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From Intent to Inertia: Why Some Law Firms Struggle To Uphold their New Year’s Resolutions

  • February 6, 2024

From Intent to Inertia: Why Some Law Firms Struggle To Uphold their New Year’s Resolutions

With the first month of the new year now in the bag, it is highly probable that those ‘New Year’ resolutions set at the back end of 2023 have already been broken – at least those set on a personal level where exercise or the quitting of bad habits are usually top of those lists.

In this regard, it is estimated that as many as 80% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, with only a mere 8% seeing them through for the entirety of the year.

A 4000-year Old Tradition

The act of setting goals at the start of a new calendar year is reported to date back to Ancient Babylonians some 4000 years ago where ‘debts were promised to be paid to gods and borrowed objects returned’. And, whilst the new year promises were deeply entwined with religion and mythology, the premise of a ‘new beginning’ is one that has carried through for many thousands of years.

While resolutions are often associated with personal goals, they hold equal importance when it comes to business – especially around setting annual objectives and reflecting on the overall strategy in an ever-changing environment where continual review of the road ahead is crucial.

Most businesses will review their new year plans in quarter four when typically, there is enough information to reflect back on metrics and KPIs for the current year, assess whether or not objectives will be hit, and allow some wiggle room to re-calibrate and focus on ending the year on a high.

Objectives or ‘new year resolutions’ therefore have likely long been set at this juncture – and for those firms set on a growth trajectory, these will likely include executing hiring plans as well as a laser-sharp focus on staff retention.

Are Your Business Resolutions Still on Track?

At the stroke of midnight on 1st January, and the subsequent return to the office after the festive break, law firms will no doubt have set their sights kickstarting the 2024 objectives with intent. However, as the first quarter unfolds, it appears that some legal practices may be encountering obstacles in adhering to their hiring-focused resolutions.

Even one calendar month down the line, and then as the year progresses, it’s essential for law firms to reassess their hiring objectives, adapt to unforeseen challenges, and remain committed to the path of growth – especially when you consider a recent statistic that 75% of UK businesses are in a state of ‘existence’ or just surviving.

So what areas should firms be focussed on to ensure their well-intentioned goals remain on track?

Streamline (and Standardise) Your Hiring Process:

The aspiration to streamline hiring processes and avoid past mistakes holds promise, but the intricate decision-making within law firms can pose challenges. If you recruit regularly, it is worth looking to standardise processes where possible, albeit not at the detriment to the often-unique experiences of each individual candidate that comes into contact with the firm. An ethical approach to recruitment is recommended here – and is becoming a non-negotiable in the current candidate-led market.

Enhance Diversity Efforts:

Despite the emphasis on diversity and inclusion, some law firms may struggle to make significant progress due to ingrained practices and a lack of comprehensive strategies. Overcoming unconscious biases and fostering an inclusive environment requires continuous effort, which may not be progressing as rapidly as intended. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are not just buzzwords or an acronym to add to your customer-facing marketing; they are essential components of a successful business strategy of any firm that aims to remain competitive. As the glue that keeps social dynamics within a business and in turn, team competence and efficacy functioning at its highest capacity, it is indispensable to your hiring strategy, whatever your recruitment goals or objectives may be, and when done right, it can be instrumental in keeping your talent attraction and retention efforts on track.

It is perhaps concerning then, that firms are yet to treat it as more than an emerging trend in practice, and some go only as far as paying lip service when professing to make it a central part of their recruitment efforts. If you’re serious about taking your hiring game to the next level in 2024, then this is a great place to start. We look at how to build a DEI strategy that supercharges your recruitment efforts here.

 

Revisit Your Job Descriptions:

Job descriptions may be overlooked as daily legal tasks take precedence. Busy schedules can result in insufficient attention to crafting comprehensive and appealing job descriptions, making it difficult to attract top-tier talent.

However, as the hiring landscape evolves, legal candidates still rely on engaging, informative, and powerful job descriptions to assess whether or not they are a fit for their career aspirations and professional development. The best job descriptions go beyond skill requirements, offering a glimpse into firm culture and showcasing benefits that matter to the market’s top talent.

As law firms forge ahead with hiring initiatives, the importance of making your voice shine amidst the noise becomes increasingly important. If you want to turn the heads of the right people from the get-go and avoid a ‘square peg in a round hole’ scenario with regard to your hiring efforts, then your job descriptions must be compelling, engaging and effective enough to attract the market’s top talent. Find out more about how to craft a winning job description here.

Harness the Potential of Social Media:

The traditionally conservative legal industry may find it challenging to fully embrace the power of social media. The time and resources required for maintaining an active and engaging social media presence can be overwhelming for firms, leading to a lapse in this resolution, however, love it or loathe it – the fact remains that legal professionals will research the whole digital footprint of a firm as part of their decision-making process.

If you have the core channels set up and active, it’s always worth a holistic review of things like your bio information, and your wider content strategy. What kind of things do you communicate? Do you share information that gives visitors to those platforms a good idea of your working environment and culture? Is it obvious how you celebrate success? Can you utilise the voice of your existing employees to focus on things like career development?  A social media strategy is usually easy to flex and improve as and when you need to, so if that review wasn’t part of your new-year resolution, it’s always worth finding the time to conduct your due-diligence and ensure that your channels are working as hard as they can to put your best foot forward to those in the active talent pools.

Invest in Training and Upskilling:

Despite recognising the importance of investing in staff development, law firms may face budget constraints or a lack of suitable training programs. This can hinder the execution of the resolution to upskill existing staff – something that will no doubt be on the agendas of businesses up and down the country as the much-documented skills shortage becomes a harsh reality.

Similarly, what legal professionals look for in an employer has changed significantly since the pandemic and the value of career fulfillment has become a staple part of the modern legal professional’s priorities when searching for the ideal employer.

The notion of the one-employer-career has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s not at all uncommon for legal professionals to be left with a lingering sense of stagnation after spending a few years building their skills in their current role, and consequently view the option of jumping ship as the only way to experience real progress in their career.

The resulting high turnover rate is what has brought the idea of Employee Development Plans into focus for law firms, with an aim to ensure ongoing employability through improving the individual’s workplace soft and hard skills, and industry knowledge. A good plan will strive to create a series of actions designed to help the individual develop and grow within the context of their legal career, while also developing their capabilities and meeting the needs of the employer.

Build and Maintain Brand Image:

Building and maintaining a strong brand image demands consistent effort and resources. Law firms may find it challenging to allocate sufficient time and funds to enhance their brand, especially when immediate client needs take precedence.

Candidates believe in what they can see now more than ever, and in an age where information is easily accessible online, maintaining a strong brand and a good reputation is essential for attracting and retaining top legal talent. Prospective candidates will research a firm as much as the firm will investigate the candidates’ qualifications and qualities and should your credibility fall short as an employer you can be filtered out of shortlists before a CV or profile is even read.

A proactive approach is therefore essential in order to positively influence one’s brand and reputation in the market, whether that be by building a workforce that acts as ambassadors that champion the business values, or convincingly demonstrating that your business does indeed walk the walk when it comes to employee satisfaction. Click here to find out more about how you can tap into the potential your employer brand carries and catalyse its growth.

Consider How Flexible You Can Afford to Be:

One might say that the hybrid working drum has been beaten to death ever since its meteoric rise in popularity among legal candidates during the pandemic. It’s hardly a secret to anyone keeping a close eye on the state of play across the industry over the last few years, and most if not all firms competing for the best talent available on the market will be well aware of just how highly sought after flexibility is by the talent pool in their current market.

