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Facing Redundancy After Furlough – What Next for Your Legal Career?

  • October 15, 2020

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 furlough scheme coming to an end are now being realised, and for some legal employees, this will, unfortunately, mean redundancy.

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.

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.


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.


As with many unprecedented situations the pandemic caused, the mortgage and rent holidays that were put in place by the government have created a boom in property law.

With the ban on evictions being lifted on 20th September 2020, there is an estimated 55,000 tenants in England who are at risk of being evicted due to falling behind with rent payments.

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 – practices with property specialisms have never been busier.


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

There has been a so-called ‘divorce boom’ fuelled by lockdown. The Citizens Advice website saw a 25% increase in divorce guidance searches in September compared to last year.

The BBC recently 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.

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 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.

Many employment tribunal issues to do with redundancy and furlough are all set to come through the courts in the coming months, with social distancing measures only adding to the delay.

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

And with the furlough scheme coming to an end in October, there is expected to be an even greater surge in cases as employees take legal action against their employers over what they believe to be unfair redundancy.

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 this year, 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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What Skills Gap Do You Have In Your Post-Furlough Legal Team?

  • October 12, 2020

As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme officially comes to an end in September 2021, many legal practices will already have an idea of about who will be returning to their team full time and others who may not be after furlough.

There are many reasons why there may be skills gaps in your legal team right now, whether COVID-19 plays a part or not.

The Redundancy Problem

27% of UK employers are expected to make job cuts due to coronavirus, and while the UK legal sector is generally more resilient than other industries, some firms have had to make cuts.

Giles Murphy, head of professional practice at accountant Smith & Williamson said in the FT recently, “as the full impact of the economy hits firms, activity levels are likely to fall and firms will need fewer staff. At that point the expensive ones might be at risk”.

Is your firm thinking about making redundancies? It is critical that if you do, you do not leave yourself with skills gaps in any areas. At the end of this article is a guide to help you recognise if you are at risk of leaving yourself with critical skills gaps.

Expansion, Creating New Skill Gaps

For every firm that has had to make redundancies, there are others that are expanding their products, services and even specialisms. Rapid growth since the end of lockdown in property, family and employment cases has meant that some firms are struggling to get through their work with the teams they have.

Despite the headlines, some firms within the UK legal sector are performing better than ever. The Global Legal Post reported that some law firms are having their ‘best year ever’ with the UK legal sector records its second-strongest July on record.

This expansion is another way that skills gaps can appear. You might be having a record-breaking year but do you have the right amount of staff with the right skills in place to be able to capitalise on this?

Retraining Your Current Employees

Currently, there is a big demand for staff and low supply – in the areas that are booming since Covid. Property, Family, and Employment Law have all seen a drastic increase in the need for their services, which is set to be the case for the foreseeable. It might be time to consider retraining some of your current team in areas which you’re struggling to find employees. Retraining is a great way to utilise your current team and can help you avoid redundancies. Speak to your team to find out which areas any of them would like to retrain in – now is the perfect time to put this plan into action.

Digital Skills Gaps

It has proven essential for law firms to adapt digitally to our new remote world.

Sheffield based personal injury firm Irwin Mitchell recently identified 100 roles which were potentially at risk because of digital changes that the pandemic caused.

Have you introduced new software or technology to allow employees to manage work from home? And if so, are you confident that all employees are proficient in the skills needed to work efficiently from home?

With a potential new lockdown on the way and the government guidelines asking employees who can, to work from home – are you digitally prepared for employees to work remotely for the foreseeable?

We have covered the topic of our digital adaption in a separate blog, with tips for other businesses, which you can read here.

So finally, let’s look at how to perform a skills gap analysis in your law firm.

How to Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis

For many legal practices, restructuring, rather than redundancies, are causing skills gaps. And not the kind of restructuring that we usually hear about; instead, it’s a true type of restructuring caused by the enormous changes to the world since Covid.

A change in working practices, shifting business models, unprecedented cases – all of these have increased the need to have the right skills in the right place in your legal team.

So how do you find out if and where you have skills gaps?

Here is the three-step process.

Step 1 – Identify the skills needed in your practice (both now and in the future)

Due to Covid, have you or are you planning on expanding into a new specialism, or have you been dealing with an increased workload in certain areas?

Think about the future trends of work – are there skills that are becoming more prevalent such as digital skills? Are there currently employees taking on extra duties to cover a vacancy or new tasks that keep emerging? Are you aware of any new positions you will need to create?

You should end up with a list of the key skills your legal practice needs, and the different roles that your firm needs to continue to manage your cases.

Step 2 – Pinpoint existing skills

You might be waiting until the end of the year to conduct performance reviews but right now, after furlough and before the end of the year is the perfect time to conduct a skills audit.

For each employee, determine the skills they possess in regards to the roles needed in your company.

You may find that you have a team who all possess similar skills, but there is a lack of individuals with the skills you need to drive your business forwards, like the aforementioned digital skills or training in certain specialisms.

Step 3 – Determine where the gaps are

Finally, you will know the skills and roles you need in your firm, and you know what you currently have; the gaps are where you need to bring in new talent.

There may be gaps in places you didn’t expect. For example, your team might be coping with remote technology right now but lack the skills to do so long-term.


If there are critical gaps in your legal team, and you need to make a plan to bridge these gaps, we can help.

Call us on 01772 or send us an email here. We will work with you to help you find options for your gaps and can provide help for restructuring and recruitment in your law firm.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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