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Building Leadership Skills in Your Law Firm

The last few years have been challenging for the legal sector. Dealing with the fall out of the pandemic, increased workload, and the impact of overworking on employees’ wellbeing means that many firms also now need to uplevel their leadership skills alongside recruiting new lawyers into their team to lead their firm moving forward.

In turbulent times, everyone looks to great leaders for guidance. Leadership resonates throughout a business, and the quality of your leadership can be the difference between your firm’s ultimate success or failure.

Good leaders exhibit specific traits which allow them to inspire, motivate, engage, and boost the productivity of their legal team.

Today’s post shares five key leadership skills for today’s legal workplace to develop in your team and those to look out for as you recruit.

The Ability to Set Goals Based on a Vision

Great leaders have a vision. All successful law firms were started because the founder had a vision of what they could create.

As you build your legal team at every level, remember that employees often join firms because of the vision and direction shared during the interview, as well as fair pay and conditions, and the opportunity to work with great clients. Unequivocally, elements such as this should be communicated as part of the hiring process.

Innovating and reacting to change is part of a law firm’s growth and is necessary for development. So, it’s vital to deploy your strategy to manage challenges while considering that you need a solid business plan that indicates where you are adjusting and setting relevant goals.

Effective legal leaders ensure everyone is on board with the strategic plan and its ultimate objective – alignment across the firm will be key to success.

Greater leaders can tap into team creativity, developing a sense of purpose that develops an inspired team.

Setting goals in a S.M.A.R.T.  way can also increase performance – specific objectives that are challenging yet achievable are more likely to inspire your team and give them something to work towards collaboratively.

Clear Communication Skills

Part of sharing the vision is the ability to communicate both authentically and with authority.

Law firm leaders must develop the ability to communicate with people at every level, from a stressed-out client to every member of their wider legal team.

Effective leaders must be able to express ideas and information to the people they want to lead.

Successful communication also involves clarity of message, which happens when leaders ditch the jargon and listen to what is important to their team.

As human beings, before we mentally agree to follow someone, we need to feel listened to by our leaders.

Decision-Making Ability

It is easy to assume that everyone in the legal profession has good judgement alongside the ability to make decisions. This occurs as lawyers handle complex caseloads, though not always when addressing challenges in the team or performance managing a difficult employee.

Lawyers are generally confident individuals by nature. However, making decisions in a team setting isn’t always as black and white as it might first appear, as highlighted by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning professor who developed prospect theory which shifted opinions on decision making.

To make a good decision, you need to understand how different choices change the likelihood of various outcomes and how desirable each of those outcomes is. In other words, decision making requires both prediction and judgment.

Focus on listening and gathering data from your team as you would for any case you are handling, and you will notice how your decision-making ability improves.

Create a Learning and Development Culture

Here at Clayton Legal, we often ask candidates applying for roles whether the law firm hiring has a development culture and one where the team is encouraged to grow and develop. A stronger leader will make this part of the plan for their firm.

With advancements in digital platforms, online learning is easy to implement alongside more formal events in your firm.

Create a training program for your law firm’s team that allows them to engage at their own pace and with topics that interest them personally. These topics should be largely focused on the team member’s speciality and what your firm needs from them, but it’s also valuable to offer the opportunity to learn about areas outside of their speciality.

Being Accountable

Being accountable for both actions and results is the hallmark of a great legal recruit. This is even more vital when we consider the approach of our legal leaders.

Leadership accountability in your law firm is an essential component of a healthy culture. But what is an accountable leader, and how do they drive business results?

Being accountable suggests that leaders are ultimately responsible for outputs, which is true.
There are multiple layers of accountability, including business performance, company culture, client experience, and the legal workforce itself.

For leaders to be accountable, they need to be committed to the business and its people. They must take their role as people leaders seriously, building trust among team members. Accountable leaders clearly communicate their goals and objectives to their teams to foster alignment and team focus. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and give credit for success where it’s due.

What Next?

The legal sector experienced increased growth last year. Many firms are looking for new legal leaders and hires for their teams. This is where Clayton Legal can help. For a conversation about your legal talent growth plan, do not hesitate to contact one of our team.

 

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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Is Your Law Firm Attracting or Repelling the Legal Talent You Want?

  • December 6, 2019

The ‘war for talent’ is much documented at the moment across many sectors as the number of vacancies advertised continue to grow as firms ramp up hiring activity after a tumultuous 12-18 months. And, 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 one again competing for the same, sometimes scarce, pool of talent; some of whom are reluctant to move roles against the backdrop of a pandemic and perceived market uncertainty, and some who do have that confidence and have whole host of options available to them.

With Firms jostling for supremacy in the hiring stakes, eager to attract the best talent to work for them, it does beg the question: how does your firm perform when it comes to attracting and hiring the best people – particularly in the current market?

If you’re finding it challenging to hire great talent, it could be that your law firm is repelling would-be employees – and it goes deeper than your salary offer.

It could be down to your Employer Brand.

