Katherine Thomas

Episode 49    25 October 2021

The freedom and future of independent legal workers

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The freedom and future of independent legal workersKatherine Thomas
00:00 / 39:41

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Katherine Thomas

CEO, Free Range Lawyers

Katherine Thomas  is the CEO of Free Range Lawyers, a collective of people who believe in the power of distributed and remote working to make lives and businesses better. The business connects freelance lawyers who work outside the office with legal service providers looking to flex their resource.

In her role, Katherine has her finger on the pulse of a movement to a different working style, as reflected in the Great Resignation. Katherine offers her informed views on the freedom and future of remote and independent working. 

Bio

Show notes

Links

Transcript

Comments

Bio:

Katherine Thomas is the CEO of Free Range Lawyers.

 

Having chosen the legal business rather than legal practice path, Katherine has held a number of roles at major U.K. firms covering marketing, sales, learning & development and knowledge management. More recently, through her own consulting business run from Australia, she has advised law firms all over the world on strategy and sales.

 

She established and grew the flexible resourcing service Vario for Pinsent Masons, taking it from an idea to a thriving business in under three years.

 

Katherine is Teaching Fellow on the Master of Legal Business course provided by The College of Law, Australia. She is also a lecturer for the College of Law in Western Australia.

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Show notes:

  • [1:46] Katherine explains what Free Range Lawyers offers to its law firm clients, generally small and medium sized law firms.   

  • [7:02] Katherine details the onboarding process for lawyers.

  • [10:04] Katherine shares what personality type suits a 'free range' lawyer. .

  • [14:51] A key benefit and quality of a free range lawyer is autonomy, but it can also be a pitfall.  

  • [19:44] Katherine observes that free range lawyers have a powerful ability to align their work with purpose and values, but it can be a journey to realise this.

  • [22:35] The collective of lawyers and clients at Free Range Lawyers share a philosophy of seeking ways to make work more sustainable.

  • [26:42] Katherine discusses the trends and factors she has seen in people being attracted to this style of work.

  • [30:57] Maintaining a network is an important part of making independent work sustainable, and Katherine explains how this happens and how it can be done. 

  • [34:00] Katherine reveals how she came up with the name Free Range Lawyers!.

  • [36:34] Katherine talks about her future plans for the business. 

Links:

The Free Range Lawyers website: www.freerangelawyers.com 

 
 
 
Katherine Thomas Image Quote IG.jpg
 

Transcript: 

Geraldine  0:12  
Hello everyone and welcome to the New Earth lawyer podcast. My name is Geraldine Johns-Putra. I'm a lawyer based in Melbourne, Australia. I am coming to you from Boonwurrung country and I would like to pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. Today on the podcast we have with us Katherine Thomas. Katherine is the CEO of Free Range Lawyers based in Perth, in Australia, and the business services clients all over Australia, as I understand it. Now she's chosen the legal business rather than the legal practice path. She has held a number of roles at major UK firms covering marketing, sales, learning, development and knowledge management. But more recently, through her consulting business run from Australia, she has advised law firms all over the world on strategy and sales. She established and grew the flexible resourcing service Vario for Pinsent Masons and she took it from an idea to a thriving business in under three years. So today, I would love to hear from Katherine about how Free Range Lawyers is executed, how it operates, and about Katherine's journey through this really interesting part of the law. Welcome, Katherine.

Katherine  1:37  
Thanks, Geraldine. And thanks for having me.

Geraldine  1:39  
So yeah, let's start with Free Range Lawyers, tell us what it's about. I would love to hear. 

Katherine  1:46  
Oh, so Free Range Lawyers is a service for small and medium sized law firms really to hook them up with lawyers who work independently and remotely, and who have the capacity to work for those firms on a temporary basis. And so we have two markets, and our demand market is very much our law firm clients, and our supply market, if we want to put it that way, our lawyers that live in all kinds of weird and wacky places, generally in Australia, but they don't always have to be. And the whole notion of Free Range Lawyers is that, you know, we're geography agnostic, you know, the fact is that where somebody lives, doesn't change the experience that they've got, and who they are. And so we are very much engaged with fantastic lawyers with wonderful experience, but who don't necessarily either want to come into the CBD, or who can't come into the CBD for work. So really working quite differently.

