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Your Legal Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to bear in mind the reasons you are where you are in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – and what does doing so look like up to this point? Did you plan on meeting certain financial goals by this stage of your career or have your ambitions been driven by more personal goals?

An equally important point to consider is what you value most about the firm you work for. Do your values fit in with what the firm’s culture prioritises? Is there a synergy present in your working relationships with your colleagues and managers?

If you find that your current role or firm is not providing the satisfaction you had hoped it would, or that the pace of your progress has gradually petered out, then it could be a sign that some important decisions need to be made regarding your career sooner rather than later.

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

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Did You Score?

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

 

20-40

Alarm Bells!

Things aren’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying life in your current role. We suggest taking some time to reflect on the possible reasons behind your dissatisfaction and what needs to change to have them resolved. This can be anything from your current workload and position within your team to your working environment and even your practice area.

 

41-60

Room for More

A better score, which suggests there are aspects of your job you enjoy but also a lot of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but feel that there is a lack of support present within management to help you meet medium or long-term career goals. You will need to find out if there is any commitment on the part of the management team to implement changes, and assess how concrete said plans for change are. Speak with your manager and outline your concerns as well as what plans they have in this regard. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, you will have either gotten a clearer picture of what your future at the firm looks like or a clear indication that your tenure there has run its course.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals

You’re neither happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as entirely satisfied. Meaning that if the right opportunity came your way, you would be weighing up your options. Whenever you feel this way it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re leaning towards a move away from your firm, have a think of why this is your preferred option. What you want to be sure of is that there is no impulsivity driving your decision-making and that an exit is needed because of a bad career move, not a bad day at the office.

 

81+

Loving Life and Your Job

You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy life where you work. There may be elements of your work life that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough of a negative to make you consider working elsewhere. However, we suggest you don’t let complacency set in, as being in your comfort zone for a certain period of time can sometimes lead to that and prove counterproductive to your progress in the long run. If you find that despite being happy with where you are in your career, you haven’t taken any major steps forward in the last year or two, then a fresh challenge could be the jumpstarter you need.

 

Hopefully this checklist has prompted you to think harder about your career goals – and whether or not you are on track to achieve those with your current employer. If the final score however has intimated a change may be afoot, your next wise move is to call on the expertise of a recruitment specialist who can further challenge those thoughts; find out exactly what you are looking for from an employer and uncover the potential reasons you are ready to look at new opportunities in the market.

At Clayton Legal, we have been committed for the past 20 plus years to helping legal professionals build a career they can be proud of, whatever stage of their journey they might be at. If you are at a point where that next step in your legal career is unclear going into the new year, then we can give you the guidance you need to make your start in 2024 the strongest possible one. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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

  • November 1, 2023

The amount of stress that searching for the right role to advance one’s career can cause, is no secret to any legal professional. Time constraints, mounting case workloads and the resulting pressure to juggle work and personal commitments are just some of the struggles candidates often have to deal with. And that’s not even mentioning the rejection emails or calls jobseekers will inevitably have to face as part of the process, before beginning to make headway in their job search.

While a little stress can be useful for certain situations, high stress levels can quickly wear us down and drain our mental resources, robbing us of the energy, motivation and headspace we need to tackle daily challenges head-on. As many as 79% of workers around the UK have cited the source of their stress to be work-related this year, with 74% saying it has reached a level that has made them unable to cope.

Considering how demanding job-searching can be, having to deal with unbearable levels of stress is not exactly helpful when needing to be on your A-game to network effectively and make the best possible impression on prospective employers.

This is where the option of enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter would be a game-changer for legal candidates. Not only does it save you an inordinate amount of time, but it spares you the hassle you would otherwise have to contend with if you were job-hunting alone.

Here are just some of the many benefits you can gain from working with one:

A Time-Efficient Job Search

Many will be well aware of how daunting and time-consuming a job search can be, especially if you’re already employed and are trying to find a better role elsewhere. Being one of your most important resources as a legal professional, you stand to benefit greatly from utilising the services of a specialist recruiter as it significantly cuts down the time spent on scouring job boards and websites. Due to the vast network, connections and knowledge they possess of the industry, they are in the best position to find you a role that ticks all your boxes. As a result, what might have taken you months can easily be achieved in weeks or even days.

In some cases, consultants will already know in advance if a particular firm is actively on the hiring market before a vacancy is even posted. Leading firms often utilise agencies, because it’s a more efficient way for them to hire the right person. Rather than searching for opportunities that may not be visible online, you could save a considerable amount of time by working with an expert.

Valuable Market Insight & Access to Connections

While job boards can be a useful resource for identifying opportunities, firms will often opt to use their network and their recruitment company’s network to seek the right people for most fee-earner/niche roles, rather than advertising them online. The reason for this is that candidates who are right for these particular roles are often in demand and are either not on the market or are not actively seeking new employment opportunities. With a skills-short market currently making the fight for top legal talent more intense than ever, prospective employers are far more likely to rely on the help of a specialist legal recruiter to source the right candidate for their firm.

With a recruiter on-hand, you gain instant access to the information they hold about all relevant roles in the industry and current trends in the market. A good specialist recruiter will utilise the insight their network provides them to find the right fit for you, culture and skills-wise. By acting as a representative for both you and the firm, a specialist recruiter will facilitate the communication process, and ensure that the firm you are interested in is a good cultural fit for you.

Expert Guidance to Boost Interview Performance

Certainly, the most stressful part of searching for any new job is the dreaded interview stage which can be particularly daunting if it has been a while since your last interview. That’s where a specialist recruiter earns their keep, as they exist to make all parts of the transition from your current role to a new one as stress-free as possible. They are therefore always on-hand to help you prepare for the big day and offer career-specific guidance on how to approach your interview preparation accordingly.

As they are well-informed of the current hiring trends and practices adopted by employers, it is undoubtedly in your best interest to take onboard any advice they give regarding common and tricky interview questions, body language and even things like dress code and travel logistics.

