The evolving role of the Professional Support Lawyer

January 12, 2017

Since early 2015 we have noticed a gradual increase in activity in the PSL market with the re-birth of the PSL role. So what exactly is a PSL and what are the benefits of becoming one?

Historically, the PSL was a luxury to those firms with surplus budget and was typically hidden under a mountain of precedents away from the rest of the business. However, the PSL is now considered a critical and integral part of the team which is an important distinction in the light of Brexit. A PSL’s workload will vary tremendously and could include precedent drafting, preparing internal training sessions, producing various publications and helping to identify new avenues for business development. From speaking with a variety PSLs we have identified four main reasons why lawyers are making the switch.

Work/life balance

This is a common reason for people choosing to work as a PSL. Unlike fee earners, whose hours regularly extend beyond their contracted amount, a PSL’s working day is fairly predictable in that it typically begins at 9am and finishes at 6pm. Whilst it is not unheard of for a PSL to work overtime, this is certainly the exception rather than the rule. Many firms that employ PSLs offer flexible working hours, part-time contracts and remote working, making this a very attractive position for those who seek an alternative to the often relentless hours undertaken by fee earners.

Opportunity to shape your role

The role of the PSL is constantly evolving and can vary between firms. Opportunities to get involved with training, marketing and business development initiatives are all available to a PSL. This enables PSLs to have client contact without facing the demands of the clients. Each of these activities can harness ones hidden skills and talents which may have gone undetected had they chosen to continue in a non-PSL role.

Career development

With the role of the PSL evolving so too is the career path. With a greater exposure and understanding of the business a PSL can become the “go-to” person within a firm providing value and worth in a non-fee earning capacity. Many of the PSLs we have placed have furthered their career by being promoted to ‘Senior PSL’, ‘Head of/Counsel PSL’ or on the odd occasion they have been afforded partner status.

Black Letter law

A PSL role can be an ideal alternative for lawyers who are technically excellent and have a preference for working on the practical side of law rather than the fee earning side. The ability to focus on the technicalities of the law without having the pull of client demands can be very attractive.

The PSL role has evolved to offer a true alternative to those lawyers looking to step away from fee earning. It presents an opportunity to carve out a career developing your expertise in an area of law in which you have a passion with the potential to earn a six-figure salary.

To access our brand new guide to working as a Professional Support Lawyer, please click here A guide to working as a Professional Support Lawyer.

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