 

Geraldine  2:59  
And so the clients who you match them up with, they know going into the arrangement that they're going to be dealing with remotely working lawyers, and that's 100%. So the lawyers don't go into the client offices.

 

Katherine  3:14  
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And we're really clear about that upfront. Now, you know, we're not dogmatic about remote working. So you know, it's happened in the past that we've actually found out that our client law firm, and our lawyer, you know, live a kilometre away from each other. And, you know, well, why don't they actually go meet in person? And I'm a big supporter of that. But the reality is that the arrangement is founded on the basis of somebody working remotely. And you know, our law firm clients understand that right at the start, and, you know, as perhaps you might expect, have become even more amenable to that kind of approach over the last couple of years.

 

Geraldine  3:52  
And are they law firm clients exclusively? Or do you actually have corporates or other sorts of clients who aren't law firms who might be looking for remotely working lawyers and the flexibility that they bring?

 

Katherine  4:05  
Yeah, our focus is very much on law firms, because our philosophy is around helping those small and medium sized firms to grow and helping them to grow in a really smart way. So you know, when they we hear over and over again, firm saying, you know, we've got a ton of work in, but we've got this real dilemma. You know, we're not sure how long this work is going to last. So we don't really want to go hiring somebody permanently. But there's no way that we can do this work without some additional help and if we don't get additional help, what we'll have to do is refer this work out to somebody else, you know, and our competitors get the benefit of it. So our business is very much rooted in helping law firms. We've had a couple of instances where we've helped different types of organisations, but our focus is is very much on that small to sort of medium national law firm market.

 

Geraldine  5:01  
Okay, so you aren't necessarily competing with other contract lawyer service providers in the market. There are ones who are new who actually came into the market with that model. And then there are ones like Vario, as I understand it, or other law firms have set up their own contract service provider businesses.

 

Katherine  5:27  
Yeah, yeah. And we're saying, you know, we're saying to a law firm clients, you know, we're not competing with you, we're here to support you, you know, and so we're not trying to get your clients work, we're trying to help you make money from your clients work and you know, really, I kind of see ourselves as the wholesale brand for law firms, you know, the Intel Pentium processor, you know, that's invisible, but sits inside your computer. And, you know, we sit there usually behind the scenes, doing our work and helping our law firms look good. And I, you know, nothing makes me happier than when our law firms come back to say, you know, we've got a really happy client, or we've just won a new piece of work, you know, purely because of the lawyers that you've provided us with, and the relationship that we've got with you. 

 

Geraldine  6:13  
Okay. 

Katherine  6:14  
Our service is very much one of supporting and helping these firms to grow.

Geraldine  6:19  
So almost like a white label, you know, the end client doesn't necessarily understand that they've gone to you to source lawyers. 

Katherine  6:28  
And that's up to the law firm, and the different kinds of, you know, arrangements and relationships that they have with their clients, but certainly for quite a number of our placements, you know, our lawyers are doing the work behind the scenes, and then the law firms and lawyers are taking a look at that work, settling it and then presenting it to their client.

 

Geraldine  6:49  
And now on to your lawyers. I'm really curious to hear how you find them, how you onboard them, what their experience is, how many of them you have.

Katherine  7:02  
Yeah, so um, the lovely thing about having a, I think a clear business vision is that quite often people find you. And so of course, we do the work that's needed to get our name out there. But most of the time, these lawyers are finding us because they know that we stand for working in a different way and thinking differently about work. So we, I mean, we have well over 100 now that have been through our process, and our selection processes is pretty in depth. So we really front-end our efforts and the reason for that is that then we can, our law firm clients don't have to spend an awful lot of time getting our lawyers on board, because we have done all of that, getting to know them in advance. So we have an application form and we undertake an interview, we take references, we do all of the kind of paperwork that you would expect, just to understand you know, somebody is who they say they are and is qualified to the extent that they say they are and we also use psychometrics to understand a person's behaviour and really to get behind, you know, whether they are suited to working in this way. So, you know, my experience is that the reason the vast majority of assignments are successful, is less down to the legal skills that the lawyer brings to bear and far more down to their behaviour and their interaction with our law firm clients. So it's really important to us to make sure that our free range lawyers are temperamentally suited to working in that way.