In this article, I will be looking at how your Employer Brand could be repelling would-be talent from joining your law firm, and how you can redress the balance, create an engaging market presence and attract and retain the talent you want to work for you.

What is Your Employer Brand?

If you haven’t yet heard the term Employer Branding – it’s time to take a leap of faith and embrace this workplace phenomenon. Your Employer Brand isn’t something new – in fact, it’s been around forever, and all firms have one – whether they are aware of it or not.

Your Employer Brand is, in essence, the market’s perception of your firm. It re-affirms what you stand for; your reputation, leaders, history and customer service ethos.

It also goes far beyond these specifics – it includes other’s emotional response to things like your adverts and how they feel when using your services or when talking to others about your firm.

It has a secondary function too. And this is the one that may be repelling talent from your firm.

Your Employer Brand also describes the agreement or ‘promise’ you make to your employees in exchange for their experience, talents and skills. It is how you are viewed as an employer and the attitude and response to your law firm that lives in the hearts of your employees.

This is known as your Employee Valuation Proposition, or EVP, and it’s a compelling factor in attracting – or repelling – the legal talent you want for your firm.

If you’re wondering how to embrace your EVP to make sure you’re attracting the right legal talent to your firm, this article will illustrate the benefits of having a winning EVP, and how to create one to attract new talent.

But first, let’s look at the potential pitfalls of failure to invest in your EVP.

The Dangers of Non-Investment

There are definite downsides to not investing in your EVP. And not just in the general happiness levels of your employees. It can affect your firm in recruiting cost-per-employee, your HR budget, and the overall bottom line.

With the costs of employee turnover being anywhere up to 2.5 times your team member’s salary, depending on their role, it’s worth thinking about investing in your firm’s EVP.

Moreover, as well as lost employee and rehiring costs, there’s also the financial impact of lost productivity, training and the decreased morale of other employees to consider too.

Additionally, when thinking about your EVP, it’s worth remembering that more and more individuals are valuing an attractive workplace culture over salary, and failure to invest in this area of your firm could lead to lower retention and less appeal when compared to other law firms who offer more benefits.

So, investment in your workplace will see attraction and retention levels increase.

The Benefits of Investment in Your EVP

If you needed further reasoning for investing in your EVP, did you know that when top talent wants to work for you, your recruitment costs don’t just drop, they plummet?

The latest figures reveal that costs go down by around 43%. This is mainly because recruiters find it easier to get top talent into law firms they are keen to work for, i.e. those with great reputations. Less persuasion is needed, and therefore turnaround is much quicker.

In addition to this, the rewards of investing in your EVP include definite and measurable upturns in your ability to retain the best employees.

Your EVP embodies your mission and values and is a powerful communication tool for both current and potential employees. It can help you prioritise aspirations and goals for your law firm, and used effectively it can not only attract new talent but re-engage current employees who may have found themselves demoralised or disengaged in their work.

And with a great EVP, your existing pool of talented staff can help drive and promote your firm – not only officially on your company website, but in their social media engagement, recommendations to friends and family, network conversations, job reviews and testimonials.

Provide an excellent EVP – and your team will become cheerleaders for your firm, influencing others around them who may be looking for their next legal career move.

How to Create a Winning EVP

Your EVP is primarily an employee centred approach – it should be defined by and road-tested by your current employees.

Conducting an audit of your current EVP will help you gauge your position in the legal marketplace right now. If yours is short of the mark, consider what can be done to improve it.

Here are some of the things you may wish to look at when considering improving your EVP.

Values and culture. A workplace study found that 56% of employees valued an excellent company culture fit over salary. That’s how vital company culture is to individuals.

By embracing an inclusive and diverse company culture, you will attract new employees as well as retain existing ones, and build morale. And that means harbouring an environment where employees are respected and valued, where there is a shared vision, and where communication, transparency and teamwork are paramount.

Career development. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report showed a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.

Especially in the legal world, having a transparent career path in your employee’s personal development plan and offering training to achieve it, will set you ahead of your competitors and boost your attraction and retention figures.

Employee recognition. From providing excellent feedback to saying ‘thank you’, it’s crucial for Senior Partners and Managers to acknowledge their staff to maintain a sense of wellbeing and pride in a job well done.

Work-life balance. Investing in better work-life balance for your employees starts with leading by example. So, Senior Partners should set a good example, as well as seeking to develop a more supportive culture where everyone feels they can take advantage of better work like options.

Benefits. From salary to flexitime, gym membership to annual leave allowance, there are many options for a firm to include in their benefits package.

Conclusion

The most exciting thing about your Employer Brand and EVP is that it’s not just about having your mission on the firm’s website.

Employer Branding begins and ends with real people – your employees. By building a great culture for them to work in, you will find that they will not only enjoy working for your law firm, feel engaged and part of a bigger picture – they will actively promote your firm for you.

Attracting new talent starts with making the most of those already working for you – and letting your reputation do the rest.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to scale your law firm, 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 placed thousands of legal professionals in new roles; 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 9 Ways a Diverse Workplace Will Enable Your Legal Team to Thrive

  • November 3, 2019

Before we look at ways to build a diverse workplace for your legal team, it’s worth thinking about what exactly we mean by a ‘diverse workplace’. There are so many buzz words around at the moment that it’s hard to know what they all mean – and if they communicate the same thing to everyone.

