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Legal talent drought: how to attract the best legal talent against the odds

  • April 24, 2018

Legal talent; often it feels as though there isn’t any! And it’s not just a feeling either; Clayton Legal surveyed law firms nationwide and found that more than 70% of firms believe that a skills shortage is one of the biggest obstacles their firm faces in 2018. And while the statistics make for sobering reading, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are specific steps firms can take to give themselves a better chance of attracting, and retaining, the very best talent. A strong employer brand and a reliable recruitment partner could make the difference your firm needs.

Building a brand: need to know

If you were asked to name a famous brand, there’s probably half a dozen or more that you could name off the top of your head. We’ve all heard of consumer brands like Coca-Cola, but what about employer brands?

An employer brand should be to your potential employees what your market brand is to the people that buy your services. It should be appealing and should essentially portray your firm as somewhere desirable to work – as it is, no doubt. An employer brand might showcase the following aspects of your firm:

  • Success stories – what have people achieved since working in your practice?
  • Culture – is it work hard, play hard, or do you encourage staff to pursue a healthy work/life balance?
  • Type of work – is the work varied, challenging and interesting?
  • Training and development – what opportunities are there to enhance skills, and how might a solicitor grow their career with you?
  • Benefits – apart from salary and financial reward, what are the benefits of working for your firm over and above another?

Reassurance

Post-recession and post-Brexit, solicitors want to know that the law firm they decide to work for is a solid investment of their time and professional training. Firms need to reassure potential candidates that their prospects are good and that they fit together in terms of values.

A strong employer brand shouldn’t just work to attract new talent, it should help to retain existing talent. In fact, one of the most effective ways to devise a strategy for creating an employer brand is to communicate with your existing staff. Find out what motivates them, what they would like to see more or less of, and how their experience could be improved upon and you’ll have a good idea of what potential employees are looking for.

Getting the right support for your brand

Having an employer brand is a valuable asset and should pay dividends in the long term. A great employer brand, however, takes time and dedication to create, establish and maintain. And all the while the war for the top legal talent rages on. The very best legal talent work hard and it’s hard work to attract them to your firm too!

Working with a recruitment partner alongside your own brand-building activity can be incredibly beneficial. An established recruitment agency will already have their own brand and a good reputation, which reflects well on you and provides reassurance to the candidate. What’s more, a recruitment agency, especially one that specialises in legal recruitment, will have their ear to the ground and be able to keep you informed of candidate feedback, motivations and other considerations to be aware of when establishing and maintaining an employer brand.

Not just a helping hand

Clayton Legal’s report on Employee Branding firmly establishes it’s a key driver in recruiting the best legal talent. It doesn’t appear that the skills shortage will be coming to an end any time soon. The advantage of working with a recruitment partner is that while you’re busy building up your employer brand, they can access their existing pool of talent to find you the best candidate.

An agency that understands the legal job market is key too. They can use their extensive knowledge of the sector to filter out the very best talent that matches up with your needs. And while the skills shortage isn’t likely to disappear overnight, it can take a weight off your shoulders knowing that a professional is handling your firm’s recruitment.

If you’re thinking of creating an employer brand or think that your existing brand needs re-developing, then why not get in touch with Clayton Legal? We’d be happy to chat about employer branding or help with finding the best legal talent for your firm.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of using a specialised recruitment company, have a look at our blog on how to get the best out of your recruitment company.

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Carving out a legal career: how to spot firms that offer more than a job

  • March 27, 2018

Job satisfaction is something that’s frequently held up as the pinnacle of working life. Yet more often than not developing a career offers the real satisfaction, not just having a job. Performing tasks because they have to be done feels a lot different to working towards a greater cause that’s leading your career somewhere. So, whether you’re just starting out or you have decades of post-qualified experience we’ve put together a list of factors to consider when looking for a firm that offers a career not just a job.

Junior level: getting off to a flying start

When you’re just starting out, the training that takes you over the line to become a qualified solicitor is so important. Whether you take the route through university as a law undergraduate, or you take another academic subject, you need to feel confident that a firm has the right processes in place to support you on your journey to professional practice.