 

Geraldine  8:51  
That's actually novel, because I don't think I've encountered that before. I mean, I've done and I'm sure you have, and people listening to this would have done tests, when you're being hired, you're going through a recruitment process, I've never found out what happened to the tests that I've done, you know, whether someone's profiled me as somebody who should be just avoided or locked in the corner or whatever. But you know, we don't see the outcome of those psychometric tests that are done in the workplace necessarily. And I don't think I've even really understood what kind of person those tests are aimed at when it comes to lawyers. What kind of person makes a good fit for let's say, a top tier law firm or boutique litigator? What's the, what are those tests trying to find out? So I'm really interested to get your insight into what is firstly, is something generic that identifies a good lawyer and what is so specific about the personality type for the kind of work that you're trying to get them to do?

 

Katherine  10:04  
Yeah, and so generic, what makes a good lawyer. And I think that's very difficult to pinpoint. And, you know, law is such a vast spectrum of disciplines. And those disciplines do attract quite different personalities, you know, so let's face it, we could quite often pick out an IP lawyer, from a property lawyer, for example, you know, just different types of work, different types of concepts and ways of thinking about things that will attract different kinds of personalities. So these kind of assessments always have to make room for that. But there are certain things that we find, to make a good remote worker and a good freelance lawyer. And, for us, really critical is a degree of flexibility in the way that they're thinking. And so, you know, if somebody is very stuck in their ways, can only look at an issue, you know, in one particular way, and we'll probably find, they'll probably find this way of working quite challenging. And, you know, it's a new way of tackling a working relationship. And it requires people to think differently about themselves, about their careers, and about their professional interactions. So flexibility is really, really critical for us, just as critical as certain elements around what we call our delivery cluster. So we're particularly interested in people that rate either medium or high on the conscientious scale. And so people that are reliable, and people that are reasonably meticulous, people that are reasonably organised, and reasonably principled, and you can see why that flows through. And because, you know, we're placing people on assignment to undertake work in the way that a particular law firm wants that work to be done, you know, so so we want people that, you know, aren't temperamentally suited to kind of cutting corners.

 

Geraldine  12:18  
Yeah.

Katherine  12:18  
That they're very happy to, to be thorough in their work. And then I think the last thing, Geraldine is around having that activity orientation, you know, being driven to produce. And so again, working in this way can be really quite challenging for procrastinators. Because, you know, the reality is, your career is all about knuckling down and producing output. And I think that there's a lot less room for that procrastination, when you're a freelancer, and you're given a task that you need to complete, then potentially, when you're employed in an organisation where one day kind of moves on to the next. So having, you know, a reasonable degree of activity orientation, and being able to knuckle down and produce is also important.

 

Geraldine  12:24  
And what's so interesting about what you're talking about, is that with COVID, and working from home, virtually everybody, well, obviously not absolutely everybody, but many, many people who aren't necessarily temperamentally suited to working remotely found themselves working remotely. 

 

Katherine  13:27  
Yeah, yeah. 

Geraldine  13:28  
And so being able to identify what actually makes a good remote worker or makes us satisfied and, for want of a better word, productive remote worker is really vital. What I actually found from working from home was that I loved it. And so there are elements of what you were talking about, that I can identify with that ability to take the initiative, having my own standards, and not necessarily being satisfied if I'd just met somebody else's standards. So I have my own standards of what I think is acceptable and not. And so what I actually found from working from home was I loved it so much so that I became a freelancer. And I actually left my law firm almost exactly a year ago, and I now work 100% from home, and I love it. And what I found actually was, and this is what I want to come on to, there's something in my personality as well that absolutely adored the autonomy. 

 

Katherine  14:41  
Yeah. 

Geraldine  14:42  
So I imagine that that is also something that you find with the lawyers in your collective or for your free range lawyers.

