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Is Your Feedback Worthwhile to Your Legal Team?

  • October 1, 2019

Feedback is something of a controversial subject.

Some argue that it doesn’t fulfil a valuable function in the legal workplace; that it merely wastes the time of those giving and receiving it and that it can undermine an individual’s confidence in their ability to do their job.

But feedback can be a powerful tool in your legal team.

Useful feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver, and your law firm as a whole; it can be used to make critical decisions.

Continuous improvement is not just the latest buzz word; it focuses your law firm on building performance by helping individuals make better decisions going forward, doing more of what is already going well, and establishes a culture of ongoing two-way communication.

Feedback is a Skill

Firstly, it’s essential to recognise that giving and receiving feedback is a skill.

Good feedback relies on your ability to embrace emotional intelligence – using your self-knowledge to enable you to accept positive criticism and use it to learn and grow, and using your empathy to put yourself in another’s shoes to see things from their point of view when providing feedback.

Feedback also requires active listening – making sure that both parties know they have been understood and that what they said holds value (more on this later).

So, the trick to implementing valuable and worthwhile feedback to your legal team is to understand what it provides and to use it correctly.

Feedback is a Constant Process

Most law firms, when asked, would say feedback is given during employee surveys, at performance appraisals or in training evaluations, and that’s true. But, feedback is also there all the time in our day to day working lives.

So, be aware of feedback being a constant – and aim to use it wisely when communicating with your legal team. In effect, good feedback between senior partners or managers and their teams can enable you to grow the firm by instilling a sense of support across all employee levels, from trainees to Senior Partners.

Feedback is a Two-way Conversation

Feedback provides an effective way of giving value to and acknowledgement of another’s thoughts – it’s also critical to ensure that for everyone concerned, feedback provides an opportunity to speak and be heard.

That means providing feedback and allowing for comment back on your observations.

It involves practising active listening to ensure that both parties are on the same page with exactly what the feedback means.

It’s so easy for comments to be misinterpreted: I find it useful to repeat what someone has said to me to be sure I’m clear on their meaning.

So, for example, if you are giving feedback to your legal secretary, you might say, “So, from what you are saying I understand that you are unhappy with the level of caseload work and would like to know if it’s possible to introduce a software package to help speed up the admin process. Is that correct?”

This sort of clarification opportunity ensures that you don’t misinterpret the message – which of course can lead to problems further down the line.

Feedback Provides Opportunity

Feedback should be an opportunity to help individuals know where they are doing a great job and where they need to focus on developing skills and abilities.

Without feedback, there is a lack of understanding for an individual as to how they are measuring up in their legal work and therefore, limited opportunity for them to improve.

If individuals do not receive feedback or don’t know how to receive it in a constructive fashion, they are likely to lose out on potential promotion and the chance to grow in their skill set, knowledge and capabilities – and gain a fulfilling career in law.

Feedback Addresses Specifics

Feedback should be delivered with respect – always.

Even if the feedback is negative, it’s critical for the giver to be aware of the manner in which they are delivering their comments to ensure that the feedback is constructive and specific.

That means referring to specific incidents rather than vague statements, for example, “In the meeting last Thursday you interrupted Jim before he had a chance to put his case” rather than “You’re always talking over other people.”

The feedback should be non-judgemental – so, “I believe you may have misunderstood the reasons for the client costs going up?”, rather than “You were wrong to say the cost shouldn’t have been increased.”

It should also let the individual know the effect their action or comment had. For example, “After you talked over Kim’s suggestions in the meeting last week, she felt upset and undermined, which affected her confidence in her professional opinion.”

Feedback Enables Growth

Remember, feedback isn’t just about the negatives.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to acknowledge where good work has been done and to formally recognise it as part of your employee development plan.

Positive feedback provides a significant morale boost and is part of the learning process – reinforcing what a team member is doing right. It shows you recognise excellent performance and enables the employee to be able to move forward, doing more of the same behaviour.

Of course, we’re all only human, so feedback can never be entirely objective.

It’s crucial, though, to focus on delivering all feedback in a way that minimises the chances of the recipient feeling threatened or defensive and allows them to take on board comments (good and bad) and see them as drivers to inspire learning and development.

This will enable individuals to grow and flourish in their legal career and will allow you to develop a legal team who perform at the top of their game.

Initiating Feedback

Asking for feedback unprompted shows that a team member is more likely to accept it as a positive and learn from it.

These are the employees who are more likely to advance in their legal career. Conversely, it’s often the case that those who never ask for feedback are less open and likely to be more defensive if they feel challenged in their behaviour.

If you have team members who actively seek your feedback, then be prepared to provide constructive comment to help them.

And don’t forget, asking for feedback yourself shows excellent leadership qualities – after all, no-one’s perfect!

Feedback, either informally requested or as part of a formal review process, can provide an excellent platform for improving performance.

Instilling a culture of feedback in your law firm and seeing it as positive will enable you to remain aligned to overall goals, help create strategies for the firm, develop services, improve relationships and achieve success.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move to grow your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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The 5 Legal Interview Mistakes

  • September 28, 2019

You may be a legal professional with knowledge, experience and the right soft skills to nail your next role, but it’s still easy to slip up in an interview.

Preparation and knowing how to act at your interview will allow you to showcase your talents, but if you don’t prepare sufficiently or think carefully about what you are saying on the day, you risk falling into the trap many legal professionals make, scuppering your chances of getting that ideal legal role.

