A Day in my Legal Life – David Taylor, Setfords consultant

David Taylor lives in Ross-on-Wye with his wife and 10-yearold son. He works as a residential property consultant lawyer. He joined Setfords in 2010.

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David outside the Setfords offices in Ross-on-Wye

How does your day begin?

My day normally starts around 8am with breakfast with my wife Marina and son Miles. Depending on how the rest of my day is looking I might take Miles to school before either working from home or going into the office in Ross-on-Wye. Whatever happens I like to be  able to pop out at lunchtime to walk our dog. We got Cally a few years ago because I realised the flexibility of my job meant I could give her the attention she needed. Sometimes I will take her into the office – which the clients love!

What prompted you to become a consultant?

It was a combination of factors. The first was financial: I was billing a huge amount compared to what I was being paid. And it didn’t matter if I bust a gut or or not, I still got paid the same. That didn’t seem fair. So consultancy was an attractive option. But I also liked the idea of having more control over my life and how I spent my time. Occasionally I would get calls from the office when on holiday. I felt like I was in their pocket.

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David, Miles and Marina hiking in the nearby Malvern Hills

Was consultancy what you expected?

It was certainly what I hoped, but that is not to say those first few months weren’t challenging. Getting used to always being “on” took a bit of time. In the first month I didn’t bill a great deal. After three months I was back to what I was earning before. After six months my earnings had increased further. I don’t want to go into detail about my earnings now, but the rewards can be substantial. But this is not a jolly. You need to go in with your eyes open. It’s still a job. You are offering a professional service and you need to be responsible. Already having professional relationships in place and the ability to make new ones are really important.

How did your clients react when you left a traditional firm?

Working in conveyancing my clients tend to change regularly, however what is key to my success is good relationships with estate agents and financial advisors. But when I left to become a consultant these relationships didn’t change, they came with me, and of course that meant they continued to help bring in clients.

What have been the greatest benefits?

The feeling of empowerment and what it offers my family. About a year ago they found a lump in my son’s stomach and he had to have an operation. It turned out to be nothing too serious but the point is I was able to juggle everything to work around the operation and Miles’ recovery. My wife runs her own dental practice and so it was helpful that we could share Miles’ care between us.  Family life has certainly been one of the greatest benefits. I have a terrific relationship with my son. Sometimes during the summer holidays he will put on his school tie and come to work with me. That’s not something I would have felt comfortable allowing him to do when I worked in a traditional firm.

Not having billing targets has also been refreshing, but it’s great to be able to set your own personal goals

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David and Miles pictured on holiday in New York

What are the challenges of being a consultant?

I sometimes struggle to switch off, especially on holiday. It’s up to you to juggle your workload and obviously you are free to employ others to handle your work whilst you are away, and I know some consultants help each other out, but as I like to be in control I feel more comfortable being across my cases. So I can sometimes be distracted when I should be enjoying our break. But on the plus side it’s completely up to me how many holidays I take and when I take them. And we really take advantage of that.

How does your day end?

I sometimes stop work around 4.30pm so I can spend time with my son – and I admit that time might be spent playing together on the Nintendo Wii. I might do a bit more work if necessary before dinner and then my wife and I will often sneak out to enjoy our outdoor jacuzzi for half an hour before bed. After six years of this way of working it’s easy to take it for granted, but occasionally I’ll stop and think about it. It has changed my life, for the better!

To find out more about becoming a consultant lawyer at Setfords visit www.consultantsolicitor.co.uk.