Vario and founder of The Conscious Lawyer
Elaine joined Vario in 2013, and has experience of both in-house and Pinsent Masons’ internal assignments. Alongside her three-day week as a lawyer, she has launched an online publication exploring a more mindful approach to law.
‘I had been working at a major firm in Australia on a traditional career path in litigation. While I loved the work and my colleagues I recognised that becoming a partner was not what I wanted. The stress and responsibility of the legal career ladder was not for me; clichéd though it may sound, I decided in my late twenties that inner peace and happiness in life would always take priority.
When I moved to London in 2013, I interviewed for similar permanent roles with law firms but knew deep down it was not what I wanted. A friend who was already working with Vario put me in touch with the team there. Within weeks I was in a role! It was actually a full-time in-house role for six months, which was a great transition into freelancing, but it also helped me realise I wanted to work part-time and flexibly so that I could explore other interests.
After that assignment, I took a three-month break before a freelance opportunity within Pinsent Masons came up. It’s been ideal — I’m working as a Professional Development Lawyer for the Insurance team, on a rolling six-month contract. I have real flexibility in my working pattern — currently one day a week in the office and one or two days working remotely — and I appreciate the honesty and respect I am given. I feel the freelance option in law allows for a true relationship of equals because it’s all about the work you do for the business, rather than the complexity of career paths and politics.
In some ways, it was the role at Pinsent Masons that gave me the confidence to move forward with an exciting project to build awareness of approaches to law and legal practice that promote wellbeing. I was producing a regular client bulletin for the team and learning editorial and communication skills along the way.
In Australia, I had developed a strong interest in meditation and had always wanted to combine this somehow with law. Here was the opportunity, and so The Conscious Lawyer online magazine was born!
Five years ago, I would not have believed I could have this level of freedom in my work life. Clearly you have to be self-motivated, open, friendly, and commercially savvy to do well as a freelancer. But above all I think you need to find security within yourself rather than from external factors such as money and job title. You need to really enjoy being self-reliant and adapting to new situations — it’s an exciting opportunity for lawyers to be entrepreneurs. The world is changing around us, and happiness and personal choice are rapidly becoming top priorities for many people. In law, I feel that this is a path that supports those priorities.’