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Navigating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Blueprint for Law Firms

  • December 15, 2023

Workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, commonly abbreviated as DEI, encompass the establishment of policies and procedures that actively promote the representation and involvement of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including varying genders, races, ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, and social classes.

Creating an inclusive workplace culture has been high on the agenda of many businesses in the last few years and the benefits around this are much publicised – from aiding employee recruitment, engagement, and retention, to innovation, strategic growth, and performance of the business more widely.

In the context of law firms, embracing DEI principles is not merely a moral imperative, but arguably a strategic necessity. The legal profession, like any other, benefits immensely from a diverse array of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. In a multicultural and pluralistic society such as the UK, ensuring representation and inclusion in law firms is paramount to building trust, credibility, and legitimacy within the broader community.

Law firms that prioritise DEI initiatives are better positioned to address the diverse needs of their clients, who themselves come from various walks of life. A diverse legal team enhances the capacity to understand and navigate the intricacies of complex legal issues, thereby promoting a more nuanced and comprehensive approach to problem-solving. Moreover, fostering an inclusive environment within law firms is essential for attracting and retaining top talent from all backgrounds, ensuring that the legal profession reflects the rich tapestry of the society it serves.

The benefits are clear – and widely acknowledged across the legal landscape, but does that necessarily translate into actionable and implementable practices?

Arguably not…or at least, not at the moment.

A National Scandal?

Back in September 2023, Matthew Hill, the Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board (LSB), addressed the issue of diversity at the Law Society’s Junior Solicitors Network summit, asserting that the lack of diversity at partnership level in major law firms should be a matter of ‘national scandal’.

While discussing the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), Hill emphasised that the new centralised assessments were not intended to instantly resolve all diversity issues. Instead, he highlighted the broader concerns of attracting individuals to the legal profession and making the legal career path universally appealing. Hill identified existing working practices within law firms, such as informal strategy planning in exclusive settings, as hidden barriers for individuals from diverse backgrounds. He called for increased transparency in progression and promotions, urging a re-evaluation of how seniority is perceived in the legal profession, emphasising the need for a more sophisticated model that captures the diverse richness of professional experience.

A recent article in the Law Gazette similarly highlighted that whilst the intake of trainees from a mix of racial, gender and socio-economic backgrounds has improved in recent years – the legal profession still faces huge challenges in retaining its diverse cohort – especially when it came to a seat ‘at the top table’ and making DEI a strategic management decision.

How Diverse Is the Legal Profession? Current State of Play

According to the latest data published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in the United Kingdom at least, there has been a slow but steady increase in diversity among all lawyers since the previous survey in 2021, although there is still some way to go with certain diversity groups and categories.

Ethnic lawyers constitute only 18% of the law firm lawyer population, and the disabled make up just 5%, in contrast to the 14% representation in the overall UK workforce. While there have been some advancements in the US, similar patterns have emerged; the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) citing that although 28% of law firm associates belong to minority groups, only 11.4% ascend to partner positions.

While the lack of diversity and equal opportunities remains a significant topic of discussion in the legal industry today, it is not a new challenge. In fact, calls for enhanced diversity date back to 2008. As awareness among legal professionals regarding the significance of working for firms that advocate diversity increases, coupled with a growing client demand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the question looms: How will law firms choose to address this issue?

DEI – A Recap

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a term used to describe policies and programmes that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientation.

Its significance in achieving long-term corporate success cannot be understated, as it forms an integral part of the firm culture that employees will be reliant on to achieve optimal performance. A good way to understand its role in business is to consider the following analogy depicted by former Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan, Robert Sellers:

  • Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party
  • Inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist
  • Equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance

This metaphor is an apt way of describing how DEI policies are to work in practice. The CIPD confirms that while U.K. legislation sets minimum standards overlaying disability, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation, among others – an effective DEI strategy goes further than being legally compliant. DEI implementation is meant to unite the best interests of both employee and employer by supporting and promoting the wellbeing and engagement of the former, which in turn adds increased value to the latter.

DEI and Business Growth

The business case for diversity has been well-documented since the McKinsey reports produced on the topic in 2014. Their latest published report still confirms that the case remains strong, with a few key findings indicating that the connection between diversity on executive teams and financial outperformance has only strengthened over time. Some of them include the following:

  • Companies with more than 30 per cent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives or none at all
  • A substantial differential likelihood of outperformance—48 percent—separates the most from the least gender-diverse companies

All encouraging signs that show what is possible with enough support and focus.

However, while there is a profound awareness of the need to step up efforts in DEI, this growing imperative is not reflected in practice. The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education revealed in 2021 that the overall attrition rate for associates was as high as 34% among legal professionals of colour. This was further corroborated by a research paper released by Thomson Reuters institute, which showed that women, minorities and LGBTQ+ associates represented the biggest flight risk for firms. Considering these are also groups that were found to struggle the most during the pandemic, this signifies a serious lack of impetus and action on the part of employers to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce.

While it is indeed logical to assume that law firms do want to attract diverse talent, based on the data previously mentioned and the skills shortage problem many are contending with, it does not take away from the fact that barriers to progress still remain among minority groups and that the homogeneous and straight-and-narrow way of recruiting is very much still a prominent amongst legal employers, which is in turn affecting their ability to attract and acquire the talent they need.

Demand For DEI Initiatives Driven By Workforce

Interestingly our changing workforce increasingly wants to join teams that embrace diversity. A post last year on the LinkedIn talent blog revealed that employers that posted more about diversity received 26% more applications from women for example.

This data backs up The Psychological contract concept that first emerged in the 1960s related to our beliefs and expectations of our employers, confirming that employees want to work for employers with good practices where they also feel valued.

According to research from US firm, Eagle Hill Consulting circa 53% of workers stated that a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives play a key role in their decision about where to work. Yet only 29% of employees say their current employer has taken additional action to demonstrate a commitment to DEI in the past six months.

Fairness and equality are becoming ever more important amongst the Gen Z demographic cohort specifically – with research demonstrating that 77% of Gen Z consider it important that their company supports diversity.

Similarly, the latest research from YouGov, which looks specifically at attitudes of employees in Great Britain on the topic of DEI, found that two-thirds of working Britons (66%) said that the acceptance and inclusion of employees of all backgrounds is important to them when considering job opportunities – especially since a ‘substantial proportion of respondents’ had faced some sort of discrimination in the workplace themselves.

Looking specifically at the role of DEI in recruitment terms, Sandra Kerr CBE (race director of Business in the Community), pressed the point that businesses don’t “underestimate the importance of strong diversity and inclusion policies for jobseekers”. She also pointed out that “employers could miss out on potential talent if they do not ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to grow and progress at their organisation,”

A stark warning indeed – particularly given the ongoing challenges around hiring talent and other variables such as a skills shortage and inertia to contend with.