Here are the five most common interview mistakes legal professionals make – and how to avoid them.

Not Being Prepared

Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. Failure to do your research and preparation can make you look lazy and uninterested in the role.

Reading up on the firm’s background, noting its place and competitors in the legal sector, its specialisms and recent positive news will put you in a great position to arrive confidently ready for anything. Your background research will give you a ‘feel’ for the firm and will demonstrate to the interviewer your understanding of both the firm, the market/verticals in which it operates and the role on offer.

Research can be as simple as checking out the firm’s website for information. Additionally, you could dig a bit deeper by checking out individual LinkedIn profiles, reviews, blogs and articles to give you a rounded view of the firm you hope to work for and help you prepare for the questions you may be asked.

Not Looking the Part

Legal roles, be they at trainee or Senior Partner level, require a certain level of professional dress.

I know it sounds obvious, but some candidates do fail to dress suitably for interview.

You should arrive for your interview as you would expect to arrive at work. Smart, professional, clean and tidy. First impressions do count in the legal world, and you won’t impress an interviewer if you roll up in creased, worn or just plain inappropriate clothing.

If in doubt about how formal you should go, lean on the side of caution – too formal is better than not formal enough and of course check in with your legal recruitment consultant who will be conversant with what is expected at the firm where you are being interviewed!

Looking the part will also give you an air of confidence: if you know you look professional, you will feel it.

Oh, and remember to switch your phone off too!

Talking too Much (or Clamming Up)

There’s a fine line between showing you’re interested and taking over the conversation. You don’t want the interviewer to think you’re going to be the employee who spends all day chatting to colleagues, but neither do you want to hold back and appear disengaged.

Waffling is a common side effect of nerves, so if you feel yourself beginning to ramble, take a moment to gather your thoughts and think about the question you’re being asked before giving your answer.

Conversely, being too concise in your answers can make you appear indifferent to the job or worse still lacking knowledge.

Practising answers to the type of questions you are likely to be asked will help enormously. You can practice with a friend or your recruitment specialist. The more you rehearse your answers, the more you will find you are confident in what to say. This will go a long way to help alleviate your nerves on the day and will allow you to deliver your answers calmly and with confidence.

Remember, interviewers are human too, and they know that nerves can be an issue. So, if your mind goes totally blank, it’s fine to take some time to gather your thoughts or ask if you can come back to that question to give you time to think about your answer.

Bad-mouthing Former Employers

This is an absolute no-no.

Regardless of how you feel about a former workplace or colleagues, your interview is not the appropriate place to indulge in a rant about how awful your ex-team was, or how you believe the Senior Partner was incapable of doing their job.

Nothing will put your interviewer off you quicker than listening to you complain about former colleagues. It gives a terrible impression of you and will make them wonder what you might say about them in future!

I always advise candidates that diplomacy is called for if you are asked about former work situations. If they weren’t great, try to focus on the positives by concentrating on how you dealt will potentially tricky occasions (without going into detail) so you are seen as loyal and proactive, rather than hostile.

Not Thinking About Your Own Questions

Preparing for the questions you will be asked is only one half of the interview. It’s a two-way conversation, and you are almost certain to be asked if you have any questions.

Whatever you do, never say you don’t have any or ‘I think you have covered everything’, even if your interviewer may have!

As part of your preparation, it’s ideal to come up with three or four questions to ask when it comes to your turn. Suggestions include:

“What does a typical day look like?” (shows you imagine yourself in the role)

“Is there scope in this role for me to add value to it?” (shows you are keen to develop and expand your abilities)

“Do you see the firm scaling up/taking on additional specialisms in the future” (indicates you are planning to stay, and are interested in helping the firm grow)

Questions you definitely should not ask include anything related to salary or annual leave. Those concerns can be discussed once you’ve been offered the role.

Remember, preparation is vital for interview success; prepare well, and you will have confidence in yourself on the day.

Your interview is an opportunity to showcase your talents, interest and character, and be memorable to the interviewer – for the right reasons!

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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8 Reasons Why Accepting A Locum Legal Position Is A Great Idea

  • September 20, 2019

Temporary legal roles are becoming more and more popular. There is an increasing demand for interim or contracting Solicitors and Lawyers (locum legal professionals) as a result of the current candidate-driven legal marketplace. Due to this spike in demand, many legal professionals are beginning to consider the advantages of becoming a locum.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to find the right legal position. It could be that you are relatively new to the legal marketplace; you could have been made redundant or just be looking for a change in your legal career. Making sure you get the right permanent job is not always straightforward.

On occasions like this, it’s wise to consider a locum legal position.

After all, some of the highest achievers in business started out in temporary roles – even the likes of Steve Jobs!

Working in temporary positions has increased in popularity since the recession of 2007, with 800,000 temporary staff now part of the workforce, a new report has found.

This marks an astonishing 40 per cent rise over the past ten years, according to research carried out by the Resolution Foundation.

The main advantage to law firms in hiring locums is an easily scalable workforce, but there are many benefits for the individual choosing to take a locum position too.

Temporary work is a good way for unemployed legal professionals to get back into employment and of course, there is the advantage that the interim role you take on could become permanent. Although there is no guarantee that this will happen, locum work offers distinct advantages that can aid your legal career, so you should seriously consider these when wondering if you should take a temporary role.

Advantages of locum legal positions include:

1. A Psychological Boost

Being unemployed can take its toll; eating into your self-confidence and motivation. So, a locum position can raise your morale and give a sense of structure and meaning to your day.

