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The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

So, you’ve made it through most of the complex steps involved in finding a new role, from designing the ideal legal CV to practicing interview techniques. Finally, all your hard work has paid off, and you’ve received an excellent offer from your new employer.  

But, what happens when you hand over your resignation letter and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?  

Anywhere up to 50% of the employees who choose to resign from a role will receive a counteroffer from their current employer. In other words, they will finally offer you the additional money or benefits they didn’t consider offering you before they realised you wanted to leave. 

In the age of the Great Resignation, when demand for legal talent is higher than ever, your chances of getting a counteroffer are even higher than ever before, as many law firms are battling with retention of their top team members and attracting the best talent on the market at the same time. 

While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, if that’s what you are looking for, accepting a counteroffer could be a bad move for your future career.  

Here are the reasons why you should usually ignore a counteroffer. 

Reasons You Should Consider Saying “No” to a Counteroffer

Counteroffers are becoming more commonplace as leaders struggle to hold onto their top talent in a skills-short environment. Unfortunately, according to statistics, around 80% of the people who accept these offers end up leaving their original employer within six months anyway as the underlying issues as to why there were leaving in the first place still exist.  

Here’s why you should politely but firmly decline a counteroffer.  

1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues

Deciding to seek a new legal role isn’t something most people will do on a whim. There’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of leaving your current job and looking for something else before you take the leap. 

When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one of your problems with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every issue that convinced you to leave.  

Ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place. Is your current role not challenging enough, or are you planning on moving in a new direction with your career? Maybe you don’t like the culture of your existing company. If every issue isn’t resolved by the counteroffer, you should say “no” and continue to move on with your new employment offer.  

2. The Relationship with Your Employer will Change

Employees in the competitive legal sector have every right to seek new roles whenever they choose. However, letting your employer know you’re not happy in your role and actively looking for something else is likely to have an impact on your relationship 

There’s a good chance your employer will have questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, which means they may not have the same trust in you they had before. Your employer might end up passing you over for promotions because they consider you a flight risk, or they may start looking for other people to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually switch jobs.  

Even if your boss goes in the other direction and starts working harder to keep you happy, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable dynamic in play until you do eventually leave. 

3. You May End Up Standing Still

Career development often involves moving between different roles, exploring new jobs, and taking on new responsibilities over the years. While you can climb the ladder in one law firm and end up with a great career, consistently staying in one place could mean you miss out on opportunities to expand your skills and experience.  

When deciding whether a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if you’ll still be moving towards your long-term career goals if you say yes and stay put. Compared to the other job you have lined up, can your existing role help you achieve your targets faster? 

A higher salary won’t satisfy you for long if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important to keep the end goal in mind with your career and not get clouded by monetary values.  

4. You May Have to Work Harder to Prove Yourself

In a skills-short legal marketplace, employers will often rush to offer extra benefits and increased salaries to avoid the stress of searching for new employees. However, this could mean they start looking for evidence you’re worth the extra investment right away.  

Having extra scrutiny placed on everything you do within the business can be a stressful experience, even if you know you deserve the extra benefits you received.  

In some cases, employees who accept counteroffers find themselves under pressure to perform like a new hire all over again, trying to prove they deserve their new salary and responsibilities. In other cases, you may find that you start receiving responsibilities you didn’t ask for simply because your boss is trying to ensure they’re getting their “money’s worth” from you.  

5. You’ll Always Wonder, “What If?”

Job changes can be stressful and worrying, but they’re also an incredible opportunity to unlock your true potential and advance your career. If you’ve been offered a role at another company, and you’ve said “yes”, there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.  

Maybe you loved the idea of working remotely in the legal environment and don’t have an opportunity to do that at your new job. Perhaps you were interested in focusing on a slightly different part of your industry in a different role and that desire will always be there if you stay in your current role. 

Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get used to a new workplace and meet new people, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into the new job.  

Know How to Handle a Counteroffer

It’s worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance when you approach your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how you will reject the offer politely and firmly, and what important factors might convince you to give your old job a second chance.  

Working with a specialist legal recruitment team to find the ideal new role will help to ensure you don’t have any doubts about moving into your new position.   

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. 

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Time to move on? Top 10 Tips to resign gracefully

  • July 13, 2022

With the prospect of a new role on the horizon, arguably the hard bit is done. You have aced your interviews, impressed your new Firm, and are no doubt looking to the future and the next steps in your career.

But even with the excitement of a new legal position looming, there is still an incredibly important step to take in making that move – handing in your resignation to your current Firm.

Here we offer our top tips on how to address this often-uncomfortable conversation – and ultimately remain professional, and on good terms as you exit the business.

1. Communicate to your Manager first

With an exciting new role to look forward to, it can be tempting to tell close associates and friends, however the first person who should hear about it is your reporting manager. If a senior partner, or even your Manager themselves hears about your intention to leave from another colleague, it goes without saying that it won’t leave a favourable impression which is ultimately what a well-thought our resignation is trying to achieve.

Arrange a time to speak to your Manager and let them know the situation first. Face to face is ideal as it minimises any misunderstandings or miscommunication, although video call would also work well for those who work remotely or in order to expediate the process.  It is best practice to verbally tell your Manager of your intention to leave along with the reasons that have led to that decision as it is highly likely that you will be asked both why you are leaving and where you are going to – so it’s wise to have a response planned.