Developing Your DEI Strategy

So, where do you start when it comes to developing a DEI strategy for your law firm? Conducting a sense check on your current practice is always a good idea, especially in light of remote and hybrid teams.

There is a well-versed quote from the personal development world that what you focus on grows. The converse is true. Perhaps the last couple of years have meant DEI, and its implementation has taken a back seat in your firm. We know from the latest headlines that the defined role of the ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ is waning, and there is more generally an exodus of DEI practitioners in businesses across all sectors.

And whilst this may, in part, have been driven by recessionary pressures or simply attrition, companies do concede that DEI in the workplace is still ‘mission critical’.

As recommended by Stephen Covey, the start needs to focus on the ‘end’ that the business has in mind. Assess your current state and where your desired state will be.

Your overall strategy needs to cover patterns in your ‘workplace’, whether that be remote or hybrid working; communication, both the what and the how; your L & D process and finally, how you will review your progress as you reinforce that your firm is the inclusive place to develop the legal career of it’s people.

Creating a more diverse and inclusive culture within law firms requires deliberate actions. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Recognise and Counter Bias – Promote self-awareness among team members by providing training on recognising and countering bias. Encourage reflection and learning about each other’s backgrounds, circumstances, and personal stories. Regular gatherings, whether in person or virtual, can facilitate open discussions and promote a more inclusive environment.
  2. Foster an Inclusive Internal Culture – Establish a culture that encourages open conversations about diversity and inclusion. Create opportunities for diverse groups within the firm to have a say in developing solutions. Have a clear plan in place to address bias and diversity issues, ensuring that every employee feels safe and heard.
  3. Embrace Inclusive Leadership – Leaders within the firm should embody inclusive practices and lead by example. Encourage leaders to listen to diverse perspectives and create opportunities for marginalised groups to thrive. Inclusive leadership sets the tone for the entire organisation and fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion.
  4. Utilise Data to Drive Progress – Measure the success of diversity initiatives by tracking relevant data and metrics. Setting clear metrics and goals allows firms to assess what is working and what needs improvement, and ultimately makes them accountable – especially when shared with all staff throughout the firm in question.
  5. Create an intentional hiring plan – If your goal is to foster law firm diversity and inclusion, then there must be a laser sharp focus on how this is considered when it comes to hiring new talent for your firm. The plan in question should, of course, fully align with your vision and objectives, but also needs to consider any potential for implicit bias when screening and evaluating candidates for the role(s).

On that last point, research from Resources For Employers highlighted that 56% of the Business and HR professionals surveyed said they did have initiatives relating to DEI in their recruitment strategy. And, whilst 24% said they didn’t, there were plans to put these in place.

The benefits of DEI in recruitment are clear, although implementation can be challenging. There may be unconscious bias at play, a general lack of diversity awareness within the hiring team or senior management, inconsistent measurement or evaluation, or simply a resistance to change.

Collaboration and partnership with a legal recruitment specialist may offer some assistance here – especially one that has a good understanding of your market, practice area, and region, and who has an extensive network of engaged candidates to approach about your role(s). Recruitment consultants can offer meaningful steps in the process including screening and helping to craft job descriptions for optimum success, and those worth their weight in gold will also abide by ethical recruitment practices and standards to ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency is key.

Conclusion

The importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace cannot be overstated in today’s globalised and diverse workforce. A commitment to DEI not only aligns with ethical principles but also brings numerous benefits to organisations, including improved innovation, employee satisfaction, and overall business performance – as well as in the attraction and retention of top talent.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are not just buzzwords or indeed an acronym to promote and mention on the company website. They are essential components of a thriving and forward-thinking legal firm who understands that they must actively embrace these principles to ensure a fair, just, and representative legal landscape more widely. By adopting inclusive practices, fostering diverse talent, and committing to continuous improvement, law firms can lead the way in promoting a more inclusive and equitable future for the legal profession in the United Kingdom.

 

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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Are You Failing to Plan for Growth in Your Law Firm?

  • October 18, 2023

As a successful legal professional, be it a Senior Partner, Managing Partner, or on the Board, you are a primary driver of success for your law firm, determining its growth. Ultimately, you are pivotal in creating your firm’s story and building a pathway to its goals. Hopefully, you are experiencing current success and business is doing well – but don’t fall into the trap of overlooking areas where you could improve. It’s easy to become complacent, and before you know it, you will start to slip backwards. So how can you ensure you don’t fail to grow? In the current climate with market forces, as they are, you must strive to remain successful – and the key to that lies in planning. 

Sometimes it’s natural to overlook areas where you could make improvements if the firm is experiencing overall success. It’s easy to miss opportunities to progress. Alternatively, you may feel that your business is suffering due to market forces out of your control and you’re unable to take a step forward in the current climate.

However, there are always ways to improve and move forward – and that involves taking a step back, first of all, to review your law firm holistically; its customers, systems, processes, and people to reassess your goals and ensure you are making the most of your business. 

Talk To Your Clients:

It doesn’t matter how qualified your employees are or what specialist services you provide if you don’t focus on customer service first. Customers define your firm, so your priority is to ensure you understand their needs (and indeed challenges).

You can do this by conducting surveys and research – both quantitative and qualitative –  to gain valuable insight. Just ensure that your surveys facilitate honest feedback, or you’re wasting your time, and theirs. Having a spotlight on your customers’ thoughts about your service will allow you to leverage the elements that you’re already doing well, as well as focus on any hot spots where you need to reflect and make improvements. It’s essential to take the extra step to make your customers feel valued and unique, so make sure you talk to them and listen to (and address) any problems they have. That way, you will inspire loyalty – and loyal consumers won’t just come back to you – they will recommend their friends and colleagues to you too.  

Come Out Of The Bubble: 

In a volatile market – where the economy is impacting all facets of running a business,  one of the quickest ways for a firm to stunt its growth and cripple its potential is to conduct business blindly. By that, we mean lacking awareness of what your clients’ needs are, how they have changed over time, and how your competitors have responded to such needs to stay ahead of the curve. It can be tempting to get wrapped up in the business-as-usual of today, respond to immediate needs, and push anything deemed important but not urgent – however this can have disastrous consequences for your firm. Opportunities to capitalise on market changes, strike deals with highly after clients or scale business operations can pass you by if you fail to pay attention to how your competitors are conducting their business in the market. Coming out of your ‘bubble’ to look at other firms in your practice area and/or region can really impact how you trade competitively. As the saying goes, ‘no man is an island’ and if you’re looking to increase market share, you need to fully understand where and with whom that market is buying from.

This makes the presence of a regularly updated and detailed target persona an absolute must in your business strategy as it will ensure you have a Unique Selling Point that is consistent. A target persona consists of who your clients are, where their interests lie, what pain points they have, what they want from your services, and much more. Having this level of insight into your target market enables you to not only address their problems at the right time, but it also allows you to make your marketing and specifically your branding effective by communicating your USP at every touchpoint of the buyer cycle. This helps to create a strong brand that utilises both its position and performance in the marketplace to develop a reputation for being an excellent firm to do business with. 