They Will Negotiate the Best Deal for You

Getting an offer of employment for a role that you’ve long been in search for is half the battle; the other half is of course getting what you want (what you feel you’re worth) in terms of remuneration. Salary negotiation can often be a tricky and awkward conversation with a future employer, especially at such a sensitive stage of your relationship, and so it is best to let a legal recruiter handle such discourse. In addition to ensuring that you get the best possible deal when it comes to pay and benefits, they will also iron out other important parts of the deal such as notice periods, start dates and career development opportunities available to you in your new role.

Personalised Support – Your Success is Their Success

One of the biggest advantages of job-hunting with a specialist recruiter is the vested interest and understanding they will have of your particular needs on both a personal and professional level. What you’re looking for in an employer in terms of culture, values flexibility, role and ‘fit’ can be difficult to find and even articulate at times, especially as these are not always reflected in the job descriptions. This means candidates are often left to gauge where the best fit is for their career. Whereas by working with a legal recruiter they will not only have a firm grasp of what your priorities are but will also ensure they – and you – are well-sold to the firm in question.

It is therefore in their own best interest to be selective on your behalf with regard to vacancies; by choosing the most suitable roles for their candidates to maximize success, which will not only reduce the competition candidates face for each role, but also improve their chances of getting hired. Their success lies in their ability to see to it that you’re happy in your desired role as it means they are successful with their client – a win-win for everyone.

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you. Contact us here or call the office on 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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 looking for a new legal position or just want to speak to a recruitment expert about the current market, call our team on 01772 259121 or click here to submit your CV.

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Is It Really Possible to Retrain From One Branch Of Law To Another?

  • September 15, 2023

When the time has come to move on from your role in the legal profession, in most cases, individuals are looking for something ‘similar’ when they embark on the job search. Some may look for a higher position within a different firm; others a lateral move where their general roles and responsibilities are similar – but more often than not, this tends to be within the same defined practice area.

But if you do find yourself contemplating a transition from one legal area to another altogether – it might be hard to know where to start looking for general advice on what is possible, and the steps you might need to take to get your foot in the door.

Step 1: Assess If You Might Be Jumping The Gun

The first (and certainly the most important) thing to consider before anything else is whether you are 100% set on moving practice areas in the first place.

In other words, evaluate the ‘Why’ behind your decision to retrain.

Thoroughly examining your reasons for wanting to make a change can greatly help to bring clarity in your decision-making and avoid any potential tunnel-visioning. 

Start by asking yourself if you are happy in your current practice area – or whether it is the environment, culture, or current firm that you’re looking to change instead. Indeed, it might not be what you are practising but where that is the problem here.

Or – are the reasons for moving on more personal? If you find yourself to be constantly exhausted, irritable and apathetic towards your work and personal life of late, you are likely to be experiencing burnout. Whilst this needs addressing – is it a sign that the practice area itself is no longer a good fit for you? Or more so a sign that a similar role elsewhere may address your concerns?

If you’ve run through all of these scenarios is assessing whether the time is right to move on, and you’re still set on a categorical change, there are certain things to consider as you embark on your jobsearch.

Step 2: Conduct An Honest Self-Assessment

Before embarking on your journey to retrain in a new area of law, it’s essential to perform a thorough self-assessment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What area of law am I currently practicing, and again, why exactly do I want to move away from this area?
  • What new area of law interests me, and what is my motivation for making this change?
  • What are my long-term career goals, and how will this transition align with them?
  • Do I have the necessary skills, background, and aptitude for the new area of law?

Understanding your motivations and assessing your strengths and weaknesses will help you make an informed decision about your career transition.

Step 3: Do Your Research

To transition successfully, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the new area of law. Begin by conducting extensive research. Read books, articles, and legal publications related to your chosen field. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences to gain a better understanding of current trends, issues, and developments in that area.

Networking is equally important. Connect with lawyers, professionals, and organisations in the new field. Join relevant online forums, LinkedIn groups, and local bar associations. Building a network of contacts can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and of course – potential job opportunities in the future.

If you are already working for a multi-disciplinary law firm, you may already have a head start here as there will likely be colleagues you can approach for informal (and formal) discussions about their own role. Depending on the firm, you may be able to talk candidly in your performance reviews or 121 about an internal move – even on a temporary basis to see if it is a good fit for both parties.

Step 4: Embrace The (Sometimes Inevitable) Additional Education And Training

Depending on the new area of law you’re transitioning into, you may need additional education and training which can be a hard pill to swallow after you’ve spent a number of years qualifying as a practicing lawyer or legal professional in the first place.

You may however need to consider the following options:

Postgraduate Courses: Enroll in a relevant postgraduate course, such as a Master’s degree in your chosen field of law. Many universities in the UK offer specialised LLM programmes, and The University Of Law has a multitude of postgraduate courses that may fit the bill).

Continuous Learning: Attend short courses, webinars, and workshops to stay updated with the latest developments and enhance your knowledge in the new area.

In addition to attending events and webinars, see what online or evening courses you might be able to take to work toward a qualification in your area of interest. Consider what other training you can do, from self-study to gaining certificates which might add credibility to your CV – although note, that some of this will likely come at a cost.

Step 5: Consider Other Options To Boost Your Experience

Paid-for training and qualifications may get you on the right track when looking to retrain, but there are also other elements you may wish to consider too:

  • Volunteering: Offer your services pro bono or as a volunteer to gain practical experience and build your portfolio. Many firms or legal organisations welcome volunteers and it’s commendable to have this experience on your CV when it comes to looking for a role in your chosen practice area
  • Internships and Work Placements: Seek internships or work placements in law firms or legal departments specialising in your chosen area. This hands-on experience will give you a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work involved. Again, if this is possible at your current firm, put the wheels in motion to shadow a colleague.