And yet, this topic of flexibility remains a sticking point with some employers today, and as a result a barrier to rather than a buttress for hiring success. While that is in part due to expected challenges in marrying candidate and business demands, it is also due to the general rigidity legal employers are known to have towards changes to traditional modus operandi in general. When competition for talent is fiercer than ever before, can your firm afford to be flexible when it comes to working arrangements?

Ultimately, the crux of your success in your hiring efforts will come down to how well you can provide the best employee experience better than your competitors (and back it up). If it is indeed a viable option for your business then it should absolutely be part of your recruitment – and retention – strategy.  We take a deeper look at this and much more here.

In Conclusion:

With almost 11 months left of the year, arguably it is still all to play for when it comes to adherence to your annual business objectives. If however, the roadmap to growth has already hit some bumps in the road, especially when it comes to talent attraction, utilising the services of legal recruitment specialists will undoubtedly get those plans back on track with renewed insight about current market conditions and the movement of talent within your region and/or practice area.

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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6 Ways to Make Attracting Legal Talent Easier in 2024

  • January 29, 2024

Following the pandemic businesses across the legal industry have gradually started to find their feet, slowly but surely accepting and adapting to the multitude of changes the post-pandemic market has thrust on our shoulders. Employers have recognised and respected the change in status quo concerning the expectations set out in current client and employee demands and seem to be reworking their hiring strategies accordingly to keep up.

Last year however, it wasn’t quite the year of progress many would’ve envisioned, and while it’s certainly true that finding the right legal talent in today’s market is rarely ever a straightforward task, many will agree that few years have brought more challenges when it came to both the recruitment AND retention of top talent.

According to a report released last year by Vacancysoft and Search, 2023 was a less active year than anticipated for the UK’s top law firms with vacancies down 35.5% year-on-year. And, even as hiring appetite increases as a new year takes hold, according to the Wolters Kluwer ‘Future Ready Lawyer 2023’ Report, recruitment and retention are likely to still be key challenges for the legal industry in the next 3 years, one that legal professionals “are not yet ready to overcome.” A similar concern for the general outlook on recruitment in the coming years was also echoed by the International Bar Association in their IBA legal agenda, listing talent attraction and retention as one of the biggest challenges to businesses in the sector, due to the changing demands and priorities of younger legal professionals, in particular work-life balance and a greater sense of purpose in the work they do on a day-to-day basis.

For any firm intent on growth this year, there is therefore no better time than now to put your recruitment process under the microscope and lay the groundwork needed for it be successful – particularly against a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty and a skills shortage still prevalent in the sector.

Recruitment can be, and often is, a laborious and multi-faceted process, but here are 6 steps to ensure you start on the right path this coming year >>>

1. A Focus on Flexibility

A direct and perhaps one of the biggest consequences of the widely reported skills shortage is the sudden shift of the industry towards a more digital tech-oriented manner of working and the incorporation of such tools into legal practice – something that’s sure to change demand for certain skillsets within the legal profession. What is poignant about this fact however, is how it will actually emphasise the need for soft skills in the near future. With AI technology set to spearhead the streamlining of legal procedures and more work to be commoditised, what will be highly sought after by legal employers skills-wise is the ability to deal with human beings, and the qualities that best serve that purpose.

However, if some of the inflexibility found in firms across the sector continues to persist, the search for talent of this calibre will only get harder. A paper published last year by Harvard Business School and Accenture revealed that a huge number of skilled hidden workers are shut out of employment simply due to the lack of flexibility present among employers today. Law firms risk being oblivious to the reservoir of talent right under their noses if they fail to adapt to the changing demands of legal professionals.

It therefore serves your firm far better to begin looking at how you can better serve the candidates you want working at your firm. Whether this requires a sit-down with your recruitment team to discuss how such accommodations can be made and communicated throughout the hiring process or a talk with your management team to improve existing firm practices to better support its employees, it is a must for any firm seeking to remain attractive to prospective candidates.

2. Update Your Hiring Strategy With a Focus on Candidate Care

As you begin to rework your hiring and firm practices with your candidates in mind, the central theme of empathy should be the thread that runs throughout your hiring process, as this is what virtually all job seekers are looking for at the end of the day.

Show your candidates you have their best interests in mind and are invested in delivering the right level of support at every stage of the application process, by implementing strategies for better candidate care. This could involve simplifying interview processes to enhance accessibility through the option of flexible interview locations or the use of screen readers during assessments. This could be especially ideal if you’re looking to hire remote and hybrid employees.

Remember to implement and establish channels of communication with your candidates throughout the hiring process too. Regular communication is key to a good candidate experience.

3. Refine Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand is what gives your law firm the edge over the competition in your search for legal talent. It’s how you ensure you appeal to candidates with what your firm has to offer, whether that be an excellent salary and benefit options, a sense of purpose, shared values or great career development opportunities.

Despite its recognised importance in any successful hiring endeavour today, many law firms still struggle to utilise it effectively to position themselves in front of their target audience. If you find yourself questioning the efficacy of your brand, then a good starting point will be to define what makes people actually want to work with you. Ask your team members what convinced them to continue with your firm, and what they find most appealing about working there.

  • Do you have a supportive leadership team?
  • Does your firm offer excellent opportunities for professional development and growth?
  • Does it foster an employee-centric culture that eliminates many of the problems legal professionals encounter in the workplace, such as burnout?

Once you know what makes your business unique, the next step is to get it publicised as much as possible.

Don’t forget that existing employees can help here – particularly those that are engaged and are already good advocates for the business and brand.

By giving them a voice to provide prospective candidates with insights into the employee experience, you add much more credibility to your message and get the attention of the right individuals. Use testimonials, success stories and positive feedback to your advantage and make them known on social media as often as possible to expand your reach.

4. Review Your Digital Footprint

Establishing a compelling employer brand is pivotal for attracting top legal talent, but its effectiveness hinges on strategic exposure to the right audience. A strong digital presence is essential for any law firm in the industry today. Presently, approximately 86% of job seekers incorporate social media into their job search, and prospective legal candidates frequently turn to the web for insights into a firm’s culture through reviews.

Ensuring that your website provides an insider’s perspective on your business operations is crucial for the credibility and authenticity of your employer brand. Clearly articulate your values, mission statement, and vision to engage the interest of potential candidates while maintaining a consistent presence across the social channels frequented by your target candidates. Don’t forget to assess and update your appearance on job review boards too.

5. Spark the Interest You Want Through Your Job Descriptions

Your job descriptions are one of the first things potential candidates will examine when deciding whether they want to work with you. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure you’re conveying the right information. Don’t make the mistake of putting off talented legal employees by listing too many unnecessary or “preferred” skills.

Highlight only the characteristics and qualities you know you’re going to need most. At the same time, make sure you’re avoiding any language in your descriptions that may show unintentional bias towards a specific audience.

When writing your descriptions, don’t forget to showcase reasons why your candidates might want to work for you. Draw attention to your unique company culture, your salary package, and even the available training opportunities in place.

More help to ensure these turn the heads of the right people can be found here.

6. Bring in the Experts

When it comes to attracting legal talent, undoubtedly the best tool you can possibly have in your arsenal is the services of an expert in the field – one that takes the time to understand your firm’s business needs, and acts with your best interests at heart, while giving you the support you need at every step of the process. This is what makes the expertise of a legal recruitment partner so invaluable for hirers as not only can they position your business in front of the right legal candidates – a task becoming increasingly harder by the day in today’s market – but they also work with you to build a talent pipeline and ensure your recruitment process remains efficient and effective even when not actively hiring.