 

2. Be prepared for conversations around negotiation

Whatever the reason or reasons for leaving your current firm, it is always worth having a preliminary conversation before you start looking for new opportunities, to see if those initial reasons may be overcome. If, however that conversation didn’t take place, you should nevertheless consider what you would do should a counter-offer be on the table once your make your intention to resign clear.

In the current market, where demand for legal professionals is outstripping supply, this is exceptionally common, so you need to at least be prepared for such a scenario and ask yourself, would you actually accept a counter-offer?. The answer to that lies in ultimately revisiting the reasons you wish to leave in the first place.

Counter-offers take many forms including increased pay, a promotion, enhanced benefits, or a combination of all of those, and there is no doubt that it can feel flattering to be in that position. However, research suggests that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer tend to leave within 6-12 months of accepting. Is it likely you’ll also be part of that statistic?

 

3. Prepare your resignation letter

Once the decision to leave is final, you must put this in writing. When it comes to your resignation letter, it should be short and polite. Within the letter itself, it is not necessary to justify your reasons for leaving your current law firm or go into lengthy explanations as you can are likely to have (or have had) a more informal chat about this with your reporting Manager. The document is simply to cover the legalities of ending your contractual agreement with your employer and will be kept on record, so details like the date of the notice, confirmation of notice period, and last working day should be accurate.

You may wish to use the formal communication as an opportunity to highlight things you are grateful for – skills you have learnt, help and advice you have received, and opportunities to boost your legal career that have been offered, but that is not mandatory. Do, however avoid the temptation to criticise your colleagues, boss, partners or clients.

 

4. Discuss Those Finer Details

Your Manager will mostly likely want to discuss with you the finer details around how and when you will let colleagues know you are leaving. You may wish to inform them individually, or as a group, or have your Manager tell them for you.

You also need to confirm your notice period and how this effects your new role start date. This should be communicated clearly in your contract of employment, but it is always worth a conversation on whether it is realistic to shorten this (if desired by any party) or even extended on request.

Whether your notice period is 2 weeks, 2 months or anything in between, its important you are aware of this before giving your new employer a start date that you may not be able to commit to. Be prepared that in some cases, you may be placed on gardening leave rather than working your notice period.

Garden leave (or gardening leave) is when an employer tells an employee not to work either part or all of their notice period. This could be because the employer does not want the employee to have access to sensitive or confidential information they could use in a new job (Source: ACAS) In this case, you are still employed by your employer, just not working for them and therefore you are still entitled to your salary and contractual agreements in this period of time.

 

5. Plan A Robust Handover

Scheduling time to plan for a smooth transition shows you to be a true legal professional and not someone who leaves a law firm or an employer in the lurch, or projects unfinished. Think about your specific areas of responsibility – current caseloads, unfinished assigments, urgent jobs and upcoming commitments, as well as information on your clients that your successor or wider team will need.

If possible, invest some time in training up your successor, or at least making formal handover notes, to ensure you minimise the impact on the firm when you leave and once again, keep the working relationship positive.

 

6. Start Clearing Your Desk

Once colleagues are aware that you are leaving, you can start to clear your desk so that it’s ready for the next occupant. Removing paperwork, filing and archiving, binning wastepaper and taking personal items such as photographs home will ensure your workplace is ready, clean and welcoming for the next person.

 

7. Stay Committed

It may be tempting to spend time planning what you will do in your upcoming new legal role (and if time permits, there is definitely merit in keeping in touch with your new employer during your notice period – following their social media accounts to keep track of the latest news, be aware of any networking events etc) but nevertheless, you are still being paid to do your current job – so it’s important to remain committed to that role until the very end.

Remaining an active team player, working hard up to the last minute and completing casework where possible will be noted by colleagues and your employer and will ensure you leave on a positive note – and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

 

8. Embrace The Exit Interview

If you are offered an exit interview by your law firm, it’s always a good idea to take that opportunity while you can. These usually take place between yourself and a HR manager and are aimed at establishing any way in which they can improve the firm or addressing issues of which they may be unaware of.

While you can, at this point, bring to light any concerns you might have, keep your observations professional and your criticism constructive, always keeping in mind not to burn any bridges.

Taking these steps will not only provide closure on your previous role but will ensure you leave your law firm a well-respected and professional ex-colleague, with whom your former team and senior partners will be happy to network with and recommend in the future.

 

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 and market insight, your transition can be smoother and quicker – and get you the outcome you’re looking for.

 

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.

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

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Legal Sector Hiring Trends: What Is Happening In The Market

The last few years have certainly seen monumental shifts in the hiring landscape from talent shortages to remote and flexible working.

There is more to come. The impact of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation due to fuel costs and supply chain issues will undoubtedly impact even more candidate decisions to move for more money as the year progresses.

At the end of 2021, there was a record 1.2 million vacancies according to the O.N.S. across all sectors in the U.K. More than fifty per cent of companies reporting staff shortages said they were struggling to fill vacancies.

Unemployment continues to decline, falling to 1.4 million in the three months to October 2021. While unemployment is still above levels before the pandemic, it is now below the average level in the five years before the beginning of quarter one of 2020.

Before we dive into the legal landscape, let us look at recruiting across other sectors first, which naturally will impact the business growth of the legal sector.

The Hiring Trends Index

The hiring trends index reveals that vacancies reached a record high in quarter one, although the growth rate is slowing down compared to the end of last year.