And if you take several locum positions, you will soon become adept at starting new jobs and taking everything in your stride, thus building your confidence.

2. Flexibility

Locum positions provide the perfect way to get more flexibility in your life. If you want to study and gain further legal qualifications, if you provide care for someone else, or have interests you would like to devote more time to, temporary work is ideal.

Locums also have the advantage of being able to often negotiate their working hours, shifting the work-life balance to suit their lifestyles.

Additionally, the nature of locum work, where you will be exposed to a variety of different roles and tasks, means that no two days are likely to be the same so that you can enjoy increased diversity in your work.

3. Continuous Employment on Your CV

When you go for a permanent post, it doesn’t look good if you have long gaps between jobs.

An interviewer is likely to ask you what you’ve been doing since your last job, and you don’t want to admit to watching endless daytime TV or reorganising the kitchen cupboards.

It looks so much better if you can say you’ve been in temporary work to keep up to date with industry standards, training and upskilling to put you in a good position for permanent legal work.

Not only does this show your commitment to finding a job, but it also demonstrates that you are a naturally upbeat and positive person who makes their own luck – the type of colleague who would be a bonus to any law firm.

4. Opportunity for Work Experience

Locum work is a great way to get a varied and diverse range of experience – and fast.

If you are looking to change direction or upskill in your legal career, say you are thinking of retraining in property law, locum roles are a great way to gain experience and ability in a variety of roles and arm yourself with additional, critical soft skills such as communication, adaptability and attention to detail.

A locum role also allows you to keep up to date with your current skills and provides a chance to learn new hard skills such as the latest software packages or developing your presentation abilities.

Additionally, legal professionals with many years’ experience already under their belts offer employers the benefit of their valuable knowledge. Your experience will build your credibility and reputation in the marketplace, making you a desirable and in-demand employee as law firms recognise the benefits an experienced locum can bring to their firm.

5. Test the Waters

Locum work is also an excellent way to try before you buy.

So, if you are interested in working for a particular law firm taking a temporary role will enable you to see what they are like to work for, what the company culture is, what their staff development commitments are, as well as allowing you to get a general ‘feel’ for the firm.

If you want to try several firms, temping also offer a low-obligation way to assess each one and try several different roles. This gives you the space to think about where you want to go next before committing yourself to a permanent position.

6. Build Your Network

Locum work is the dream way to quickly build your network.

It allows you to rapidly grow contacts across a wide range of law firms and legal connections as well as establish links with the recruitment company that placed you in the role. This can play to your advantage as you can use the same recruitment company to access future locum roles!

7. Temporary to Permanent

Make a great impression, and your role may become permanent. Even if it doesn’t, already being in the firm and showing you can do a good job could put you first in line for consideration if a full-time legal role comes up, as you already have experience of working for the firm and they know you.

Starting out as a locum and ending up in a full-time position can be extremely rewarding. The advantages include not having to go through a period of being on probation, already being part of the team, acclimatised to your law firm’s culture and knowing your colleagues.

8. Work-Life Balance

Of course, not everyone enters locum positions as a stopgap before something permanent comes their way.

Locum roles offer the chance to have greater control over your career.

I see many candidates who prefer to temp on a permanent basis to avoid the stress and burn out which is so prevalent in many legal professions where individuals regularly work long hours.

Locum work can offer flexibility and the experience of meeting a wide range of people and doing different things. Learning about the various law firms you work for and gaining skills and knowledge quickly can be rewarding.

Additionally, temporary work can enable you to use this knowledge to move to more senior locum positions while still allowing you to choose when and where you work, resulting in a great work-life balance.

Finding the Right Locum Position

If you’re looking for a locum position, a knowledgeable specialist recruitment agency such as Clayton Legal can help steer you in the right direction.

We know the legal marketplace inside out and are familiar with working with individuals looking for temporary positions and clients seeking to engage temporary staff. Working with one contact, we will get to know you well: your interests, skills and qualifications and your preferences so we can make sure you find your dream locum role – or roles!

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Suffering End Of Year Career Blues, Is It Time to Leave?

  • September 15, 2019

Here we are, over halfway through the year already, and if you’re currently on a sun lounger sipping a cocktail (lucky you) enjoying a well-earned break, you may be thinking about your return to work and whether you’re currently happy in your career, or if it’s time for a change.

We all get the mid-career blues. And it can be for several reasons.

Perhaps you feel you have plateaued in your legal career, reaching a certain level of achievement but you can’t seem to break through to the next level?

Or you may be feeling a bit jaded in your current job role and looking for the thrill of something different?

Or maybe you really do think it’s time to up sticks and seek out a new career with a different law firm?

Spending some time asking yourself what the cause of your dissatisfaction stems from will enable you to make a rational decision on how to progress so that when you return after your summer break, you’re one hundred per cent committed and sure of your next steps.

So, let’s take a look at some of the things that could be stalling your career.

Have You Become Static in Your Current Law Career?

If you feel you have reached a plateau in your legal career, it may seem that there’s no way you can progress. Asking yourself what you ideally want to accomplish at work will help you decide the best way forward in this scenario.

There are several options to consider:

Make a lateral move. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for you to do a similar job elsewhere in your law firm but working in a different area. This would give you new day to day challenges and prevent you from feeling you are stagnating in the same job role.