Lack of an EVP: 

Going back to red flag number one, a firm’s culture, people strategy, and EVP (Employee Value Proposition) live or dies by its values as that forms the foundation for its competence in attracting, retaining, and developing top legal talent. As legal professionals are now becoming increasingly demanding in their search for the ideal employer, one of the biggest mistakes any firm can make in today’s market is failing to consider the priorities and preferences of its employees or jobseekers they are looking to attract. Without such a foundation, it is incredibly easy for a firm to slip into reactive mode and allow external factors such as economic pressures, market changes, and consequently, business performance to dictate how it treats its employees.  

And even though you will hopefully have ironed out your values as a business at this point, it does not guarantee immunity from making such blunders. The key to a strong EVP is the ability to create and sustain a positive, productive workforce, and that is only made possible through a regular, honest, and thorough review of your people strategy, to ensure your firm culture and environment remain the focus of it, and not the business goals – no matter the external or internal situation at hand.

According to Brett Minchington, who coined the phrase Employee Value Proposition in the first place, this comes down to largely five elements:

  • Fair pay

  • Personal development and growth

  • Meaningful work, making a contribution

  • Good reputation

  • Working with friendly colleagues

Your work environment should have employees feeling valued, respected, and motivated and should regularly facilitate open communication, effective collaboration, and a healthy work-life balance. We have seen a big shift in the market in recent years towards flexibility, hybrid working, and employee satisfaction so ensure that your EVP focuses on these areas while remaining aligned with your goals for business growth. 

Consider Your Leadership Contingent – Are They Suitable For That Role? 

The last few years have been challenging for the legal sector. Dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, increased workload, and the impact of overworking on employees’ well-being means that many firms also now need to uplevel their leadership skills alongside recruiting new lawyers into their teams 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.

A successful law firm requires leadership that is transparent, emotionally intelligent, resilient, empathetic, focused, and inspiring.

If you believe your leadership could develop in some of these areas further, take steps now. Training in personal development and upskilling where needed will enable you to lead from the front. Failure to invest in leadership will result in good ideas coming to nothing, so start at the top. 

Invest In Building A Top Team 

A high-performing team is what any employer would want. A high-performing team of solicitors that is efficient, drives profits and gets results is no doubt the utopia that business leaders strive for, which requires excellent leadership, support in their development, and constant engagement (even before any recruits join the firm).

Developing a high-performing team that works collaboratively will enable your law firm to achieve its goals, both short and long-term. It will create a positive mindset and ethos of encouragement and positivity that will allow your firm to excel and grow, keeping you ahead of the pack in the competitive legal marketplace and making your law firm attractive to further top talent.

As part of this, professional development should play a significant role in ensuring your team keeps ahead of trends. Training and development of both hard and soft skills will not only instill a sense of pride in specialist knowledge and ability but also make employees feel valued by the firm. This, in turn, will lead to better staff retention saving you the costs of hiring and onboarding new employees. Additionally, happy staff are more productive, so you will see positive developments in the bottom line. In a working environment where individuals are part of a capable team, the quality of an individual’s sense of purpose in understanding big goals is enhanced. They feel ‘included’ in decisions, and their ideas and concerns are listened to and acted on. 

Keep On Top Of (And Ahead) Of Tech  

The legal sector is growing at a rapid pace. If you’re standing still in terms of digital ability, then you might as well be going backwards. Using digital strategies to grow your law firm allows you to reach a much larger number of potential clients than ever before. As well as building your client base, if you regularly post industry articles online, you will develop a reputation as being an authority in your specialist areas – attracting both top talent to want to work for you as well as establishing you as a credible law firm in the eyes of competitors. Your website should also reflect your forward-thinking by embracing new technology. Refining your online platform will make it more responsive, and maximizing your SEO will enable you to reach more viewers online, as well as offer you the opportunity to connect and network with others – crucial in moving forward. Additionally, a social media strategy will enable you to reach more clients, develop relationships and strengthen existing ones, gain insight into competitors, and demonstrate your industry knowledge. 

Plan For Headcount Growth Early 

As firms consider their strategy and business objectives, whether that’s on a quarterly basis as a checkpoint, or a typical 1-, 3- and 5-year plan, any kind of compound growth inevitably goes hand in hand with the need to increase headcount and upskill where required.

Firms may have their own Hiring Managers whose remit is to attract new talent to the firm, or this may fall to HR or even practising Solicitors and Partners in some cases. Either way, reaching out to a specialist legal recruiter as those strategic discussions are taking place will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long run to get a true birds-eye view of the market, your competitors, the movement of talent (and scarcity which may impact your plans) – invaluable insight that you can readily tap in to.

Ultimately, a strategic plan is the tool that will enable you to move forward and grow your legal firm. Using your knowledge of what has worked well previously, you can build a pathway to achieve your ultimate goals, avoiding strategies that have failed in the past. A good plan will move you from where you are now to where you want to be. Including milestones, and achievements will keep you focused on the end goals and provide you and your team with motivation along the way. Make your strategic plan achievable (but aspirational) and timely – and don’t be afraid to amend it as you progress if your law firm’s requirements change.  

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Is Having a PSL An Advantage for Your Law Firm?

  • August 30, 2023

One factor that all businesses face at some point in their future, is the potential disruption that comes with a key individual leaving – be that for another role, or as they head towards retirement.

And whilst you hopefully have a succession plan and strategy in place ready to put into action, realistically it could take several weeks or months before you find a suitable candidate that fits the bill on all fronts.

Enlisting the help of a specialist legal recruiter will no doubt pay dividends here, and as part of your overall hiring strategy, is key to ensure you kick start the process and find a suitable candidate as soon as possible. This is of particularly importance if the leaving employee will directly impact the bottom line with their impending departure.

But if you only hire every now and again, you will also have to go through the process of researching which agency is the most suitable. Which has a good reputation in the market? Which are likely to have a ready talent pool of individuals? Which offer the most ‘value’ when it comes to their fees and terms of business? This in itself can take much-needed time and a concerted effort to ensure the agency/agencies fully understand your firm, and your hiring requirements.

An alternative scenario?

Whilst the impact of a key individual leaving will still be felt by the firm, you may be in a position as a business where the first step is to refer to your Preferred Supplier List (PSL). Depending on your prior relationship, the process is likely to be much-simplified, whereby you make contact and are instantly connected to a recruiter who knows you, your firm, your ethos and exactly what you need.

They may even have someone in the pipeline already who’s ideal for you.

Which of the above scenarios do you prefer to be in?

When you’re busy running your own law firm, we know all to well that time is often, money – and is a scarce resource in itself. Streamlining processes, without compromising on your requirements or cutting corners is key – and establishing a PSL may prove invaluable to get the best out of your hiring efforts.