In the recruitment sector, this is known as a candidate-driven market. This is demonstrated by the fact that over forty per cent of businesses have increased their recruitment since the start of the year.

Most companies plan to keep hiring this year, with only 4% planning to decrease recruitment in Q2 2022.

A few points of note from the index, which are present across many legal firms in the U.K., is that companies are seeing an increase of over 20% in hours worked, resulting in one in ten employees leaving because they ‘feel’ overworked. This is connected to over a quarter of employers being concerned about their staff’s mental wellbeing.

All parts add to a complex hiring equation playing out for legal firms across the U.K.

The War For Legal Talent Will Get Worse

In a recent Law.com post, several U.K. law firm leaders were interviewed about their predictions for 2022. The war for legal talent was a key area for discussion on the back of an increasingly dynamic legal landscape in 2022.

Though several leaders predict a slowdown of the transactional surge that occurred in the last half of 2021, they anticipate a rise in restructuring, insolvency, and dispute work, which will continue to fuel what many call an “unsustainable” war between firms to attract the best.

In today’s marketplace, firms need to consider their benefits package overall. Though increased pay rises and higher salaries will carry on, law firms will have to focus more on aspects such as their company culture, the quality of clients they work with and how they look after and develop their staff.

This was backed up by a recent post in The Guardian, where Jon Boys, the labour market economist at the C.I.P.D. confirmed what is happening across the country. Employers are working harder than ever to keep their staff ‘happy’ and do more for them, be that better clients to work with or the option for flexible working.

As a result of market conditions, many firms are coming to the Clayton team seeking advice on how to improve their employer value proposition in the market, from salaries to looking at alternative working patterns that offer greater flexibility.

Work-life balance is no longer simply a buzzword in the H.R. departments of law firms that want to attract the right legal talent for their growth. Working hard is a given in most law firms; however, many legal candidates are actively considering moving to a more empathetic firm that will allow them to create some balance in their lives.

Alison Brown, an executive partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, a respected international firm, when interviewed by Law.com, also commented that firms need to create a culture that appeals to people. Giving people the best work with work-life balance would be the differentiator when legal candidates choose their next employer.

In summary, candidates are willing to move firms, but with an abundance of choice in such a competitive market, it remains a challenge for employers to truly stand out and offer compelling job opportunities in a Firm that has an already strong employer brand, and is able to articulate it’s vision, culture, and wider employer value proposition.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. 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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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Standing Out on Social To Attract The Legal Talent You Want

Love it or loathe it, social media continues to have a major impact on the world, from breaking news to building businesses.

During the first part of 2020, the number of people using social media hit an all-time high. We all clambered for connection and collaboration to understand what was going on in the world and how this might impact our professional and personal lives.

Data from Statistic, the number one global business data platform, reveals how many people use social media currently in 2022.

Social Media Stats That Might Shock You

I am writing this post in May 2022, so the figure for most channels will have increased depending on when you read this.

With roughly 2.91 billion monthly active users as of the fourth quarter of 2021, Facebook is the most used online social network worldwide. There are approximately 42 million U.K. Facebook users.

With the U.K. population being around sixty-seven million, over 75% of the U.K. have a Facebook account.

Instagram has 1.1 billion users worldwide, with approximately 31 million of these residing in the U.K.

LinkedIn has 810 million global members. In March 2022, LinkedIn had over 33 million users in the United Kingdom, of which 56.5 per cent were aged between 25 and 34 years old. Overall, 23.5 per cent of users were aged between 35 to 54 years old.

Twitter is losing popularity, although there are still over 200 million users globally with just over 18 million active accounts here in the U.K. It remains to be seen what the impact of Elon Musk’s recent interest will be.

The latest social platform everyone is talking about, TikTok, has over a billion users, though only 8.9 million registered U.K. accounts as of January this year.

The term ‘social’ is general and covers multiple channels.

So, if you consider the likes of YouTube, with over 2.6 billion users and podcast listeners growing exponentially and predicted to hit 120 million listeners this year, I suspect the volume of users you could access with your business and talent attraction messages may have surprised you.

Many law firms invest in marketing and business development, and I am sure your legal marketers understand how pivotal social media is as you build brand awareness. Alongside a Google search, social channels are often the first place a prospective client can find you and get a sense of whether you are the law firm to work with.

You only need to look at your own behaviours as you search for a supplier. I suspect you will check them out online first before engaging with them.

Here is the thing; this is exactly what legal candidates do before they agree for us to send their CV across. They want to know if you are the law firm that ticks all their boxes.

No matter your personal opinion of social media, the multiple channels we all have access to can enable law firms across the U.K. to control the narrative of their brand to impact their business growth, AND in relation to talent attraction, highlight your law firm as the one to join.

Let us explore how you might do this.

Understand What Legal Talent Wants

Here at Clayton Legal, we have placed over 5,000+ legal professionals during the last twenty-three years, and every day across our team, we are in consultation with hundreds of candidates who share what they now want in their legal roles.

The best legal talent knows their worth more than ever and are looking for a position that challenges them yet also where they are part of an inclusive culture and have great clients to work with while having the ability to reclaim balance in their lives.

Knowing what legal candidates are looking for, how are you communicating ‘why you’ across your social channels?