Look out for firms that have established training programmes for graduates and, crucially, have a record of success. When you’ve invested time and money in education and training to develop your career, a firm that can confidently support the move from trainee to qualified practitioner is invaluable; if the foundation is shaky then everything built on top will be unstable too.

Life in the middle lane: taking it up a gear

With a few years’ experience solicitors are in a good position to make decisions about their career that can bring exciting new ventures and opportunities. At this point, adding strings to your bow is a good idea. This could be about increasing your value as a whole. For example, you could take a Law Society-approved management course and be able to supervise an office with three years’ PQE. This increases your responsibility and makes you more valuable as a whole. It gives you skills that aren’t just law-related, such as people management and other soft skills, broadening your skill set.

If you’re thinking of making a change or heading in a certain direction this point in your career would be a good time to do so. Look out for a firm that matches your interests and can offer training that deepens your knowledge as this will allow you to carve out a particular route for your career. On the flip side, firms that cover a lot of different areas of law may appeal. Although you may stick with one general area, being exposed to different aspects will keep things interesting. Being a generalist adds variety to working like, so if that appeals look out for firms that can support this. Secondments can be a good way to broaden your skills too, without committing wholeheartedly to a particular direction.

Don’t stop growing: senior career progression

For many solicitors, reaching the status of partner is the pinnacle of their career. And while industry figures suggest that the number of partners nationally is declining, partners constitute a significant proportion of solicitors making up nearly a third of the profession. If this is something that interests you then it can be a good idea to look out for firms that are growing. You may stand a better chance of reaching a senior level if there is room at the top. Keep an eye out for firms that have clear strategies in place for developing partners, have clear succession plans and have established processes for dealing with this.

Progressing to the level of partner is much more than evidence of ability, it offers some significant benefits. Being a partner brings with it the chance to make an impact on the profession and to take the firm in a certain direction that you envisage. It also enables you the chance to influence and offer help to those below you and shape the direction of their career, as yours was by your seniors.

Whatever stage of your professional life you’re at it’s important to keep thinking about the future and how the present builds towards that. Keep in mind that as you move up the career ladder what you want from a career may change and the firm that fitted your objectives may no longer do so. Of course, building a career entails having a job, but remember to keep thinking about how that job feeds into your overall career – if it doesn’t then maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

If you found this blog interesting, please look at more of our blogs on how to get a promotion and the secret of success, or if you’re looking for that perfect role, send us your CV. Alternatively,  you can check out all the vacancies we have available.

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Solicitors with more than three years’ PQE: impossible to recruit?

  • March 21, 2018

It’s no secret that law firms want to recruit the best talent. The right combination of skills and experience is invaluable to a firm and a suitable candidate makes a big difference to the quality of work and the bottom line. Yet many firms struggle to recruit solicitors that have more than three years’ Post-Qualified Experience (PQE). Skills shortages, tough competition and an unstable political and economic climate combine to make the legal recruitment market extremely tough yet, with the right help, not impossible.

Why three years’ PQE is a watershed moment

In any profession, the more time someone has spent carrying out tasks successfully, the less supervision they will require and the more effective they will be. The legal profession is no different and solicitors that have three or more years’ PQE will typically need less support and will have more experience handling clients and caseloads. At three years’ PQE solicitors start to become more useful to a firm as they are able to supervise an office at this point, provided they have received appropriate management training.

Crucially, three years’ PQE marks a watershed moment in terms of profitability. The Law Society Gazette explains that as a solicitor starts to move beyond the junior stage of their career, all of their training and development costs begin to pay off. The Law Society Gazette cites the period of 4-6 years’ PQE as highly desirable for law firms – a kind of golden time at which the cost of employing someone with this level of experience versus the fees they can command weighs in the employer’s favour.