In this blog, we look at the many benefits it can provide:

Time-Saving

We’re sure you’re well aware of how time-consuming and exhausting looking for the right candidate can be, and this is firstly, and perhaps most obviously, where having a PSL can be advantageous, as it will help to save you a potentially inordinate amount of time in the whole process – especially as you will have built up that trust with the recruiting agency already.

A good legal recruiter will have the network connections, industry knowledge and insider information on candidate movement in your specific practice area and/or region. They should also have a talent pool of passive candidates not presently searching for roles, but are already engaged and have built up their own trust of the recruitment brand as a credible resource when that sentiment changes.

Agencies will also have a wider awareness of your competitors – who are hiring in the same space/practice area, and are on a growth trajectory or looking to back-fill roles where individuals have left.

Having this at the fingertips helps to speed up the entire process and eliminate potential sources of stress for your recruitment team. Additionally, your PSL will provide you with a list of pre-approved agencies who have already committed to an agreed rate and service level, so there will be no need for further lengthy negotiations. As a result, what might take you weeks or even months to achieve can frequently be actioned in a matter of days.

Reduced Costs & Increased Value

Whilst recruitment costs are still a consideration, having a PSL in place can create a huge amount of value and a cost reduction for your firm in a number of ways.

With a PSL in place, organisations can significantly expedite the end-to-end process. Instead of starting from scratch with supplier evaluations and negotiations each time a need arises, they can turn to their trusted list of pre-approved suppliers, saving valuable time and resources.

Such agreements often enable organisations to negotiate favourable terms and pricing with their preferred agencies too – especially if there is a volume of hires required (and an exclusivity clause in place).

Having gone through a vetting and selection process prior, firms will also ensure a level of quality and reliability in the services they procure. In turn, this mitigates certain ‘risks’, ensuring that the agency in question adheres to legal, professional, and any regulatory standards – and ultimately negate the likelihood of costly disruptions down the line.

A Re-focus On Core Competencies

Embracing a Preferred Supplier List empowers law firms to redirect their invaluable internal resources towards honing and excelling in their core competencies – whether that’s in a HR or hiring capacity, or if lawyers themselves are involved in the wider process.

This strategic move frees them from the time-consuming and resource-draining tasks associated with advertising, CV reviewing, shortlisting, negotiation, and management of the process. As a result, teams can channel their expertise and energy into innovating, strategising, and delivering exceptional value to their clients and stakeholders.

In this way, a PSL becomes not just a cost-saving measure but a catalyst for organisational growth and excellence, ensuring that the firm remains agile and competitive in its chosen region and specialism.

Continuous Improvement In Your Supply Chain

PSLs offer a dynamic framework that goes beyond initial supplier selection and contract negotiation. They facilitate a culture of continuous improvement among suppliers. This ongoing process involves regular performance evaluations and feedback mechanisms that encourage suppliers to consistently enhance their quality and service levels.

Through periodic assessments and audits, law firms will identify areas where suppliers excel and areas in need of improvement. This data-driven approach allows for constructive dialogue, helping agencies continually understand the firm’s evolving needs and expectations.

The incentives for agencies to improve are multifaceted. First and foremost, maintaining a position on the PSL is typically contingent on meeting or exceeding predefined performance benchmarks. This competitive aspect motivates recruitment businesses to consistently deliver value and strive for excellence.

Moreover, the feedback loop in a PSL fosters innovation. Agencies will proactively propose new ideas, technologies, or process enhancements that can benefit the firm and impact the hiring strategy more widely. These innovations can lead to more efficient operations, cost savings, and better outcomes, all of which contribute to a stronger partnership all parties.

PSL Vs. Exclusivity

A PSL and an exclusivity agreement are two distinct but equally valuable arrangements that law firms can employ to optimise their supplier relationships and get the most out of these for a successful outcome; namely, a new hire that is a great fit on all fronts.

If a PSL is not a desired route, an alternative option would be an exclusivity or agreement granted to a single agency with exclusive rights to hire for a particular role/roles.

While both options offer advantages, they do serve different strategic purposes. A PSL provides flexibility by offering a range of pre-vetted options for various needs, promoting competition and potentially lower costs. Exclusivity agreements, on the other hand, foster deeper, exclusive partnerships with agencies, which can be beneficial when a specific hire is needed, ensuring consistency and a focused supplier relationship.

Ultimately, the choice between a PSL and an exclusivity agreement depends on the firm’s specific needs, priorities, and the nature of its supplier relationships. Both approaches aim to enhance efficiency, reduce risk, and create value, but they do so through different means.

In Conclusion

If you are responsible for hiring within your law firm – either wholly, or as part of your role as a practicing lawyer, one of the choices you have as part of your hiring strategy is whether you go it alone, or enlist the services of a recruitment specialist.

This decision may be based on a number of variables including £budget, speed (the need to get the position filled quickly), and the potential scarcity in the market of the hire(s) in question.

External factors may also impact the decision. The current market, still impacted by headwinds from the pandemic, is undeniably tough as we enter a new year against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and a much-publicised skills shortage. Attracting (and then retaining) talent can be arduous at the best of times, but balancing squeezed budgets, keeping existing staff engaged, and still focusing on growth and expansion is certainly a big ask for law firms who also have the ‘day job’ to do.

Consideration of a PSL, an exclusivity agreement, even a retained recruitment service is worth doing – each with their own unique benefits and advantages but all focused on a collaborative approach to sourcing the next hire for your firm.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

 

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Important Factors To Consider That Affect Your Legal Talent Planning in 2023

  • December 20, 2022

Talent planning in 2023 – how can law firms ensure they are attracting and retaining the best talent in a job landscape that has been altered significantly by the pandemic?

In recent years, the U.K. legal profession has changed to meet client demands in terms of staffing, regulatory changes, the services that they offer – all in an increasingly skills-short market.

Skills shortages have become the norm in many areas of law, with mid-level professionals the most sought-after demographic; digitally skilled employees are also in high-demand, particularly since the pandemic.

Rapid growth in certain areas of law this year, namely Property Law, Conveyancing and Family Law, has only added to the challenge of finding exceptional candidates who say ‘yes’ to your job offers.

Today, we look at what factors are going to affect talent planning in the legal sector in 2023, and what your law firm must do to react.

Planning Your Talent Pipeline to Avoid Potential Risk Factors

Starting the new year by focusing on filling your talent pipeline is a must for any law firm looking to hit the ground running next year, and hit their hiring KPIs.

Identifying potential future roles for your changing law firm is a must. Think about how your organisation is likely to change, or areas you want to expand into.

There may not appear to be any signs of your current team leaving, but when you assume that no-one is planning to leave, this puts you in a risky position.

If your top family law solicitor handed in their resignation tomorrow, would you have anyone lined up to take their place?

