There is much to be said for a career in law: the intellectual stimulation of operating at the cutting edge of corporate America, helping big businesses overcome challenges that matter, all while being handsomely rewarded for your efforts. But many of us have to make sacrifices to enjoy those upsides, managing long hours in a high pressure environment that might take us away from our family life and other interests more than we would like it to.
There is another way though, and the truth is you don’t have to sacrifice your life for your work or put your dreams on hold in order to climb the career ladder. Are there things you’ve always wanted to do or places you’ve always wanted to visit? Do you wish you could scale that mountain, perfect that sport or smash that new side hustle?
Peerpoint, international law firm Allen & Overy’s flexible resourcing business, has been helping lawyers all over the world to build exceptional careers alongside fulfilling lives for almost a decade. Peerpoint has hundreds of top-tier attorneys on its panel, many of whom are finding ways to pursue their passions in addition to their legal careers. By stepping away from the traditional career track in favor of consulting assignments and project work, it is possible for attorneys to get the buzz and challenge of the law without the less appealing sacrifice and daily grind.
Picture things differently
For David Slade, a senior projects and infrastructure attorney based in Washington DC, working with Peerpoint has been an opportunity to get the best of both worlds. “I have always loved my career as a lawyer,” he says, “but there’s a lot of pressure, and at times the legal side of my brain can get a bit heavy. The only way to keep that in check has been to find time for the other side of my brain to pursue its passion, which in my case is art.”
As well as painting landscapes in oil, David has recently retired and started stretching his artistic skills to create whimsical pancakes for his grandchildren, publishing a book about their fun exploits called Puppy’s Pancakes. Despite being busy marketing his oil paintings to a wider audience and conducting his first art exhibition, he has also re-engaged as a lawyer on a part-time basis after the legal side of his brain got twitchy. “A life dedicated solely to the arts can lack some of the buzz and excitement that can only come from the continued pursuit of my legal career,” he says.
Second time around
Ruth Karfiol Glazer is an experienced corporate lawyer based in New York and Connecticut who worked at international law firms and as general counsel at a major corporation before stepping back to raise her children full time.
“As I became an empty nester, I decided I wanted to relaunch my legal career,” says Ruth. “However, my outlook had changed since I was younger and I wanted to continue to find a work-life balance so that I could practice law and also have time to enjoy my hobbies and travelling with my husband.”
On her first Peerpoint assignment, Ruth worked on secondment to an international bank, advising on innovative commercial transactions and grappling with challenging negotiations. She loved teaming up again with highly intelligent and skilled attorneys who were enjoyable to work with every day, but she also relishes time spent away from being a lawyer. Ruth says: “In addition to spending time with my family and traveling, I enjoy playing pickleball and ping pong – so far neither has ruined my swing for the other! I also love performing in community theater.”
There are plenty of other examples on Peerpoint’s books of hard-working, brilliant legal minds finding time to do other things as well. One real estate lawyer has just completed a part-time PhD about mediating whistle-blowing, while also finding time to volunteer at a legal advice clinic.
Peerpoint has another attorney who, when not on assignment, is training and competing in Brazilian jujitsu, hoping to make it to the world championships. Others find space to practice as yoga instructors or undertake advanced tailoring courses.
And then there are the international opportunities as well – just ask Lauren, an experienced capital markets lawyer who, when not lawyering, has recently travelled to Korea to learn the language and also built a publishing business, or read about Vanessa, who does Wall Street work remotely while living by the beach in Australia. Since Covid, Peerpoint has seen its clients become much more open-minded about working with top talent that may be based far away from city zip codes but can nevertheless meet their needs remotely.
Pursuing interim opportunities with Peerpoint also comes with the wrap-around resources and support you’d expect from a top tier global law firm. Being independent doesn’t mean going it alone.