In fact, PwC’s Law Firms’ Survey 2017 found that solicitors with less than 5 years’ PQE accounted for the largest group of staff across the top firms. So why is it so difficult for firms to recruit solicitors with three-plus years’ experience when there are seemingly so many of them?

The three-year itch

Once a solicitor reaches this stage of professional maturity they become hot property, hence the reason why it’s so difficult for firms to recruit candidates at this stage of their career. The firm that trained the individual is faced with the prospect that they may jump ship, taking valuable knowledge and experience with them. It’s in the firm’s best interests to keep hold of those individuals and retain that fee-earning power. Simultaneously, if the firm is to grow they need to attract more solicitors at that stage of their career – and competition is high.

Not only do other firms pose a potential threat to whether a solicitor stays or leaves, there is also competition from the lure of in-house roles. The Law Society reports that the number of professionals working in an in-house role has grown rapidly, faster than private practice. Changing technology and an evolving political and economic climate have changed the skills demanded, and the promise for solicitors to become involved in commercial strategy and shaping the future of a business has prompted many solicitors to strongly consider an in-house role. If firms are to remain competitive it’s essential that they attract and retain employees that are highly desirable.

Globalisation

Working in an increasingly globalised world means work opportunities arise for law firms, and also for legal professionals who are tempted to move abroad. Post-Qualified Experience cannot be earned overseas. This represents a dilemma for law firms, as they may be faced with very experienced and able candidates on paper who simply do not have the required PQE. For instance, a solicitor who was newly qualified in 2006 and who moved abroad a year later would still only have one year’s PQE upon returning to the UK in 2017.

So, while solicitors who have worked overseas may offer certain unique skills there’s still no quick workaround for firms who are looking for candidates with junior-mid level experience.

How can firms beat the competition and recruit the best candidates?

Recruitment can be a stressful affair at the best of times and especially so in the midst of a skills shortage. Posting an ad on job boards or the firm’s website can feel like sifting through an awful lot of sand to find a small amount of gold. Often, firms simply don’t have the time or the capacity to put into recruitment, alongside running the business, winning new work, carrying out existing work and simultaneously ensuring the best outcomes for their clients. This is where a recruitment agency can really prove its worth.

A reputable, experienced agency will have an extensive network of contacts and a large database of potential candidates at their disposal which can save firms a lot of legwork. Any agency worth their salt will have developed good relationships with their candidates and will be able to act as an effective, trustworthy middleman between the two parties. This is especially true where the agency is a legal recruitment specialist, as they will be familiar with the industry and will understand the unique challenges faced by the legal sector.

While there is no magic solution, by being alert to the issues surrounding competition and retention law firms stand a better chance of attracting individuals with the right experience. A professional recruitment partner doesn’t just present the best candidates, they can advise how firms can hold onto their best talent: an investment that pays off now and in the future.

If you found this blog interesting, please check out our other blogs on Is there any Legal Talent left? and How to attract and retain millenials. Furthermore, contact our team to speak about your recruiting needs, call 01772 259 121.

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International Women’s Day – Why it’s time for women to shine in law

  • March 1, 2018

As we all know, the legal profession has historically been male dominated, perhaps more so than almost any other. However, times are changing – not just in law, but across the board – and women are now getting the same opportunities that were once almost entirely reserved for men. Theresa May is Prime Minister, Cressida Dick is the head of the Metropolitan Police, and Angela Merkel has been heading up Europe for a number of years.

Within law, things are also changing. Baroness Hale, the Supreme Court Deputy President – is expected to replace the retiring Lord Neuberger who steps down at the end of next year. She has already become the UK’s first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and is currently the only female justice of the Supreme Court.

In addition, Lady Macur is lined up as the next Lord Chief Justice and will become England’s most senior judge when Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd also retires in 2017. And it’s likely that this won’t be the end of women being promoted to greater positions of power within the UK legal arena. We’ve written before about the rise of flexible working in law over recent years and the introduction of this way of working to the Supreme Court is likely to encourage more women to the posts. And the vacancies will be there to take, as a record six other senior judges are expected to stand down in the next two years as they approach retirement.