With such a strain on many areas of law currently like family, property and commercial, the team’s workload would become unmanageable if a position lay vacant.

Working on your talent pipeline involves a focus on your employer brand; your online presence. Are you promoting your brand online as a great employer? Is your website mobile friendly? Do you regularly engage with legal professionals across your socials?

Building your talent pipeline takes work, and it’s easier when you work with a legal recruiter who will guide you through all the various stages involved.

Don’t let the potential risk of an unexpected vacancy get in the way of your success this year – start planning your talent pipeline now.

Finally, let’s look at how next year’s budgets could affect your legal talent planning.

Getting the Most Out of Your Budget

Legal business leaders understand just how essential budgets are going to be in 2021.

You will only have a set amount towards recruitment, and in our post-pandemic world, budgets are getting tighter everywhere.

One way businesses try to save money is by slashing budgets, but what smart law firms do is make sure that they are getting the most out of the funding they do have.

This means working with a recruiter who guarantees your investment and offers money-back guarantees to ensure peace of mind, like Clayton Legal.

When you are working with a tight recruitment budget, getting the best ROI is vital.

The cost of a bad hire can run deeply into your business. From interruptions to workflow, wasted time and training costs, and the cost to re-hire – wherever you are spending your recruitment budget next year, it needs to be with a recruiter who will guarantee your investment.

Talent Attraction – What do Candidates Want?

Knowing what you want from your legal candidates and finding them are two very different things. Our recruitment services are often called in when employers are struggling to find candidates with the right skills, attributes and attitude – the right mix can be hard to find, especially in a world where legal job roles and priorities are changing.

From the candidates we speak to, we have identified three areas to focus on which will help you attract and retain top legal talent.

Training and development – The pandemic might have got in the way of learning and developing in your law firm this year. Still, the most valuable candidates are looking for companies where they will be continually developed.

Digital focus – Alongside legal and personal development training, legal employers who are keeping ahead of the digital curve will also attract the best talent. Law firms that struggle to offer comprehensive digital tools and training in a world where remote working is on the rise could fall behind.

Flexible arrangements – Since the pandemic, employees are more aware of the benefits of a hybrid working culture. Employers who can offer the choice to work from the office, from home or a mix of the two will attract a broader range of candidates.

In an ever-increasing skills-short market, failing to offer what candidates are really looking for could affect your recruiting process.

Getting your recruitment offer right is just one factor involved in talent planning.

Talk to Clayton Legal today about how we always guarantee your investment, and how our expert recruitment process will add value to your law firm.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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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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The Four Day Working Week: An Option For Law Firms?

The last few years have created a shift in how we work like never before. Working away from the office became the norm in 2020, with hybrid working being adopted by many last year.

New’ human centric’ ways of working have been a topic of conversation for some time. Iceland was one of the first counties in the world to trial the four-day week between 2015 and 2019.

This took place in trials run by the Reykjavík City Council in Iceland, between 2015 and 2019 to move workers to four-day weeks. Over 2,500 workers were involved across multiple industries.

The trial reports revealed less stressed workers and a lower level of burnout.

Many employees moved from a forty-hour week to thirty-five hours, working longer on the days they did work. Iceland’s working patterns are overseen by a significant union presence who have negotiated different working patterns for over 85% of the population.

Similar trials are now being held in various counties worldwide, including the U.K.

The U.K. Uptake of a Four Day Week

The four-day working week campaign started in earnest as this year began. The Guardian shared that several U.K. companies had signed up to a six-month trial to work a four-day week.

Other companies, including several law firms, have spontaneously changed their working hours.

The organisations in question spread across many sectors, training, telecoms, software, video games producers and medical imaging. All are moving from a forty-hour working week to thirty-two hours without loss of pay.

Academics will facilitate the trial at Oxford and Cambridge plus Boston College in the U.S. and the think tank ‘Autonomy’. The campaign group, 4 Day Week Global, oversees the research project.

Companies taking part in the U.K. study vary from twenty to over a hundred staff.

Let’s explore the rationale behind this move and discuss if this truly is an option for busy law firms across the U.K.

The Evidence For a Four Day Working Week

The four-day campaign cites many reasons why working four days is beneficial for all, and I’ll share them in a second.

However, surprisingly the campaigners haven’t shared that historically our ancestors didn’t work very hard at all. Before capitalism hit the world, we had a lot of leisure time, though, to be honest, not a lot of money!

Daylight drove our working hours alongside regular breaks and, drum roll, an afternoon nap. If you want to read more on this subject, look at this fascinating report on working hours from MIT.

Coming back to today, the four-day campaigners cite many logical reasons to shift the way we work in the U.K., not least the fact that we work longer hours than most of Europe.

In light of what has happened with remote and flexible working, is it time for a review?

The five-day working week was developed over a century ago here in the U.K. when John Boot was the chair of the Boots corporation.

He demonstrated that two days off each week reduced absenteeism and positively affected productivity. Therefore, the weekend became official Boots policy in 1934; maybe as we approach the 90th anniversary of this change, it is time to shift again.

Both employers and employees can experience the benefits of a shorter week.

We all get a better work-life balance. The four-day week can give us time to live happier, more fulfilled lives and allow for those non-work parts of life that often are neglected.

For example, spending time with friends and family, on fitness pursuits or time in nature.

Then, of course, there’s always that life admin that we all have to deal with, like; shopping, cleaning, sorting out the bank, along with the many parenting duties we can experience.

As an employer looks out for higher performance and profits, trials have demonstrated that a shorter working week can increase productivity. A Henley Business School study pre the pandemic found that 250 firms participating in a four-day week saved an estimated £92 billion a year because their employees were happier, less stressed, and took fewer sick days.

Our economy could benefit too, which is undoubtedly needed. Incredibly, the U.K. suffers simultaneously from overwork, unemployment, and underemployment. A four-day week could be an intuitively simple way to rebalance the economy and address many problems.

Productivity is a concern for many. Google how to improve productivity as a critical business driver, and you will find multiple research papers that reveal that working less could be the answer to achieving more.

The Four Day Working Week and Law Firms

We are currently in the grip of a skills shortage in many sectors, especially when it comes to finding legal talent.

We are receiving more role instructions than ever at Clayton legal, and many firms we work with are reviewing their EVP to make their role offer irresistible. If you want to attract dynamic lawyers, could a four-day week work?

A recent post in The Times also suggested that firms keen to embrace flexible working might even be persuaded to abandon the billable hour.

In a post on Legalfutures, the CEO of one law firm in Kent revealed that his 22 strong team had started working a four-day week at the end of 2020, except two customer service staff who worked Friday and took Monday off.

His underlying premise of the four-day week was that productivity gains could be found by reducing or eliminating unproductive time in the traditional five-day week.

He gave as examples “unproductive meetings”, meetings with “too many people who did not need to be there”, unnecessary social conversations or staff spending time sending personal messages or on social media.

