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Alternative Legal Careers - What are the options and drivers for lawyers right now in this sector?


The Alternative Legal Careers market includes non-fee earning roles such as PSL (Professional Support Lawyers) and KDL (Knowledge Development Lawyers), which have been changing over the past few years. No longer are these the “back office data collection” roles of years past. These are dynamic, fast-paced legal jobs in their own right and with genuine career progression opportunities as well. The question is - how have these interesting roles changed in 2020, while we have all been battling with the effects of COVID-19?

Initially, business support functions were hit more harshly by the pandemic than traditional fee-earning roles. In the spring/summer many law firms were reluctant to hire any non-fee earners and had put roles from February/March on hold. That is all changing now.  Law firms have re-opened roles and have begun actively recruiting for business support lawyers again, but with a new look at how these roles will be seen internally and externally to their clients.

Increasingly, firms are looking at making PSL roles an important part of their culture. PSLs have always been involved in information gathering, disseminating that information and internal training, but they are becoming more innovative. PSLs are cleverly using methods of communication like wide-ranging social media platforms, videos, blogs and podcasts as ways to pass information to their fee earners as well as the firm’s clients. Additionally, PSLs are taking part in business development pitches, horizon scanning and updating their respective firm’s legal tech in ways that add value.

Law firms are definitely recognising the value of their PSLs more than ever, but how are candidates seeing their career opportunities realised? What options are out there at the moment?   

Like so many things these days, the answer is rapidly changing. As we approached the end of the summer, many candidates came out of the first lockdown saying that their top priority was job satisfaction and salary rarely came up in an initial conversation. However, now that we have just come out of the second lockdown and the Brexit deadline is looming, candidates are more and more pragmatic – the carpe diem attitude of late summer/early autumn has been replaced with a need to ensure that job security is top priority and salary is definitely a big part of the conversation again. Ideally, candidates want to join a firm where they are offered an attractive salary, job security and the opportunity to develop within their role.

Salary ranges for PSL and KD positions have always been difficult to pin down, but it is now quite common to see salaries from approximately £80-£110k.  Most firms base the higher salary ranges on whether or not a candidate has previous PSL experience.  Unsurprisingly, the Magic Circle and US firms offer a premium rate.

If you think a PSL role might offer you what you are looking for, I would love to speak with you. I am currently seeking candidates for PSL roles across several practice areas including Family, Litigation, Banking/Real Estate Finance, and Employment. Please have a look at our website https://www.chadwicknott.co.uk/jobs to see if the right role is there for you, or get in touch with me:


0203 909 5176 (DDI)

0772 184 1694 (Mobile)

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