Flexible working

 

Flexible working doesn’t just appeal to women of course, but it should help to encourage more mothers of young children, for example, who may have stepped away from full time positions to care for their families. It can also help to improve diversity and therefore business performance if managed in the right way.

As well as the introduction of flexible working, equality law provisions will also come into play, specifically the clause known as ‘the tipping factor’, which allows employers to treat a candidate from an under-represented group more favourably if:

  • Both candidates are “as qualified” as each other
  • The employer selects on merit
  • And taking the action is seen as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Women in the legal profession set to rise

 

All three are likely to apply to the Supreme Court so it’s highly likely that we’ll see even more female professionals join Lady Macur and Baroness Hale at the top table of the legal profession. It appears that it’s not just politics where women are making their mark, but also in law too. Here’s hoping this provides an inspiration to female professionals and the legal firms that embrace diversity and we begin to see greater numbers of women make partner over the coming years.

For more insights from the team take a look at our other blog posts.

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Work-life balance: are you missing out?

  • February 26, 2018

A work-life balance is something that we’re often told we need, yet many of us are guilty of throwing ourselves into the work part, forgetting about paying the same attention to the rest of life. So how can you tell if your work-life balance is off kilter? We’ve put together a guide to help you recognise warning signs, how to achieve a more balanced situation, and why it all matters.

 

Signs your work-life balance is out of sync

The first step to achieving a more harmonious work-life balance is recognising when there could be a problem. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms it could be a red flag that your work-life split is off balance:

• If you rarely leave the office at 5.30pm it could be a sign that your work-life balance is weighing too heavily towards work. Of course, everyone has those days when something urgent crops up at 5.25pm, but if it’s just you and a few stragglers at 6 o’clock, perhaps your work-life balance needs some attention. If it’s just you and the cleaner in the office at 7.30pm every evening, it’s time to start asking questions.

• You go to work, go home, eat, mindlessly scroll through Netflix and collapse into bed. Maybe you don’t even eat at home, you heat up a supermarket meal in the microwave and eat at your desk. You’ve no time for the gym, socialising or after-work activities. You’ll likely feel exhausted and have little interest in anything once you leave the office: these are clear indicators that you’re mentally drained and suffering from overwork.

• Feeling irritable and resentful towards your job, boss, company, or colleagues is a sure sign that your work-life balance is out of sync. There’s no denying that work can be stressful, and colleagues can be, how shall we say, trying at times. But feeling that way regularly, even daily, is a clear signal that your work-life balance needs reassessing.

How to achieve a work-life balance

When you’re in the cycle of working late and taking work home, either physically or mentally, it can be difficult to get out of the habit. One way to break the cycle is to schedule activities for after work. You could have dinner with a friend or loved one or make plans to go to an exercise class or running group with a friend: anything that involves meeting up with someone else. The activity isn’t important, the key thing is that you’re compelled to leave the office by a certain time and not let someone you care about down.

And if work has got you feeling blue, try incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Not only is exercise good for your physical health, it improves mental wellbeing too. Build exercise into your daily work routine and try cycling or, if it’s practical, running or walking to the office. The physical activity will boost production of endorphins, the body’s ‘happy hormone’, and blast away stress. Not into high-impact activity? Even a stroll around the block at lunchtime will help raise the heartrate, boost endorphins and just expose you to some fresh air and sunlight – that can’t be so bad, can it?

Why a work-life balance matters

There are many reasons to recalibrate your work-life balance if it’s swung too far in favour of work. Perhaps the most significant question to ask yourself is that if you’re not spending non-working hours with loved ones, or pursuing things you enjoy, are you truly contributing to your or their happiness? As the saying goes, nobody ever wishes on their deathbed that they’d spent longer at the office. Most people have to work to live of course, and it’s great if you love what you do. But give your happy hormones a boost and share that passion with the people that matter most. Because – and grab a tissue now, we’re getting deep here – it won’t be your boss, or your client, or Dave from accounts that’ll be by your side until the last.