Step 6: Get Your Marketing Collateral In Order

Simply put – as a jobseeker, this relates to your CV and Cover Letter

When applying for positions in your new field, tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight relevant skills, experiences, and transferrable qualities. Emphasise your commitment to the new area of law and your dedication to continuous learning.

Whilst your experience to date is likely in your current practice area, highlighting transferrable skills here is absolutely key.

Could you focus on the following for example?

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Case management
  • Results-driven
  • Business acumen

That being said, be careful not to fall into the trap of peppering your CV or letter with meaningless cliches or jobseeker ‘jargon’!

Step 7: Seek Guidance From The Get-Go

You may wish to consider seeking guidance from a career counsellor or a mentor who has experience in the field you’re transitioning into if your network gives you access to these. They will undoubtedly provide valuable insights, advice, and support throughout your retraining journey.

In addition to implementing the above strategies, working closely with a specialist legal recruitment agency like Clayton Legal, who understands your situation and your goals, can significantly improve your chances of success. If you take the time to clearly explain your current situation and your goals, they will have the know-how and the connections to guide you toward landing a role in your new specialism and can help to signpost you to other resources to help you on your way,

In Conclusion

In summary, while transitioning from one area of law to another in the UK is certainly possible, it requires careful planning, determination, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By focusing on transferable skills, acquiring additional education or training, networking, gaining practical experience, and persistently pursuing your goals, you can successfully make the switch to a different legal specialisation.

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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How to Get on the Radar of a Legal Recruiter

  • September 15, 2023

Has the time come for you to make a new move in your legal career? 

While it’s advisable to give the idea of leaving your current job some thought before coming to a decision – there are certainly red flags that when present in your work life, signal an immediate need for a fresh start in pastures new.

These could include signs of burnout, difficulty in maintaining the same level of interest and engagement you once had in your job, or frustration borne of the lack of opportunities afforded to you to grow and develop as a legal professional.

If you find yourself grappling with any of the above, you might have already begun your job search either online or by asking peers, and have come up short. That is where you can benefit greatly from the support of a specialist legal recruiter, and in such cases, we highly recommend giving us a call – however, bear in mind that you are not the only candidate that will have contacted a legal recruiter like us.  

It’s not unusual at all for consultants to receive many candidates for each job vacancy, and their reputation (as well as yours) is on the line with each placement recommendation they make. So how do you sell your value to legal recruiters and give them a reason to recommend you to employers looking for nothing but the best legal talent available? 

In short… how can you ensure that they become your advocate and help to ‘sell’ your worth and fit for the role(s) in question?

Getting The Basics Down

Here at Clayton Legal, we have been receiving candidate CVs for over 25 years, and we can (still) say with confidence that this document remains an essential part of how legal candidates get their profile noticed and progressed to the interview stage. 

Whether you’re in the early stages or more into the twilight years of your career, your CV is a document that both employers and legal recruiters will expect to be crafted and polished to perfection. A standout CV creates a compelling case for you to be considered as the ideal candidate not only by backing up your (relevant) list of skills and experience with tangible results but also by doing so without being peppered with unnecessary and overused CV cliches and with a clear structure and format to keep it easily digestible. If CV writing is proving to be a challenge for you, check out our blog here on how to craft a CV that catches the eye of employers. If you can write one capable of grabbing their attention, you can be sure it’ll grab ours. 

All of which bodes well for you, the candidate. So how do you get on the radar of a great legal recruiter and maximise your chances of securing that dream job? 

Conduct An Online Health Check

You will likely be well aware by now of the importance of having an online presence that underscores your suitability to prospective employers, but if you haven’t yet done due diligence in this particular area, then now is the time to take it seriously.

It is well known by hiring experts that a first impression of a candidate usually comes before the interview, and with social media screening becoming increasingly popular as a prerequisite amongst employers to progress candidates’ applications to the interview stage, giving your digital footprint a thorough examination (especially if you have a strong online presence) should be a must if you want to appear as the top candidate for selection by a legal recruiter. 

This is especially pertinent when it comes to LinkedIn, as it is the go-to social media platform for prospective employers, and consequently legal recruiters for potential candidates. It’s therefore vital to make the most of the opportunities your LinkedIn profile provides to help you in legal career progression and opportunity. Tidy up your profile, ensuring that keywords & key phrases relevant to roles you might be on the lookout for are present in your skills experience section and make sure your interaction on the platform – both past and present – reflect the professional image your profile is trying to portray. Get rid of anything you don’t want potential employers or any legal recruiter to see, (pictures, bio, comments).

We go into further detail on how to create a LinkedIn profile that stands out to employers here. 

Both employers and legal recruiters will be looking for certain skills that highlight how well a candidate meets the criteria of the role in question. While you will naturally have ones acquired from your qualifications present on your CV and LinkedIn profile, you should also be paying equal attention to transferable skills, as they are not only always applied across roles, but they also highlight how you work in terms of communication, integrity and experience. If you have gained four, six or eight years PQE since you were last on the job market, you will have extended your skillset considerably and so now is an appropriate time to review them and ensure you use them to sell yourself as much as possible. Make sure to back up each skill mentioned with an example of how you demonstrated it. 

Are You Spotlighting Your Skillset?

Both employers and legal recruiters will be looking for certain skills that highlight how well a candidate meets the criteria of the role in question. While you will naturally have ones acquired from your qualifications present on your CV and LinkedIn profile, you should also be paying equal attention to transferable skills, as they are not only always applied across roles, but they also highlight how you work in terms of communication, integrity and experience. If you have gained four, six or eight years PQE since you were last on the job market, you will have extended your skillset considerably and so now is an appropriate time to review them and ensure you use them to sell yourself as much as possible. Make sure to back up each skill mentioned with an example of how you demonstrated it. 

Could you talk about any of the following perhaps?

Teamwork – Show you can work effectively within a team towards mutual goals.