The ‘company culture’ that diversity and inclusion bring have gained momentum as de rigour in the world of work for candidates looking for employment. A recent workplace study found that 56% of employees valued a good company culture fit over salary.

Workplace diversity means employing people with a wide range of diverse characteristics. These could include age, gender, race, religion, cultural background, language, sexual orientation, education, ability, etc…the list goes on.

But it’s not just a fad – there are tangible benefits from offering a diverse workplace in the form of achieving higher productivity and profits for those who embrace workplace diversity in their law firm. And workplace diversity was one of the key trends last year – with no signs of stopping as we head towards 2020.

So, how will building a diverse workplace for your legal team encourage them to flourish? Here are 9 ways diversity can help your law firm achieve success:

1. Increases Creativity

Diversity is one of the critical ingredients for creativity. Diverse solutions come from having multiple options that are provided when you have a group of individuals with different thought patterns, world views and ideas.

In your legal team, having employees who are all very similar in terms of mindset and life experience inevitably leads to a smaller viewpoint overall.

Conversely, harnessing the personal creativity-diversity techniques of a group of people who recognise that everything can be viewed in multiple ways can lead to the generation of more creative ideas. If your Fee Earners and Solicitors come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, they will inevitably have a wider pot of knowledge from which to draw fresh ideas and solutions.

2. Allows Different Perspectives

Different perspectives are beneficial when it comes to strategic planning.

The ability to see things from alternative points of view will allow your firm to better judge which direction it should take in goal planning. Having varied options, and a clear idea of results from those options will enable your firm to decide which is the best route to take to achieve the required overall result.

3. Makes Problem-Solving Easier

Again, the scope provided by a diverse team makes it quicker to problem-solve. Because different individuals think in different ways, it’s possible to quickly come up with various potential solutions to a problem, from which a final decision can be made.

This Harvard Business Review report confirms that diverse teams solve problems faster than cognitively similar groups.

4. Encourages Innovation

A melting pot of novel world views can open doors to innovation. It can be inspiring to be part of a group that sees things in a different way and can come up with creative innovation that otherwise may not have been considered. The ability to think outside the box and from a different angle can enable diversity of ideas to come to light.

Additionally, in an environment where diversity and inclusion are nurtured, it’s likely that individuals are more inclined to voice their ideas without fear of reprisal or ridicule. For example, junior members of the firm such as your Legal Secretary or new Personal Injury Assistant are more enabled to come forward with ideas if they believe they will be listened to and encouraged to contribute.

In a forward-thinking legal workplace, you are more likely to achieve innovation through group participation – you never know what ideas your team may hit upon!

5. Engages Employees

The link between diversity and engagement is an obvious one. Where employees experience inclusivity they automatically feel engaged and loyal to their firm.

A law firm that has engaged employees will benefit from a strong team with shared values. Along with diverse and inclusive traits comes a nimble and agile team who can turn things around quickly, achieving more in less time and with access to multiple possible solutions – driving your firm forwards.

6. Improves Company Reputation

Your Employer Brand is how you are perceived by the outside world. To ensure your law firm is seen in a positive light as knowledgeable, reliable and at the top of your game, it’s essential to ensure that your employer brand is truly reflecting your worth and achievements.

Having happy and motivated employees helps your law firm retain its status and reputation. In addition to the better service they will inevitably provide your clients, their online chat and information – formal and informal – alongside word of mouth and personal recommendation to friends and family, will help position you as the go-to firm.

7. Achieves Better Retention

A law firm who offer a diverse and inclusive workplace is going to make their employees feel valued and appreciated as individuals. Happiness in work leads to better retention levels, with staff showing loyalty to a fair employer and staying with them to build their career. Employee turnover can be costly, so investing in your diverse team is pivotal in achieving better retention rates.

8. Attracts New Talent

Ultimately, a law firm with a great reputation for diversity and inclusion, who has engaged employees, good profit margins, innovative ideas, a superb reputation and high retention levels is bound to attract new talent to want to work there.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you…

9. Increases Profits

McKinsey & Co found that where companies had more diverse teams, they also performed better financially.

Diverse teams are better able to win new talent to the firm. This, in turn, helps to improve client service, employee satisfaction and make decision-making faster.

All this gives a forward-thinking, diverse law firm an advantage over competitors and enables them to achieve more profit as a result: a cycle of increasing returns.

Conclusion

Bringing a mix of skills and experiences to the workplace is good for business, providing an admirable company culture for your law firm. It’s worth noting that this starts at the top, too. Diversity at senior level is more likely to introduce new product innovations than are those with homogeneous “top teams.”

In the millennial age, offering diversity and a great company culture means harbouring an environment where all employees are respected and valued, where there is a vision shared and worked towards by everyone, and where communication, transparency and teamwork are paramount.