On a lighter note, doing things outside of work makes you more well-rounded. Playing sport isn’t just good for burning calories and boosting endorphins, it enhances teamwork skills. Being surrounded by work all of the time leaves you mentally drained and with a disinterested attitude to everything else. Different activities stimulate different parts of the brain and can help you think differently, and therefore perform more effectively, while you’re at work. Plus, hobbies are enjoyable! And who would say no to a little more fun?

If you found this blog interesting, check out more of our blogs or if you’re looking for that perfect role, check out all the vacancies we have available.

Want some tips or advice? Call the office on 01772 259121 and speak to one of our experts

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Where’s all the Legal talent gone?

  • February 20, 2018

You place an ad with a recruitment agency, excited to see who will apply and what the crop of candidates will bring. You’ve a great reputation, an attractive benefits package and offer a generous salary, so why aren’t quality candidates coming through the door?

It’s a familiar story. Plenty of undergraduates show an interest in law; according to the Law Society, a total of 22,765 students were accepted onto undergraduate law courses in England and Wales in the academic year 2016-17. And it’s not as though there are only a handful of fully-qualified, experienced solicitors in the land, as the same report indicates that there were 175,160 solicitors on the roll at the end of July 2016. While the figures appear healthy at first glance, the reality is that law firms are struggling to keep pace with changing demands.

What does a talent shortage mean for the legal sector?

One area of the law where a lack of quality candidates is particularly prevalent is in Conveyancing. The labour-intensive process of Conveyancing and the growth of other areas of law, such as work for private clients, mean that firms are struggling to meet the property-related demands of their client base. Firms are under pressure to retain existing talent and attract new talent from a shrinking pool.

Firms should take action to remain competitive

A 2017 survey by PwC found that more than half of the top law firms within the UK were not keeping pace with new technology. As a result, labour-intensive processes, such as facilitating the sale of property, remain just as labour-intensive and reliant on slow postal systems for sending documents to be signed as they ever were.

Not only does this make the field of conveyancing unattractive as a whole, a lack of investment in technology signals to a candidate that this is not a firm that is looking forward or moving in the right direction. Investing in technology to allow electronic signatures and cut out snail mail makes life easier, and the service more attractive, for all parties from staff members and candidates to clients.

Alongside investment in best practice for the future, training is another key factor in offering a competitive edge when recruiting candidates. As time moves on and client demands change, so too must the skills offered by solicitors. And of course, there’s the ever-present spectre of Brexit looming, bringing with it an uncertain future with Europe, and clients that may need advice on trading overseas. Equipping your staff to deal with these issues broadens their skill set, strengthens what your practice can offer, and makes the whole package more appealing to candidates.

The most important factor for law firms

With ways of working changing faster than they have in decades, technological advances continuing apace and an uncertain relationship with Europe on the horizon, flexibility is the defining characteristic law firms need to display. Investing in better ways of doing things and training staff is all well and good, but it’s only relevant until circumstances and client demands change next week, next month, or next year. Law firms need to have one eye on the future, one eye on the lay of the land, and adjust and readjust as times move on to be in with a fighting chance of attracting – and keeping – the very best candidates.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your Recruitment needs by calling us on 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly.

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How your firm can retain talent during a skills shortage

  • February 5, 2018

After 2017’s climate of uncertainty, largely triggered by Brexit, UK law firms are understandably cautious going forward. However, on the whole, they are demonstrating their robustness by expressing a desire to continue with business as usual. In fact, our latest white paper, The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Legal firms in 2018, reveals that a significant majority (66%) of firms are looking to increase their headcount over the coming year. Of those businesses, 4% expect to increase staffing by 5% and 11% predict that it could be by as much as 30%. So, clearly there is considerable optimism about the opportunities for headcount growth in the coming year.

However, there appears to be challenges ahead surrounding the availability of labour. Around two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed say a skills shortage is their top concern for 2018 and 20% cited staff retention. And with business lobby group British Chambers of Commerce saying that skills shortages reached ‘critical levels’ in the last quarter of 2017, it is now vital for firms to retain the talent that they already have. So, which retention strategies can be used to incentivise existing staff to stay?