Time Management – Demonstrate how you prioritise and manage your workload (and potentially that of others). Include examples of taking responsibility for your own work, balancing tasks and hitting deadlines.

Leadership – Indicate initiative and motivation. Examples of how you have built rapport with clients, colleagues and influenced decisions. How have you inspired others?

Technology – Knowing how to use the latest software and technology is essential. Additional skills such as being able to troubleshoot complex problems, or understand data security, will provide an added benefit.

Adaptability – Nothing stays the same forever. Everyone has to adapt, adjust and change. Showing you are versatile and agile indicates a willingness to move forward and embrace change. This sort of positivity is crucial to progress your legal career.

Problem-Solving – Offering solution-orientated answers indicates your ability to use emotional intelligence, manage risk and make decisions.

Communication – As well as being able to communicate your own ideas to others verbally or on paper, being able to listen is a great skill, and developing listening skills can help alleviate potential misunderstandings and costly mistakes.

Does The Shoe Fit?

It might sound obvious, but working with a legal recruiter is a two-way street and meant to benefit both parties, meaning that decision of which recruiter to work with is just as vital as their decision to collaborate with you. 

Therefore, before making the decision to partner with a particular recruiter, do your homework to ensure their values align with yours. How long have they been in business? Do they put the needs of their clients and candidates at the heart of everything they do, striving to nurture and build relationships? Are they trustworthy and transparent? Do they highlight ethical recruitment practices?

 Make sure they strive to provide the best possible fit for candidates (and clients) alongside ongoing support, pertinent information, ability to evaluate a candidate’s potential fit into the company culture, and a great retention rate for placements. Take the time to thoroughly research their credentials and check that they are respected in the recruiting world – online testimonials are a good indication of this. 

Be Proactive

Showing commitment and enthusiasm goes a long way to putting you ahead of the pack. Once you’ve chosen your recruiter, don’t sit waiting for them to contact you (even though they are likely to). Becoming proactive in building a relationship with your recruiter is a great way to get on their radar. 

Reach out to them via email, LinkedIn or telephone. Many recruiters have a page where you can upload your CV, getting you in the system quickly. 

Whatever method you use, a proactive response will enable you to engage with the recruiter, brief them on your skills, requirements and PQE experience, and allow them to quickly identify the best opportunities for you in your practice area, or discuss exploring a change of direction and what that entails for you. 

They will have also valuable tips and advice to offer you during your search. For best results, treat your communication with your recruiter rather like how they treat theirs with a candidate – check in regularly and demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to securing a new role. The more you do so, the clearer the picture they can get of where the next chapter of your legal career lies and the better their advice will be. 

Next Steps

If you’re here because you believe a move is on the cards at this stage of your career, you’ve come to the right place. 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 want to finally take the uncertainty out of your job search, give our team a call on 01772 259 121 or email us here. 

 

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Succession Planning in Law Firms: It’s never too early…but don’t leave it too late

  • May 17, 2023

The COVID-19 Pandemic taught businesses many things. How to adapt (and quickly), how to navigate unchartered territories, and most of all, how to be as prepared as you can for the unexpected. Those businesses that had business disruption plans in place were naturally given a head start, while others arguably had their fingers burnt when the world turned upside down.

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 it will undoubtedly be small and medium-sized boutique firms that are the most at risk from disruption as the required skill set and knowledge will be concentrated amongst a few key individuals.

Put simply, firms without a succession plan risk losing revenue, reputation, and relationships, and whilst it’s hard to find the time to plan for the future when you are busy running the day-to-day, putting a clear strategy in place will only help to protect the business when the time comes to put it into action further down the line.

Here we look at the 9 steps to take to start a succession plan for your law firm:

 

1. First things first: look for signs your key people are thinking of leaving

Legal professionals can choose to leave your firm for a variety of reasons. They may be looking for a new opportunity or challenge in their career, want to move into another area of law perhaps, or simply have become dissatisfied in their current role.

The first step to planning for the future is to be ever aware of the warning signs your top talent is thinking of leaving.

This might include:

  • Avoidance of long-term projects and growth
  • Visible signs of the stress connected to the role
  • Signs that the individual is not as creative or intuitive as usual
  • Performance is beginning to suffer

In today’s changing legal landscape, issues like disengagement, burnout, and even “quiet quitting” are becoming increasingly common. Fortunately, if you can recognise these signs ahead of time, there are still things you can do to re-ignite your staff’s passion for your firm and prevent them from seeking other employment options.

If that is not an option, or all avenues have been exhausted and the individual has progressed to handing their notice in, you might want to consider step two…

 

2. Consider whether a counteroffer is the way forward

When you are faced with the prospect of losing a key individual from your law firm, it can be tempting to enter straight into negotiations to counteroffer. Not only can it be expensive to replace key people, it can also damage morale and affect client relationships. If there is a glimmer of light that the decision can be reversed, it is no surprise that many employers go down this route to mitigate any collateral damage.

However, business leaders should think twice before making a counteroffer as there are both pros and cons that should be considered.

There are times when negotiations are worth entering into, especially if that individual can still see a future at the firm, still finds the culture and working environment a ‘fit’, and any identified obstacles can be overcome.

However, if the counteroffer is based around salary expectations, take heed. Will offering an increase lead to an imbalance across the rest of the team? Will it start a snowball effect with other individuals? Can you actually afford the increase?

Finally, it is also worth noting at this point that any negotiations around encouraging a key individual to stay will not be relevant if the reason for leaving is retirement. However, with a presumed notice period that will be required in this instance, following the next steps are still key as that person works through those final months (or years).

 

3. Review your current team in depth

As a business leader – whether as a practicing solicitor or not, the structure of your business should always be reviewed periodically. Of course, you may have an ongoing hiring plan in place to fill certain ‘gaps’ or around a growth strategy as you increase headcount. But consideration should always be made around highlighting key individuals across the business that are likely to cause some element of disruption if they were to leave suddenly (either enforced by the firm or due to extenuating circumstances).