Amongst several other benefits that come with such partnerships, perhaps one of the most beneficial is that the longer you work with them, the better they can understand the needs of your firm, and the better the fit and quality of candidates they can find for your business as a result.

At Clayton Legal, we work with law firms such as yours to make this a reality, no matter the staffing requirement asked of us, and are committed to adding real value to the businesses that partner with us for their hiring needs. Our team make it their mission to ensure you get nothing less than the support and the talent you need to make your recruitment endeavours successful – and are on hand to provide guidance throughout the process wherever necessary.

If you are currently weighing up your options and feel that your hiring efforts could do with a little extra help from a recruitment expert then there is no better time than now to get in touch with our team for an informal chat about how we could help. Give us a ring on 01772 259 121 today or contact us here.

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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The Boomerang Hire: Your Answer to the Skills Shortage Problem?

Finding a lasting solution to the industry-wide skills shortage continues to be a challenge for firms in the hiring market today. Despite the evolution that the Great Resignation has sparked in hiring practices across the sector and the many approaches adopted by hiring teams to combat the increasing skills gap, acquiring the talent one needs to keep their business competitive in a cut-throat market proves to be as elusive a pursuit as ever. One approach however that has gained huge traction in recent years amongst firms is the recruitment of Boomerang Hires – a practice that involves rehiring employees who have previously left the organisation – and to employers bereft of options and under pressure to keep their business afloat, it shows a lot of promise.

Why is an ex-hire Worth it?

Purely from a cost perspective, it is a tantalising prospect – as they not only require far less onboarding than your usual new hire but their familiarity with the business’s modus operandi and established dynamics means you get something close to what any recruiting firm is looking for in a new hire – one that slots in seamlessly into the business structure and hits the ground running performance-wise in as short a timeframe as possible. And, in some cases, perhaps the icing on top of the cake is the experience and expertise your firm will be gaining twofold with their return.

Little wonder then that this has quickly become a hit with employers in recent times, and although not a new phenomenon, it’s certainly an increasingly prominent one. A HBR report released this year revealed that 28% of new hires in organisations studied were found to be boomerang hires that had resigned within the past three years. And this isn’t due to the trigger-happy response we’ve now come to expect from employees in the Great Resignation era either – businesses have become not only open but actually intentional about recruiting ex-hires as part of their hiring strategy. When necessity dictates diversity of approach, we begin to see the most interesting of them come to the fore.

High-Risk, High-Reward

There is however, an inherent risk that comes with it, considering the boomerang hire phenomenon cuts both ways for a hiring firm, as any new hire (boomerang employees included) employed is also susceptible to boomeranging back to their previous employer, or in the case of the latter, leaving your firm hung out to dry a second time, and can make retention a very counterproductive and unwelcome by-product of this hiring approach. When discussing the boomerang hire as a solution to the skills gap problem, a few things ought to be kept front of mind. Firstly, how can you avoid being on the wrong side of the boomerang hire equation and secondly, how can you leverage the value it provides to inform a hiring strategy that effectively addresses the skills shortage within your firm?

First Things First

If you are considering going down the boomerang hire route hiring-wise, then know that it requires a significant amount of groundwork to be laid first and should not be viewed as a band-aid fix for a turnover problem. Making an offer convincing enough for an ex-employee to return first requires a thorough understanding of where your firm has missed the mark with regard to employee satisfaction in the past, and what steps must be taken to address it both before and after the boomerang point.

This firstly involves a mutual understanding between management and workers of why employees are leaving in the first place, and acknowledging the part the firm has played in it. The goal of this is to address existing pain points within the company – and in particular, beyond salary and benefits, so as to avoid the trap of making a glorified counteroffer to ex-hires when the time comes to reach out. As research shows that compensation concerns do not tell the full story of why employees opt to leave, and that there are often underlying and unspoken factors at play, the act of encouraging employees to voice out their concerns serves to inform your decision-making and will likely pay off when approaching ex-hires down the line.

Whatever the area of improvement involves, whether that be investing in the professional development and growth of your employees, providing opportunities for upskilling, mentoring programs, and continuous learning initiatives or simply rebuilding the firm culture from the ground up – addressing them not only allows you to perform the open-heart surgery your firm needs, but also sets the foundation for a better overall employee experience and keeps the possibility of any new hires boomeranging to an absolute minimum.

An Open Door Requires Open (and Honest) Communication

This endeavour to maintain an open and honest dialogue between both parties should also be applied at every stage of the leaver process, especially before an employee exit, when they, and particularly their reasons, need to be treated with dignity and respect. A sit-down with departing individuals to discuss and understand what led to their decision, raise concerns, and provide assurances that the door will always be open for them should they wish to return, can be a great way to end the working relationship on a positive note and build the sense of trust and openness that is so crucial for later discourse to be fruitful. Be wary of the classic blame game that can arise in such discussions, as this can sour the relationship and leave a bad aftertaste in the mouths of both parties. Succumbing to the temptation of assigning blame or pointing fingers does your future hiring efforts no good here, even if it may feel like the most natural thing to do in the spur of the moment.

Following this should be a genuine effort to keep the lines of communication open between both parties after departure, in order to extend the quality of the employee experience post-exit and ensure a smooth transition for a return if and when it does happen. This could involve investing in an alumni network of sorts to maintain relationships between existing former employees, provide networking opportunities and most importantly, give ex-hires a means to reconnect with their former employer should the need for it arise.

This is particularly useful when bearing in mind the timing of communication. Research suggests that the one-year anniversary of a former employee’s departure is the optimal time to reconnect and make a re-hire offer. This isn’t only because it’s when they’re most likely to boomerang back to their previous employer, but it’s also because it represents the ideal and least awkward time for employers to take that first step of reaching out. For any employee strongly considering making a 180 in the other direction especially, it can be a godsend.

Protect Your Assets – Old and New

When considering what constitutes a worthwhile offer, this will largely depend on the flexibility of your firm. The key thing to bear in mind here is the balance that must be struck between making an offer worth considering – pay and promotion-wise – and making one that doesn’t come at the expense of your present employees. While it is certainly true that a pay rise can sweeten the deal, it cannot be the meat of the argument pitched to an ex-hire. Failing to keep existing employees front of mind puts the trust, commitment and relationships built at risk, as it sets an unwelcome precedent that anyone within the business can play the victim card, leave the firm high and dry and get away with it with a fatter salary in the end. What is best practice in such scenarios is to make the suggested changes outlined above the heart of your proposal and the crux of the conversation with the ex-employee. Only when this is done with a focus on prioritising equity in the firm, can the boomerang hire approach bring immense value to all parties, new or old.

This same level of care must be taken when looking at the other side of the boomerang hire as a strategy, as largely the same rules apply with new hires, especially considering the amount of overlap between the reasons employees opt to boomerang and the biggest drivers of the Great Resignation today. Any perceived gap between what is promised and what is delivered by new recruits, whether that be explicit contractual breaches or an unspoken violation of agreement terms, is going to get heads turning in the opposite direction wondering if the grass really is greener on the other side. This is particularly important when discussing the more intangible aspects of a contract, such as promotions, benefits, or progression opportunities as these sit at the heart of a legal professional’s demands in the current day and age. When expectations begin to differ from reality here, it becomes increasingly difficult for a new hire leaving behind a lot of social and company capital to justify sticking with their decision and avoid boomeranging.