Picking Your Channels

Earlier in the post, I shared all of the current main social channels worth considering as you build the conversation about your law firm.

Legal talent and clients can potentially find you anywhere; therefore, make sure you have claimed and are using all the channels I have mentioned. A quick Google search of the U.K.s top law firms reveals they have a presence across the board on social media.

Because of the volume of users of social having a presence will also improve your visibility on the search engines. Clifford Chance is a well-recognised and respected firm that dominates page one of Google with its LinkedIn, Youtube and Twitter channels.

Build a Content Plan and Use Multi-Media

LinkedIn is a natural vehicle to build your profile. The current platform allows you to have a company page, a newsletter, and personal profiles for every team member.

Your company page is easy to follow and allows you to share the level of clients you work with and your firm’s culture.

Share your CSR activities and celebrate the team and what they are achieving consistently.

And if your partner’s profiles are not communication channels for your law firm, they need to be. As we all know, the legal market is a tight-knit community, and your firm’s leading lights can be a magnet that attracts the level of candidates you want.

As an experienced legal recruiter, we can find the top talent you want though confirming you are the firm to join needs your input.

Video, photographs, podcasts, and content can be huge convincers of what it could be like to join your legal family; therefore, communicating consistently is key.

Social media is the ideal platform to communicate your employer value proposition; we wrote an article last month on how to re-energise your legal employer brand that you can access here.

Remember that all social channels are free to join; however, you can advertise inexpensively on all major platforms.

The acceleration of the capability of A.I. means that you can increase the reach of your impact to clearly defined audiences across the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Your Recruitment Partner Can Help

When it comes to understanding what legal candidates want and how to communicate this out into the market, we can help. We have detailed knowledge about what is important and key now; therefore, we can help you navigate the process and create your plan.

Because of our time and connections in the market, we can find the talent you want; however, your input is needed as you demonstrate what a career move could be like when they choose you.

What Next?

Though many workplace sectors experienced poor growth last year, the legal sector was not one of them. Therefore, it is vital to stand out in your market more than ever. For a conversation about your legal talent growth plan, do not hesitate to contact one of our team here.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. 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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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Your Legal Career Checklist

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed to what extent you are meeting your career objectives?

And I don’t mean your annual review with your line manager; I’m talking about your deeply personal career goals and intentions.

Wherever you are in your career journey, it is a good idea to periodically analyse your current position depending on where you want to be. When you dig a little deeper, is everything on track and working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to meet your goals?

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created the following checklist to provide you with a snapshot of whether you’re on the right track.

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to remember the reasons you got into your current role in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – did you plan on making a certain amount of money in a specific timeframe?

Was your move into your current role related to what was going on in your personal life? For example, were you about to leave home, get married or were you saving for a deposit for a house?

And also, what is important to you about the company you work for? Do you fit in with your company’s culture? Do you have a good working relationship with your colleagues and managers?

If your current role or company is not fulfilling you in the way you had hoped, or if the pace has slowed down recently, it could be a sign that you need to start making some big career decisions – is it time to move organisations?

Read each statement below and decide on how much you agree, using the following scale –

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

1. I am progressing the way I want in my career.

2. I have achieved some of my career goals, and others are within reach.

3. I enjoy my work and look forward to going in each day.

4. The people I work with are very supportive and friendly.

5. I feel like a valued member of the team I work within.

6. My manager gives me the right balance between support/guidance and working under my initiative.

7. I feel I make a difference within the company I work for, rather than just being a number.

8. The company I work for really invests in supporting me to achieve my goals.

9. I can see a clear progression path within my current company.

10. I am happy with the level of training and personal development offered by my current employer.

11. The company I work for believes in me and trusts me to do my job well.

12. I feel that my company enables and supports my focus.

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

15. I am happy with the location of and commute to my place of work.

16. I feel my company offer a fair and competitive commission structure (if applicable).

17. The monetary remuneration I receive has enabled me to achieve goals in my personal life (i.e. buy a house, go on my dream holiday, etc.)

18. I feel I have the right work/life balance working for my current company.

19. I am happy with the way my working day is structured.

20. I can see myself staying with this company for a long time.

What Did You Score?

Tally up what you scored and take a look below at some of the points you may want to consider when thinking about how you want your career to progress in the future:

 

20-40

Alarm Bells! This score says your career isn’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying your current role. We suggest thinking about why you aren’t enjoying your position or not achieving what you want. It might be time for you to move on or think about whether your current company or role is for you. Do you need a more supportive environment, better career progression, or even a change of sector?

 

41-60

Room for More A better score, which suggests you enjoy aspects of your job, but there’s lots of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but you feel you aren’t personally getting the support you need to achieve your career and personal goals. You need to consider if you can see changes happening in your current company by speaking to your manager, or if you feel working here has run its course and to progress, you need to move on.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals You’re neither very happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as completely engaged. Which means that if the right opportunity came your way, you would consider it. When you feel this way, sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You need to decide if you want to move, why is this? Understand if it’s just a case of you only feel like this when you have a bad day or if it’s more often.

81+

Loving Life and Your Job You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy the place you work. There may be small elements that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough to make you think about working somewhere else. However, we suggest you don’t become complacent. Sometimes, being in a company for too long can demotivate you in the long run. If you’ve been working with the same company for a while, is it time for a fresh challenge with new people?