Using the soft and hard skills you have already acquired in your career will set you up for success in a slightly different position as you will be able to adapt quickly to different tasks.

New tasks could also lift you up from a wellbeing point of view, improving your mental health and outlook and enabling you to feel positive about the future.

Become an expert in your area. If a move is not possible, you could consider becoming the ‘go-to’ person for information and expertise in your specialist area.

For example, if you are a Dispute Resolution Legal Secretary you could enhance your knowledge of IT so you are able to help others with IT-related questions.

Or if you are a Residential Conveyancing Fee Earner you could hone your customer service skills and knowledge to become an in-house trainer for colleagues.

By expanding your understanding of a specific area and developing your personal profile, you can soon become the name everyone thinks of first for advice or guidance.

Additionally, with your expertise, you could offer to train up new employees, giving both yourself and the firm a boost.

Consider an alternative to a salary increase. If there’s little chance of a pay increase in the foreseeable future within your law firm, have you considered other non-material rewards instead?

As well as the options of adjusting your working hours, having more flexibility with working from home will improve work-life balance – giving you more opportunity for activities outside the office: going to the gym, socialising with friends or spending time with your family.

It’s also worth remembering that by staying with your current firm, you could also enjoy less stress in your day to day job as you know what you are doing and what the firm’s goals are already.

This avoids the stress and anxiety that a new job can bring.

Are You Feeling Jaded in Your Current Role?

If you feel you have exhausted all opportunities within your current career specialism, it may be time to look for a new challenge.

Changing jobs is always a daunting prospect – especially if you have dependents, rent or mortgage repayments to think about, or even just a step outside of your comfort zone.

The Law Society offers practical advice on changing specialisms.

Although not for the faint-hearted, it is possible to take on a new challenge. This could be a move within your current firm from Property Law to Personal Injury, for example.

If you do decide to go down this path, being prepared is critical. Make sure you do the necessary research and be focused in your approach.

It takes courage to choose this route, but it could reap dividends in the long run.

Are You in Danger of Burn-Out?

The dangers of over-doing things at work and suffering burn-out, as a result, are very real.

There’s a lot of pressure on all employees these days, and especially on Senior Partners and Managers within a complex and competitive legal marketplace.

It’s crucial to remember that it’s vital that you remain mentally at the top of your game at work – you can’t run a legal firm with employees who are trying to burn the candle at both ends.

Something is going to crash and burn.

So, look after yourself.

Daily exercise, yoga, meditation, socialising with friends – whatever is your preferred way to relax away from your desk.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day (or by one person!)

Stop trying to do everything and make time in your life for relaxation to ensure you are in peak form physically and mentally when you are in the office.

Is It Time to Break Away and Look for Something New?

If you really can’t see a way forward in your current law firm, then perhaps it’s time to consider a move.

If you are considering this option, here are a few tips to help you plan your move:

  • Set up job alerts. Make sure you have registered with relevant career search sites online.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile as recruiters and hiring managers will be looking here to find out about you.
  • LinkedIn also provides the opportunity to seek employment and new challenges but beware of making this visible on your page unless your current manager is aware of your intentions!
  • Talk to colleagues you can trust at work and ask them to let you know of any opportunities. They can also provide an excellent sounding board for interview practice.
  • Contact a specialist legal recruiter to help you navigate the job market. They can offer valuable advice and have many contacts to help find the right job for you.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Why Does Your Legal Firm Need an Employer Branding Strategy?

  • June 15, 2019

What is Employer Branding?

First coined in the early 1990s, Employer Branding has become widely adopted across global management, gaining momentum as the preferred way businesses differentiate themselves in the marketplace to attract the best talent. Employer Branding focuses on your legal firm’s reputation as a place to work, the value proposition of its employees, and company culture.

Put simply, it is the essence that, according to LinkedIn, ‘lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your former, current, and future employees’.

Why Do You Need to Build an Employer Brand?

All employers have an employer brand, whether they are aware of it or not. The trick is to control your employer brand and ensure you are creating a strong presence, establishing credibility in the legal arena. It’s a useful tool to have, helping you showcase your brand and attract the best legal talent to work for you. Without it, recruiting can become challenging, especially in candidate short practice areas such as commercial and property law, to name just a couple.

You want to attract and hire the best legal talent to drive your practice forward, and so it’s crucial to have not only a great salary offer but added benefits such as career development opportunities and an inclusive culture to attract people to want to work for you. This will build your reputation and encourage staff retention, saving you time and money in the long run.

Improving Your Legal Brand – Key Steps

Define your message with your tone of voice. Consistency is imperative across all marketing from your website to correspondence, advertising to individual conversations. It should reflect your status and your role as a professional legal practice.

Be clear on company culture. The culture your workplace offers will make or break the hiring and retention of great legal staff. More and more, Millennials hitting the workplace now are looking for more than a good salary offer; they are attracted by company culture.

A recent Deloitte report states that 83% of Millennials become actively engaged in a job hunt if they believe the organisation fosters an inclusive culture experience. Also high on the list are career development opportunities, teamwork, a good work/life balance, and a cooperative and supportive environment.

Understand the perception of your brand. How do others see your firm? Are you maintaining your firms branding across online platforms? As these are often the first point of call for candidates (and your competitors) its essential to present a streamlined and consistent approach. Consider whether your brand reflects your aims, facilitates awareness and encourages brand loyalty.