A good starting point would be to look at ‘vulnerable’ vs. ‘critical’ positions

  • Vulnerable = There is no identifiable successor. Risk is loss of functionality and knowledge as there is no obvious replacement.
  • Critical = A leaver in this category would significantly impact a firm’s operations. All leadership positions are critical by this definition – in particular CEO, CFO type roles.

Assuming you prioritise planning for the departure of these roles first, ask yourself if there is someone else in the business that can take on those responsibilities for example. What would happen to that individual’s clients or caseload? What clients are a flight risk and would potentially follow that individual to a new law firm?

These are the initial key questions when putting a succession plan in place: understanding the risks and ensuring that business continuity is key.

 

4. Develop your future leadership team

At any given point, having a pipeline of future leaders in the business is incredibly important – whatever the size and structure. Having clear progression paths in place is a good starting point so individuals can envisage their future at the firm, supported with robust training and upskilling where needed as part of the wider package of benefits and employee support.

When it comes to creating a succession plan, however, more careful consideration needs to be taken when assessing the exact skills and experience needed  – applicable whether you are planning to move people into that role from within or recruit externally.

You need to consider for example:

Key skills that may be lost  – If the individual leaving is a business leader or managing partner, these may not only be around their skills as a practicing lawyer. Business acumen, entrepreneurship, strong financial control, and managing a team are all essential skills that you would hope their successor would have. Above all, someone who has experience in change management would be ideal to take the business from its current state to a desired future state – executing change, mitigating risk, and minimising resistance.

SPOFs – ‘Single Point Of Failure’ – an acronym that originates in the world of IT, it refers to a component or part of a system that, upon failure, would cause the entire system to fail or significantly impact its operation. In business terms, therefore, you need to consider if any individuals have sole knowledge of a particular process or system or hold a set of critical skills that no one else in the business currently has. To see these, quite literally walk out of the door, may significantly impact your business, so ensuring that knowledge is shared is good practice.

Using notice periods to your advantage – if a successor has been identified, and there is a notice period for the leaving individual to serve, it may be worth considering if there is an opportunity for the two to work side-by-side for a period. Obviously, you will need to consider internal costs here and the impact on billing criteria if you have an individual mirroring a new role, but the time spent shadowing or preparing for the shift of responsibilities could be a sensible move in the long run.

 

5. Active management of client transitions

Unless the individual is leaving your firm because of retirement or to cease employment altogether for other reasons, there is always the risk of clients following that individual to one of your competitors.

So what can you do to mitigate the risk (and impact on your bottom line)?

Once again, the starting point is taking time to analyse your book of clients, particularly those who you would class as ‘high-value’. Do these have a team of people that you deal with regularly, or is it just one individual? Understanding these relationships is key, as is ensuring that all leads and client data is shared internally through your database or CRM.

If it is appropriate, ensure that the client has contact with a number of people within your firm, not just a single person. Regardless, open and transparent communication with your key clients is vital to uphold those valued relationships, maintaining service quality, and contribute to client satisfaction with the proposed changes ahead.

From an internal point of view, and if there is a formal transition in place between leaver and successor, make time to transfer knowledge about that client. This should be on a deeper level than the information found on a CRM or caseload platform. Ongoing projects, key individuals, processes, and how they like to do business are all vital nuggets of information that will equip the person taking over the relationship with the inside track over and above facts and figures on a much more personal level.

6. Creating an external comms plan that maintains stability

By now it is evident that clear communication to all stakeholders is a key part of continuity and succession planning. Creating a plan that also addresses ‘the market’ is also key here – particularly if the individual leaving is senior, a managing partner, or a CEO for example.

The objective of general external communications is to mitigate any potential damage to the firm’s brand and to reassure clients and potential clients about the continuity of service.

And, whilst a smooth and well-managed transition can have a positive impact on a firm’s brand, a poorly executed or mishandled succession process can actually tarnish its reputation.

Communicating future plans here is key – when people observe a well-prepared and seamless transition of key personnel, it instills confidence in the firm’s ability to maintain consistent service quality, fostering trust in the brand and reinforcing its reputation for reliability.

What’s more, succession planning allows a firm to strategically position itself by identifying and developing talent in specific practice areas or industries. By aligning succession plans with the firm’s strategic objectives, it can communicate its expertise and wider value proposition to clients and stakeholders. This further strengthens the firm’s brand reputation as a trusted authority in those areas of law.

 

7. Focus on internal communications and vision

Having a clear roadmap for the future; setting a vision and the steps in place to get there is crucial for any law firm, whatever their size or practice area. Engaging team members, ensuring efforts are aligned, and facilitating personal growth and development are key elements of successful internal communications.

When a key individual has given their notice to leave, it may very well lead to discontent and worry – albeit temporary – on the supposed disruption ahead. It’s therefore vital to be completely transparent with the remaining team about what plans are in place, and how they will affect the business in the short, medium, and long term.

Some key areas to focus on in your communications include:

Providing a clear roadmap ahead –  outline the future strategic direction particularly if this will change as the individual departs.

Engage in 2-way communication – encourage team members to share any concerns, thoughts, and ideas openly about what the future will look like.

Promote personal growth opportunities – ensuring the remaining team members can still see opportunities for their own growth, progression, and personal development is crucial.

Visualise the vision – where you can, make your firm’s vision tangible and relatable.  Use visual aids, and real-life examples to help team members connect on an emotional level.

Managing change communications is a critical aspect of successfully navigating organisational transitions and ensuring the smooth adoption of new initiatives and significant changes, including the departure of key individuals. Done well, this can help your remaining team transition with clarity, understanding, and engagement for the road ahead.

8. Consider hiring strategy as structure changes

Depending on the role in question, you may not want to hire someone external – rather, promote from within. This has clear benefits – these individuals are already a good fit for your firm, understand your tech stack and processes, and may already have fostered good relationships with key clients.

