A FAST-THINKING solicitor has revealed how she continued to deliver much-needed legal support during the pandemic.
Rebecca Calvert, a former partner at a large North East law firm, set up her own mobile legal consultancy in late 2019 after becoming one of the first in the country to capitalise on a new rule passed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) allowing solicitors to trade on a freelance basis.
Having accumulated over 10 years’ experience working in the sector, Rebecca had witnessed first-hand the many challenges facing existing practices, such as serving clients with accessibility issues, and decided to set up on her own in order to achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Initially setting up to help those struggling to make appointments due to their busy schedules of full-time working or their inability to get to a city centre office, Rebecca began trading just three months prior to the pandemic, meeting clients at their homes or a place to suit, but saw demand for her services skyrocket when lockdown measures were introduced in March 2020.
She said: “Despite setting up the business just a matter of months prior to the pandemic, I had to adapt the way in which I delivered my services very quickly – I found myself witnessing Wills in gardens and through living room windows at a time when it became more important than ever to get their affairs in order.”
Rebecca approached the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) for support prior to setting up Rebecca Calvert Legal Services and was introduced to business adviser Ron Anderson, who helped her develop her business plan and apply for the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Programme.
The Government-backed NEA Programme provides business support and funding to budding entrepreneurs to help bring their business ideas to life.
“The NEA Programme was fantastic,” she added. “It’s daunting setting up a business and the programme really gave me the confidence to make the leap. Although I’d had the idea for some time, you’re always asking yourself: ‘Why has nobody done this before? Why has it not been allowed? Is there actually a market for it?’”
It has now been 18 months since Rebecca officially launched the business and the company has already welcomed on board a significant number of private clients as well as receiving interest from a number of potential commercial customers.
“The majority of clients have come from word of mouth,” she said. “I feel as though it’s been a real positive start. So far, it’s been mostly private clients, with wills, probate advice and powers of attorney, making up the bulk of the work, but I can definitely see the commercial side gaining momentum.
“Aside from the convenience and flexibility of my offering, I think what really makes the service stand out is the competitive rates I offer. As a mobile Freelance Solicitor, I don’t have anywhere near the overheads that hang over larger law firms.
“My service is also a lot more personal, I’m an SRA accredited solicitor and manage everything from start to finish. All too often when dealing with larger practices, people speak to secretaries or assistant staff and not the solicitor themselves, which isn’t the case here.
“I can meet clients at convenient times, whether it’s evenings, weekends or lunch hours, at a place convenient for them. I feel as though I’m bringing a modern aspect to the sector.”
Business adviser Ron Anderson said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with Rebecca, she identified a huge gap in the market and moved quickly to fill it. There’s nothing else quite like this in the North East and we’re confident she’ll go on to be a huge success as the business continues to grow.”
Rebecca was supported through the Enterprise Support in the North East 2 project which is part funded through the European Regional Development Fund.