The best way, therefore, to eliminate this risk and address any issues brewing under the surface is, perhaps unsurprisingly, regular communication between management and new recruits, whether in the form of check-ins or stay interviews, to get a clear picture of what their experience has been so far compared to the specifics of the job pitched to them at the interview. This helps to bring any disparities to light and enables management to address highlighted discrepancies and misunderstandings early before they evolve into actual psychological contract breaches or a growing resentment towards management for a perceived set of broken promises. This can be further buttressed by a conscious effort beforehand to outline to legal candidates what is to be expected from a position on offer in interviews, and ensure the right picture is painted from the onset.

Does the Shoe Fit?

Boomerang hires present a fantastic opportunity for legal employers to approach the skills gap problem from a unique angle – one that offers a lot of value for firms willing to play their cards right and enables them to bolster their workforce without many of the risks that recruiting a new hire carries. But while they are a unique solution, they only tick some of the boxes that a hiring firm will have its eye on and can leave a lot to be desired when applied at scale. They don’t, for example, take into account the changing needs of your firm hiring-wise, the changes that will already have taken place in their absence or how the role has evolved to best serve the business’s needs since they left. Unlike a new hire, who is more malleable at the very start of their tenure, and easier to adapt to firm demands, a boomerang hire will already have their own ways of working set in stone and can become a square peg in a round hole if not considered carefully beforehand.

Second Chances Require a Second Thought

An equally crucial aspect of their return to look at is the state of their relationship with any existing employees and where this leaves your team morale should they be accepted back into the fold. As it is clear from the data that the reasons for an employee’s departure can at times be vague and ambiguous, there is the risk of unearthing old grudges amongst your current workforce if the cause for resignation was a disconnect between an existing and former employee, especially if it was not made clear beforehand by the boomerang hire pre-departure. The phrase ‘fool me twice’ rings true here for any employer with a boomerang hire at or near the top of their candidate shortlist, as they should only be re-hired if it is absolutely clear the second chance will not be squandered. Without a clear picture of what exactly led to their exit, you are potentially jeopardising the trust and stability of your team.

The Only One-Size-Fits-All-Solution

For hiring problems that present a longstanding challenge to law firms looking to add the right skillset to their teams, the services of a specialist legal recruiter are the future-proof solution. The grasp they have on the market and the experience and know-how they possess in sourcing the talent a firm needs, whatever the scale of change present in their hiring practices, provides far more value in the long run than what any boomerang hire can offer. Particularly in a market where change is thrust at us at an extremely rapid rate, the guidance and support they can provide to navigate the hiring process can be invaluable. What the right boomerang hire cannot solve with all its pluses, a specialist recruiter can do with minimal hassle and much, much 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 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

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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

  • October 18, 2023

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

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

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

Talk To Your Clients:

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

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

Come Out Of The Bubble: 

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

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

Lack of an EVP: 

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

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

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

  • Fair pay

  • Personal development and growth

  • Meaningful work, making a contribution

  • Good reputation

  • Working with friendly colleagues

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invest In Building A Top Team 

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

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

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

Keep On Top Of (And Ahead) Of Tech  

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

Plan For Headcount Growth Early 

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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The (Real) Cost Of Getting Your Hiring Wrong

  • September 26, 2023

In the last few years, and notably since the pandemic, the hiring landscape across the legal sector has presented a number of challenges.

Some firms were forced down a redundancy route, whilst others, despite the appetite and budget to grow, were met with an apathetic talent pool and skills shortage.

What is a common challenge for all businesses, almost irrespective of market conditions, is the importance of getting hiring decisions right – the first time.

That said, with competition for the best legal talent on the market the fiercest it’s ever been, the time, resources and money spent on training a new hire make the investment stakes in recruitment & onboarding far too high for the hire in question to underperform. Not only does this put your firm in the awkward position of restarting that recruitment process to look for a replacement, but it also means that possibly more time & resources will need to be spent to avoid such an issue the second time round.  

 Here we look at the real cost of a bad hire in the current market and what you as an employer can do to mitigate any risks in your recruitment process. 

The Consequences of a ‘Bad’ Hire

Fact – making the wrong hiring decision costs your firm money. 

What is shocking is not only the number of poor hiring decisions that are made but how little hiring managers are aware of the true cost involved, especially considering how cut-throat the legal market has become in a post-pandemic era. According to a study done by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, 85% of HR decision-makers admitted their company had hired someone who was not right for the job and despite 33% of businesses not believing it to cost their business anything, it was found in the same report that a poor hire at manager-level with a salary of £42k can cost a business over £132k – more than 3 times the person’s annual salary – when factoring in costs for training, onboarding and more. 

Due to the growth of the legal sector in certain areas, some law firms have struggled to find the right talent to meet their needs – which has led to a lot of rushed hiring decisions and consequently, an uphill struggle to adequately replace them. When considering how much time & resources are wasted on a bad hire, how much it takes to find and recruit a new one and the risk factor that virtual interviews and onboarding processes now bring into the equation, having to replace a bad hire is far too costly a venture for firms to make in 2024. 

The key is finding the right candidate for your vacancy who not only ticks the boxes in relation to the role, but who will also fit in with the existing team, who can envisage a long-term future with you, and who has room (and the desire) to grow professionally. 

Hiring In The New World – What to Hire for Now?

It starts with establishing what you are looking for in your legal hire, what they are looking for from you and how you are going to find a sizeable overlap between the two. Only when this occurs will you get the right ‘fit’ – the ideal candidate that wants to stay and build their career at your firm. 

However, as you will likely have noticed by now, what legal candidates are looking for has changed somewhat. Flexible and hybrid working now sits near the top of their priority lists as the value of an employer that can offer such arrangements is now very apparent, considering the positive impact it has been shown to have on employee performance due to a greater work-life balance.   

Additionally, with candidates now in a time where they are always connected enough to express as well as access a range of opinions however and whenever they wish, they are now increasingly looking for firms with a strong employer brand. Thus, in an industry where reputation rules, how your firm comes across on a cultural level to the average candidate is now more important than ever. With increased importance placed on DEI and an imperative now placed on employers to support candidates on all sides of the neurodiversity spectrum, how your employer brand positions your firm to compete beyond things like remuneration and job titles and offer such candidates something more, now becomes the difference between a great hire and a bad one. 

If you aren’t making the ‘right’ offer to legal talent, you will find your applicant shortlists filled with candidates who don’t meet your expectations. When the time comes to make a hiring decision, the chance of you making the ‘wrong’ recruitment decision will then be significantly higher due to your reduced talent pool both in terms of volume and ‘quality’. 

If you want to know what turns heads amongst candidates, and how to rework your hiring practices to better bridge that gap between what candidates want and what you offer, check out our guide on how to tap into what legal candidates today are looking for.

The Importance of Head-Turning Job Ads to Do The Heavy Lifting

When it comes to your hiring requirements, and the importance of getting the attention of the right legal talent the first time around, how your job descriptions are written is key. Despite how much the hiring landscape has evolved in recent years, legal candidates still rely on engaging and effective job descriptions to determine which role is the best fit for them personally and professionally.  

 Your job descriptions should not only be informative about the role but should also be easily accessible, communicate your EVP clearly, be transparent about the candidate experience during and after hiring and ensure inclusivity in all stages of the hiring process. It’s also important to consider whether the skills and personality traits you usually look for in your employees have changed. Many legal specialisms have exploded since the pandemic, you may want to ensure your job adverts aren’t alienating the right legal talent with hyperbolic language or setting rigid and unnecessary requirements that can deter otherwise well-suited candidates. 

Mitigating The Risk By Enlisting The Help Of Experts

Whilst the hire/no-hire decision ultimately comes down to the firm in question, using the services of a specialist legal recruiter will also help to ensure that only the right candidates are short-listed from the get-go. Not only will using a 3rd party save time – especially in the early stages of reviewing CVs and applications, you will also have access to passive talent; widening the net and ensuring that the role(s) in question are visible to a much larger talent pool.