However, external hiring may be needed to back-fill the role of the successor for example. A shift around of roles and responsibilities internally inevitably leaves gaps somewhere – so consideration of what a revised or likely business structure should be taken to feed into a plan around hiring.

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 – but there are clear advantages to engaging early with a sector-specialist to give you a head start as you continue to focus on handovers and the transfer of knowledge of your departing employee.

9. Keep internal admin up to date

Job descriptions and the roles and responsibilities of individuals are likely to change over time – particularly if they progress along a defined career path, or the business changes and roles have to flex to accommodate those.

It is therefore prudent to keep documentation up to date to make it easier to recruit into that role when the time comes – be that from your internal talent pool or externally.

Even if the ‘new’ role may change with the departing individual, it at least allows you to benchmark and assess areas of the role that may need to pass to the successor.

And, ensuring that key processes are documented and shared internally is crucial if you don’t want to end up with SPOFs in the business who take that knowledge with them as they depart.

 

Conclusion

Whilst it’s not always the case that business leaders get a heads up on when the key individuals of their team are leaving, it is still worth having succession planning as part of the annual strategic review – particularly if a SWOT analysis is conducted where this could be classified as a very real threat to business-as-usual.

Where reasons for leaving are around retirement or taking a more permanent step back from current responsibilities, as much time to plan ahead should be taken. Using notice periods strategically to help document processes and pass the baton over to a suitable successor is time well spent.

And, if there is no one in the wings that look like they have the right skills and mindset to take on additional or alternative responsibilities, engaging with a trusted and reputable legal recruitment specialist as soon as you can is key to ensure you kick start the process and find a suitable candidate that is the right ‘fit’ from the outset.

Successful succession planning is about putting solid plans in place before key individuals leave – not scrambling to fill gaps and manage ripples of worry or discontent as they walk out of the door. And, as Vijay Parikh, Owner of Harold Benjamin Solicitors wrote recently for The Law Gazette whilst succession planning may not be something on many senior partners’ agenda, it is an absolute necessity, like any other future planning for a successful business.

In short, it’s never too early to start thinking about putting a strategy in place  – even if it only comes into force sometime in the future.

 

 

About Clayton Legal

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

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Facing Redundancy – What Next for Your Legal Career?

The last few months have been a precarious time for the vast majority of people in the UK. And with significant changes in the legal sector, many employees have felt a degree of uncertainty around the future of their career.

The realities of the rise in inflation and the cost of living is now being realised, and for some legal employees, this will, unfortunately, mean redundancy. A new study has shown that nearly 1 in 5 employers are likely to make redundancies over the next year, including law firms and legal services.

But while some areas and some practices have been hit hard, others are flourishing.

Today, we look at what legal employees who are currently facing redundancy should be focusing on now and how to navigate the new situation you could be placed in.

Let’s start with some positivity.

The New Job Mindset

A positive mindset is critical when job seeking, so the first thing that it is essential to remember is that it’s not you that is being made redundant; it’s your role.

There has been so much change, contraction and growth in different areas that there will be inevitable redundancies in some practices as employers try to make sense of the new market.

Legal employees who ‘go it alone’, rather than work with a recruiter, run the risk of losing momentum. This can leave you feeling isolated and discouraged, especially when your job applications aren’t garnering you many responses.

My first piece of advice for a legal candidate facing redundancy is to start working with a legal recruiter as soon as possible. They will be able to provide the career support that you need right now.

So if your position has recently become redundant, there is good news – there are opportunities out there – let’s look at where they are.

What To Do If Your Training Contract Is Terminated

The Law Society have a great article that discusses what your options are if your training contract is terminated before you complete it. Find out more here with guidance from The Law Society and the SRA.

“The SRA states that trainee solicitors are common law apprentices, which means that you cannot be terminated as part of a redundancy process. This gives you enhanced protections under employment law and you should have reference to the SRA’s authorised training provider information pack (2019 regulations)”.

Retraining

One of the first things to consider is if you can retrain in a different legal specialism.

While this might not be the easiest path or the first choice for some individuals, for those that take advantage of the opportunity now could enjoy great benefits.

For example, you might have specialised in personal injury law, and have been operating in this field for some years.

But the market is now changing.

Legal firms are increasingly in need of employees trained in the areas which have boomed since the pandemic struck – property, family and employment law being the main three.

And this isn’t a short-sighted career move. Adding another string to your bow is always a good idea career-wise, and it makes perfect sense to do it now when there are talent shortages in these critical areas.

If you are thinking about changing your legal specialism, there are a few ways you can get started.

First, look for a mentor in your chosen field – this can be a difficult task, but once you find someone who you trust and who can help you shape your career path the way you want, they will be invaluable to you. This can be someone from your chosen field within your current company, or you can reach out to sector specialists on LinkedIn or during trade webinars or seminars, with physical networking not a possibility at this time.

Then take advantages of any courses you can enrol in to bring you closer to your chosen specialism, you can also self-study and work on extra certificates outside working hours – there are lots of online courses available.

If you feel comfortable discussing your chosen career goal with your current employer and feel that they will support you in your chosen field, you can always ask them if they will allow you time to train on the job in another department of the firm.

So let’s look a little closer at the areas in where the opportunities are right now.

Property

As with many unprecedented situations the pandemic caused, the mortgage and rent holidays that were put in place by the government created a boom in property law that hasn’t slowed down.

There is going to be a vast increase in roles in practices that deal with property disputes. And this is set to continue for many months and possibly even years.

Staying with property, the backlog of conveyancing that was caused by the house-move ban has yet to be cleared, which has created more opportunities for growth in this sector.

This, coupled with the fact that the pandemic seems to have inspired many people to move house – a rise of 15.6% in August 2020 – practices with property specialisms have never been busier.

Family

Family law is another area where we have seen a significant increase in opportunities.