 

If this checklist has prompted you to think harder about what your current role and company are providing you with, and it has made you realise that now is time for a change, then get in touch with Clayton Legal today. We can help you in deciding what step to take next to further your Legal career.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Why Soft Skill Development Will Be A Success Factor In Your Growth This Year

  • March 8, 2022

Last week, I watched an old comedy re-run and interview featuring Joan Rivers, an iconic U.S. comedian.

During the interview, she shared a quote; “life doesn’t get better; you get better”.

Something to consider for lawyers but in a different context; let me explain.

Studying the law and gaining experience to then practice takes years. The shortest possible time is around seven. Unfortunately, it does not stop there to be truly successful in your legal role.

Enter the ability to develop your soft skills.

Soft Skills For Growth

Functional or hard skills are one skill area to develop. Yet, the skills that make the most difference to accelerating your legal career or growing your law firm are the ‘soft skills’ that will help you manage your mind, communicate well consistently, and influence your team to improve their performance.

Here at Clayton Legal, we help our clients craft role descriptions for candidates who are critical for their firm’s growth.

Alongside this, we assist legal candidates in developing their legal careers where we consistently share the softer skills that need to be developed.

Self-Awareness

One of the key challenges when managing and developing a team is a lack of self-awareness from the employee.

You will hear the term emotional intelligence shared in many circles. The term was defined as a person’s ability to manage their feelings and to express those feelings appropriately and effectively.

The original book on this topic is worth getting from Amazon by Daniel Goleman.

Who has not come across a colleague in the practice who has zero idea about their impact on others? Only last week, a paralegal candidate approached us looking for a new role because of the behaviour of a new partner in the firm; yes, managers can lack self-awareness too.

It appears that every morning the manager in question would appear with a sore head, grumbling and snapping at people. The individual had no idea how his behaviour affected the team.

Self-awareness also covers motivation, empathy, self-regulation, and appropriate social skills.

Communication Skills

The legal profession includes people with effective communication skills. Summing up a case or communicating options to a client jargon-free are all expected skills. However, talking over team members in a practice meeting does not demonstrate communication excellence.

A large part of being a great communicator is the ability to listen. We can all tell the difference when someone hears the words you are saying or when they are actively listening.

As an experiment, notice how often people have their phones open during conversations or look over your shoulder at other people and what’s going on when speaking with you; worse, they sit on the edge of their seat waiting to interrupt.

I hope I have not just described you.

Active listeners, meanwhile, pay close attention to meeting presenters, offer up clarifying questions or responses, and refer back to notes in future discussions. They do not need things repeated to them because they heard them the first time, making active listeners respectful legal colleagues.

Openness to Feedback

This might sound like a different soft skill, yet a lack of openness to feedback often indicates an individual stuck in a pattern and unwilling to learn.

The ability to accept developmental feedback is critical for all of us; otherwise, how will we improve? Think about it; constructive feedback will help you do the best job possible when it comes to your legal role, and yet often, people take it personally and react defensively; when this happens, feedback is not heard.

No one is ever perfect, no matter how long they have been in a role. Reflecting on this, when did you last ‘overreact’ to feedback?

Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset leads on from the ability to accept feedback. Individuals with a growth mindset see feedback as the gift that it is.

Their mind is focused on what is possible rather than what is not. No matter what role, you will encounter roadblocks, disappointments, and other situations that might frustrate you. A soft skill critical to your ability to persevere is having a growth mindset.

Dr Carol Dweck conducted the original work on this several years ago. Her book is well worth reading to identify if you have a growth or fixed mindset.

For instance, someone with a growth mindset who did not achieve their billable target would look at this as an opportunity to double down and focus on what they could do differently in the next quarter.

Whereas someone with a fixed mindset would see this differently, complaining that the target was too high, the clients they were working with were demanding, and the list of complaints goes on.

Adaptability and Flexibility

The last few years have been a challenge for many, yet certain employees have stood out above others; Two words describe them.

Adaptable and Flexible.

No matter your role in your law firm, the ability to adapt to change and a positive, flexible attitude about what is happening never go unnoticed.

Many people have no idea how negative they can be when something does not go their way. Worse still, they become a classic mood hoover.

Fact: Our business landscape is changing, and no matter what role you hold in an organisation, you have to be willing to adapt and change.

In summary, soft skills focus on developing a positive can-do attitude. A well-worn statement, I know, and yet developing abilities like this will help you navigate most things that are thrown your way while making you stand out as a potential new hire for a firm (as well as being areas to focus on if you are indeed in the hiring seat, and looking for a standout candidate to bring on board).

How Can We Help?

Here at Clayton Legal, we have multiple clients looking for skilled and ambitious candidates to join their teams. For a confidential conversation about your legal career goals and your next move, please contact one of our team here.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.

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Planning Your Legal Career in Our New Normal Workplace

  • January 18, 2022

At the start of a new year, many of us review where we are in both our personal and professional lives. For those of us working in the legal sector, it’s no different.

The specific details of the legal path you want to take might differ slightly. However, the five fundamentals we are sharing today form part of any successful career planning process, as we have observed placing more than 5000 legal professions over the last twenty-two years.

First, let’s put some context around the impact of the new ‘norm’ when it comes to creating your plan.

The New Norm

As we navigate our way out of the pandemic and multiple new variants, it is fair to say that the new normal hasn’t impacted the legal sector as much as others, except for improved technology, communication channels and virtual recruitment.