Don’t underestimate Word of Mouth. Brand advocacy can influence how people perceive you. Getting the thumbs up from your employees is the icing on the cake. We live in a world where employees past and present can review their opinions on what it’s like to work for you online. What would your employees say about you? From the Receptionist or Paralegal, to a Legal Analyst or Senior Partner, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone is a brand ambassador, helping to positively build the firm.

It’s a fact that more people trust a recommendation from friend or colleagues than general marketing and advertising claims – peers, friends and acquaintances can tell you about their first-hand experience of a legal firm, so make sure yours is a great experience.

Move with the times. Technology can streamline your operations, ensuring a good experience for candidates and clients alike. It can save you time and money, and help build your brand as a positive experience. It also shows that you are quick to embrace progress and receptive to new ideas, planting a subconscious seed in the candidate’s mind that you are a progressive legal firm with their eye on the future.

Communicate like a real person. Let candidates see your human side. Profiles of the team including Heads of Practice and Senior Partners, and engaging testimonials from satisfied clients, will help attract talent that’s a good fit for your legal firm. Use social media to connect and showcase your brand to your target talent.

How Do You Know It’s Working?

It can be problematic to measure employer branding awareness. However, a drip feed method of communication using the brand does result in better brand recall. It can also heavily influence an
in-demand Senior Commercial Litigator’s decision to join your firm or your competitors.

There are several ways to measure employer brand awareness ROI, including traditional surveys and analytics. Conducted face to face, by email, or on your website, surveys are one of the easiest ways to check your employer branding is working, simply by asking your clients and candidates.

Analytics can measure blog shares (like this one!), an increase in social media engagement, external links, higher footfall to your website and improved online ranking via refined SEO. For more information on how to track these, see here.

The good news is that a few fundamental steps like these can improve your employer brand and help you attract, recruit and retain great legal employees who will want to stay with your firm. If you’ve found this advice helpful and would like to talk more about developing your strategies to recruit better candidates, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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What Makes a Winning LinkedIn Profile?

  • June 5, 2019

In today’s online world, your LinkedIn profile acts as a virtual CV, selling your value to potential employers and recruiters. With over 20 million profiles in the UK alone, its crucial to keep your LinkedIn information up to date, and to know what to include and what to leave out.

How long is it since you updated your profile? If you don’t have a profile, I would advise you to definitely create one now. Your online profile is the place to professionally broadcast your legal knowledge and value as an employee, demonstrate your skills and achievements and make you stand out from the crowd.

To ensure you’re making the most of your LinkedIn profile, it will help to follow the ten steps below. Keep in mind that specialist legal recruiters and employers may well be reading your profile, and set out to demonstrate professionalism, sending a message that conveys your attention to detail and the fact that you take your legal career seriously.

Invest Time

Firstly, you don’t want a partially written profile. One that looks as though you started it but got distracted. That doesn’t say professional, or that you complete things (and employers like completer finishers!) Any recruiter or employer looking at your profile will want to know where you’ve worked, all about your skills, and what co-workers and clients think of you, so make sure you complete the information.

The good news is that LinkedIn will check how complete your profile is as you work on it, and make recommendations as to how you can make it stronger.

Once you’ve written your profile, double-check it’s accurate, complete and up to date, and includes all your recent qualifications, experience, courses and testimonials.

Create an Attention-Grabbing Headline

The headline on your profile is the place to showcase your talents, speciality and value in the legal marketplace. It should be something that sets you above the competition and sparks interest in anyone viewing it. If you’re looking for a change in your legal career, it probably shouldn’t include your current job title and practice name. LinkedIn will automatically default to this, so take time to think of something different, and already you’re placing yourself as an individual with vision. For tips on avoiding terrible headlines, see here.

Are You Easy to Contact?

Contact details should be visible. Recruiters will want to get in touch with you – don’t make them search for your email or phone number. Do you have a professional URL? It’s worth considering this, as it conveys a professional attitude. On a similar note, keep in mind your email address. Is it portraying you as a legal professional? An amusing email address is fine for friends and family, but not for the workplace.

Include Professional Contacts

If you’re currently employed, have you ‘liked’ your legal firm’s website and any other relevant institutions? Include links to a personal work-related blog if you have one (if you don’t have one, why not?) to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in law. If you need advice on writing a professional blog, here are some useful tips.

Showcase Your Accomplishments

Think of a Head of Practice, Senior or Managing Partner, or HR Manager wanting to get to know you – what do you want to tell them? Obviously, you will want to include your qualifications, and remember to include any awards you have, projects you have been involved with or led on, and special events such as conferences you have attended.

Check out descriptions of the legal jobs you are interested in, and then include the keywords that recruiters may be searching for. Use bullet points to break up the text and draw attention to key points.

I’d recommend that you write in the first person to avoid sounding pretentious, and to give readers a flavour of your personality. Do you volunteer? Can you speak Russian? No-one wants to hire a robot, and these added extras will make you sound more attractive to would-be recruiters and employers.

Smile, You’re on Camera

A picture paints a thousand words. It will also give a great first impression of you to anyone viewing your profile, portraying professionalism, charisma and energy. The head and shoulders image should sit at the top of your profile. Heat mapping techniques show that people are drawn to a photograph, and a good one can get up to 14 times more views than an unprofessional or blurry image. Ensure your outfit is appropriate to your legal career aspirations, and try to smile; it’s not a police mug-shot!