There has been a so-called ‘divorce boom’ fuelled by the lockdowns and changes in economic circumstances. The Citizens Advice website saw a 25% increase in divorce guidance searches in September 2020 compared to the previous year.

The BBC spoke to family lawyer Georgina Chase, who commented that 30% of matrimonial enquiries she had received had been from couples separating because of relationship issues being exacerbated due to lockdown which we think will continue to increase as the cost of living continues to squeeze on those relationships.

A new survey by Scottish Law firm MHA Henderson Loggie has predicted lawyers specialising in commercial dispute resolution and family law are anticipating an increase in workload due to Covid-19.

MHA Legal director Christine Rolland commented “It is not known how the courts will cope with the backlog of cases on top of the expected number of new cases over the next 6 months.”

So family law is another area that is crying out for legal talent right now.

Employment

Employment law is another area which is seeing a drastic increase in the wake of Covid-19.

There have been changes to employment law due to the pandemic, with many issues in this field yet to be resolved.

As of late August 2020, there were 39,000 individual employment claims waiting to be heard according to the Ministry of Justice figures.

Barry Clarke, the president of employment tribunals in England and Wales, said he expects the backlog to continue to rise. He said this “would pose huge challenges to the ability of the [employment tribunal] to deliver justice within a reasonable time, which deeply troubled him”.

Conciliation service Acas received 33,000 calls in regards to redundancy in June and July 2020, an increase of 169% on last year.

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done in this area of law, and practices with this specialism are looking for talent to help clear the backlog.

Private Client

During this time, if you haven’t before, it might be time to consider working with private clients on cases to start to build your own private client portfolio.

Private clients are an international growth industry which can be an extremely good career move for a solicitor to consider.

If you have excellent interpersonal skills, and it is your ambition to work closely with your clients to provide the best outcomes for individuals you have built an excellent relationship with, then becoming a private client solicitor could be for you.

Private client opportunities are currently booming, so now is a great time to make a career change into this area of law if you think you’ve got what it takes.

Looking at the Positives

Facing redundancy can feel daunting, but it is crucial to think of the opportunities that a new role can bring.

You have the chance to work with a legal recruiter to find a role that fits exactly the direction you want your legal career to be going in.

If you aren’t sure about the direction of your legal career and would like to explore the options that are available to you right now, get in contact with us here.

A Different Location?

Finally, expanding your job search is another way to increase your options.

In your legal career so far, your work might have focused around one particular town or area, and this is understandable if you have family ties.

But for anyone with the opportunity to do so, looking to expand your job search into areas you hadn’t previously considered is a great way to increase your job prospects.

If you are searching for a new legal role in the North West – get in touch with us today by calling 0121 259 121, click here to view our current vacancies or click here to send us an email with your legal career enquiry.

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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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Legal Sector Hiring Trends: What Is Happening In The Market

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

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

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

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

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

The Hiring Trends Index

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

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

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

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

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

The War For Legal Talent Will Get Worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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COVID-19 and Your Legal Career – How to Manage Stress Like an Expert

  • April 13, 2020

Professionals in every sector have to deal with some level of stress throughout their career, and the life of a busy legal employee is no different.

Whether you’re a Family Solicitor working on a particularly challenging case, or a Paralegal with an increasing number of claims to get through – stress affects us all.

But the added difficulties of COVID-19 has increased the chance of professionals succumbing to stress and has made life altogether more challenging.

And as April 2020 was Stress Awareness Month in the UK, I thought now was an appropriate time to support legal professionals in managing stress through the remainder of lockdown by sharing some helpful advice a mentor gave me in the previous challenging times of 2008 and 2009.

1. Planning Ahead

One of the best ways legal professionals can manage stress is to avoid overwhelm – and you can do this through careful planning.

Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty around what the future holds, but more specifically, how long things are going to take to get back to normal. The truth is, we can’t be sure how long this timeframe will be, but what we can do is to plan for things we do know.

It is likely that your calendar currently looks quite different from what it was pre-COVID-19. If you are still working on cases, are you working with a reduced amount? Or have the time frames been extended?

Things are changing rapidly right now, so flexible planning is needed to reduce stress. If a case is brought forward, extended or put on hold, you need to be able to factor this in as soon as you know. So keep in contact with any colleagues who are still working, clients and anyone else involved in cases as much as you possibly can – which brings me on to my next point.

2. Stay Connected

While working from home, it might feel as though some individuals who you usually have regular contact with have dropped off your radar.

This could be furloughed colleagues, associated insurers and your wider legal community in general. Feeling isolated can increase stress, just as feeling connected to a support network can reduce it.

Stay connected as much as you can to all of the people you usually interact with. This can be a combination of sending emails and personal messages to colleagues, attending webinars run by legal professionals and even commenting and interacting with your peers on LinkedIn.

3. Take Time Out

The change from our regular working lives to being contained at home has been a significant source of stress for some people.

If you’re still working on cases from home, the added pressure of trying to achieve the same results from an unusual or challenging environment can make even easy tasks seem overwhelming.

Perhaps you’re self-isolating with children, partners and pets with whom you have to contend with all while attempting to get your work done.

It is essential to take regular breaks and take time out if you start to feel as though things are getting on top of you. When we work from home, it can be easy for our work and home lives to merge, but it is essential to prevent this from happening.

Where possible, keep to your regular working hours. Unless it is necessary, don’t be tempted to jump on your laptop or make calls outside of your working hours – remember that downtime is key to preventing stress.

4. If You Are On Furlough

Furloughed legal employees can be susceptible to stress over the uncertainty of when you will return to work, and under what conditions. The additional concern about the reduction in your wages (if you’ve gone down to 80% pay) can exacerbate stress. A recent YouGov poll found that 55% of people are now worried about their families’ finances.

What furloughed employees should remember is that they’re not alone – more than 4 million UK employees have been furloughed. Experts predict that the government will ease the lockdown slowly throughout May, with a return to a new normal following in the weeks and months afterwards.

