My Story

If you click here you’ll find a brief CV. However, I find that CVs only tell half the story, so here’s a little more detail on how I arrived at where I am today and why I put so much energy into working with law firms to effect change.

After a short spell as a trainee tax accountant at Deloitte, I joined Wragge & Co (now Gowlings WLG ) in a business development and client care role.

After six years I moved to Pinsents (now international law firm Pinsent Masons ) as sector business development manager. Sector-focused marketing was in its infancy and it was great to join a team leading the way. During 12 years there, I held a variety of roles, including Head of Marketing, Interim Head of Communications and Knowledge Programme Project Manager. That’s not to mention being part of the team that made two international mergers happen (Masons in 2004 and McGrigors in 2012).

I needed this breadth of experience when I turned to my next challenge - establishing and growing a flexible resourcing business - ‘Vario’.

Most great things are the result of collaboration and Vario is no exception. When Alison Bond asked me to partner her in creating the venture, I jumped at the chance. The GFC changed the market for legal services irrevocably and it was clear to see that traditional large law firms would either adapt or die. However, at the time (and perhaps still now to a degree) it wasn’t clear precisely how those firms would need to adapt. We focused on a legal team’s greatest and most expensive asset – its people – and in doing so, established Vario. Vario met the needs of two emerging groups: the supply of a growing pool of legal talent that wanted to work differently and demand from legal buyers looking for flexible, cost effective ways to manage risk.

When we launched in February 2013, we knew we had something special but didn’t anticipate our success. By 2015, turnover was in the £several millions and we had fulfilled a wide range of assignments at FTSE 100 and other global organisations. We truly influenced the way clients bought legal services and the way Pinsent Masons delivered them. Awards and accolades came our way, such as Highly Commended at the inaugural Legal Innovation Awards in 2015.

It’s difficult to imagine better preparation for advising professionals and in-house teams on growth and innovation. Alison and I ran Vario in its entirety, from sales, marketing and PR, through to finance, knowledge, risk and regulatory issues. Although I avoided it for as long as possible, I even got involved in I.T! Every day we answered questions for which there were no precedents, working at the cutting edge of change in the legal sector. So I understand what it means to run your own business or profit centre. I understand the breadth of issues to be resolved and appreciate the difficult balance between getting the work done today and creating strategic change for tomorrow.

In 2016 the whole family and I moved to Australia and here I established Katherine Thomas Consulting. What a journey that has been! I’ve had experiences I could have only dreamt about when I launched, such as delivering keynotes speeches in front of 400 people at a partners’ conference, to developing and delivering a module for the first Master in Legal Business in Australia, to coaching partners at an international firm, to launching an entirely new service for one of Australia’s leading regional firms, to advising a leading boutique firm for over 4 years on its strategy and sales

As if that wasn’t enough, in early 2019, I put my contract lawyer skills to use again to launch Free Range Lawyers: providing remote-working lawyers to medium-sized law firms looking to flex their resource.

I wouldn’t change a single aspect of my career. I’ve made wonderful friends, learned a lot about the world and myself and have achieved some things that have genuinely contributed to changing the landscape for legal services. What could be better?