 

Katherine  14:51  
And that's a particularly common trait amongst lawyers. I think that you know, there was some, there's quite a seminal piece of work done on personality traits of lawyers couple of decades ago, and actually, an autonomy, you know, really came through as the sort of most common dominant characteristic of people that choose to go down this career route. And autonomy and control, that's what I hear a lot from our lawyers is, you know, I know I need to work, and for most of them, they want to work, but I want to have control over how I do it, you know, and I don't want these spurious controls put in place that don't really make any sense to me, you know, when actually, I'm required to work between eight and six, you know, when actually, I'd rather get up at four in the morning, and, you know, smash out six hours, and then finish the rest of it later on in the day. What difference does that make to the recipient of my work and as long as I'm able to produce? But what I would say is, and I think what a lot of people have learned from this experience over the last couple of years, and we certainly knew before this, working in the contract lawyer space is, you know, it's not all unicorns and rainbows in the world of autonomy and control. You know, there are potential pitfalls, and potential downsides. And one of the challenging things about having a large degree of control is that you have a lot of choice and that is mentally exhausting. So then you have a lot, so you've got the choice about how you spend your day, to a degree, you've got control over when you do your work. Well, actually, that then requires mental energy to make a decision about how you're going to do that work. And whilst I'm not saying that there isn't something really beautiful about being able to align who you are with the way that you work, there are challenges too. Another one is, and you no doubt will have experienced this, having gone freelance in the last year or so, there's a lot of admin. There's a lot of admin, and when you're employed in an organisation, quite often somebody else does that for you, or at a minimum, somebody prompts you, when you haven't done it.

 

Geraldine  17:06  
Yes. 

Katherine  17:07  
The reality is, if you're working for yourself in whatever capacity, you know, if you don't have your admin sorted, you don't get paid. If you don't keep on top of your paperwork, those invoices don't come into your bank account.

 

Geraldine  17:22  
Or you could lose your practising certificate, if you don't stay on top of your CPD points, you don't renew your insurance, or whatever it is.

 

Katherine  17:30  
Totally. And so I think what you know, something that I've seen quite a lot of is people moving into freelancing anew, you know, with lovely images of, you know, working in coffee shops, and, you know, midday walks along the beach, and all of that can happen, all of that can happen. But that will invariably be accompanied by sitting at your laptop at eight o'clock one evening, making sure that you get all of your invoices out to your clients, you know.

 

Geraldine  17:56  
Yeah, yeah, no, you're absolutely right. But I think, and I really want to pick up on this point that you made about the alignment between what a person stands for and the work that they're doing, I think when you do have that choice, the alignment between the worker, and I'm going to call it purpose, because I'm big on purpose work, purpose for companies as well as for individuals, if there's an alignment between the work that you're doing and your deeper purpose, then two things happen that are relevant to what you're talking about. One is the admin stuff becomes less tedious because it gets put into its place of if I don't get this done, then I can't serve the way I want to serve. Yeah, so it's the necessary evil, but it's okay. And then the second thing that happens is that choice element becomes easier, right? Because, and I find this, so I look at all the work that I do, and the different options that are that may be presented to me, not necessarily on a daily basis, but let's say on a weekly basis, and I can say now a year out that it's 100% aligned with what I view as my mission or my purpose. And so it's quite easy to to say no to something that I well, that's not really you know, that's not the kind of organisation I want to be associated with or want to lend my energy to. So I'm wondering whether that's something that you're finding with your free range lawyers who work with you?

 

Katherine  19:33  
Absolutely. And, you know, I would say that every single one would acknowledge you know, those potential drawbacks but would say, but I won't go back.  

 

Geraldine  19:44  
Yep. 

