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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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Your Legal Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Did You Score?

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

 

20-40

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

 

41-60

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

 

61-80

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

81+

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

 

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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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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3 Big Career Mistakes Solicitors Make

  • August 31, 2019

As a legal professional, you know that mistakes in business happen. It could be the big deal with a project that doesn’t go as planned or a legal case that doesn’t go your way. These are the sort of mistakes that can be addressed and rectified to a greater or lesser extent. You can learn from them and move forward.

The problem with career mistakes is that they creep up so slowly it’s likely you won’t even notice they are there until they’ve taken root.

It’s crucial to know how to deal with the career mistakes that so many solicitors like yourself make. Not addressed, they can impact your general happiness and sense of unfulfillment in your legal work, as well as affecting your quality of life in general.

Here are the three main career mistakes to watch out for and tips on how to overcome them.

Fear of Failure

It’s easy to take the familiar route, the path more travelled, and where you feel most comfortable.

But comfort can slip into coasting without you noticing.

Then one day you realise you are bored at work, or dreading Mondays. Your work can suffer as a result of your lack of motivation and enthusiasm, and colleagues start to notice you’re not your usual self, or ‘on your game’.

You know inside, deep down, that you’re disinterested in your job and should think about moving to a new role or challenge, but you’re stuck in a comfort zone. Your salary is good, and it’s easier to do nothing than branch out – and risk failing.

If you’re not engaged with your current job, it’s worth identifying what’s behind the dissatisfaction and lack of motivation.

Ask yourself how fulfilled you are in your work on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being totally unfulfilled.

Has your income stagnated because you’re not engaged and motivated? Is being unhappy with your law firm impacting on your private life?

You spend nearly one-third of your life at work, on average. So, it’s crucial that you enjoy it. If you find yourself scoring low on your current job satisfaction, finding it hard to move to the next level of seniority within your law firm, and just not enjoying what you do – it’s time to ask the big question.

Should you stay, or should you go?

You have two options to consider. The first is to address what’s making you unhappy at work and seek to improve it. It could be negotiating flexible hours to improve your work-life balance. It could be requesting training to upskill yourself so you can meet future challenges head-on. Or it may just be a case of re-engaging with the job, your legal clients and colleagues.

The second option is to get a game plan in place for your escape.

If you can’t see a future in your current role, don’t be so afraid of failure that you feel you can’t move. See it as an opportunity to try something new.

A specialised legal recruiter can talk to you about your aspirations, hopes and ideal scenarios and help you find a legal role where you will be more fulfilled.

So, put fear of failure aside and never be afraid to leave your comfort zone behind. It could be the best career move you make.

One of my favourite quotes is from Mark Twain, who said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Losing Connections

After a while, working in the same place and doing the same job, it’s not uncommon for many solicitors to give up networking. It’s easy to think it doesn’t matter anymore. After all, you’ve got the position you wanted; you already know the people you need to know. What’s the point in investing time and energy into developing your network further?

The problem with failing to maintain and increase your network is that you are limiting yourself to those people you have regular contact with; you’re missing out on the chance to meet new people and connect with important influences outside your law firm.

Failure to build your network and invest in relationships could see you missing out on opportunities. That new person you meet could be the one who changes your life!

Without new connections, your old network will eventually dry up, and there will be fewer people to turn to when you need help or advice, and fewer who will think of you when opportunities are there.

So, no matter where you are in your career, keep those networks going. Seek out professional relationships with colleagues and peers. Commit to meeting several new people each month, whether at a seminar, workshop, meeting or other event.

You could consider a mentor too. Mentors provide several positives. They teach you how to adapt, so you remain an asset to your law firm; you’ll have someone to share concerns with and who’s got your back. They can also help you plot your career path and spot personal development opportunities.

Not Fulfilling Your Potential

If you’re comfortable with things just the way they are, you’re in danger of stagnating and becoming out of date in your skillset.

Or perhaps you have been hopeful of achieving Partner in your law firm and it hasn’t happened. You may feel jaded and overlooked, and have become apathetic to chances to upskill.

The mistaken belief that your current knowledge will carry you through could see you out of a job if you refuse to acknowledge that you need to grow professionally and embrace lifelong learning.

Complacency will see you fall behind in skills and ability, and others will overtake you on the career ladder.

Not believing in yourself is a common mistake made by solicitors.

