In-house/commercial Solicitor

Number of lawyers in team: 25

Q&A with corporate and commercial solicitor Nick Watson, who joined in 2019 from Control Risks where he was an in-house lawyer

What influenced your decision to become a consultant solicitor?

For various reasons, I needed to make a shift in direction. Having relocated further away from London, I found that I was spending an increasing amount of time commuting and I missed my wife and children. I looked at the options in my local area, but the in-house lawyer roles at the level I was looking for were few and far between. A friend introduced me to Keystone, and the rest is history.

How has life changed for you since joining Keystone Law?

Keystone gives me autonomy and independence, and it is a really fun atmosphere. I am my own boss, so I get to decide what I do, when I do it and with whom. That freedom and fun factor in law has been invigorating.

Did you have a book of contacts when you joined? How have you found generating new business?

Like most lawyers moving from an in-house lawyer role, I questioned if I would be able to generate a loyal following of clients and how long that would take. However, you really just have to challenge yourself and have the self-belief that you can make it happen. Once you realise that you’re not acting on your own but that you’ve got a good support infrastructure around you, it becomes much less intimidating. The support within Keystone is great, from the other lawyers to Central Office. You come to realise that our network is much more powerful than you first thought.

How has Keystone supported you with the growth of your practice?

I have grown my practice with assistance from Keystone, other lawyers and with my own efforts. The other lawyers in the firm support you because they are decent people and want to help. There is also the referral fees, which motivate them from a financial perspective.

The other important dimension to generating revenue is support from the Keystone Central Office, who are always looking out for you. If they hear about good opportunities to introduce you to a potential client, or a lawyer who is looking for someone with a particular skillset, they will send it your way. Fantastic marketing, finance and billing support helps to oil the cogs and make things work in your favour.

How have you found talking to clients about Keystone?

Clients are intrigued about the Keystone model. They are often aware of the firm as we have great profile in the market, but they are not familiar with the way we work. It is a good icebreaker to talk about the differences between Keystone Law and other traditional law firms. I find that clients appreciate the freedom and motivation that comes with the lawyers who work here.

What risks did you consider when deciding whether to stay in-house or join a consultancy firm?

You are taking on more financial risk when you move into the consultancy model. You have to be comfortable with that, but it is one single risk which is very manageable. You need to consider how much revenue you can make over what timeframe in order to preserve the standard of living you find acceptable. I feel much more hedged than I did when I was an employee. With multiple clients, if you lose one, you have 20 more, so your risk profile is different.

What do you enjoy most about life as a Keystone lawyer?

There are so many things I enjoy about being at Keystone. It feels like a fun family and I know everyone in Central Office as well as the other lawyers. There are plenty of social events in order to make those connections and I have been on ski trips, to art galleries, to the theatre and more.

I like the autonomy and independence of doing work when and where I want so I can go on holiday and work remotely, if I choose to. I manage my client relationships without accountability to anyone other than myself and my clients. There is responsibility that comes with that freedom, but it is very empowering if you embrace it.

What would you say to an in-house lawyer thinking about joining Keystone?

I would say that it is worth serious consideration. It can be tempting to stay at a traditional in-house lawyer role at a big corporate, but don’t be deterred. You can have a genuine in-house lawyer experience with your clients working in a private practice model. At Keystone, you can have the best of both worlds.

To watch a video interview with Nick Watson, please click on the play button.