We noticed here at Clayton Legal that the phone continued to ring after the initial few weeks of the first lockdown as clients asked us to help fill their roles. This continued throughout 2021, accelerating at pace as the year went on. 2022, so far, shows so sign of this appetite to hire slowing down.

Hybrid, home, and remote working are still major debates across firms as they consider the permanency of such working arrangements.

As predicted by the Microsoft Workplace Trends report, many candidates we speak to are keen to have some flexibility around working in the office or at home. Consequently, we are seeing more firms willing to consider hybrid working moving forward.

The critical piece of the conversation is that skilled legal candidates are in short supply. This results in employers counter offering employees to stay with them rather than moving to a new law firm. Some legal candidates continue to have multiple offers on the table.

In summary, if you are a skilled candidate looking to move, this is your time.

What an opportunity, though let’s have a sense check here. Jumping into a new role with an improved package and a hybrid working opportunity is OK, provided it is part of your long-term plan.
Therefore, consider this as you plan your career. Moving and building your career takes time, depending on the level you want to achieve.

So, what should you be considering in your overall plan?

Decide What You Want

Goal setting and tweaking can happen at any time of the year. As Professor Maxwell Maltz shared in his New York Times bestseller, human beings are success-seeking creatures, and therefore we want to achieve success.

Without goals to inspire and drive you, it’s impossible to know if you’re moving in the right direction. In simple terms, if you don’t know the destination, then you can’t plan the journey.

Deciding what you want allows you to take control of your professional life.

Simply saying that you want something isn’t enough. Goal setting is a strategic process that considers what you want to achieve through a series of milestones and action steps and ends with hard work and dedication.

Therefore, setting a goal and then moving towards it is a logical process we would all be advised to tap into.

Most legal professionals want:

    • To work in an area of law that they enjoy and find interesting

To receive sufficient income for their work to enable them to live comfortably

  • To be considered as being professional and knowledgeable
  • To achieve a work/life balance that allows them to enjoy a life away from their work

No matter your opinion about setting goals, you will find yourself meandering around with no real sense of purpose unless you are clear on what you want.

Choosing stretch goals means finding the right balance between targets you can realistically achieve and aims that challenge you.

However, don’t set goals that are too easy, either. It’s essential to challenge yourself, as that way, you can reap the rewards of feeling accomplished and driven. Find goals that help you raise the bar on your work and performance.

Always have both short- and long-term goals in mind.

Let’s take an extreme example. If you are a trainee solicitor who wants to become a barrister, you will have to move, study, and gain experience over several years to achieve what you want. This will therefore inform the steps you need to cover in your plan.

Remember, the legal field has many options for you to consider. The more you learn about the legal space, the more you’ll discover new career opportunities and paths you can take.

A Goal Setting Framework

One of the most popular goal-setting strategies involves creating “SMART” goals. There are variations on what the “SMART” acronym stands for, but most experts agree that it requires your goals to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Your legal career goals must be clear and defined. A vague goal like “I want to get a promotion” doesn’t provide sufficient direction. Determine what kind of promotion you want that will fit your plan and when you want to accomplish that target.

Conduct a Skills Audit and Contact A Legal Recruiter

To accomplish what you want in your legal career, you will have to up-level your skills relevant to your desired roles. Knowledge is power, and this is where talking to someone who has the ultimate position you want can be useful.

Although, remember that a lot has changed during the last few years and what was once required for a role, either skills or experience, might have changed.

This is where talking to a specialist legal recruiter will help. Here at Clayton, we have over twenty years’ experience recruiting legal professionals and can guide you on the best next steps according to the specific legal career path you want to take.

With the specs for your ideal job to guide you and your CV in hand, write a list of the skills you need to work on and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 4. A rating of 4 indicates that you’re an expert in the area, while a rating of 1 means that you have very little knowledge or skill in that area.

Once you know which elements need the most work, you can develop a list of activities that will help you close the gap.

Managing Your Mind

The first step in developing your legal career is to embrace the right mindset by managing your mind. More than ever, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of working with our mentality to handle whatever is happening globally.

It’s easy to assume that creativity, intelligence, or talent are the things that set successful people apart from the rest of the world. However, the truth is that all the most powerful people in business today reached their goals through perseverance, grit, dedication, and the right mindset.

Your ultimate goal may take a few years, and the more you can manage your mind through the process, the better.
Good Luck!

What Next?

Though many workplace sectors experienced poor growth in 2020 and into last year, the legal sector wasn’t one of them. Here at Clayton Legal, we have multiple clients looking for skilled and ambitious candidates like you. For a confidential conversation about your legal career goals and your next move, please get in contact with one of our team here.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country
since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and
reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from
Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T.
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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Get noticed, get standout, get hired: Top 10 Tips to supercharge your legal job application

  • October 5, 2021

For legal professionals considering a career move, navigating the job market, now more than ever, can be daunting, especially in practice areas where creating stand out is key. Making sure your application is the one that gets noticed, makes that vital positive first impression and works hard to get you that interview, and into that dream role is key. Read our top 10 tips:

1. Do the groundwork thoroughly

You’ve scoured the market, you’ve seen a new opportunity that has piqued your interest, and you know you’re a great fit – but taking a step back and researching that new opportunity beyond the advert is important. Research the firm thoroughly, even if you’re already aware of their brand and reputation in the market. Look at their digital footprint, their social media channels, their brand, and voice across the sector. What are their values, their mission and vision? What are their growth plans and future aspirations? If, at the end of the process you’re sure you’re on the right path, this undertaking will pay dividends at interview stage in demonstrating your knowledge about them as a potential employer.