No matter how you feel inside, project an air of confidence and sound assured when you make decisions. If you don’t, others will stop believing in you too.

So, stay curious. Listen to podcasts on legal matters, keep up with the latest legal news and trends, read journals. Stay on top of change and development. Take up offers of training and development, whatever stage you are at in your career.

You may also wish to consider updating and developing your personal brand. Look at your online profile and ensure it’s current and accurate. Involve yourself in events and seminars and strive to become known as the ‘go-to’ person for advice on your specialist legal area.

Be sure your skills are current and invest in yourself by upskilling wherever there is an opportunity to do so – that way, you’ll be able to adapt to change and future proof yourself in your role.

I hope this article will help you avoid the common pitfalls made by many solicitors. If any of these mistakes resonate with you, it’s time to change the way you work.

Start today.

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 guide here.

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How to Get on the Radar of a Legal Recruiter

  • June 10, 2019

Are you looking for a new position in your legal career?

You may feel you’re stuck in a rut, unmotivated, or that your skills are not being fully utilised. Perhaps you’re looking for advancement, a partnership, thinking of rerouting your career or even moving to a new location. You may have already tried asking around or looking online for opportunities. But have you considered the advantages of using a specialist legal recruiter?

Good Advice is Crucial

A specialist legal recruiter can offer tailored advice and will have exceptional knowledge of the legal marketplace – often the ear of the HR department or Senior Partner – enabling access to upcoming opportunities before they hit the general market. They will be able to match your values to company culture, as well as to offer advice and guidance, such as interview tips.

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?

In an ever-changing and expanding legal world, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd when you’re trying to attract the attention of a specialist recruiter. There are specific ways to sell your value to a specialist recruitment company such as Clayton Legal. It’s not unusual for recruiters like ourselves to receive many candidates for each post, and our reputation and yours is on the line with each placement recommendation, so it’s crucial that your information is accurate and complete.

Update Your CV

Here at Clayton Legal, we have been receiving candidate CVs for over 20 years, and this document remains the essential way to profile your achievements and expertise to date.

If your CV isn’t up to scratch, you need to update it now. Remember the three Rs – relevant, recent and readable. A good CV will showcase your complex skills, including IT skills, along with your qualifications and experience in legal practice. Include examples wherever possible and illustrate the particular critical skills for the post such as leadership, delegation, innovation, specialist practice knowledge and professionalism.

Check Your Online Profile

Have you checked your social media recently? You might want to consider Googling yourself and making sure any information shows you in a good light. If you thought recruiters and employers don’t check internet profiles, think again. Recent reports show that as many as one in three employers reject candidates based on something they have discovered about them online. Changing your privacy settings will ensure there are no embarrassing photos of you at your friend’s stag do or hen night.

LinkedIn has 20 million listed UK profiles. It’s therefore vital to make the most of the opportunities your LinkedIn profile provides to help you in legal career progression and opportunity. Build your contacts, where relevant, and join groups related to the legal world and your area of practice. Posting will also increase your visibility. Just make sure you keep it appropriate.

We offer further insight into standing out as a legal professional to recruiters on LinkedIn here.

You should make sure you have a professional profile image – visual stimulation ranks high on this scale. Also, heat map technology has revealed that people focus on your photo and the top part of your profile (your summary) so aim to use it to get their attention.

Finally, double-check you’re using keywords effectively. Many recruiters look for phrases and keywords that describe your strengths, skills, expertise and ability, as well as location. Read this LinkedIn guide to using powerful keywords for further insight.

Are Making the Most of Your Skillset?

Naturally, you will need the right qualifications for your chosen area of practice, and your transferable skills are equally important. Transferable skills are not only useful as they can be applied across job roles, but they highlight how you work in terms of communication, integrity and experience. All of which are important to a future employer. If you have four, six or eight years PQE, you will have extended your skillset considerably and so now is an appropriate time to review them to ensure you’re making the most of your abilities.

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.

Are You a Good Match?

It’s a two-way street. Choosing your recruiter is as important as them choosing to work with you.

Therefore, when looking for a recruiter, don’t forget to ensure their values match yours. How long have they been in business? Do they put their business relationships at the heart of everything they do, striving to nurture and build relationships? Are they trustworthy and transparent?

Many people sign up to a recruitment company without thoroughly researching their credentials. Don’t make this potentially costly mistake. Check that they are respected in the recruiting world – online testimonials are a good indication of this.