While I’m not suggesting that achieving excellent diversity across your law firm will be easy, it’s something to consider working towards. The benefits are multiple, and your employees will thank you for it – as will your Senior Partners when they see the benefits reflected in the firm’s reputation and profit margins.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to build a better working environment for 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, the 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 Every Law Firm Needs an Employee Development Plan

  • June 20, 2019

What Is An Employee Development Plan?

An Employee Development Plan (EDP) differs from a personal development plan. While the latter usually focuses on life goals and is owned by the individual, an EDP focuses on work-related skill development and its owned by both the employee and the line manager.

A continuing process that is consistently and regularly reviewed and updated, an EDP should aim to ensure ongoing employability through improving the individual’s workplace soft and hard skills, and legal knowledge. A good plan will strive to create a series of actions designed to help the individual develop and grow within the context of their legal career. It will motivate them to acquire new knowledge and skills and help them grow personally, while developing their workplace capability and meeting the needs of the employer.

Why Is An Employee Development Plan Important?

In the present climate, legal skills are in short supply. It’s therefore vital that you are doing everything in your power to retain good staff. As an employer, your firm needs to demonstrate strong leadership skills. By investing in people you will show your commitment to your team and, in return, you gain commitment from them. A win-win situation.

Staff development will ensure they are up to speed with the latest legal changes in their areas of practice as well as continuing to build their competencies with soft skills. Your employees invest in the legal organisation they work for, working hard and moving their practice forward. Respecting them by facilitating their ongoing development will motivate them and create a thriving workplace environment. It will also make staff feel secure and supported, and happy staff are less likely to look elsewhere for employment. In turn, it will ensure your firm isn’t hit by the legal skills shortage. It will also reduce the cost of recruitment, onboarding and training up of new staff.

As I said, a win-win situation.

So, you’re on board with the idea of creating individual employee development plans. Now you just need some tips on the how.

How To Create a Great Employee Development Plan

There are 7 key points to consider when planning an individual employee development plan:

What needs to happen?

Start with an audit of the current skills and knowledge of the individual, and see how their existing skill set aligns to their current job. Consider the future development of the role. What additional skills may be required?

Knowing where the employee needs to be in terms of training to ensure they remain employable in a progressive legal practice will enable you to gauge the next step forward, and measure success rates.

What training and development is required?

Leading on from the initial audit of how the employee fits into your firm’s vision, understanding an employee’s thoughts on their competencies, capabilities and career goals is useful. Employee buy-in is crucial for this.

  • What do they believe they need in the way of skills to do their job?
  • How do they think they are currently performing?
  • What would help them perform better and what changes would they benefit from?
  • What are their own ultimate goals?

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

How can development be achieved through specific training?

Ascertain exactly what training courses, qualifications or knowledge the employee will need. Remember the 70/20/10 rule – 70% of learning comes from experience on-the-job, 20% from other colleagues and 10% from training and courses. You may wish to consider in-house upskilling or external training provision. There’s a wide range of training available to meet most companies needs with Central Law Training being a go-to place for many firms.

Whichever you choose, creating a culture of learning within your legal practice will demonstrate partners commitment, and encourage a strengthening of relationships between colleagues. Individuals who have open meetings, training sessions and forums are more likely to interact, enabling them to share knowledge and even train others. The additional benefit to this is that having skilled staff who can train others will save you time and money.

Why does it need to be done?

Transparency and communication of long-term goals will instil a sense of belonging and ownership in the employee. Making the employee aware of how their learning and development will benefit not only their own career but the aspirations of your legal firm, and will provide them with clear guidelines and focus on their job and how they can contribute. It will also give them a sense of place – how they fit into the firm as a whole – and create a sense of pride in their work.

When is it needed?

I would suggest that achievement milestones are put into place, agreed between employee and manager. These can reflect the overall aims of your legal firm where appropriate. Monitor progress regularly to encourage and provide direction to the individual, and to show support on their journey.

How can progress be measured?

Methods for measuring training and development can be in the form of formal appraisals, informal meetings and open discussions. The method chosen may depend on the goal/s set and the timelines.

For short-term training it may be appropriate to have a 1:1 with the employee at an agreed time (for example, after completion of a training course). For more long-term goals, or where several employees require the same upgrading of knowledge, it might be more beneficial to have an open discussion on progress.

Staying ahead.

Reviewing the latest legal, procedural and practice development will ensure you stay ahead of your training needs. As part of the employee development journey, establish regular reviews, recording progress and addressing any identified areas of development needed.

Don’t be afraid to change training needs as the requirements of your legal practice develop and expand. Encourage your employee to suggest development needs and aspirations, to give them a sense of investment in their legal career. Give employees the chance to reflect and discuss what went well, what didn’t, and what changes could be made going forward, to ensure smooth and successful progression.

In short, an EDP can be viewed as a training opportunity that takes place as part of an individual’s daily job. It is a working document that charts progress, addresses needs and moves in line with individual and practice progression. The long-term benefits include employee satisfaction and sense of involvement, and employer commitment and satisfaction in having a skilled, up to date workforce, who are committed to your legal firm and are future-proofed.