Katherine  19:44  
This is the way I want to work. For some though that level of alignment happens instantly. For most people. it's a journey, and I do think that freelancers and independent workers need to be kind to themselves on that front. You know, it is not going to be perfect from day one, and you are not going to always make good decisions from day one. And you will particularly in that early year or 18 months, you will learn as much from, for example, the work you took on that you shouldn't have taken on, you know, as you will from that fabulous client account that went really well. And certainly when I talked to a lot of lawyers that are considering working this way, you know, and some end up becoming free range lawyers and others, you know, don't and do something differently, but I'm always happy to have that conversation and guide them. And when I talk to them about this, you know, I say that it is almost always a year to 18 months before you start to get into your groove. You know, some very self determined people with very clear parameters can do it more quickly. But for most, moving into working independently isn't about having a kind of cutoff date, you know, kind of day one, it's actually much more of a process of transition. And slowly moving into that mindset. But yeah, Geraldine, you know, the ability to say, and the moment when our lawyers realise that they have the freedom to say that work isn't for me, is wonderful. I was speaking to one of our lawyers yesterday. And they, I was actually speaking to her about some potential litigation work. And she said, she's done some work for us in the past, it's gone really, really well. But we have the kind of relationship where she could say, I'm going to stop you there, because it's in a sector where I just don't want to operate. It doesn't work for me, it doesn't make me happy. I've had that experience in the past. So you know, thank you for thinking of me, but this isn't something I'm going to pursue. You know, the best result for me is obviously a lawyer that says yes, please, that work sounds great. But second best result is very quickly being able to get to a point at which we understand what is right for the lawyer. And you know, this is a lawyer that has been a freelancer for two or three years now. And she would describe it as a journey to get to that to get to that place.

 

Geraldine  22:09  
And you say on your website for, your free range lawyers website, you describe the free range lawyers whom you work with as a collective. 

Katherine  22:18  
Yes. 

Geraldine  22:19  
So you don't employ them. Now it's purely a contract, and they're free to...

Katherine  22:25  
They're independent workers.

Geraldine  22:26  
Independent workers. And they're free to promote themselves outside of your network. 

Katherine  22:31  
Yeah. 

Geraldine  22:32  
And to seek work outside of your network as well, you know.

 

Katherine  22:35  
Yeah, absolutely. And what we actually see is that that collective term applies to our clients too you know. We're a group of people, whether we're clients or lawyers who look at work differently, and who look at undertaking legal work differently. And so our clients are very much part of that. And in fact, what becomes really interesting is, you know, now we've been going for two and a half years, is some of our lawyers have become clients. Some of our former clients have become lawyers, you know, and you get that kind of that lovely connection that happens when you've known people for quite some time. But yeah, well, I mean, we see ourselves, clients and lawyers as a collective of people that are interested in looking at how we can make work more sustainable on a number of fronts. And, you know, so we're a collective of people who are philosophically aligned to those objectives.

 

Geraldine  23:35  
Now, that's a very important point. So I've been reflecting on this myself, having made the journey that you were talking about, I was employed in law firms for much of my career, I became a partner then at my last role. I think there was only a break, I took a year's break at a point in time and that was more of a sabbatical than anything, although I did try my hand at independent consulting, it wasn't a vehicle that I really put a lot of energy into, it was more that I just wanted to step away from the law for a year. Now, this time around, it was more about building something that I really could see as sustainable. And so the journey I took was one of the security of the regular, you know, the paycheck that comes in every month at a certain time, etc. The insurance, health insurance, the gym membership, whatever, into I can make this work for myself. And I have began to realise that my, I will call it a, prejudice against independent working was purely that you know, if you're an independent worker, you're not attached to a brand, like I'm not attached to a big brand. I am not any less capable, I am not any less knowledgeable. 

 

Katherine  25:13  
Yeah. 

Geraldine  25:13  
I am me with the same skills that I would have had, now, in the law firm, now maybe I don't have access to all of those different resources at my fingertips, but intellectually and energetically and so on I'm still me. So I began to lose a lot of my prejudices against the independent worker. And I began also to see that it's the story that's painted of the gig economy, about its precariousness and so on, it's only, it's an incomplete picture, right? That actually, the gig economy is a large spectrum of people in all sectors, from the person who decides to be a delivery driver, or an Uber driver, couple of days a week, to the person who was a CEO of a large company, and now just wants a portfolio of different things to do. Like it's all over the economy. And we are changing the face of work. Now you're contributing to this, which I think is really remarkable. What trends have you seen the two and a half years, apart I mean, COVID is the obvious one, but even weaving that in what are you seeing in terms of people's mindsets, and their desire to become freelancers, or independent workers?