2. Give your CV some TLC

Neglect your CV at your peril. This humble document is still a pivotal tool to sell your skills, competences and experience and is often the first opportunity you have to impress. Pay close attention to spelling and grammar and don’t forget the basics – clear formatting, chronological work history, personal contact details – but above all make the time to make it relevant to the role you’re applying for. For those who have previous experience outside of legal, perhaps just include the basics here – Company, job title and employment dates. You can then use the remaining space you have to focus on the experience and skills from your most recent roles – applicable, of course, to the role you’re applying for. The same applies if you have many years of experience – you won’t have the space to describe in detail each role and your responsibilities and achievements; particularly as we’d recommended a CV should be on average 2/3 pages long – and at most, 4 depending on your level of experience. Leveraging those skills and experience to make it clear you’re a match is vital – make it compelling, engaging but above all, specific.

3. Learn to love a cover letter

Whilst some believe the ‘cover letter’ as a tool in your application armory has had its day, many in the legal sector concede that they do still have a part to play in allowing lawyers to further demonstrate suitability for roles and illustrate relevant skills and experience. Again – making it specific to the role and that Firm is key. Demonstrate you’ve done your research about that Firm and highlight why you’re the person they need to hire. Be clear, concise and don’t ramble. We’d recommend keeping it to the one page if you can.

4. Hone that elevator pitch

Refining and perfecting your elevator pitch is time well spent as a jobseeker – and will add value when you’re in an interview scenario further down the line. Being able to articulate your intent, unique attributes, experience, and skill set in 30-60 seconds is an art, but once you have this crafted, it can be used to help define your personal statement and across online application forms.

5. Set aside time

Taking time to search the market for new opportunities takes time, and with those prospective roles in sight, formal job applications often take much longer than you might think – especially if you take on board the advice to personalise your application and supporting documents. Setting time aside in your schedule to dedicate to your job application activity is crucial; factoring in time to proofread, spell check and customise.

6. Embrace the tech

The pandemic has certainly brought about a lot of change when it comes to hiring legal professionals – virtual interviews and onboarding made possible through the rapid acceleration and adoption of tech solutions. As a job seeker, look to standout with alternative ways to raise your personal profile. Video platforms for example are a great way to add personality and weight to your application far beyond the traditional CV and cover letter duo. Requests for video supported applications are increasing, and often facilitated by recruitment agencies. Embrace these tools if they’re offered as another vehicle to demonstrate your suitability.

7. Time to get personal

Without a doubt, your (relevant) experience, skills, qualifications, and education are the hero elements of your legal job application– be that in your CV or a Firm’s own application form. But highlighting your interests out of work is still a great technique to demonstrate your personal qualities, and how you might fit with company culture.  Often an optional section of your application forms or CV, that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time. Rather, used smartly, hobbies and interests can really strengthen your application and make you more ‘human’.  Try to stay away from stipulating interests that don’t really demonstrate a skill or quality that you’re hoping the hiring manager is looking for. ‘Going out with friends’ for example may be something you do outside of work, but it does little to further exhibit your strengths, skill set, personality, or transferrable qualities relating to the job at hand.

8. Audit your own digital footprint

Like it or not, hirers may conduct their own research into you as a potential employee far beyond the documentation that you have sent to champion that application. Therefore, it’s always wise to sense-check your social media channels to either set to private, or ensure your profile is one you wouldn’t mind your new employer seeing.

9. Boost your network

Connecting with the Hiring Manager at the Firm you’re applying to on LinkedIn may seem bullish, but it can be a savvy move and increase your chances of getting an interview. The connection request should be seen as another opportunity to introduce yourself and interest in the role and wider Firm. Being proactive means you could also open up conversations around the role in more detail that the job spec advertised, and a reciprocal ‘follow’ or connection will offer that individual another window into your experience and voice in the market. It is also worth saying that at this juncture, keep it professional. You don’t want to pile any pressure on regarding your application at this stage.

10. Enlist the help of an expert

Formally registering with a specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start with your job search – furnishing you with market insight as well as the inside track on the Law Firms that are hiring. And, when that dream role is in sight, you’ll be offered practical advice on the basics, refined by experts who live the hiring process and all of its anomalies day in, day out.

Next Steps

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. 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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Job Fatigue? Is now the time to start planning your 2022 move?

  • September 30, 2021

With the clocks now set back and the darker nights creeping in over the winter period, the final quarter of the year is here, where many businesses and individuals will be making firm plans for the following calendar year, setting budgets and agreeing business objectives. And for many, with an average three months’ notice period across the industry – consideration of the ‘c-word’ is also likely. Not ‘christmas’ per se…but career – what it looks like and where it is heading in the new year.

The so-called mid-career career blues happen to everyone at some point or another  – and it can often be for a number of reasons…

You have outgrown the position

One of the most common reasons legal professionals cite as a reason to leave their current position is around progression – or more specifically, lack of opportunities at their current Firm. Often, a lateral move within the firm is one viable route that, whilst perhaps offering a similar overall remuneration package, does provide the individual with the chance to expand their skills and professional network. Quite often a lateral move can provide a revised career path that still gives that individual chance to develop and learn about other areas of that business, and in turn raises the status of that employee and their broader influence internally.