All logical observations considering a U.K. study in 2018 had found that up to 40% of workers’ time in a traditional working week was unproductive.

Admittedly moving to a trial of a four-day week would also mean additional work for your firm, at least initially, as you outline the process, including delivering billable hours, customer service and other vital business drivers.

However, it is clear that the world of work is changing for all professional service sectors, including law. The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated changes into where individuals work – is it time to review how, when and how often?

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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Posted By

Laura Lissett

Marketing Consultant

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Legal Talent Attraction: Energising Your Employer Value Proposition

  • February 1, 2022

If you’ve never heard of an employer value proposition or brand before, now is the time to expand your education.

According to the CIPD, an employer value proposition is a way your law firm will differentiate itself from competitors when it comes to attracting talent.

The question is, what characteristics do you need to demonstrate to attract talent in the legal sector today?

The U.K. is currently in the grip of one of the worst skills shortages in the last twenty years. Skilled candidates are in the driving seat of their careers, and many will naturally  pick a company based on their brand presence in the market and the narrative related to how they treat their employees.

The last few years have seen talented people re-evaluate their careers and the expectations of the companies they work for. Today, employees will consider moving to get what they want, as highlighted in our recent great resignation post. That might be better pay and conditions, development opportunities and the option to work remotely, amongst other reasons.

Considering the commercial value good legal talent brings to your firm, perhaps it’s time to energise your current employer brand to attract the talent you now want to take your firm forward.

Let’s explore this more in today’s post.

Definitions: EVP versus Employer Brand

According to various sources online, employer branding became prevalent in the early 1990s. Since then, it has become a recognised term in both H.R. and recruitment circles.

An employer brand is an impression your law firm gives as a good place to progress your law career to current employees and key players in the external market. From a talent perspective, these would be active and passive candidates.

So, EVP versus employer brand, what is the connection? The CIPD reminds us that we have an employer brand whether we have consciously developed it or not.

If we were to sit around a table and talk about Wetherspoons or Uber, we would all have an opinion about their brand and how they treat their employees.

The employee value proposition for both these brands could potentially do with some work when it comes to their EVP; in other words, “why would I want to work for Uber of Wetherspoons?”.

EVP is, therefore, the conversation and communication points around why I would want to work for this brand.

Building a Stronger EVP

The topic of this post relates to energising your current EVP to attract and keep legal talent.
Fundamentally an employer value proposition is a list of specific and unique benefits an employee can expect to receive when they join your firm.

Vision, motivation, development, acceptance, a diverse and inclusive environment , benefits, pay, wellbeing, and community. The CIPD defines EVP in a simple and jargon-free way: “The value proposition describes what an organisation stands for, requires and offers as an employer.”

If your people are leaving your firm, your recruiting partner is offering feedback about your perception in the market, and your job offers are being turned down, it’s time to look at your EVP and how you are communicating ‘why you’ into the market place.

Considering the changed expectations of legal talent today, which parts of your EVP need a revamp?

If you want some ideas, look at Microsoft’s Workplace Trends Index. The report highlights an important point that over 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their current employer for an opportunity to work remotely.

Remote work has created new job opportunities for some, offered more family time, and provided options for whether or when to commute.

Review and Redefine Your EVP

The much-used term related to talent wars is based on the current volatile market and a shortage of skilled applicants for your roles.

More now than ever, it is critical to communicate your compelling offer and make the connection in a candidate’s mind that you are the firm to join.

As a specialist recruiter to the legal sector for over twenty years, we have seen past clients struggle because they have not given their EVP the importance it deserves.

Our role is to showcase your firm to prospective candidates, but it’s not easy if your EVP isn’t an attractive offering in today’s marketplace.

So how do you become more attractive?

As a starting point, review your current state and EVP as you plan your journey.

  • What is our vision and mission; has it changed?
  • When did we last conduct an employee survey?
  • What is our purpose and ‘why’ as a law firm?
  • How engaged is our current legal team?
  • Do we have a strong leadership team to represent our brand?
  • Why would people join us, and why do they stay?
  • Do we have an attractive development culture?
  • Is our current offer relevant and on point for the talent we want today?
  • Do we have an experienced legal recruitment partner that can support our growth goals?

Create an Action Plan With Milestones and Timelines

Once you have assessed where you are, it is vital to take the necessary action. It is all too easy to procrastinate and blame what has happened and assume the current market will change; it won’t.

We are in an age of rapid innovation and digital disruption, with a workforce expecting more from their employers, including support, vision, direction, and development.

Knowing that candidates’ expectations from you, their employer are different, how will you change?

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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Hybrid, Home, and Hub Working in 2022 – What Does The Future Hold?

  • January 15, 2022

The world of work has undeniably changed during the last two years. Flexible working opportunities, including work from home, hybrid work, and hub (office) working, are rapidly becoming the new norm.

Consider this alongside the new flexible working bill revealed in June 2021, and work environments might change beyond recognition for firms across the legal sector.

The flexible working bill introduces several considerations for firms in search of talent for 2022. That means evaluating working practices for the legal industry, including if and how people return to the office.

Employers will be required to offer flexible arrangements in employment contracts and explain what work schedules are available when advertising job vacancies.

While the data suggests that employees who work in the professional and commercial sectors, such as law, can be just as efficient in a flexible working environment, the right talent growth strategies will still need to be in place to ensure a firm’s ongoing success.

Fail to provide the right working opportunities, and you could risk losing current staff while having your hiring offers rejected.
As a first start, let’s clarify the various working opportunities we are talking about here.

Defining Flexible Working Models

To ensure you’re prepared to welcome the new age of work, you’ll first need to understand what different flexible working modes entail.

    1. Homeworking

Otherwise known as remote working, home working involves allowing employees to work from home or remotely consistently in their role. This may include having video conferences with clients, fellow team members, and other departments for legal professionals.

    1. Hybrid working

Hybrid working combines home working with time in the office. It involves employees coming into the office and working remotely when their role allows.
Hybrid working has been available in many firms over the last few years, with partners working from home one day a week.
This is now changing, and even though employers and employees have enjoyed the benefits of working from home, the pandemic has also highlighted the wellbeing and connection needs of everyone. Many people find that a few days in the office helps boost their mood whilst improving collaboration.

    1. Hub working

Hub working often refers to situations where a specific legal team work together as a resource to each other to improve collaboration and communication. One partner may work in an office in Preston, the other in Carlisle and another from home on the outskirts of Leeds.
The move to flexible working is likely to see this style of approach becoming more prevalent.

For most legal companies, the hybrid working method is likely to be the preferred option for both partners and employees.

Approximately 70% of employees want flexible working options to continue, while 65% require more time with teams. In the legal sector, collaboration in-person and interactions with clients may require staff to be present in the office at least part-time.

Is the Hybrid Working Model Suitable for Legal Sector?