What’s more, many agencies also offer retained services as well as contingency, with additional features designed to impact the likelihood of a successful outcome.

This model is often more rigorous in nature and may include additional features such as:

  • Bespoke market mapping
  • Salary benchmarking intel
  • Psychometric testing
  • Video interviews and candidate profiling
  • Dedicated Account Manager or team of specialist consultants<
  • Regular face-to-face updates and reporting/analysis
  • Strategic headhunting
  • Integrated marketing campaigns including advertising

Whilst there is no absolute guarantee that your new hire won’t leave through utilising a recruitment agency, the belt-and-braces approach and additional screening will undoubtedly help to mitigate that risk.

Finally

Often, we hear responses of 70-75% retention said with pride but we’d ask you to turn this statistic upside down – and consider the direct impact that 25-30% is actually having on your bottom line. Therefore, we’d encourage you to make use of our True Cost of Hiring Calculator, particularly if you have hired legal professionals in the last 12 months, and have unfortunately found that some have left before their 1-year anniversary. The presentation of your results and accompanying report contains a wealth of information to further demonstrate why getting that fit right first time is imperative. 

Remember that if you want to avoid making the wrong hire, you need to find candidates who are truly a great fit, not someone who will be looking for a new role in a few months. 

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 perhaps have had your fingers burnt by a bad hire in the past, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

 

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Head-Turning Job Descriptions: A Guide

  • July 6, 2023

Hiring amazing talent in any industry starts with attracting the right people.

Yet, as reports of the Great Resignation rumble on, and we continue to see an ongoing transformation of the workplace, capturing the attention of amazing legal candidates isn’t easy.

According to current industry data, 95% of employers say they find it extremely difficult to fill the gaps in their team, thanks to today’s competitive market.

And, with many Law Firms continuing to press ahead with their hiring for the coming year,  managing partners need to work harder than ever to make their listings stand out amongst the clutter.

It all starts with writing the most effective job descriptions.

Even as the hiring landscape evolves, legal candidates still rely on engaging, informative, and powerful job descriptions to determine which law firm best fits their needs.

The best job descriptions combine critical insights into an available role, with a touch of marketing and a behind-the-scenes look at firm culture. It’s not enough to list the required skills and experience under a quick summary of what a job entails.

To attract loyal, engaged employees to your teams, you need to highlight information that matters to top talent. Today’s job descriptions should focus on the benefits you can offer as an employer, your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a clear overview of why legal candidates should choose your firm over dozens of competitors.

Today, we’re exploring how employers in the industry can turbocharge their job descriptions and ensure they’re attracting the widest selection of talented legal professionals.

What is a job description’s function, and is it still important?

Job descriptions are simple documents outlining the essential responsibilities involved in a role. They highlight the qualifications and experience a candidate needs to excel in a position, describe the type of work they’re going to perform, and offer insights into the benefits of a role.

Job descriptions have grown increasingly critical over the years as legal employers struggle to find the best talent. Today’s law firms are now using job descriptions to outline the key components of a role and essentially put their best foot forwards to qualified candidates.

An effective job description ensures your brand can attract candidates and fill crucial skill gaps. In fact, 52% of job seekers in a recent Indeed research report say job descriptions directly influence their decision on whether or not to apply for a role.

Job descriptions help you to outline exactly what you need from a new employee, so you can make the right decision about whom to hire first-time around. These documents also:

  • Give candidates a clear idea of what to expect from a role
  • Act as a guide when making hiring decisions
  • Communicates the expectations aligned with a role
  • Form the foundation for interview questions

What are the Core Components of a Good Job Description?

Many firms have a unique process for writing job descriptions. Those responsible for hiring within the firm may work with existing employees to build descriptions based on feedback from staff and, importantly, what they need the employee to deliver in that role.

Others leverage the skills of legal recruitment agencies like ourselves to boost their document’s performance. According to Indeed, to write an effective job description, companies must find the right balance between providing concise, straightforward information, and using the right details to engage, excite, and intrigue candidates.

Typically, your job description will include the following information:

A Title & Summary

The first component of a good job description is a role title and a summary of what the position entails. Highlight the nature of the role (whether it’s permanent, full-time, or contract) and how you expect your employee to work (in-office, remote, or hybrid). Keep in mind flexible working options could make your job descriptions more attractive. 76% of professionals say they’d like to work fewer traditional hours and want a flexible approach to when and how they work.

Remember to use a specific, easy-to-understand job title to avoid confusing your potential candidates with jargon. Talk to your legal recruitment agency if you’re unsure what your title and summary should be – especially in order to widen the net and attract more suitable candidates.

An “About Us Section

This section is where you can really ‘sell’ your firm and provide an introduction to who you are. Whilst some law firms can rely to some extent on the weight of their brand and reputation in the market, the best talent these days are looking for evidence of an empathetic, inclusive, and reliable employer – so focussing on how you bring this to life is paramount. You can highlight your firm culture, vision, and purpose here and give your potential candidates an insight into your values, such as a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and evolution.

The “About Us” section is also a fantastic space to highlight critical DEI information. 50% of employees currently believe their employer isn’t doing enough to promote diversity, so highlighting how you address this from the get-go will undoubtedly pay dividends amongst jobseekers in the market.

The Role and Responsibilities

Your job description is important in setting expectations for your legal employees. You should outline the core purpose of the role straight away and what your team members will be responsible for in this position. Make sure your list of responsibilities is as clear as possible, with no industry jargon, unclear acronyms, or confusing language.

Be precise and let team members know what kind of systems and software they will be working with, what case loads they will be dealing with, and what the short and long-term objectives of the role might be.

Competencies and Skills

This section of the job description tells your legal candidates what characteristics you’re looking for in an employee. Essentially, it’s a checklist of everything a good employee will need to perform well in the role. Avoid listing educational requirements and skills that aren’t entirely necessary here, as it could stop potentially good candidates from considering your opportunity.
Create a list of specific skills and qualifications your team member will require. Highlight whether they need experience working with certain programmes or platforms, and draw attention to any on-the-job training you can offer. You may also want to outline some basic traits you’re looking for, such as punctuality and proactivity.

The Benefits and Salary

Finally, you’ll need to show your candidates what’s “in it for them” if they decide to join your team. Provide an insight into the kind of salary your candidate can expect. You can choose a salary “range” if you’re open to negotiations. Just make sure it’s in line with the average for that job role in that particular region.

Don’t forget to draw attention to benefits too. Many employees find benefits to be just as attractive as a good level of remuneration. For instance, maybe you can offer flexible and remote work, a four-day workweek, or access to in-house therapy and mental health support.

A good way to make your benefits more attractive is to write them in a way that helps your candidates envision what it might be like to work with you. For instance, instead of writing “4-day work week”, write, “Start your weekend early every week with a four-day schedule, so you have more time for family and friends.”

Remember to discuss your decisions with the recruitment agency working with you on the role. They speak to candidates daily, so they can tell you exactly what the candidate you are looking for wants in a role.

Top Tips for More Compelling Job Descriptions

Writing effective job descriptions for candidates in today’s current legal landscape isn’t just about ensuring you include all the right information. In competitive markets, it’s important to look for ways of making your job descriptions more compelling and actively ‘sell’ the role to jobseekers.

Here are some quick tips to help you attract more candidates.

1.  Improve the Opening Section

It’s becoming extremely difficult to make job descriptions stand out these days. Your potential candidates will be scanning through job listings daily. That’s why it’s important to make sure you instantly grab your talent’s attention.