However, this is not always possible either due to the size or structure of the Firm in question, or because of the current practice area that individual operates in. If the role no longer provides opportunities for the growth you seek in your career and there isn’t an obvious path to promotion, chances are finding a new opportunity elsewhere may be the only option to further advance your career. Before making that leap, it is always time well spent to review the market for opportunities, particularly if this is the first time in a few years you find yourself looking for those greener pastures. Ensuring that the firms and roles you look at do offer clear paths for progression and advancement is key for ambitious individuals.

Recruitment agencies have a vested interest in understanding the sector in which you (and by extension, they) operate, and because of the trusted position that they have with Clients, they will undoubtedly be able to offer you market insight, practice-specific guidance as well as trends and activity they are experiencing in the recruitment cycle. It is always worth enlisting their help at an early stage to get that birds-eye view of market trends and movement, as well as the inside-track of Firms in your area.

You are looking for an increase in remuneration

If the driver for moving is monetary, then it goes without saying that the first step should be to explore the option of a pay review at your current firm first. Whilst few individuals relish the thought of having those perhaps awkward conversations around money, it is important to see where the land lies first, even if that is to sense check the Firm’s position ahead of a diarised salary review later in the year/early next year. It is important to head into such conversations realistically and professionally – can the Firm afford the figure you have in mind for example? Have you got clear reasons why the review is justified, based on performance perhaps or the value you have brought to the business? Building a strong business case here is important – as is knowing your value and worth in the wider market.

This brings us to the second point – researching your market value. Understanding the current average or better still, range of salaries for similar roles in the market is crucial, especially if conversations around a pay rise end without the desired resolution and your hand is forced to look elsewhere. Recruitment agencies undoubtedly add value here with live salary data and wider benefits packages on offer for active jobseekers.

However sometimes the only way to achieve your salary expectations is to talk with your feet and look at other opportunities in the market where they can be realised. It is a perhaps unfortunate reality that pay increases tend to be more significant upon a move (as opposed to an internal promotion) so doing your due diligence early on will pay dividends so you have a realistic view of what those next steps look like.

You are looking for more work/life balance

Long hours and demanding workloads within the legal profession are much documented and prevalent still it seems according to a recent survey by legal charity LawCare whose research concludes that the profession as a whole is “stressed, anxious, tired’ and ‘at risk of burnout’.

Whilst changing job roles may not necessarily negate all of these, the landscape of work has altered significantly due to the pandemic meaning that the likes of hybrid and home working models increased exponentially which for many has helped to strike a balance between work and home life.  Whilst this won’t be the case for everyone (and ongoing research into the challenges these working models bring is still prevalent in the media) conversations around flexi-, agile-, home- and hybrid- are much more commonplace, as are legal job roles offering such work arrangements. In fact, a poll we ran a few weeks ago, indicated that only 26% of legal professionals currently work exclusively from their Firm’s office, and whilst it is perhaps too early to say whether this will increase as we move through further stages of the pandemic, for job seekers who are looking for those opportunities, there has never been a better time to engage with Firms who have adopted such arrangements on a more permanent basis.

There are many other reasons of course that trigger that early decision to start looking for new opportunities. The reasons may be complex, and numerous, yet it is often not a decision that is taken lightly. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, and the anticipated ‘Great Disruption’,  46% of the global workforce are predicted to leave their current employer this year – with many starting that planning now to factor in longer notice periods. Employee expectations around how, when, and where they work are changing and as clients continue to compete for the best talent, arguably it has never been a better time to make the leap.

Next Steps

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you.

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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How to Make a Compelling Legal Job Application

  • May 25, 2021

We were delighted to take part in a Live Q&A event in association with The Law Society earlier this month where we offered our advice and expertise to legal professionals on how to make a compelling legal job application.

In the session we covered a wide range of subjects – from how to master CV basics, to revealing some recent market research where we spoke to Partners and Hiring Managers about what they’re looking for when reviewing applications.

If you weren’t able to join us, you’ll be pleased to know that the session was recorded – click below to view.

We also spoke in detail about current market conditions, and the so-called ‘war for talent’; much documented in recent weeks across many professional sectors. According to statistics from Broadbean, despite a 20 per cent rise in vacancies advertised in Q1 2021 compared to the last three months of 2020, applications to those roles rose by only 4% in the same period.

Law Firms are once again competing for the same, sometimes scarce, pool of legal professionals; some of whom are reluctant to move roles against the backdrop of a pandemic and perceived market uncertainty, and others who do have that confidence and find they have a number of options available to them.

Despite the backdrop of the pandemic, the market is awash with opportunities for those considering a move. If you are indeed in the market as a jobseeker, making your application compelling, engaging, and one that works hard to give you standout is still as important as ever – whether you choose to go direct to the Firm, via a job board, or utilising the services of an experienced legal recruiter.

Top 10 Tips for Supercharging Your Legal Job Application

For legal professionals considering a career move, navigating the job market can be daunting. We were recently asked to share our top 10 tips for creating a standout legal job application with The Law Society which we also wanted to share here:

Click here to have a read

If you would like any further guidance on current market conditions or would like to speak to us in more detail about the opportunities within your region or practice area, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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.

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