Embrace Technology

To stand out and grab attention, consider including short videos and PowerPoints that link to your legal expertise. Photos and videos are a great way to bringing your work to life. Embracing technology in this way is also an indicator that you are open to new information, development and progress.

It’s Not (just) What you Know

Sharing content on your profile will demonstrate your connections. It will demonstrate you are a communicator who likes to stay on top of their game and has a finger on the pulse of the legal profession. Use it to your advantage.

Reviews are Good News

Following on from the last point, capitalise on endorsements from colleagues and clients as these are significant influencers to employers and recruiters. Think of the success of companies such as TripAdvisor. How often do you check out the reviews before buying a product or using a service? Endorsements will give your profile a boost and firmly place you as a professional in the legal world. To see the benefits of testimonials, click here.

Keep it Updated

So, you’ve done the hard work, but it’s not time to sit back and take a long rest. Establish a routine for keeping your status up to date, sharing articles, updating qualifications and experiences regularly.

Follow these ten steps, and you’ll have a powerful LinkedIn profile showcasing your skills, demonstrating your enthusiasm and personality, and cementing your interest in the legal world and its news. For further advice on standing out in the career race, click here.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Could A Return To Property Law Be Your Career Answer?

  • May 29, 2019

Yes, you did read the title right. Bear with me while I explain.

Like many of your peers, you invested several years of your life studying, securing a training contract and then specialising in property law.

Then, just as it seemed you could start building your PQE experience, we entered one of the worst economic recessions the country had seen in decades.

For you and, many other colleagues sadly, this meant redundancy.

What followed will have been different for each person. For many, it will have resulted in an element of ‘soul searching’ and asking questions such as:

  • What prompted me to choose a legal career in the first place?
  • Do I want to stay in the profession?
  • What are my options now?

…… and no doubt more questions than I can list here.

For others, it will have been a question of; So where are the opportunities now?

At the time, many conveyancing specialists retrained in areas that were growing at the time, such as commercial debt recovery, and consumer litigation.

Whatever choice you made as you continued to further your legal career, lets fast forward to today.

Perhaps you are now finding yourself thinking that your career isn’t quite where you expected it to be and the ‘Partnership’ you want hasn’t materialised.

Unfortunately, there are few signs you’ll ever secure the Partnership you want either, as you find yourself competing with colleagues who started their career in your current area of expertise and are four to eight years PQE; looking for that first Partner role too.

So what now? The logical choice may seem to be to move to a new firm within your current specialism where you can take the next step up the career ladder….

…….. Or is it?

Fact: There is a desperate shortage of Property lawyers. Clayton Legal’s own Regional Analysis Of Private Practice Latest Report shows an increase in Real Estate roles over the last few years. The data reveals that there are almost double the number of roles compared to the second most buoyant practice area, which is litigation and dispute resolution.

Fact: The lack of property law talent is a direct consequence of law firms failing to invest in training following the recession.

Fact: We have seen a boom in property development over recent years even though major land developers such as British Land and Land Securities Group await the outcome of Brexit.

Here’s a question for you?

Could your original first choice area of legal practice be where your future now lies?

What Are The Opportunities?

Property law is a buoyant area of practice, especially during periods of economic growth. While the economy makes its cyclic journey of rising and falling, the value of land, as an asset, has historically been high. Land and property are always being bought, leased, sold and developed.

With opportunities in both Residential and Commercial Property, you could choose to specialise in one or both. As you are fully aware, Commercial Property work involves private and public sector projects which consequently creates scope to provide legal services to a range of individuals from investors, and developers to government and public sector organisations.

How Easy Would It Be To Return To A Property Law Career And How do I go About It?

Let’s answer a few questions that might now be going on in your mind.

Yes, it would mean some update training. Central Law Training provides a range of programmes depending on which specific area of property law you decide to make a return to.

A common question the team at Clayton Legal are asked is, “But I only have three years PQE in property would it be a backward step in my Partner ambitions as I am now eight years PQE.”

It’s a valid question, and the reality is that no, it doesn’t have to. You have already acknowledged that your Partner ambitions are being hindered in your current area of practice, which potentially means so are some of your personal goals and aspirations.

This begs the question: Is it time to step forward and focus on the positives of a return to property law?

Here are some initial steps to take as you consider this potential change.

Step 1: Use Your Expertise

Identify your key strengths and transferable skills which you can convincingly demonstrate to a future employer. You have been operating in your current area of law successfully and will have acquired a wealth of skills that can sometimes be taken for granted. These are often skill areas that a new property law employer would value.

Step 2: Make A Decision

Decide which area of property law you wish to return to and specialise in. Now it’s time to start your research and have conversations with colleagues, friends and acquaintances currently working in a property practice. Attend some professional events and begin updating yourself.

The more informed you are, the more it will help you make a decision.

Step 3: Your Re training Needs?

Identify what training courses you would be required to attend to return to property law moreover, what’s available in the market?

Step 4: Tap Into Your Network

What contacts do you still have in the property sector? How can they help?

Whom do they know who may be recruiting, are they willing to make an introduction to have an exploratory conversation?

Revisit your LinkedIn connections and start re-establishing and nurturing relationships that have lapsed.

As I mentioned above, take the time to do your research so that if and when you decide to go ahead and make a return to your first choice in law that you have set yourself up for success.

Step 5: Talk With A Specialist Recruitment Company

Of course, you can search and apply direct for your new role; however, why not tap into the market knowledge and expertise of a specialist recruiter. They are there to answer questions and guide you
as you take a new direction in your career.