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 guide here.

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How To Build Your Legal Talent Pipeline This Year

  • February 25, 2019

How to build a talent pipeline for your legal practice is a question many of our consultants are asked.

Logical when you consider that developing your team and the talent within your organisation will be key to your growth this year.

What Is A Talent Pipeline?

Contrary to what you might expect to read on a legal recruitment website, building a talent pipeline involves developing your current employees in addition to recruiting legal talent to ‘plug’ skill or experience gaps or fill your expansion needs.

Both will be critical for your success.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Business Strategy

The first question to inform your talent pipeline is focused on your current business growth strategy.

Are you planning to move into a new geography or perhaps offer a different aspect of your service?

You might have focused on business services such as property or corporate and commercial law and now want to expand into home and family; perhaps even consider wealth management.

The question is, do you have the capability in these areas currently or do you need to bring in a director or consultant to build a new vertical and/or develop new fee earners who are keen to move?

Considering these questions, how will you now plan your recruitment and within what time frame?

As a legal recruitment company with twenty years experience, we notice that many clients when they first come to us haven’t thought through their long term plan.

Remember to factor in budget and time to hire to hit your growth goals and be prepared for people leaving, which will produce gaps which need to be filled.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Your Current Team And Their Development

In today’s current legal market and depending on the size of your firm it’s unlikely that you will be overstaffed with employees, ready, willing and able to be developed into a different role.

However, if you have a robust training and performance development process, it is more than possible that members of your current team will be able to move into different roles. Depending on your timelines it may be viable that some members of staff can develop to fill your growth gaps over the next one to three years.

Remember in today’s workplace; Millennials rule and are increasing in numbers across the globe. Something they deem key in their work is the opportunity to be developed. Therefore factor this into your talent development strategy and your future recruitment plans too.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Your Employer Brand

We have recently carried out research with candidates on why they choose to work with certain clients and not others.

Employer branding, culture and approach were giving as three influencing factors. One candidate even shared a story how after she came out of the interview she had been overwhelmed, in a positive way, by the  ‘feel’ of the organisation and their approach and was ‘keeping everything crossed’ that they made her an offer.

This isn’t an uncommon story, and the impact of your employer brand is more critical than ever. If you would like to know more about this important strategy we have written a complimentary report which you can download here.

A strong employer brand showcases the values and company culture in your organisation – all essential for attracting talent to your legal organisation and engaging your current staff.

More than 59% of managers say that branding is one of the critical components of their HR strategy.

While there are many different definitions for “employer branding” depending on whom you ask, they all mostly say the same thing. Your brand is the way that ‘potential new legal team members’ in the business world perceive you, and your opportunity to showcase what makes you unique.

Otherwise known as an “Employer Value Proposition”, your brand can help both you and your legal recruitment partner truly attract talent to your organisation while ensuring that you fill your team full of people who share the same values.

For more insight into Employer Value Propositions click here to understand how they can help give you stand out when recruiting in competitive markets, particularly post-pandemic.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Using A Specialist Legal Recruiter

The majority of clients we work with here at Clayton Legal come to us to help them build their talent pipeline because they have neither the time or connections to do the job as well as they would like.

Recruiting is our job; unlike most law firms who have to attract and work with clients, develop their fee earners and growing teams and then, as the business dictates recruit new members of the legal team.

A challenge for an already time-pressed individual.

Though it is great to recruit from within, it’s also key to bring in new ideas and perspectives from key hires who might have a different portfolio of experience and results.

Finding these individuals in a skill short market takes time.

Though we would always encourage building a network and leveraging your existing contacts and old law school connections, this doesn’t always produce the results you want.

For instance, James who you have met at various social law gatherings may have a high profile, however, might not have the detailed attributes your role description indicates is pivotal.

This is why working with an experienced recruitment company in the legal sector will make all the difference in building your talent pipeline.

Utilising all these different ideas and suggestions in your legal practice will enable you to start the process of building a strong legal talent pipeline this year.

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 3,000 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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More than money: the true cost of legal sector recruitment

  • November 8, 2018

A stable workforce means that your law firm runs smoothly and without interruption, so when a staff member leaves it can have a big impact on the rest of the firm. Valuable skills and job-specific knowledge that have built up over time disappear with a departing staff member, leaving you in a tricky position to bridge the gap. These practical implications of recruitment can have just as heavy a cost to your firm as the financial element.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help explain what the true cost of recruiting is to your firm. From finances to how attrition rates impact your recruitment, we’ve considered some of the things you may not have thought about when it comes to your recruitment costs.

Recruitment costs: facts and figures

To understand the true cost of recruiting, it’s useful to look at the facts and figures and what costs they refer to. When a staff member leaves, your firm could find itself paying for everything from agency fees to the wages of temporary and locum staff.