Flexible hours

The most important thing is to consider what your staff value the most. New research from HSBC reveals that 89% of employees view flexible working as a key motivator – more than the 77% who were influenced by financial incentives. Yet our survey found that only 33% of respondent firms offered flexible hours and fewer still provided part-time options. While it is encouraging to see that practices are increasingly aware of the demand for adaptable working patterns, those that don’t offer them to staff – and at all levels of seniority – risk losing them to businesses that do.

Remote working

Our survey revealed that 22% of firms offer staff the opportunity to work outside of the office. And, in a profession where long hours are the norm, there’s no doubt that many employees would welcome the opportunity to dispense with their commute on occasion. Does your firm make use of the technology available that facilitates this, such as cloud storage?

Training and development

In its recent Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte found 51% of companies rated ‘investing in talent’ as an urgent priority. Consequently, it is a surprise that none of our survey respondents cited training and development as a key retention offering at their firm. Millennials, in particular, will be hard to attract without excellent training and development programmes: a recent report by PwC found that 74% of the millennials it surveyed said that learning new skills to remain employable was something that they valued highly. And, over a quarter said this was the most important factor in making an organisation an attractive employer. Given that this generation will make up three-quarters of the UK workforce by 2025, firms cannot afford to overlook their needs: doing so will mean that they could fail to engage with a large share of skilled talent over the coming years.

Bonuses, sabbaticals and other offerings

Of course, while our research shows that flexible hours, remote working and training opportunities are important ways to invest in and retain staff, they aren’t an exhaustive list. Other benefits such as bonuses, sabbaticals, employee discounts, paid volunteering leave and a holiday allowance that increases over time, are just some of the other ways to incentivise staff. The best way to find out what your staff would value is to simply ask.

Not only are these methods excellent ways to keep staff engaged, they will also make your firm more attractive to potential recruits. At a time of significant skills shortages, are you doing all that you can, to attract and retain?

To request a full FREE copy of the report, click here.

Furthermore, to speak to the team about your recruiting needs, call 01772 259 121

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Big firm, little firm…get the best from your recruitment provider

  • January 22, 2018

There’s no doubt that recruitment in the legal profession today is very different than it was a decade or two ago. Firms have had to adapt to new hiring processes – online communities, digital meet-ups and candidate data all play a significant role in today’s recruitment.

And with so many different aspects now to consider, the lure of using a big recruitment agency is appealing; the legwork is done for you, the burden is taken away from your HR department, and in the past it’s proved an effective way to access large pools of available candidates.

Yet all this can come at a cost – aggressive third-party recruiters, increasing placement rates and commission fees, and dealing with recruiters that are only interested in fulfilling their activity quotas pose a potential risk when working with a large recruitment agency.

So, what if using a recruitment giant wasn’t the only option besides taking on the recruiting yourself? What if you could benefit from a more personal touch in the hiring process, enabling you to find and attract unique top legal talent that could really help your firm excel?
Here’s why you don’t have to settle for using the big recruitment firms:

• Jobs boards are universal – despite what you may hear, jobs boards are accessible for all, and there’s no reason why you need to rely on the biggest firms to advertise for you. Don’t forget that a cleverly written, engaging job description will help you stand out amongst hundreds of job vacancies advertised in exactly the same way.
• You can get the same level of candidate access elsewhere – don’t be fooled into thinking that it is only the biggest agencies that have access to the greatest range of candidates. It’s not simply a case of volume, you need access to quality, talented candidates that are the right fit for your firm – and that means tailoring the hiring process to meet your specific needs.
• Smaller firms give the personal touch – smaller recruitment agencies can put in the time, effort and legwork to build relationships over time – both with you the client, and with those all-important candidates. The best specialist agencies will have built up relationships with firms over many years, building trust and reputation as they do.
• A credible voice in the legal market is invaluable – specialist agencies will be able to demonstrate detailed knowledge of the legal sector, and you’ll benefit from working with true experts in the field, rather than relying on a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Plus, you can tap into valuable industry help and advice, as and when you need it.
• Speed takes priority – this isn’t always the case but big recruitment agencies will often prioritise filling quotas, meeting targets and making commission, over providing you with the service you’re looking for. Time is money as they say…but what if speed over quality costs you more in the long run?
• They come at a high price – as well as charging high fees for their services, you might also find costs mount up elsewhere too. Failed hires, in particular, are extremely expensive for legal firms, highlighting the importance of investing wisely from the start to find the right candidate to fit your role.
• Sophisticated data analytics aren’t just for the giants – increasingly data analytics are playing a bigger part in recruitment but you don’t have to be using a big recruitment agency in order to access them. Specialist firms will often have a better insight into the data that specifically concerns the legal profession.
• Thinking outside the box pays off – if you want to successfully reach out and recruit a range of legal professionals, you need to be thinking outside of the box. Not only are millennials more likely to jump ship, research shows that 90% of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities…so it’s important you don’t overlook passive candidates, in search of only active ones.

Finding the right fit for your firm is more important now than ever before and having the right recruiting process in place – with a focus on the personal touch as well as just ‘filling the role’ – is essential.
Of course, the most effective way to find, access and attract exceptional legal talent is by ensuring you’re working with a recruitment provider that understands your firm and helps you to get the most out of your candidate search. To find out more about what a specialist firm can bring to the table, just get in touch with us here at Clayton

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Technology: friend or foe of the conveyancing lawyer?

  • January 22, 2018

As any conveyancing professional knows, there can be an inordinate amount of time spent pouring over papers and inputting data manually, not to mention the frustration of being part of a sequence of communication very much like the property chain itself, where it only takes one lawyer to go on holiday and all associated proceedings grind to a halt for a fortnight. The real risk of a process where things are dragged out is of course, that the chain may collapse and the sale of the property may not go through at all. And, in an age where so much information is readily available at the touch of a button, it is understandable if clients get a little impatient.

Most of us would agree that more efficient methods are needed and as a result, in recent years there has been a surge in the number of companies providing technology specifically tailored to the needs of conveyancers, designed to simplify and speed up the most time consuming and intricate processes. For example, firms can easily send documents via secure portal and receive electronic signatures, rather than relying on the return postal system and complex tech that now exists which enables faster and increasingly sophisticated property searches.

So, are firms making use of the new tools at their disposal? Not according to a recent survey by PwC, which found that 55 of the UK’s top 100 law firms were failing to keep pace with cutting edge technology, with just 11% utilising big data or predictive analytics. However, awareness is certainly increasing: Reuters’ analysis revealed a 484% rise in new legal services patents globally, indicating that while there is a way to go, law firms all over the world are beginning to invest in legal tech.

With clients’ expectations growing, firms must ensure their resources are being utilised in the most efficient way and demonstrate their value add to clients. It’s clear that many firms need to revolutionise in order to compete. But, when this technology would free up lawyers to concentrate on real add-value work, such as providing strategic advice, why are so many, reluctant to embrace it? One reason might be the perceived risk to jobs. However, rather than seeing tech as a threat, firms should recognise its potential to help them grow and actually increase headcount. Conveyancers sit on a wealth of data: proper analysis of it will enable you to capture its innate value and use it to offer more comprehensive consulting services. Matt Taylor, a partner at Clifford Chance, agrees. At a recent roundtable hosted by news resource Legal Futures, he predicted that the shape of law firms will change and “move towards the consultant side” of the property transaction as a result of embracing technology and data. For example, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Newcastle office, already has a hub of lawyers and legal technologists working with process designers and paralegals to trial and apply new legal technologies.