A specialist legal recruitment company such as Clayton Legal will have in-depth market insight into Regional opportunities and which roles and firms would be a fit and match for you.

Returning to a specialism isn’t as common as retraining for a new specialism, and it doesn’t mean that it can’t and doesn’t happen. We have clients who are asking weekly, “Do you know any property lawyers who would consider returning to the practice area?”

If you feel your career has stalled and are wondering what’s next, could a return to property law be a solution?

Call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s to have a conversation to explore what’s possible in more detail. With our help, your transition to a revitalised career can be smoother and quicker.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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7 Things Successful Legal Professionals Do Every Day

  • May 25, 2019

The most successful people in life recognise one crucial truth: time is the most precious commodity you have, and success is found through using the time you have effectively.

How you go about tackling your working day is the difference between success, mediocrity, and failure.

Here are 7 daily strategies for success utilised by highly effective legal professionals that are worth adopting if you want to stand out in your legal career.

1. They have a morning routine which sets them up for the day.

Highly successful people everywhere have in common an established morning routine such as early rising and exercise. In addition to an early workout, they may meditate or have breakfast with a loved one, and they will always take some time to plan their day.

Successful legal professionals might also use their productive morning time to focus on professional development or some type of continued learning, in the form of reading legal journals or law-related books, following or commenting on online forums or working on industry-related articles for publication.

2. They recognise their most crucial task and focus on it fully.

Most of us tend to avoid our most challenging tasks on a given day. Successful professionals, however, don’t shy away from or procrastinate on doing their most challenging work – they face it head on, first thing, and focus on it fully.

For most successful professionals, this is part of their morning routine. If you can finish (or at least get a good start on) your biggest task at the beginning of your work day, not only does it relieve a lot of stress and free up a lot of mental energy, it also helps to make you more optimistic and productive throughout the rest of your day.

For example, a criminal lawyer might spend her morning writing or researching a case.

3. They don’t get distracted by email or social media.

Whether we’re asking or answering client-related questions or waiting on their responses, legal professionals spend a lot of time dealing with email. In fact, we often feel like if we don’t respond promptly enough to emails, we may risk losing a client or missing a networking opportunity.

But the reality is that these constant distractions to answer emails or social media notifications only break our concentration and diminish our performance on our actual work.

Successful legal professionals know the secret to productivity and mental concentration: just unplug. Even if it’s only for an hour once a day, close your email application, put your mobile on silent in your desk drawer, and give yourself time to focus. Better yet, turn off your notifications and allocate a set time each day to deal with emails.

3. They rely on calendars over to-do lists.

To-do lists should be renamed ‘probably never do’ lists: only 41% of tasks on to-do lists ever get done! Successful people know that if something is to be done, it must be scheduled, rather than merely written on a long list.

Successful people break up their working week into very small blocks of time (15-minute increments or more) and follow that calendar religiously. When things run over-time, as they inevitably sometimes will, they reschedule the task, rather than leaving it to languish on a ‘to-do’ list.

5. They act on things straight away.

Successful professionals live by the ‘touch it once’ rule. This means that, wherever possible, you should deal with things immediately, to avoid the task hanging over you and taking up your mental energy.

So for example, when a great legal secretary gets an email about scheduling an upcoming meeting or a phone call from a potential witness, they will deal with it straight away – or at the very least, go to their calendar and schedule time in to deal with it, so that their mind is free to concentrate on their next task.

6. They lead a balanced life.

There is a lot of pressure in the legal profession to always be working. However, you can’t tackle everything in one day, so stop trying to. Remember, the most important assets in your practice are your mental faculties and social skills; if you neglect your work-life balance by burning the candle at both ends, you will eventually burn out and crash hard.

In addition to daily exercise, maintaining work/life balance is a proven way of reducing work-related stress. A healthy, balanced life is necessary if you are going to have the mental agility to be successful in your career for the long term, which is why successful legal professionals understand the importance of making time for themselves and the other people in their lives.

It is also essential to consider why you want success. Most of us want monetary success to support our lifestyles and families; however, if you neglect your life and family along the way, what success will you have achieved?

7. They’re not afraid to fail

The number one reason why many people never succeed in attaining their goals in life is that they never try. While the prospect of failing to achieve your ambitions can be scary, you shouldn’t let it stop you from trying.

In reality, success is typically built on a series of failures and lessons learned. Do not let your past failures weigh you down or make you feel like a failure. Successful people learn from failures every day and recognise that so long as they do, they are still on the road to success.

The truth is, you’ll only be holding back your career if you never learn to step outside of your comfort zone. So take that leap you have been putting off. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You never know; it could be the leap that changes your life.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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Take The Stress Out Of Your Legal Job Search: Use A Specialist Recruiter

  • May 1, 2019

It’s a fact: looking for the right job to advance your legal career is not only time-consuming and exhausting; it’s also really stressful – especially if you’re trying to do it all on your own.

While a little stress might be useful for certain situations, it can wear you down quickly, robbing you of crucial energy and motivation – not exactly helpful when you’re trying to network and make the right first impression on prospective employers.

Why make things harder on yourself than they need to be? By enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter like Clayton Legal, you’ll save yourself time as well as hassle.

Here are some of the many benefits you’ll gain from working with a specialist recruiter to find your next legal role.