A good way to make your descriptions more compelling is to focus on the benefits the candidate can expect immediately. Rather than starting with a phrase like “The ideal candidate will”, talk about what your employees will get from you. For instance, “This role gives you a unique opportunity to work with world-class clients on a flexible schedule.” Focus therefore on ‘what’s in it for them’ rather than your list of stipulations and requirements.

2.  Communicate Your Compelling Culture Clearly

Legal candidates are a lot pickier about where they work in today’s jobs market. With that in mind, it’s important to highlight the culture of your firm straight away, so talent can determine whether your firm really fits their needs. Introduce your brand’s vision and mission, values, and commitment to building a diverse workforce.

Discuss the firm culture employees can expect, introducing concepts like remote work opportunities, flexible schedules, and team-building exercises. Consider including genuine insights and quotes from your existing legal employees. This is a great way to demonstrate your firm’s credibility and authenticity.

Whilst a written job description can only do so much to demonstrate such things as ‘culture’, why not include links to your website, or even better…a dedicated landing page focused on hiring where you can include such things as employee testimonials, videos that highlight the working environment, and any other feature of your firm that you believe is attractive to potential new hires.

3.  Make Information Easily Accessible

Job descriptions need to be informative, but candidates don’t want to be overwhelmed with huge amounts of text and complicated words. Consider cutting down on lengthy sentences and switching to bullet points where possible. This will help your candidates scan your content and find the necessary information to determine whether they should apply.

Experimenting with different kinds of content is a good way to make your job descriptions a little more engaging. Alongside paragraphs and bullet points, again, link to videos to provide insight into your firm with statements and stories from current employees. Show candidates the office space, and let them hear the hiring manager’s voice to make your content more memorable.

4.  Double-Check Your Content is Inclusive

As demand for diverse, equitable, and inclusive employers continues to rise, it’s more important than ever to double-check that your content doesn’t include any evidence of bias. Unconscious bias can easily creep into job descriptions and prevent crucial talent from applying.

For instance, you may use words like “young go-getter” or “experienced veteran” without malicious intent, but these terms alienate whole age groups within your candidate pool. When writing your job descriptions, watch out for any language which might make your description less appealing to a specific gender, age group, or ethnic group.

If you’re worried your diversity message isn’t clear enough, talk to your recruitment consultant, who will be able to advise you on how to include your commitment to DEI, and ensure your job descrptions don’t inadvertently trip you up.

5.  Be Transparent About the Candidate Experience

Setting expectations in the job description is an excellent way to save time for your team and your potential candidates. Being open and clear in your job description about what the interview will entail and how decisions will be made shows your candidates that they can expect a straightforward hiring journey with you.

Highlight whether there are likely to be any post-interview tests your candidates will need to complete, and let your potential employees know if interviews will happen in person or virtually. It may also be worth introducing some basic information about the onboarding experience for successful candidates.

(It’s also worth reading our blog on ‘ethical recruitment’ here to ensure that all your recruitment practices ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency).

6.  Ask for Feedback

As employee and candidate expectations change, it can be difficult to consistently update your job descriptions in a way that generates real results without a little help. Fortunately, there are various places where you can cultivate feedback. Ask your existing team members for help in making your job descriptions stand out. They can tell you what benefits make your role more compelling and what information you might have missed.

Speak to your legal recruitment agency for advice on how to make your job listings stand out. After all, these professionals have years of experience reviewing and communicating job descriptions to the market in order to help law firms attract top talent.

The Mistakes to Avoid in Your Job Descriptions

Writing the most compelling job descriptions can be a complex process, particularly in today’s competitive hiring landscape. It’s easy to stumble into several potential mistakes, which could mean you miss out on the most valuable legal talent for your team.

Aside from following the steps above to make your descriptions more compelling, it’s also worth ensuring you don’t fall victim to any of the following common errors:

1.  Using the Wrong Job Title

As law firms continue to rely on “marketing” strategies to attract new legal talent to their team, recent trends have emerged among organisations trying to make their descriptions more compelling. For instance, some companies try to showcase their unique personality and culture by switching out job titles with more inventive but unusual ones. You may have already seen listings for various legal “superstars” or “rockstars”.

While weird and unusual job titles can be fun, they’re also highly confusing. Most people in today’s digital landscape are actively looking for job descriptions which include specific keywords. And in a sector as traditional as the legal industry, this can make your efforts counterproductive as using unusual job titles prevents candidates from finding your posts. Additionally, complex job titles can make it harder for employees to determine whether they’re applying for the right roles. It’s worth sticking with titles you know your current legal employees are familiar with.

2.  Using Hyperbolic Language

In an age where legal candidates are looking for more genuine, honest, and empathetic employers, they’re increasingly less likely to apply for roles where law firms use a lot of superlative and hyperbolic language. Telling your candidates that working with you gives them a chance to be part of the “best law firm in the world” won’t increase your chances of attracting talent.

Instead, focus on the clear, authentic benefits you can offer. Don’t just tell your candidates your firm is the best in the world. Highlight what makes your job offer special. Can you provide flexible working schedules, consistent education and training, and access to unique benefits no other law firm can offer?

3.  Failing to Include Relevant Information

While legal candidates in today’s fast-paced environment have less time to browse through job listings, this doesn’t mean you can “skip” parts of the job description. Failing to include important information means you’re less likely to attract candidates because they won’t know what to expect from your role.

Make sure you highlight all of the position’s key responsibilities, the benefits on offer, and any other information that might be necessary for legal candidates. Include details where relevant too. For instance, what makes it flexible if you’re listing a “flexible” role? Can team members work from home whenever they like, or will they be able to change their schedule easily?

4.  Alienating Crucial Talent

In a competitive legal market, you cannot afford to accidentally alienate qualified people from your role. With this in mind, it’s worth double-checking that you’re not driving possible candidates away. For instance, it might be a good idea to remove any requests for a specific number of years of experience from your job descriptions.

Experience is great, but it’s not the only factor determining whether potential employees will thrive in your role. Adding requests to your job descriptions for an employee with five years of experience in a specific practice area can prevent qualified candidates from applying.

A candidate with an excellent growth mindset and two years of experience may be better for your law firm than someone with ten years of experience and a laid-back attitude. Focus on the skills you need your employees to have and the results you want them to achieve instead.

5.  Failing to Get the Right Help

As the legal market continues to suffer from significant changes, it’s harder than ever for law firms to find the talent they need without a little extra help. Ultimately, going it alone isn’t an option if you want to attract the right talent as quickly as possible. No matter how big or small, every company should consider working with an expert.

Working alongside legal recruitment specialists will help you to enhance your job descriptions, build your talent pipeline, and increase your access to talent. Not only can their team of consultants give you tips on improving your job listings based on their extensive experience, but they can also ensure your listings reach the right people by promoting them on the correct channels.

Final thoughts

Designing the ideal job descriptions is one of the most important things you can do as an employer trying to attract the very best legal talent. In such a competitive market, it’s crucial to ensure your job descriptions not only show your would-be employees what they can expect from your role but also give them insight into culture and benefits.

If you struggle to update and enhance ineffective job descriptions, contact your legal recruitment agency for help. They’ll be able to provide behind-the-scenes insights based on years of experience working with similar firms – and will also help to further market your role and your firm when liaising with potential candidates.

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.

 

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

 

 

 

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5 Top Tips On Retaining Your Legal Clients And Market Position

  • March 21, 2023

Even after a tumultuous couple of years during and following the Covid-19 pandemic, 2023 also brings with it certain challenges for law firms.