 

Katherine  26:42  
Yeah, I mean, there's a there's a huge trend for lawyers, leaving established organisations to want to work independently and that existed prior to COVID. You know, so it most certainly accelerated those trends hugely, you know, probably a decade's worth of change, you know, occur has occurred in two years. But it was happening already. And why was it happening already? I mean, there's no easy answer to this and lots of factors overlaying. It's now a lot easier to set up on your own. And, you know, so just very practically, there's a lot of pay as you go technology that's available, you know, you can set up a really secure smart technology infrastructure for, you know, just one person for a few, you know, a few hundred bucks a month, right. So, you know, those barriers to entry, the very practical financial barriers to entry, don't exist anymore. Obviously, those societal changes around how we view ourselves, between the genders, how we view families, how we view the job of raising children, and, you know, all of that has then had an impact on more and more people wanting  to balance those home commitments, you know, with a challenging career, it seems almost old fashioned as I say it, but let's not forget, 15-20 years ago, most, a lot of families have somebody at home, looking after the children while somebody else went out to work. And when you have both both partners, working, the dynamics of that family needs to be very different, and work needs to meet that, you know, needs to meet those needs. But it's not just for people that have children. And I think that's a part of the narrative that, you know, sometimes frustrates me. And, clearly children are a real imperative, and a kind of, you can't ignore their needs. So they're an obvious reason for wanting to work in this way. But I am seeing more and more people to be lawyers who are thinking, you know, I can monetise the skills and experience that I've got to earn a good living, and, but still free up some time, a day, two days a week to go and pursue the kind of stuff that really makes my heart sing. You know, so for example, one of our lawyers is a psychotherapist and she has a psychotherapy practice. And, but she really enjoys being a lawyer too. And so she balances both of those things. And I know that she can't really do more than three days worth of work a week through us, because she's spending her time doing something else and something really, really different. And so, you know, and that's just you know, I've just touched the surface that the kind of trends that we're seeing, but the upshot is this notion of the solo worker, the entrepreneur, the independent worker, in law in particular is really accelerating.

 

Geraldine  29:55  
Now I read an interesting article. just coincidentally, you know, wasn't in preparation for talking to you, I think it was just because I was having thoughts around my own journey to the gig economy, and the article named the four things that you needed to thrive as an independent worker, it called out having purpose, which we've spoken about, having routines where it makes sense, having a place, so you know, where you do all of your different roles, so whether you might be an artist or, as well, as a lawyer, you know, musician, etc, people tend to actually do it in the same space. So this, to me, is my space. And then the fourth thing was people. So this is what I wanted to ask you about. How do your lawyers stay connected with a network of, you know, what you might call your tribe or your family? How do they make sure they still have that human and professional connection?

Katherine  30:57  
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's individual to each lawyer. And within our collective we, you know, when we've had multiple lawyers working for the same client, for example, they've been very much in touch with each other, or we will make those connections between our lawyers. So they've got that connection within Free Range Lawyers. I mean, it might help, perhaps more for me to talk about my own personal experience of working, you know, remotely and independently, which is, you know, contrary to received wisdom, well, remote work's for introverts. And there's a misnomer around that, you know, people don't want to speak to people. And that's wrong, but actually, you know, I found it to be a very social medium, if treated in the right way. So I have made friends across the world, and I would call them professional friends through my career, people that I feel really, really close to, that I haven't met in person, or quite amusingly, actually, sometimes, I actually don't know whether I've met them in person or not. Because, you know, did we meet at a conference, or didn't we, one of our free range lawyers, she said to me, she said, I think I saw you on stage talking at a conference, but I don't think we've actually spoken in person, but I'm not quite sure. And so, you know, this medium is different, this way of working is different, you do need to intentionally go out there to create relationships, and that has quite a different feeling to just, you know, walking past somebody in the street, and then saying, oh, you know, should we go and grab a coffee, but it does certainly does not preclude our lawyers or anyone else from from forming those deep relationships. And I think the other thing I'd say about that, so there's real potential to form friendships professionally, without having met people in person. But I do also think that there's a second thread to this, which is our assumption, certainly pre-COVID that you know, work needed to be the main source of those meaningful relationships. So you know, I actually have a little bit of an issue with the word remote working, the phrase remote working, because remote from what, so it's remote from the office, but it's not remote from your community, it's not remote from your neighbour that you know, you now can go and have a cup of with instead of, you know, not speaking to them from one month to the next, it's not remote from the people that you you live in the same house with. And, you know, for many people, those are actually more meaningful and long term relationships, than perhaps the ones that they might create at work. So, you know, let's just, let's not think about those social relationships purely in terms of the working sphere, but you know, all of the other ways in which we get meaning through life and connection.