They Save You Time

Looking for a new job on your own can be a very daunting and time-consuming process, especially if you’re already employed and are trying to find a better role elsewhere. A good specialist recruitment agency like Clayton Legal can help speed up the entire process. Due to their network, connections and knowledge of the industry, what might have taken you months can be achieved in weeks or even days. In some cases, consultants know in advance if a particular firm will be looking before a vacancy is even posted.

Leading firms often utilise agencies, because it’s a more efficient way for them to hire the right person. Rather than searching for opportunities that may not be visible online, you could save considerable time by working with an expert.

They Have Insightful Industry Knowledge And Connections

While job boards can be a useful resource for identifying opportunities, firms will often use their network and their recruitment company’s network to seek the right people for most fee-earner/ niche roles, rather than advertising them online. The reason for this is that candidates who are right for these particular roles are often in demand and may not be actively seeking new employment opportunities.

With a recruiter, on the other hand, you will receive information about all of the relevant roles in the industry. A specialist recruiter has a specific network among the law firms within your area to help you get the best opportunities, even the ones you wouldn’t otherwise know about. Having access to this insider knowledge could be especially useful in situations where the vacancies that suit your skill set are few and far between.

By acting as a representative for both you and the firm, a specialist recruiter will facilitate the communication process, as well as ensuring that the firm you are interested in is a good cultural fit for you.

They Can Help You Prepare For Interviews

Certainly, the most stressful part of searching for any new job is the interview stage. Interviews can be daunting, especially if it has been a while since your last one. However, a specialist recruitment consultant can help you to prepare for your big day; by sharing their insight and experience about the firm, its culture and the role, they will give you the necessary insights to ace your legal interview.

From helping you with body language and travel logistics to knowing how to answer those tricky interview questions, your consultant has a wealth of information and insight – make sure that you seek their help in preparing for your next legal interview.

They Will Negotiate The Best Deal For You

Getting an offer of employment for a role that you really want is half the battle; the other half is of course getting what you want (and feel you’re worth) in terms of remuneration. Fee negotiation can often be a tricky and awkward conversation with a future employer, so let your recruiter do the difficult work for you. In addition to ensuring that you get the best possible deal when it comes to pay and benefits, they will also help you understand the longer-term prospects – i.e. training and development opportunities – that will be available to you.

Your Success Is Their Success

Enlisting the expertise of a specialist recruiter will not only increase your knowledge of the current market but will also give you insight into exactly what potential employers are looking for. Once they have a clear idea of what you want from a role, a recruiter can prepare your CV and present it to several clients who meet your needs. It is therefore important to make sure that you clearly define your needs and expectations with your recruiter.

It’s in their own best interest for a specialist recruiter to be selective on your behalf; by choosing the most suitable roles for their candidates to maximize success, they not only reduce the competition but give you a higher chance of being hired. The bottom line is, if you’re successful in your new role, then they’re successful with their client – it’s a win-win for everyone.

It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with recruiters you’ve previously worked with, even when you’re not actively looking. In addition to making the most of a consultant’s expertise in getting a particular role, you should think of your recruiter as a partner for your long-term career progression; by building a relationship with them over time, you can secure better opportunities for yourself in the future.

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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The 4 benefits of locum: What’s not to appreciate about this choice

  • March 7, 2019

A temporary legal role might not be something you have considered to develop your law career, but it can be an incredibly effective way to start paving the way for your legal career acceleration.

Did you know that Johnny Depp took a role as a temporary salesman selling ballpoint pens of all things to help him develop his tenacity or that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates began their world-changing professions with internships, as did Michelle Obama?

Today’s business world is changing, and a permanent position isn’t the only option to develop your legal career.

In this week’s post, we’ll look at five reasons why a temporary role might be the perfect way to scale your career.

1. You Will Develop New Experience and Skills

Employers are always searching for the top-performing legal candidates. In today’s skill short market temporary work can provide a great development solution for people who want to expand their horizons, fill up their CV and experience new legal avenues.

With a temporary legal role, you can work with a number of different firms before you choose the organisation that’s right for you.

A temporary assignment can help you to discover what your true skills really are. What’s more, you’ll be able to adapt to different management styles and company cultures, so you know what environment supports your growth and which doesn’t.

2. It’s a Way to Use Your CV As a True Selling Document

Temporary roles allow you to reduce any awkward blanks in your history while gathering as much experience as possible; something legal firms are looking for.

The historic legal career path of finding a firm and staying for life is no longer the case. The market is full of movement which is a good thing.

Our clients at Clayton Legal are looking for candidates who have a broad range of experience that can add value at all levels to their growing firm.

3. You Can Discover New Roles and Legal Disciplines

If you’re not sure which direction you want your legal career to go and you’re keen to explore new companies or firms, then a temporary role offers unparalleled opportunities for research.

You can get to know your employer while demonstrating your value. The more experience you get, the more you’ll earn the attention of future hiring managers capable of offering more significant responsibilities, better remuneration, and faster paths to advancement. 

For instance, at Clayton Legal, we recruit for both permanent and temporary roles. The more experience you have in different companies, the more you’ll learn about what you really want and what is important to you.

4. A Temporary Role Can Quickly Become a Permanent Job

Finally, one of the best things about temp assignments is that they don’t have to stay temporary forever. The more you demonstrate your exceptional work ethic and professional value, the more likely you are to transform that transitionary role into a permanent position.

When spaces appear within a team, companies are more likely to offer the hours available to a temporary employee who has already proven their worth than begin looking for a candidate from scratch.

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.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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