So, the message to law firms is that the leading players of the future will be staffed and shaped differently. Law practices will almost certainly start to move towards the consultancy side and develop teams which are more system savvy. Try to keep abreast of changes, identify where the landscape is shifting and what it means for your business in terms of required skills and talent. Businesses should be planning strategically, with a view to creating a team of lawyers and those providing technical expertise – such as data scientists or programmers- working closely together. Many firms will chose to enter into partnerships with these service providers. It’s important not to underestimate how quickly we will see these changes: rapid technological developments could mean more traditional companies fail to keep pace and struggle to remain relevant to their clients. The firms that keep abreast of these changes and staff their teams accordingly are the ones that will reap the commercial rewards.

To find out how Clayton Legal can help you plan for the future needs of your firm, contact us today.

Take a look at some of our other blogs to gain more insight into the legal sector.

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How to attract and retain millennials

  • January 8, 2018

What characterises a millennial?

The defining characteristics of millennials – those born between 1980 – 1996, according to Pew Research – have been documented across a whole raft of research (notably from PwC and Deloitte), articles and books in recent years. The general consensus is that theirs, is a generation with a world view inevitably shaped by significant events such as financial recession, technological revolution and the rise of social media. As a result, they have less inclination to be motivated by money alone, a strong need for work / life balance, a commitment to their personal development, technological savviness, a preference for flexible working, an attraction to work which has social or charitable impact and a keen interest in diversity.

How millennials are changing the legal landscape

This crop of young lawyers is having a transformational impact on the workplace: according to legal services provider LOD, firms are moving from a ‘dormant, low-tech, individualistic system to a dynamic, high-tech, collaborative one.’ As In-House Lawyer magazine points out, over the first half of the 21st century, millennials will replace Boomers as the dominant demographic group throughout society: since law will be no exception, it is vital for employers to consider the ways in which they attract and retain millennial talent. Factors which have traditionally worked in the past, such as financial rewards, do not appear to inspire this generation in the same way.

Top tips for motivating millennials

With this in mind, here are our top tips for attracting and keeping our partners of the future.

  1. Create an agile work environment.
    Millennials are used to wireless, mobile technology that gives them the flexibility to work wherever they need – or choose to. Offer remote working where possible and provide a secure means of access to the information needed to do their jobs when they aren’t in the office.
  2. Dispense with rigid hierarchical career paths.
    Research shows that millennials are inclined to be peripatetic: they will move from place to place and are unlikely to want to follow a highly structured career path to partnership at one firm. Instead, build alternative career paths that still allow top talent to prosper.
  3. Provide workload predictability.
    Of course there are times when work will inevitably ebb and flow but, where possible, try to ensure that workload can be anticipated in advance. The new generation of lawyers will graft hard but they value work / life balance so highly that if they can never make personal plans, they are unlikely to willingly remain in a role.
  4. Develop an inclusive culture.
    A generation that has grown up with social media is one that understands the value of an open platform of interaction, collaboration and dialogue. Again, a hierarchy where voices are kept separate will not appeal. Instead, form project teams of various levels of seniority which encourage participation, mentoring and feedback between generations.
  5. Utilise their tech savviness.
    It’s clearly a fallacy that every millennial is an innately skilled programmer, but they are certainly more likely to be aware of the technology available to them. Manually sifting through paperwork will appeal even less when they know that there are faster, more efficient methods, if only the firm would invest in business intelligence or data analytics. Use their understanding of technology to drive innovation.
  6. Seriously consider diversity.
    Don’t just pay it lip service. The law firm of today should be fully committed to a culture of inclusivity. Set targets for diverse representation.
  7. Promote charitable and community involvement.
    It is important for millennials to feel that their vocation is worthwhile: financial reward is rarely their sole motivator. Involve them in work with social meaning. As a firm, consider the ways in which money and time can be used to benefit good causes.

So, leaders of law firms should be mindful of the fact that today’s millennials will be the partners of tomorrow, Succession planning now is vital: firms must attract and retain the best millennial talent in order to ensure the longevity of their businesses.

To find out how Clayton Legal can help you plan for the future needs of your firm, contact us today.

Take a look at some of our other blogs to gain more insight into the legal sector.

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