 

Geraldine  33:49  
Yes, that's so true. Now, I wanted to ask you about the name because it's a masterstroke of a name. How did you come up with it, Free Range Lawyers?

Katherine  34:00  
I was at a conference where somebody was talking about free range humans. And I got this idea for Free Range Lawyers, but it was nothing more than an idea that existed only in my head. And it sparked something. I thought, that encapsulates what I'm trying to achieve. And so when I was creating the service I did as you'd expect a bit of market testing. And part of that was speaking to people about the name and I almost invariably got the same reaction. So which I'd sort of say, well what do you think about free range lawyers, as a name and it would go, oh, chickens. Chickens, hen, coops cage? I don't know. Oh, I don't know whether I like that. Actually, you know what, actually, that's quite funny, isn't it? You know, I'm not going to forget that in a hurry. And when I launched you know, the business world, any sector is full of businesses that have, you know, names that are difficult to remember, based on somebody's surname, or their own acronyms, or they're just, you know, a series of letters. And I thought, no, I want, the name of my organisation to really mean something. And to be honest, I want it to work really hard for me in my marketing. And I find that people don't forget it, they really don't. So when I launched that it felt, and if I'm honest, it felt like a bit of a leap of faith. And it felt quite brave to use the name because I wasn't sure how it would be received. But it's worked really, really well for us, Geraldine.

 

Geraldine  35:39  
Yeah, you're right. It is unforgettable. And when our mutual friend, when I wanted to use your service, our mutual friend mentioned it to me, I immediately thought that is an amazing, an amazing name. And I immediately got you and immediately understood what you were about.

 

Katherine  35:58  
I think it what it does, is it draws us to the people that are going to be aligned to us anyway. So you know, I'm, I don't expect it to appeal to everybody. And I don't want to appeal to everybody. But what the name does is kind of shortcut us to our collective, you know, to our tribe.

Geraldine  36:20  
And what do you see the next stage the next few years bringing for the business? Where do you think it's going to go? Is it going to simply just get larger and larger? Or do you have any other ideas for it?

Katherine  36:34  
So many, very difficult to pinpoint a few that I mean, there is a growth point, and we're a bootstrap business, you know, we started from an idea, and we started with nothing. And those of your listeners that have travelled that journey, and will know that it takes an awful lot of time and mental effort. And so there is a volume piece to this. And we're not seeing any constraints on our market at all. In fact, our market's just growing and growing, and our business is growing and growing. And we need to, and I think we need to ride that wave. Because part of what we're doing and obviously making money for our business, but also is normalising this way of working. And you know, and the more that we can get our free range lawyers out there working in law firms, the more our mediums sized law firms are going to grow. And, you know, in a financially kind of sustainable way, the more opportunities we find for those wonderful lawyers with great experiences, but live in quirky places, like the Snowy Mountains and a military base in the middle of Northern Territory. And the more we kind of normalise, just working differently. So that I mean, there's a phrase in the UK, I don't know whether it translates very well across to Australia, which is stick to the knitting. And, if it's working, then make sure that you don't lose sight of the fact that actually your core business is working, it's resonating, and people are finding value in it. But in terms of future scope, loads of different ways the business can go and just engaging more with different geographies is a classic. So, you know, we are geography agnostic, and we have had lawyers who are in the EU, in Australia, you know, who have served our Australian clients, we've also had UK clients engage with lawyers down under. And so we have got that international piece. But there's real potential for this in other common law jurisdictions, and you know, we'd really like to look at that.

 

Geraldine  38:43  
So I have a feeling that there's another conversation we could have had, which is more about your mission, your own individual mission to change the, you know, the kind of stereotypical perceptions of work. But I wish you all the best. And I really want to thank you for, for sharing your time with us on New Earth lawyer. Because, you know, this is actually a conversation that I wanted to have quite early on in this podcast, but it's taken until meeting you to actually have it. So thank you.

 

Katherine  39:23  
Oh, that's great. Thanks so much, Geraldine. I really enjoyed it.

 

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