Very few law firms dare to be different. One example is a niche fraud law firm which sees working as a hybrid of the gig economy and the traditional professional services business model.  This has enabled the firm to unlock a rich seam of talent.

"Our team is built from a highly qualified, experienced and talented pool of legal professionals from national law firms," says Arun Chauhan, founder and managing director at Tenet Compliance & Litigation. "There are many lawyers returning to work after having children who simply cannot achieve the need for ‘presenteeism' and strict billable hours targets."

Tenet's business model

Tenet's different working culture focuses firstly on its people and how to make their roles best suited for them. This allows the team to work the hours that work for them - including evenings and weekends. Tenet also operates without billable hours or fee targets for its lawyers. The team's high levels of experience with complex litigation allows for educated fee estimates but also lends the advantage of lower rates than other law firms specialising in the same field. Setting budgets allows Tenet to place its people ahead of product and its product ahead of profit.  Tenet's growth - predominantly from recommendation since it was formed less than three years ago - is testament to how this model works for its clients.

The flexibility and emphasis on creating an environment to encourage Tenet's lawyers become better versions of themselves by enabling them to focus on the quality of their work ahead of other factors has led to Tenet becoming an ideal environment for women returning to work after having children.

Esther Phillips, a solicitor, returned to work at Tenet after maternity leave.

Esther Phillips

Esther practices all aspects of commercial litigation, mainly focused on fraud relating to company issues, misrepresentation and professional negligence.

"Arun is unlike any other boss I've had," says Esther. "He really understands the demands of parental stretch.

"This kind of job just doesn't exist in other law firms. Without this flexibility and freedom, I could no longer be a lawyer.

 “After having my first child, I needed to work fewer hours and more from home.  It was not possible to achieve this with my old firm so I decided to leave.  That led to my choice to become a stay-at-home mum for four years because alternative lower-skilled jobs I had considered wouldn't cover the cost of childcare.

"As time went on, I had given up all hope of ever returning to the law until Arun called”.

"At Tenet, my usual working hours are first thing in the morning or in the evening once the kids are in bed but I monitor and respond to emails throughout the day. I've found clients really like this way of working. For example, certain clients wouldn't want to discuss a fraud case affecting their business at the risk of being in earshot of others or during their main hours of business..

"This freedom at Tenet has allowed me to fall back in love with the law. I'm doing a job that I love in a way I can manage.

"There is a real sense of loyalty at Tenet - and I hope I never work anywhere else."

Leaving the last word with Arun, he says "Forget a talent ‘pool', there is a ‘sea' of gifted lawyers who will return to the workplace - or who wouldn't consider leaving the profession in the first instance - given the right circumstances. Esther is one example of how little it takes to accommodate their needs to balance work regime with family life.

"The irony is, Esther thinks I've helped her. The reality is, Tenet would not have grown so quickly without her and other members of the team with similar personal stories."