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What Skills Gap Do You Have In Your Post-Furlough Legal Team?

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Despite the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme officially coming to a close at the end of October, many legal practices will already have a good idea of who from their pre-Covid team will be returning.

There are many reasons there may be skills gaps in your legal team right now.

 

The Redundancy Problem

27% of UK employers are expected to make job cuts due to coronavirus, and while the UK legal sector is generally more resilient than other industries, some firms have had to make cuts.

Giles Murphy, head of professional practice at accountant Smith & Williamson said in the FT recently, "as the full impact of the economy hits firms, activity levels are likely to fall and firms will need fewer staff. At that point the expensive ones might be at risk".

Is your firm thinking about making redundancies? It is critical that if you do, you do not leave yourself with skills gaps in any areas. At the end of this article is a guide to help you recognise if you are at risk of leaving yourself with critical skills gaps.

 

Expansion, Creating New Skill Gaps

For every firm that has had to make redundancies, there are others that are expanding their products, services and even specialisms. Rapid growth since the end of lockdown in property, family and employment cases has meant that some firms are struggling to get through their work with the teams they have.

Despite the headlines, some firms within the UK legal sector are performing better than ever. The Global Legal Post reported that some law firms are having their 'best year ever' with the UK legal sector records its second-strongest July on record.

This expansion is another way that skills gaps can appear. You might be having a record-breaking year but do you have the right amount of staff with the right skills in place to be able to capitalise on this?

 

Retraining Your Current Employees

Currently, there is a big demand for staff and low supply – in the areas that are booming since Covid. Property, Family, and Employment Law have all seen a drastic increase in the need for their services, which is set to be the case for the foreseeable. It might be time to consider retraining some of your current team in areas which you're struggling to find employees. Retraining is a great way to utilise your current team and can help you avoid redundancies. Speak to your team to find out which areas any of them would like to retrain in – now is the perfect time to put this plan into action.

 

Digital Skills Gaps

It has proven essential for law firms to adapt digitally to our new remote world.

Sheffield based personal injury firm Irwin Mitchell recently identified 100 roles which were potentially at risk because of digital changes that the pandemic caused.

Have you introduced new software or technology to allow employees to manage work from home? And if so, are you confident that all employees are proficient in the skills needed to work efficiently from home?

With a potential new lockdown on the way and the government guidelines asking employees who can, to work from home – are you digitally prepared for employees to work remotely for the foreseeable?

We have covered the topic of our digital adaption in a separate blog, with tips for other businesses, which you can read here.

So finally, let's look at how to perform a skills gap analysis in your law firm.

 

How to Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis

For many legal practices, restructuring, rather than redundancies, are causing skills gaps. And not the kind of restructuring that we usually hear about; instead, it's a true type of restructuring caused by the enormous changes to the world since Covid.

A change in working practices, shifting business models, unprecedented cases – all of these have increased the need to have the right skills in the right place in your legal team.

So how do you find out if and where you have skills gaps?

Here is the three-step process.

Step 1 – Identify the skills needed in your practice (both now and in the future)

Due to Covid, have you or are you planning on expanding into a new specialism, or have you been dealing with an increased workload in certain areas?

Think about the future trends of work – are there skills that are becoming more prevalent such as digital skills? Are there currently employees taking on extra duties to cover a vacancy or new tasks that keep emerging? Are you aware of any new positions you will need to create?

You should end up with a list of the key skills your legal practice needs, and the different roles that your firm needs to continue to manage your cases.

Step 2 – Pinpoint existing skills

You might be waiting until the end of the year to conduct performance reviews but right now, after furlough and before the end of the year is the perfect time to conduct a skills audit.

For each employee, determine the skills they possess in regards to the roles needed in your company.

You may find that you have a team who all possess similar skills, but there is a lack of individuals with the skills you need to drive your business forwards, like the aforementioned digital skills or training in certain specialisms.

Step 3 – Determine where the gaps are

Finally, you will know the skills and roles you need in your firm, and you know what you currently have; the gaps are where you need to bring in new talent.

There may be gaps in places you didn't expect. For example, your team might be coping with remote technology right now but lack the skills to do so long-term.

 

Finally

If there are critical gaps in your legal team, and you need to make a plan to bridge these gaps, we can help. 

Call us on 01772 or send us an email here. We will work with you to help you find options for your gaps and can provide help for restructuring and recruitment in your law firm.

 

Thanks,

Lynn

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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