The rise of technology has facilitated a rapid transition to flexible working for many professional service and commercial organisations. E-signatures and contract management tools online allow a lot of the back-end work carried out by legal professionals to happen outside of the office.

Legal employees often feel comfortable working in a hybrid environment, as it allows them to split their time between the office, and the home environment, where they can have more quiet and focus. A recent Thomson Reuters survey reveals that 63% of legal professionals want to work flexible hours now, compared to only 22% pre-pandemic.

Notably, the desire for flexible work doesn’t lead to a decline in job commitment. Lawyers in the U.K. previously worked an average of 10 hours per day on weekdays and now express a desire to work up to 10.1 hours with flexible schedules.

Are There Benefits to New Working Styles?

Working from home, in a hybrid environment, or even as part of a flexible hub appears to have several benefits for today’s legal professionals. With fewer long commutes to worry about, time is saved in getting to and from the office and increased productivity has been documented consistently throughout the last two years.

On top of this, many studies are beginning to indicate hybrid and remote working can positively impact employee engagement satisfaction too.

The ability to work flexibly is something many legal job seekers have as a criterion before considering accepting an offer from a new employer. According to the Microsoft global work trends study, 40% of the worldwide workforce is now thinking about leaving their jobs in exchange for a career with more flexible options.

How to Implement New Work Styles

To ensure your firm stays ahead of the latest trends, it’s critical to start looking at flexible working options that make the most sense for your team. Consider which roles are suitable for hybrid, remote, and hub work and which might require a more traditional schedule.

Hybrid working has multiple benefits, but it can be challenging if not planned correctly. For most firms, the introduction of hybrid working will require a culture shift alongside new working methods.

We can learn lessons from working from home during the pandemic; however, hybrid working will make greater demands of managers and firms on an ongoing basis.

People working in a distributed environment can easily suffer from feelings of isolation and disengagement. There’s also the additional concern of cyber security and compliance to think about when team members are working online from multiple environments.

Employers will need to:

  • Consider their options: Look at the different working styles available and which ones are reasonably suited to your current employees.
  • Provide training: Ensure legal professionals have the tools and training they need to continue providing excellent service in a remote or hybrid environment.
  • Invest in constant optimisation: Use feedback from team members to constantly improve the hybrid or remote working strategy.

The recruiting team at Clayton Legal has been working with many law firms to adapt their talent search and job specifications in line with increased demand from job seekers for flexible working.

If you would like a conversation about how we can support your particular firm, do get in touch.

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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The Great Resignation: Are You Prepared?

  • January 12, 2022

In the last couple of years, all segments of the job market have experienced significant changes.

The first stages of the pandemic, in many sectors, resulted in a hold on recruitment. On the other side candidates decided to stay put with their current employer as economic uncertainty took its toll across the UK.

Cycle forward to today and we are looking at a different scenario.

The back pressure of employees who would normally move and the experience of more flexible working options being possible, has resulted in more employees considering a move as confirmed by a number of recent research reports by both Microsoft and Randstad.

A concern for all legal employers; First let us look at the data in more detail.

The Microsoft Work Trend Index report based on over 30,00 responses from Microsoft partners and employees revealed that 46% of respondents plan to move because they can now work remotely.

Confirmation of this move of human capital came from research revealed on a recent Randstad UK, presentation where Christine Armstrong a management consultant and bestselling author shared that 69% of employees felt confident about finding and moving to a new role within a few months.

This was based on data from a poll of over 6000 adults in the UK. The survey found that those in construction, manufacturing, tech, and logistics were among the most confident in the country where 74 % said they felt confident about moving to a new job now.

HR, legal, and accountancy professionals were among the least confident in the country although call centre workers were the least confident at 59%.

The disparity between groups is not huge and it still demonstrates that many people in our workforce are confident about moving to a new job.

Vacancies created by the pandemic, combined with new flexible working options, has created considerable new opportunities for legal professionals. Consequently, Law firms will begin to feel the pressure of the “Great Resignation” in the coming months

Let us explore a few definitions here.

 

What is the “Great Resignation”

The “Great Resignation” is the term used to refer to the increase in the number of people leaving their existing roles after the COVID pandemic.

Factors like excessive burnout during the pandemic, unhappiness with work/life balance, and the rise of new opportunities in most sectors have pushed many employees to reconsider what they now want from their careers.

The number of open jobs in the UK surpassed 1 million for the first time ever in August of 2021, and all industries face a threat. Many job seekers, according to Randstad, are not concerned about the task of actually finding a new role either as they see the number of roles available for skilled employees on multiple job boards and recruitment company websites.

Data provided by the ONS government website shares that around 9% of people changed jobs each year between 2000 and 2018; this ranged from a post-recession low of 5.7% in 2010 to a high of approximately 10.9% in 2017 and 2018.

Logically, you would expect a stall on staff movement in the preliminary stages of Covid, which is what happened; therefore, you would expect a natural upturn in people moving.

But is a mass exit predicted in the headlines simply speculation at this stage? Whilst it is arguably still too early to tell, especially with the latest developments in the ongoing pandemic, figures from ONS’s recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows resignations and job-to-job moves are already at their highest in 20 years based on data from quarter 3, 2021. What remains to be seen is the further impact the end of furlough had on the data moving into this final quarter although it is fair to say that the stats so far, alongside the rapid change in employment opportunities for today’s professionals, mean there is enough information available to prompt employers to sit up and take notice.

While not every law firm will necessarily see a mass exodus of staff, all firms will need to be prepared for managing a change in working preferences and expectations.

 

What Can Employers Do?

Even if the great resignation is not having an immediate impact on your firm, legal companies need to be prepared. The problems causing mass resignation in various industries are as significant for law firms as any other sector. Firms will begin to see their talented staff looking for more flexibility, support, and recognition from new employers.

The most valuable thing legal firms can do to stay ahead of the current market is to build their employer brand so that their communication out into the market highlights their culture as a caring and compassionate firm with a commitment to developing their people at their core.

In line with building a compelling brand firms need to be future focussed as they plan for the growth of their team. Though gaps and resignation can occur without warning developing an organisational talent plan can minimise these events. If you require help in developing your talent plan do get in touch as we are working with a number of firms currently on their talent plan.

Alongside working with the right legal recruitment team, law firms will also need to consider other strategies for retaining and attracting talent, such as:

  1. Extending remote work options For many employees in the legal field, the last couple of years has been clear proof the physical workplace is not a necessary ingredient of productivity. Surveys have found 39% of people would consider quitting their role if their employer wasn’t flexible with remote working. Now could be the right time for your firm to consider remote and hybrid working opportunities and how they might work for your team.
  2. Provide the right training Employers and managers need to feel empowered to work well in the existing remote landscape. Managers will need the training to ensure they are still engaging legal teams wherever they might be. Legal professionals may need assistance to use the tools crucial to their remote work practices as effectively as possible. Ongoing training and development will make your team feel like you are investing in them and their future, improving retention.
  3. Improve Workplace Wellbeing Today’s team members are less willing to remain with employers who they feel are not putting their best interests at heart. Today’s staff members are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and burned out in their legal careers. If your legal team feel overwhelmed by work and you are not giving them enough support, they are more likely to look elsewhere. Investing in tools to improve your employee’s well-being and taking their unique needs into account will be essential.