Also, 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.

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 (although they will!) Be proactive. 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, allowing them to quickly identify the best opportunities for you in your practice area, or they may discuss exploring a change in direction.

As well as finding an ideal match, they will have valuable tips and advice for you during your search. For the best results, treat your communication with your recruiter like a job in itself – checking in regularly and demonstrating your enthusiasm and commitment to securing a new 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 guide here.

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

  • May 13, 2019

Possible, yes. Easy, no.

Let’s say you obtained a training contract in personal injury. Perhaps it wasn’t initially your cup of tea, but you grew to like it, and after you got qualified, it was easy enough to land a good job in the field. However, ten years on, you’re still a personal injury lawyer. The problem is, you always really wanted to be a property lawyer. Well, it’s still not too late to make a change – better late than never, as they say – but it would have been a whole lot easier to make the switch ten years ago.

Whether it has come about as a result of redundancy, changing personal circumstances, or a desire to challenge yourself with something new, changing specialisms once qualified is not for the faint-hearted. However, don’t let your comfort zone get in the way of achieving your dreams; with enough careful planning and determination, it is possible to reshape your legal career.

If you’re set on changing your career path in law, here are six proven strategies that can help you achieve this daunting feat.

Find A Mentor In The Field

As with the decision to switch areas of practice, finding a mentor is not easy. It requires time and planning. You not only need to know exactly what you want from a mentor, but more crucially, you also need to know where to look for one. Think about it – what are the chances of finding someone locally, online, who has already made a similar journey and with whom you can strike up a rapport?

You simply have to put yourself out there and actively seek someone you can trust and who can help you, which brings us to the next strategy.

Attend Client Seminars, Webinars, and Trade Events

While it’s possible that you might already have colleagues or business contacts who would be willing and able to help you, you’re likely going to have to network as much as you can. Fortunately, there are multiple law-related organisations that host regular events and seminars. For example, The Law Society puts on semi-regular seminars around changing specialisms in law.

By joining specific trade associations and special interest groups and attending relevant events and webinars, will provide you with valuable insight and knowledge while being able to network with people who may be able to mentor you or help guide you.

Take Advantage Of Any Courses

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.

CLT offers a number of certificate courses, most of which last one or two days. However, such courses aren’t cheap, and it’s unlikely that your current firm (or a future employer for that matter) will want to foot the bill.

Network On LinkedIn

While LinkedIn may never be a substitute for the face-to-face networking solicitors have always relied on. It is still an invaluable tool for generating and supporting professional relationships in a way that’s unparalleled in terms of time and cost.

Although your CV will always be important, when it comes to standing out to potential employers and specialist legal recruiters such as Clayton Legal, your LinkedIn profile is one of your most important assets, because it allows you to build and shape your personal legal brand.

In addition to maintaining a meticulously updated and polished profile, it’s also a good idea to join and contribute to a mixture of law-focused groups. This will help you to to keep your finger on the pulse and will enable you to network with others at the same stage in their careers. You may very well find that elusive mentor through social networking.

Target Smaller Firms And Areas Of Need

In addition to exploring the potential of locum legal work in your new specialism, you might also consider targeting smaller firms. While bigger firms are usually not willing to train someone into a different area, preferring instead to look for people with a proven track record, smaller firms might be more flexible and open to helping you retrain, especially if they are located in an area that is not well-connected or are in dire need of the specialism you’re trying to switch into.

Keeping up to date on the latest economic/legal news and trends is key to understanding which areas of need you might be able to tap into. With regard to the example we used in the introduction, many firms right now are actually struggling to find good property lawyers.

While this might seem hard to believe, given a looming Brexit and the surrounding economic uncertainties that it brings, the fact remains: the property market is booming right now, which means firms are desperately searching for talented real estate lawyers. Not only is demand high, but supply is scarce. Where there’s a niche role to fill, there’s a way.

Seek The Advice And Guidance Of A Specialist Recruiter

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.

While changing specialisms is by no means an easy feat for any lawyer, partnering with a specialist recruiter will help to make your transition much less daunting and perilous.

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

  • May 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

They Save You Time

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

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

They Have Insightful Industry Knowledge And Connections

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

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

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

They Can Help You Prepare For Interviews

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

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

They Will Negotiate The Best Deal For You

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

Your Success Is Their Success

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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