Research carried out by Oxford Economics suggests that it costs more than £30,000 to replace a staff member, with the legal profession bearing the highest costs at £39,887 per employee. Two main reasons for this cost are highlighted in the findings:

  • Firstly, the logistics of recruiting a new staff member and the associated costs that go along with that. For example, HR activity and the cost to the firm of the interview process.
  • Secondly, the reduction in productivity while the new staff member gets up to speed. According to the report, the average legal professional takes 32 weeks to reach optimum efficiency, which makes it one of the longest periods of reduced productivity. This makes the legal sector the most costly industry in which to replace a lost staff member.

The financial figures are striking of course, although it’s important not to overlook the bigger picture. Not only does a departing staff member result in a monetary cost to the business there is a range of knock-on effects:

  • HR spends considerable time going through leaving and joining processes, completing all the relevant paperwork as well as sourcing a replacement.
  • Management has to spend time arranging for the work to be covered, either by distributing it amongst existing staff or appointing temporary cover. There’s also the time spent away from everyday work conducting interviews to account for.
  • The workload of colleagues increases and there is a general reduction in productivity as staff take time to readjust and the new person to settle in.

Not only is this expensive, it’s time-consuming: resources which could be used to retain staff are instead spent on finding a replacement. There’s the commercial element to consider also, as time and energy are put into recruitment which could be put to more effective use by serving clients.

Attrition rates and their impact on recruitment costs

Losing a well-established member of staff is undoubtedly a blow to your firm, although it’s equally important to consider how attrition rates play into your overall recruitment costs. If you find that you hire someone only for them to leave after a short while, or if staff aren’t sticking with you for the long term, it can greatly influence the cost of recruitment to your firm. What’s more, if staff churn is causing disruption, then it’s unlikely that the workforce at large is working at optimum productivity.

There’s a mixed picture on attrition rates across the board. PwC’s Annual Law Firms’ Survey 2018 shows a difference between the top 25 law firms and the firms in the rest of the top 50. The number of newly qualified solicitors in the top 25 firms has decreased, as did those with up to two years’ PQE. While PwC suggests that this is due to ‘underutilisation’ of legal professionals at this level, it does perhaps show that the top firms pose a problem to the rest of the sector in their ability to attract the kind of experienced, talented individuals that smaller firms would want to retain.

However, the NQ headcount was up by 33% amongst firms in the top 26-50. In our own research, firms felt more positive about attrition rates in 2018 which suggests that law firms are getting better at retaining staff, at the Newly Qualified level at least. Indeed, the PwC findings back this up suggesting there has been a greater desire to ‘nurture’ talent.

Showing staff that you are invested in their development is one of the most effective ways to retain them. Legal professionals that can see a future with your firm are less likely to leave and this reduces your costs associated with recruitment.

It’s important to point out, however, that attrition hasn’t disappeared entirely. Numerous respondents to our Salary Survey did say that high salaries offered by bigger firms can be problematic. This means firms either need to try and compete financially – for example, paying city-like salaries to tempt candidates to a rural location – which is a costly move. Or, they could try alternative tactics such as offering flexible working and a better work-life balance than the big firms can.

Why law firms benefit from using a recruitment agency

Knowing what will attract candidates, what will drive them away, and what will help to keep employees is invaluable. And especially when it comes to attracting candidates in the legal field, having a specialist recruitment agency on your side can make a big difference. As the Oxford Economics report suggests, the legal sector is more likely to use a specialist recruitment agency because of the need for quality over quantity; specific skills and knowledge are needed, therefore an agent that understands the sector is beneficial.

A legal recruitment agency will not only be familiar with all the quirks of the legal profession, they will be able to think outside of the box and help you to consider candidates that you might not otherwise have done, giving you more choice. Of course, using a recruitment agency rather than recruiting in-house incurs a cost. However, by making use of a partner with specialist skills, your staff are free to do what they do best, meaning that you save time and money in the long term. Placing the right candidate with your firm will also reduce attrition rates, meaning you spend less on recruitment than you would do if attrition rates remained high.

If recruiting, or even retaining staff, is something that your firm has been struggling with why not give us a call on 01772 259 121? We’ve over twenty years’ experience in the legal recruitment field and would be pleased to help.

You may also find out recent blog ‘Save time, money and resources: retain your best legal talent’, of interest if you’re looking for some new ideas on how to retain your staff.

And please feel free to register your vacancy online, if you’re looking to recruit at the moment.

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Your guide to high-performing legal teams

  • September 21, 2018

A high-performing team is what any employer would want. A high-performing team of solicitors that is efficient, drives profits and gets results might not be as far off as you think.  It takes work and to build an attractive employer brand; writing compelling job descriptions and creating an excellent culture is only the beginning.

High-performing teams require excellent leadership, support in their development and constant engagement – even before your new recruits join the firm. Our guide to high-performing teams tells you everything that you need to build one successfully.

Successfully onboard legal professionals

Building a high-performing legal team requires careful onboarding. There are two stages to this process:

  1. Establish what you want to achieve. You need to decide when onboarding will begin, what impression you would like to give to new staff, the tools that will help them do the job and goals you’d like them to meet. The most important thing to think about is how you will measure success and get feedback on the process. If you don’t have the information to work with it’s hard to make future adjustments.
  2. Put systems in place to achieve what you want. Prepare the essentials like security cards, work emails and computer equipment in advance. Providing information around basic housekeeping points such as where the loos are, tea and coffee facilities as well as who to approach with questions will help put the new recruit’s mind at rest. And don’t forget that a warm welcome will ease nerves. Let the office know that a new colleague is joining and to welcome them to the team.