 

What’s Next for Law Firms?

Handling the potential threat of a “great resignation” in the legal industry can be a daunting prospect. Legal professionals can take a lot longer to source, recruit, and onboard than any average staff member, presenting significant problems.

The best way to deal with the great resignation is to get ahead of it as quickly as possible. Assess the sentiment of your legal team towards your culture and determine what kind of things might cause them to seek alternative employment, such as lack of flexible working opportunities or limited recognition from business leaders.

Conducting a series of “stay” interviews rather than waiting for exit interviews should allow you to understand better what is keeping your professionals around.

 

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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Virtual Legal Hiring Is Here to Stay: Are You Prepared?

  • November 24, 2021

Virtual hiring using video technology, for at least some of the recruiting process, isn’t new. Many organisations have used video screening since Skype first landed on our desktops back in 2003.

The use of video technology increased in popularity as pressure around time to recruit became a challenge, especially during the initial screening phase.

Over the last twenty years, reliable video has improved so much that many recruitment organisations, Clayton legal included, started to use video to enhance the recruiting process for both candidates and clients.

However, virtual hiring only became commonplace across multiple sectors during the Covid 19 global pandemic.

Last year according to a report by Gartner involving over 300 HR leaders, 86% of organisations conducted virtual interviews to fill their vacancies, and current evidence suggests virtual hiring is here to stay.

Now, however, the virtual hiring experience is rapidly emerging as a “new normal” for businesses and candidates.

Onrec, the respected recruitment resource website, recently shared data that revealed more than half of employers would continue to incorporate video interviews into their recruitment process.

In this workplace climate, both legal job seekers and employers are under increasing pressure to adapt or risk missing out on that potential new role or team member.

So today, let us look at the many benefits of virtual hiring and, importantly, what you need to consider to make this an effective hiring process for your firm.

 

The Multiple Benefits of the Virtual Hiring Trend

While the concept of continual virtual hiring may be daunting for some, the benefits are significant.

Virtual hiring accelerated as a needs-driven response to the pandemic, and consequently, its many benefits have become more visible; here are a few you might not have considered.

 

Visual Impact

Communication happens at many levels. Written prose is level one, and visual media is level three. The impact of hearing and watching someone speak is different to reading their CV. As human beings, our communication and effect are improved when we use our visual and auditory capabilities.

Albert Mehrabian is a psychology professor from UCLA known for his pioneering work in non-verbal communication, in other words, body language.

He identified the 7-38-55% communication rule. Fundamentally an individuals body language and communication ability has more impact than the words they are communicating. Not surprising then that video interviewing is so effective in helping you identify individuals ideal for your legal role.

 

Hiring Speed

Virtual hiring equals speed; 45% of recruiters revealed that video interviews helped speed up their process.

Video screening doesn’t need to be live video either. A candidate can record a video and send it to their recruiter for onward transmission and first screening by the hiring manager in question.

A win for everyone.

The candidate can record a video and put their best foot forward; deleting any stutters and stalls until they record a video they are happy will represent what they have to offer to their potential new firm.

At the same time, the hiring manager can watch the video when they have a gap in their diary. The initial screening interviews to create a shortlist can then take place in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. Vital timesaving for a hiring manager who is probably already juggling a high caseload.

With time to recruit as an important metric for many firms, virtual hiring suddenly makes absolute financial sense.

 

Decision Making and Carbon Footprints

Video interviewing means more people can be involved in the process from multiple locations; no more waiting around for a decision from a senior partner in London who can’t get to the interview because a court date was changed.

As I write this, many of us have been gripped by the COP26 conference in Glasgow. Yes, climate change and carbon footprints are real, and consistent actions like minimising travel will make a difference.

 

Preparing for the Virtual Hiring Revolution

Both legal professionals AND firms will also need to continue to navigate the age of virtual interviewing.

Video technology and the skill to present and interview effectively are critical.

Video tech and software have developed significantly over the last three years. The majority of the legal profession are now familiar with Zoom and M.S. teams as a medium to conduct interviews. Yet still, a challenge for many is using these applications to best effect.

Let me share a few obvious examples that are easy to forget.

Remember, someone is going to be looking at what is or isn’t behind you. Only last week, I was distracted by a member of parliament and their book collection during a BBC interview.

This should not be an issue anymore, with virtual backgrounds being freely available.

As a client, if you have a glass-walled office, remember seeing people walking past is distracting for a candidate ‘trying’ to answer your questions.

Agreeing on a standard video interviewing procedure for your team that you also share with your recruiting partner will avoid the classic mistakes we have all seen shared online.

Invest in a good camera and microphone and use them.

The connection between human beings is key in the interview process. Make sure you know exactly where the camera aperture is and look into it. It is most off-putting when you are staring down at a screen instead of into a camera, which is the same for all parties concerned.

Being good on video is a skill, and luckily one you can develop- practise does make perfect.

Every social platform allows you to upload videos. LinkedIn will allow you to upload a video straight from your phone, provided it is less than ten minutes in length.

As a hiring manager, share videos about your team, firm and culture and the good work you are doing; you will be surprised how confident you can become.

As a candidate, It is easy to profile yourself ahead of an interview by uploading a video that profiles what you have to offer an employer. The latest platform to embrace this phenomenon is Tik Tok, with younger job seekers posting their ‘Careertok’ C.V.s.

Being proficient in communicating with video isn’t only for candidates; it’s critical for your brand, too; let me explain.

 

Is Your Employer Brand Compatible With Virtual Hiring?

In an environment where much of the recruitment journey is now happening online, employer brands are more valuable than ever. Legal firms will need to ensure they have a presence on the right industry forums, social media channels, and other platforms to attract the right candidates.

It doesn’t stop there.

More than ever, in a skill short market, legal candidates choose the companies they want to work with. Fact: Your culture and flexibility could now be the deciding factor.

Earlier, we talked about communicating well with video. The question now is how can you share your culture throughout the virtual hiring process?

Having freely available culture videos on your website, as themuse shares here, demonstrate your inclusivity and work environment.

Another idea is to provide a virtual experience during, before or after the virtual interview.

What about a Zoom coffee catch up with different departments or an office walkthrough?

Technology really does make anything possible.

 

What’s Next?

The legal industry is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for both our legal clients and jobseekers.

Contact the Clayton Legal team today if you would like support to develop your legal recruitment strategy or job search in the virtual age.

 

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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