Economic pressures, talent retention, and for many, adapting to the permanency of hybrid working are all factors that make business-as-usual still pretty unpredictable.

And, as well as a necessary focus on retention and recruitment of employees, law firms will no doubt be conscious of their business strategy, growth plans, and the retention of their client base.

It goes without saying that earning a client’s trust is paramount to the success of your law firm.

Additionally, you work hard for your clients and to maintain and build your legal professionalism. Retaining clients and your place in the legal marketplace requires strategies to help build relationships and keep those clients coming back to you as their firm of choice.

Client retention means you can avoid spending a lot of valuable time in marketing your law firm to earn new business. Also, happy clients who return to your firm may even provide a lead to additional work if they recommend you to others in their network. This can be a huge boost, especially if they have wide-reaching connections.

So, how can you help retain those valuable clients and increase your repeat business, thus placing yourself well ahead of the pack with a continued focus on growth? Here are our five top tips that could accelerate retention levels and see your firm’s reputation rise.

1. Communicate

How often do you hear clients complaining that their solicitor doesn’t return their calls, or that they don’t know where things are up to in their case?

Your clients want to feel valued, and it’s easy to make them believe their business is important to you. Start by returning their phone calls or emails. You can delegate some of this work if necessary, but if correspondence requires your personal attention – make the time to address it. This could be as simple as setting aside a specific time each day and blocking off your diary to give you space without interruption to answer clients’ questions.

2. Be Honest

Things don’t always go to plan. It’s critical for your legal team to be able to handle bad news, as well as good, and deal with unexpected results.

Therefore, it’s vital to be clear with your client that you can’t guarantee results. Managing potential outcomes can be tricky, but preparing your client from the start will make results easier to handle.

Remember that your clients have come to you at a time that they need assistance – it could be any one of several challenging issues in their personal or professional lives, and they will want to hear positive news from you.

But honesty is essential. Don’t be tempted to give false hope and be clear that there may be problems or even a negative outcome if you believe this to be the case.

It’s also essential, to be honest about your performance as a provider of legal services. For example, if you are late with documents, admit it. If a client discovers you were untruthful about a small issue like late documents, they will doubt you over more significant issues. Aim to protect your firm’s integrity in all circumstances.

3. Bill Clients Accurately

Overbilling or charging in a way that was not clearly demonstrated initially to the client will not help establish your firm’s professionalism.

Therefore, invoices should always correctly reflect the work done. Time tracking and billing software can help your firm create accurate bills, avoiding unhappy clients who believe they have been overcharged, and resulting in faster payments and higher levels of customer confidence in your firm.

Additionally, you may wish to offer various billing options such as fixed fee, hourly billing or flat fees for services – clients have different preferences, and to keep ahead of the pack it’s a good idea to consider offering different options. Being agile in this way could be the difference between keeping and losing a client.

4. Remain Professional

Of course, the most critical aspect of retaining clients and gaining market position is to complete the legal work you have taken on; providing services that are effective and offer value to your clients.

Meeting deadlines, employing skilled solicitors, and handling cases efficiently will ensure clients recognise your professionalism and return to use your services again – as well as recommend you to others.

Equally pivotal to ensuring your law firm remains relevant is to keep all your employee’s certifications up to date, and make sure you stay informed about legal changes and court decisions.

5. Consider Diversifying

It may seem a bold move, but diversification can give you an advantage over competitors and place you ahead of the curve. Addressing the ‘where’ and ‘how’ to scale your law firm should be considered carefully and will be dependent on your current position – both geographically and in terms of client base and marketplace.

Dramatic strategy changes may seem radical, and remaining credible is paramount, so you may wish to consider small steps if looking to increase your service offer. If you choose to consider this route, a good place to start is by re-examining your strategic plan to highlight areas you could develop as well as ensure you are on the right track for success.

Following these top tips will help you create better client retention, enhance your reputation and keep you one step ahead of the competition in a crowded legal marketplace.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, we’d love to be part of that conversation.

Don’t hesitate to call one of our regional or practice area specialists on 01772 259 121.

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 Salary Survey & Market Insights Report Here.

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Hiring Fast Versus Slow: The Facts Law Firms Need to Know

  • March 4, 2023

The average time it takes to hire a legal candidate is increasing.

According to a recent post from LinkedIn, it can take more than forty days for a hiring manager to find and make an offer to the right employee. While part of this problem may be attributed to skill shortages in the legal sector, there’s a larger underlying issue.

Law firms are taking too long to make decisions.

While it’s important to be cautious when choosing the right employee to bring onto your team, a slow hiring process can have a number of negative repercussions. As competition for legal talent in the legal industry grows, taking too long to select a candidate could/will mean you miss out.

At the same time, there’s a risk you could end up impacting your employer brand, prompting future candidates to avoid applying for your roles.

Remember candidates talk to each other and especially online.

So let’s talk about why hiring faster is a good idea.

Hiring Fast vs Hiring Slow: Why Speed Wins

The best legal candidates are always highly coveted and receive multiple offers from a variety of different employers. If you’re not fast to act, the chances of losing your ideal employee are higher than ever.

As a legal recruiter, we can only do so much to persuade candidates to wait.

Recruiting faster doesn’t mean abandoning your standards when choosing the correct candidate. Instead, it means reworking your process so you can make intelligent decisions quickly.

Here are some of the reasons why law firms need to increase the speed of their hiring strategy if they want to remain competitive.

1. Increases Your Chances of Securing the Right Legal Talent

The hiring marketplace has changed drastically in the last three years. Today’s legal employees don’t have time to wait around for an employer to offer them a role. More importantly, they usually don’t have to. Even if you don’t offer a role to a candidate straight away, there’s a good chance another firm will.

Making slow decisions about who to bring onto your team doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of getting a high-quality candidate. While you’re busy consulting with your recruitment team about whom to hire, your ideal candidate is already looking for alternative roles.

The longer you take to decide, the more chance you have of someone else swooping in and recruiting your top choice. This could mean you need to settle for a less-than-ideal alternative, just so you can fill the gap in your legal team.

2. Better Existing Employee Experiences

A slow hiring process isn’t just a problem for future employees, it can cause issues with your current workforce too. When positions go unfilled for too long in a firm, many leaders need to distribute the tasks associated with those roles to other team members, to fill the gaps.

This means staff ends up focusing more of their time on projects and initiatives not included within their general job description. This can increase your risk of burnout and overwhelm, and even encourage employees to start searching for new roles too.

Placing more strain on your existing team also means they’re more likely to be prone to making mistakes in their day-to-day work. Overwhelmed staff need to rush through tasks, rather than giving each job their direct focus.

3. Enhanced Candidate Experiences

Legal professionals are no longer just searching for great salary options and benefits when it comes to their job search. Amongst other things (and there is quite a list these days) they’re also looking for evidence their employer will treat them with empathy and respect. This means the candidate experience has become more important than ever to firms in search of new legal talent. Fail to deliver a good experience, and you’ll miss out on future opportunities.

A speedy hiring process delivers a better all-around experience for your candidates, showing them, you respect their needs.

The faster you provide your candidates with an offer, the more likely they are to feel committed to your brand and their role within your firm. The longer your hiring process takes, the more your new team members are likely to lose their enthusiasm about their new role.

Ethical recruitment (something we’ve looked at recently) means in simple terms, doing the right thing – always. This should be the very foundation and principles on which your hiring activity is built.

4. Improved Employer Brand and EVP

Ensuring you can attract and retain the best quality legal talent in the current market requires significant effort. You need to ensure you’re promoting an employer brand that convinces legal candidates you have the right opportunities to offer.