High-performing teams need a high-performing leader

According to the Adair International Institute, a three-pronged approach to leadership underpins successful teams. Leaders need to manage the task, the team and the individual in order to get the best results.

The task needs to be clearly set out and defined aims must be communicated to the group. Research by EY into high-performing teams indicates that 44% of team members believe that clear, achievable goals are the most important factor in what makes a successful team. The group needs to understand the task to perform it well and leaders must ensure this happens. Providing resources, establishing responsibilities and offering feedback are critical at this stage.

The team needs support to achieve its goal and leaders can do this effectively by: equipping team members to deal with conflict, ensure morale is high, establish standards of work, and develop leadership in team members. At an individual level, leaders must know all members of a high-performing team well. Awareness of strengths and weaknesses means leaders can effectively delegate and improve management of the high-performing team. This links closely to another key element of high-performing teams: how to manage support and training.

Support high-performing individuals, benefit the team

Awareness of individual weaknesses means that a leader can put in place measures to help them overcome issues and contribute to the team. Praise and recognition at the right time are beneficial in maintaining motivation.

Training is key to keeping the overall team on track. Seeing that an individual needs help in a certain area means training can be given to bring them up to speed. Managing the individual carefully benefits the team because each person has the skills to achieve the overall task aim. When new legal professionals come into the team, working with them to establish a plan for their development means you can cover all bases and fill in any gaps that might cause the team to fall short. section. In turn, you’ll get the very best from your employees.

Get the best from your employees

High-performing teams don’t happen by accident. Strong leadership from the top down keeps the team unified behind a common goal. Demonstrating integrity, inspiring others and problem-solving are among the top traits of an effective leader according to the Harvard Business Review.

There are three stages to getting the best from your employees:

  1. Clear expectations: Set out what you expect from the start. Provide definitive goals and milestones to keep the team on track. Decide how the goal will be measured and build deadlines into the process that break the goal down into smaller, manageable chunks.
  2. Consistent feedback: Feedback allows your team to keep adjusting and making continual improvements. Explain what you need as the task progresses and you can even encourage peer feedback, carried out in a constructive way.
  3. Motivation and empowerment: Show that you value your staff and their effort. Offer praise, reward and an all-important ‘thank you’ when targets are reached to keep employees motivated and focused on the task.

Employee engagement

Building a team of talented legal professionals means constantly engaging employees. Culture, employer branding, and effectively leading your high-performing team are all important. The crucial element is managing performance at an individual level.

This is where deep knowledge of the individuals that make up your high-performing team pays dividends. As soon as a new solicitor, paralegal or member of support staff joins your firm it’s essential to understand their objectives. Engaging them with the work, the team and the task integrates them firmly into the group. You can increase engagement through an ongoing system of performance management:

  1. Individual fit with the team: Know what you want to achieve and communicate it to everyone. Make sure all team members are aware of how the goal relates to their role.
  2. Conversations are powerful: Communication builds trust and relationships which are both vital to high-performing teams. Engage staff in conversation about your vision, their development and keep coming back to the subject. That way you’ll not only engage employees you’ll join up their development with the rest of the team and business, which will strengthen the team.
  3. Agree S.M.A.R.T objectives: Unite team members who share a similar role behind a common goal. Make the goal ‘S.M.A.R.T’ – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound. By making use of their knowledge experience on the job you can create something meaningful which engages individuals and enhances team performance.

High-performing legal teams take time to build and need a clear plan for success. Your efforts will be rewarded with a group of individuals that work in sync with efficiency and precision. Constant feedback, conversation, motivation and inspiring leadership ensure that your team move forward as one, performing highly along the way.

Interested in turning your firm’s staff into a high-performing team? Our ‘Ultimate Guide to a High-Performing Team’ has more and will explain in detail how to create a formidable force. Download your complimentary copy or call us on 01772 259121.

If you found this guide useful, please do take a look at our other blogs and guides and don’t forget you can register your vacancy online.

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8 steps to successfully recruiting legal talent

  • May 20, 2018

Hiring new legal staff is no easy task. You need to consider qualifications, hands-on experience, area of specialism, salary, bonus; the list of things to think about is endless. Add to that the fact that many areas of law are facing talent shortages and hiring becomes a real challenge. Solicitors are in short supply in a number of specialisms – the Law Society has published findings reaching critical shortage levels.

In the face of chronic shortages, you need to ensure that hiring is efficient and effective. If you can’t find the right person or if your hiring process just isn’t working then your firm will lose out in the long term. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to smooth any bumps in your hiring process.

