I met Karen at the House of Lords Breakfast for the #ialso100 2020 earlier this year. I loved Karen's energy as soon as we met and her passion for her business as well as flexible working as a cause we all need to promote more really shone through. Delighted that Karen is taking part in our Businesses Built on Passion series.
Flexible Legal Jobs Ltd - Karen Siddall, Founder
Tell us a little bit about your business.
At Flexi Legal we are passionate about helping individuals in the legal profession achieve the flexibility they need to love what they do without having to compromise on salary or quality of work. We are proud to represent companies and law firms who are motivated by performance and not just a 9-5, desk-based routine. We make it our mission to proactively source these flexible working roles for our legal candidates which can include part time hours, home working, compressed hours, flexible hours and job shares.
What inspired you to set up your business?
During my time as a recruiter, I found increasing numbers of lawyers coming to me who wanted roles that offered flexibility. They felt a lot of other recruiters didn’t understand their needs and put pressure on them to take other roles. I have worked with many lawyers – both male and female – who loved their job but couldn’t find a way to make it work around family or other commitments. For example, one lawyer was a semi-professional rugby player who needed part-time hours to accommodate training.
Having been through it myself – both working as a lawyer and requiring flexibility as a recruiter – I made it my mission to promote flexible working within the legal profession. I understand the difference the right working arrangement can have to overall work-life balance and wellbeing. As a result, my mission is two-fold: to find the right working arrangement for my candidates whilst also educating my clients as to the benefits of a flexible workforce.
What gave you the final nudge/ push to go for it?
There just wasn’t the scope for being a recruiter in a traditional environment and specialise in flexible and part time roles for lawyers due to the way the organisations and business units are structured. If a vacancy comes in you have to deal with it – no matter what it is. Time and time again candidates came to me saying that they were being told by other recruiters that they would have to work full time as part time jobs just didn’t’ exist and this made them feel very disheartened, lacking confidence and questioning their career choice. This is all I needed to make the leap.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
At first, I tried to separate my work and my family life and found myself getting stressed about certain situations. The minute I actually combined the two in terms of ‘this is me’ – it’s part and parcel of who I am and what I’m proud of – that’s when life became less complicated, much easier, and much more guilt free. I always tell my friends, who are finding things a bit much or getting stressed, that there are only so many balls you can juggle at once and you need to choose and prioritise between the glass balls and the bouncy rubber ones. The glass balls are the things that are non-negotiable and if dropped, things may fall apart. The bouncy rubber ones are the extra tasks you say yes to, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they drop. They will bounce and can be picked up again at a later stage. Sometimes I’m good at taking this advice but not always!
Describe your greatest success/ the thing you are most proud of.
The thing I am most proud of is what I do every time I place a candidate – seeing the difference it makes to their life overall. I have to pinch myself when they thank me time and time again – it really does make me super proud.
It’s also so lovely to get external recognition for what I do too – whether that be local Manchester awards or more recently, the F:Entrepreneur #ialso Top 100.
What motivates you to keep forging ahead with your business?
Personally, I’m recently divorced and now a single mother of two girls age 11 and 16. I need to keep a roof over their head but also want to be a good role model as a mum and businesswoman. Professionally, I genuinely love what I do, particularly when people who have been out of the law for a while are returning and seeking flexibility. Their confidence is often so low, and they think nobody will want them. I make it my mission to go out of the way to make them feel valued and to source roles for them at the right type of firms without them having to feel they have to start again. In the process, I am also educating clients as to the many benefits of a flexible workforce and I love that.
Thank you so much to Karen for sharing her story with us here at Cat's Pajamas. We always feel inspired hearing about the journeys of others.
If you would like to find out more about Flexible Legal Jobs and Karen you can visit:
Instagram - @flexilegaljobs
Twitter - @mskarensiddall