is relentless – as soon as you achieve your targets one month, the slate is cleaned and the clock starts again the next. It never lets up.
People don’t recognize peaks and troughs in business anymore. Targets are set and have to be met day after day, month after month, year after year. It grinds you down.
But wait there’s more – once you have achieved your billable targets, there is an abundance of administration to complete, most of which lives unread in somebody’s bottom drawer or the modern equivalent – the unopened email.
All of this hard work with fewer and fewer people out of the pool of excellent lawyers making partner and getting the rewards of all that investment.
Could I develop something that would help people based on what I have learned? Who knows – but after 12 months and with the help of my fabulous co-founders we have a concrete plan to turn this into something to help others.
Working with Allison Warburton and Belinda Marschke, we have created Lacuna Legal Providers - a platform and service that will help senior lawyers maintain their specialization within their chosen field while taking back control of their careers and lives.
Our lawyers are working directly with their own clients and Lacuna provides practice management, business development, finance and administration support to manage their businesses so they can focus on what they do best. Oh - we can help with set up and transition as well.
From the big stuff such as billing, accountancy, business development, know-how support, research and client relationships, to the smaller things like meeting venues, car parking, CLE requirements, training, networking – all the services you have grown used to within your firm provided for a monthly subscription fee.
Services that can be tailored to suit the needs of each lawyer.
With Lacuna, you can leave your role on Friday and be set up in your own business on Monday.
We have done the hard work for you. We have tried and tested practice management systems, accounting packages, legal research services and website developers. We’ve spoken with lawyers about what they really need to help them deliver their services and with clients about what they want from their lawyers.
We are working with great people who are also looking for a change but don't want to leave their career, and our dream of building a community of happy lawyers who love their jobs, work with innovative clients, have fulfilling lives and time for themselves has begun.
Our regular get-togethers reinforce that we are on the right path by helping people improve their lives holistically – their value to clients, their knowledge, their lives and their contribution to society.
If Lacuna can reduce the mental load and let lawyers do what they set out to do, we are achieving our goals and living our values.
This may not be for you but if you are wondering what next, contact us. We can share our war stories and our successes – you don’t have to do this on your own!
This is the beginning and only part of the story. Subscribe or visit us again for regular updates, helpful hints and to find out more about our growing team.