Place in the sun

Place in the sunAs the days here get colder and shorter, are you worried that the bonus won’t quite stretch to a sojourn next to the azure waters of the Caribbean? Or that there won’t be a job left for you when you return?

There is a solution. Lawyers are being offered the opportunity to go out to destinations in central America, Asia and Africa for a few months to do pro bono work, says Liz Frost, managing consultant for Scotland at recruitment firm Hudson, which works with development charity Challenges Worldwide.

“I went to all the legal clients in Scotland and said this is how you can develop your staff and keep them motivated during an economic downturn,” she says.

Instead of digging wells and building schools, Liz explains, lawyers do what they’re best at – drafting documents and providing legal advice. A corporate finance lawyer might find she is advising a microfinance organisation in Tanzania, for example, while a property lawyer could find he is helping a Bangladeshi hospital commercialise unused assets.

Scottish firm Dundas & Wilson is among the firms that has signed up, but magic and silver circle outfits have also participated, and Eoghan Mackie, chief executive at Challenges Worldwide, says that interest is growing pretty quickly in the scheme.

“As a result of doing this lawyers have more confidence in the breadth of their professional capability and more highly-developed soft skills such as greater self-awareness,” he says.

Mackie explains that it is down to the firms to decide how much they pay their global ambassadors of justice – some might get little more than a stipend, while others could get something close to their ordinary salary. However the scheme both offers firms an alternative to making good lawyers redundant, while offering those lawyers adventure and a chance to maintain their skills with a safe(r) chance of a job to return to when the economy gets back on track.

Admittedly, this is not much of an option for a lawyer with a family and a mortgage to sustain. But when compared with what some firms are reportedly paying out in redundancy packages, the prospect sounds more appealing than some of the alternatives.