The following are what to do if you’re feeling stressed due to being furloughed –

  • Reach out – there are plenty of schemes that have been put in place to help employees just like you, whether that’s contacting your bank about a reduction in your mortgage, or contacting your local authority to find out what other help is available to you.
  • Keep track – create a budget and check your finances once a week to stay on track.
  • Stay up to date with the news – the situation is changing rapidly at the moment, but staying in the know can help you feel in control.
  • Keep in touch with your employer – they should be able to keep you regularly updated with the latest information regarding your furlough and your return to work.

Finally

The NHS has recognised that stress caused by the upheaval and worries associated with coronavirus is a significant problem. So much so that there is a dedicated section of their website which deals with coronavirus-related stress which you can read here.

If you’re a legal professional currently looking for employment, or are thinking about the future of your legal career – we can help with advice and job opportunities. Browse our current vacancies here, or get in touch with our team today to find out more.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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

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

  • September 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have You Become Static in Your Current Law Career?

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

There are several options to consider:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Feeling Jaded in Your Current Role?

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

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

The Law Society offers practical advice on changing specialisms.

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

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

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

Are You in Danger of Burn-Out?

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

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

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

Something is going to crash and burn.

So, look after yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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

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5 Questions Legal Hiring Managers Always Ask At Interview

  • September 10, 2019

Interviews. They don’t get any easier with time, even if you are a seasoned legal professional, it can still be nerve-wracking attending an interview.

Obviously, you are there because you want that ideal legal role, and the key to success is always in your preparation.

So, along with the usual planning of what to wear, how to get to the interview, times, dates and name of the interviewer, there’s the essential practising of potential interview questions.

But how on earth do you know what the interviewer is going to ask?

There will be specific role-related questions; that’s a given. And as you have worked in this role before and/or have all the relevant qualifications, you’re ahead on that one.

There may be questions about the company you are hoping to work for, so with a bit of research online, you can garner information about them, their latest news, company newsletters, mission and goals etc.

You can also bring your soft skills in to play by aligning them to the role. If you’re going for a Senior Partnership or Manager role, these could include your ability to lead a team, to time manage efficiently, delegate, and give constructive feedback thanks to your emotional intelligence.

If you are early on in your career and looking for a Fee Earner position, your soft skills could include being a great team collaborator, empathetic to others, able to manage your own diary and with an excellent work ethic.

There will likely be questions on all of the above, but there is also a set of fundamental questions that legal hiring managers ask all candidates time and time again.

So, note them down now and make sure your answers are ready to ensure you nail that interview!

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is often the first question interviewers will ask. They don’t want to know your life history here, so don’t be tempted to go off on a tangent.

What this question is trying to do is act as an icebreaker and test how you respond to open-ended queries. This could prove useful to the employer in gauging how you will react to similar questions within your working role.

You can use this question to (briefly, please!) describe how you got to be where you are today – so tell them about your achievements so far in your career, career highlights you have most enjoyed and your goals for the future.

Use the ‘present-past-future’ formula to enable you to give a potted version of your career history.

So, for example, you are applying for a position as an HR Manager in a law firm. Your answer to the past, present, future may look something like this:

“My interest in HR started about 6 years ago when I was working at X firm. I partnered with the HR team helping to design some custom training programmes.

I’m currently working as X. I recently completed my Master’s degree in Y, which I’ve studied part time.

My ultimate goal is to become an HR Director within a law firm.”

It’s also appropriate here to mention your hobbies. For example, you may enjoy chess or hunting in antique shops at the weekend.

Additionally, an interest in a sport or physical exercise such as tennis or yoga shows you take your health and mental wellbeing seriously.

2. Why do you want this role?

Don’t be fooled into thinking this question is asking about your personal goals and ambitions in the legal world.

It’s more about testing what you know about the job role you’re applying for: have you done your homework, and are you really keen, or is this just one application in a scattergun approach to job seeking?

Employers know that the best employees will proactively seek to improve their performance by embracing lifelong learning and growing their skillsets. This question, therefore, also addresses your motivation to learn new things and develop your career.

As well as establishing your interest in the role and your motivation to develop, this question will also allow you to give credibility to your current skills and qualifications and confirm you can hit the ground running in your new position.

If you mention the benefits of working for the company as a whole, you’ll score additional points too!

3. Tell me about a time you faced a significant challenge or problem in your last role – how did you successfully overcome it?

This question is trying to ascertain how you react to problems and your ability to solve issues that arise. It is looking to see how you work under pressure, test your emotional intelligence and resilience to stay positive and focused if things don’t go to plan.

The answer to this will require you to have one or two examples to hand, so ensure you can illustrate your response with tangible examples of a time when you dealt with difficult situations successfully.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

This one is a classic interview question and catches a lot of people out.

Whatever you do, don’t respond with the implication that you are perfect – the interviewer won’t believe you anyway!

The question is devised to test your self-awareness by acknowledging your less-positive strengths and how you cope with them. So, the best answer to this one is to give an example of an area you know you need to work on, and what you are doing to overcome it.

For example, you could say that you are a perfectionist who needs your work to be perfect every time, and consequently, you find projects can overrun as you tinker with things. But you are dealing with this by setting yourself deadlines to ensure you hit targets.

5. What can you bring to this law firm?

The interviewer is assessing the law firm’s ROI here.

They want to be sure they take on an employee who will be a good fit for them in terms of team working, skills, ability and dedication.

They are investing a lot of time and money in interviewing, hiring, onboarding and providing training – so they want to get it right first time.

So be sure to show your enthusiasm in your answer as well as expressing your confidence that you can help them increase the business in terms of clients and monetary value and collaborate in striving to achieve company aspirations and goals.

Armed with your responses to these questions, you can sail through your interview confidently and land your perfect legal role.

Next Steps

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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

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