Tips for hiring the right legal candidate

Follow these steps to help you get it right first time, every time:

  1. Act fast: When a candidate with an interest responds you must act swiftly. The longer you wait to get back to someone that shows an interest in working for your firm, the greater the risk of them being snapped up by the competition.
  2. Project your brand: Treat your potential employees like you would your clients – show them what’s so great about working with you and demonstrate that your firm is an attractive place to work. For a greater insight into employer branding our blog has everything you need to know.
  3. Avoid mistakes when hiring: It is absolutely crucial to get the hiring process right, not just from a business perspective, but from a legal perspective. While this is true of any organisation, it is especially true for law firms. We’re not teaching you to suck eggs here, but the importance of this cannot be overstated. Ensure that the person handling your recruitment is experienced and has a sharp eye for detail so that you won’t be exposed to accusations of discrimination or lack of due diligence. Not only do you not want to avoid hot water, the embarrassment factor of getting it wrong would be significant. Which takes us to our next point…
  4. Dodge recruiting blunders: Ensure that your recruitment agency is experienced and unlikely to make errors. Having an external recruitment provider cause an issue would be just as embarrassing and uncomfortable as if the mistake was made in-house.
  5. Be clear on how you will go about recruiting: Will the process be in-house or outsourced? Will there be a single point of contact within the firm, or will recruitment be handled by a group of people? Having a clear process in place ensures all parties know where they stand and will enable the firm to respond quickly to candidates, giving you the best chance of hiring the right person.
  6. Be transparent: If you’re going to attract the very best legal talent – and retain that talent – you need to be upfront and clear about everything: expectations, culture, the type of work available, salaries and bonuses. Any unexpected surprises could just put potential candidates off your firm, or see them jump ship shortly after joining you.
  7. Have a plan for the interview stage: A clear process for assessing candidates is crucial to screening the most suitable legal professionals.
  8. Ensure the recruiter understands the job spec: Nobody knows your staff or the vacant position you need to fill like you do. That’s why it’s so important to give a clear, detailed and accurate job description to whoever is doing your recruitment – especially if you’re handing the task over to an external recruiter. Ensure that they understand the job spec entirely, as being able to accurately represent your firm to prospective employees stands you in good stead for finding the solicitor with the skills and experience needed. Plus they’ll be able to filter out what you want to avoid. It may be a good idea to enlist the help of a reliable legal recruitment specialist who has experience of recruiting for the legal profession and is familiar with the intricacies of the sector.

Hiring the right person is tough for any organisation, especially so in the competitive climate of the legal profession. We hope these eight steps will make recruitment efficient and straightforward, so you can successfully appoint the right person to the post. Not only will a clear recruitment strategy and a trusted recruitment partner make the hiring process better, it’ll give your firm the boost it needs to thrive in the long term.

You might also like to read our blog on Talent pipelining for success, and if you’re looking to recruit now, get in touch with us by calling 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly online.

Click the following link to download our latest report on trends in law: The 7 critical recruitment trends in law that will impact your talent pipeline in 2019.

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Talent pipelining for success

  • May 15, 2018

Developing robust and effective talent pipelines is vital for any legal firm looking to grow, or indeed not looking to fall behind the competition. However, according to research from Lee Hecht Harrison, a worrying 30% of employers describe their pipeline as poor or non-existent. But why is building long term relationships with potential employees so important and how can legal firms do it effectively?

The issue is particularly important in the current market because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find and recruit good people, at a time when a number of sectors, including law, are not only suffering from skills shortages, but the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is impacting hiring too. And in order to ensure your firm doesn’t reach a stage where it can’t find the talent it requires, the best practice is to build pipelines for all the areas you may potentially need staff in the short and long term future.

The importance of employer brand

By determining the gaps between available and needed talent, firms can identify the most effective strategies for acquiring and developing those individuals. After all, it’s not easy to tap into and engage with talent pools if they have no idea who you are or what you can do for them. In order to build up this relationship, professionals need to recognise and engage with your employer brand, which takes time. It can’t simply be done overnight.

By building an effective pipeline, your firm can shorten the length of time needed to fill positions, because it will likely already have a ‘warm’ relationship with people, meaning you won’t have to recruit from a standing start. It can also help you to engage with the enormous pool of passive talent in the UK. By developing a pipeline into your organisation you can engage with individuals who would be compatible with your firm, but aren’t necessarily ready to move right now.

Identifying future talent gaps

Another significant benefit of strategic recruitment like this is that it allows you to plan for your talent needs not just now, but years into the future. It’s highly likely that your firm could diversify and break into new specialisms or geographical locations, and employing professionals to work in these new departments and locations requires careful planning. If your firm plans to move into litigation, for example, you can build up relationships with talent in this field way before you’ll ever actually need to employ them. This means that when the time does come round to recruit, you will be prepared and ready, rather than scrabbling about looking to promote yourself to potential employees. It also allows you to gain a much greater insight into the people that you’re hiring and whether they would be a good cultural fit for your firm. Anyone can come across well in an interview, but by engaging and keeping a close on eye on the people in your pipeline, you’ll be able to see if they really would be a good match for your firm.

To read more insights from the team take a look at our other blogs. And if you’re seeking a recruitment partner we should be talking. Get in touch today to see how we can help your firm.

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