Your employer brand is influenced by everything you do when interacting with both your existing employees and future staff. This means if your candidate experience is poor, due to a long recruitment time and lack of communication, you could risk scaring off new employees. In fact, around 43% of job-seekers say they might even write a negative review about an employer when the hiring process takes too long.

Committing to quickly providing your candidates with insights into the success of their interview, and making decisions fast about who to hire will ensure you stand out in the legal sector.

Speed Up Your Hiring Process

The best candidates in the current legal landscape won’t wait around for a long hiring process. And it goes without saying that the more in demand they are, the more options will be open to them when it comes to choosing where to make that next move.

If you can’t act quickly to secure the best for your firm, simply put – you’ll miss out.

Recruiting faster doesn’t have to mean lowering your standards, but it could mean looking for ways to optimise your hiring process.

And, whilst time may be of the essence, it’s equally as important not to make any rash decisions or rush into a decision that could ultimately come back to bite you. After all, there is a significant commercial cost of a bad hire too.

Working with a legal recruitment agency can help to focus your activity – helping to source, and shortlist candidates faster, so you can get the right talent quickly  – whilst also ensuring that no balls get dropped along the way in ensuring that the candidates that are presented to you are still the right ‘fit’ for your firm.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviablese 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 get in touch with us here

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Retained Recruitment Services – A Viable Option for Your Law Firm?

  • February 23, 2023

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

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

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

Why Choose a Recruitment Partner?

Utilising a sector-specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give firms a head start with their hiring campaigns – not only providing general market insight and that helicopter view of the hiring landscape, but also the inside track on movement and access to talent pools of active and passive legal professionals.

Consultants at recruitment firms are just that… able to provide consultative, practical advice on things like the fillability of roles, salary benchmarking, and insight into requirements and drivers of job seekers in the current climate.

They are also best placed to really ‘sell’ your firm and elevate your roles through strategic marketing, advertising, and tapping into the passive talent within their own networks.

In short, it makes absolute commercial sense to bring in the experts when the hiring landscape remains complex, and the candidate, at least for now, is King.

Then again, we would say that…

And once you have decided to partner with a recruitment specialist, the selection process and identifying the right one also needs some careful consideration.

Can’t See the Wood For the Trees?

Choosing the right legal recruitment partner can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options available. The key to selecting the right partner is to carefully evaluate all of the factors that they bring to the table. A legal recruitment expert has the potential to save firms time, money, and headaches in the search for legal talent. However, the success of your new strategy will depend on your ability to choose the most suitable company for your firm.

You may look at things such as their own longevity (and success) in the market, their brand presence and digital footprint, and whether they are a specialist (and knowledgeable) about your practice area(s) or region in which you operate.

You may also look at the specifics of the services on offer – although this may not always be apparent from a quick glance at the website.

But understanding the recruitment model and service(s) adopted and on offer by the firm is imperative in the decision-making process. Therefore your assessment and due diligence period should always take heed of the specific framework or model that agency subscribes to.

This Way, Or That?

Whilst there are sometimes grey areas and nuances, generally speaking, most recruitment firms will offer either one or two services to their client base.

And, whilst on the face of it, the differences are largely focused on the payment structure and agreement between recruiter and client, the underlying recruitment approach is usually very different.

Contingency

Contingency recruitment in simple terms works on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, whereby the client only pays a fee for the successful placement of a candidate – usually when that individual starts in their new role.

This tends to be the prevailing model of recruitment in most industries and is often used for entry-level or mid-level positions where the recruiter is likely to have a larger pool of candidates to choose from, and where there is general availability of the required skills in the marketplace.

A standard service offered by recruitment agencies, it gives firms access to the agency’s own extensive network of pre-screened candidates; saving time and allowing a shortlist to be drawn up together, quickly, in line with your instructions.

Retained

Retained recruitment refers to the type of recruitment in which the agency is paid a partial fee from the client before the process begins, with the remainder paid upon the successful placement of a candidate into that role.

Typically suitable for executive-level hires, or where there is a scarcity of candidates on the active market, this model often means the agency will enter an exclusive partnership with the client who will help to map the market and help to set goals and milestones on how the search will be conducted.

Retained – More Than Just The Upfront Fee?

Whilst on the face of it, retained recruitment services seem more expensive as there is an upfront fee to pay, regardless of the outcome – there is often much more to this methodology than just the payment structure and T&Cs.

This model is often more rigorous in nature and may include additional features such as:

  • Bespoke market mapping
  • Salary benchmarking intel
  • Psychometric testing
  • Video interviews and candidate profiling
  • Dedicated Account Manager or team of specialist consultants<
  • Regular face-to-face updates and reporting/analysis
  • Strategic headhunting
  • Integrated marketing campaigns including advertising

This is more often than not, a fully-tailored recruitment solution where the agency and consultants will work closely with the hiring team – covering all areas of the active and passive market in a wider, more detailed search.

Is Retained Right For Me?

There are pros and cons of going down the contingency or retained route – and ultimately, it will once again come down to:

  • Scarcity of candidates in the market for the role in question
  • The need to recruit quickly (and impact on the bottom line of that role not being filled)
  • The need to access resources you don’t have yourself
  • Budget
  • Complexity of the hiring project (volume, seniority, location, relocation, etc)

Retained recruitment can offer certain benefits over contingency including:

  • Access to a wider pool of talent – tapping into passive networks who may not be actively looking for a role (and therefore arguably not being targeted by other law firms also hiring in the same practice area or region)
  • Time-saving – the agency takes care of the entire recruitment process, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and providing detailed shortlists for the client. For time-short individuals in the legal sector – this is often a driving force to outsource in the first place.
  • Cost effective – whilst retained recruitment may involve an upfront fee, it is often seen as more cost-effective in the long run because the agency in question has the expertise and resources to identify the best candidates that are the right ‘fit’ first time for the client. This reduces the risk of a bad hire(and the financial implications that come with that).
  • Increased retention rates – identification, and then a successful placement, of a ‘right fit’ candidate that aligns with the law firm’s culture and values on a deeper level than qualifications and experience, ultimately impacts retention rates and reduced turnover.
  • Professional expertise – a good recruitment specialist, especially those with longevity (and a good reputation) in the market can provide guidance on a consultative basis on recruitment strategies, market trends, and best practice – helping the firm make informed decisions, and moving the whole process on from a simple transactional service

In Conclusion

Retained recruitment and contingency recruitment are two different approaches to hiring – but both may be considered as viable solutions based on your hiring strategy, budget, timescales, and the type of role(s) in question.

Whichever route you choose (which may be a hybrid of the two if the agency offers both services), working with a recruitment specialist that shares your values can help to elevate your business, brand, and roles.

The recruitment process for many businesses can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and costly. Add in the tail end of a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political instability, and the process soon becomes a minefield.

Yet the objectives remain the same for those responsible for hiring within their law firm – retain, engage, and motivate their existing people, and attract top talent in line with growth and business objectives.

Selecting a recruitment partner that addresses those goals and is mindful of things like ethical recruitment practices – abiding by the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency, is essential.

And as long as those boxes are ticked…arguably you’re already on the road to success, whichever route you then go on to choose.

Our Services

At Clayton Legal, we offer a number of different services to suit the various (and changing) requirements of our diverse client base.

The services we offer very much start with the specific requirements, hiring strategy, business objectives, and budget, and include a standard contingency service as well as a retained and RPO service offering.

We work at all times with our client’s objectives in mind – to deliver the people they need, swiftly, that are the right fit, first time.

Click here for more information on our range of services, and information on how to get in touch if you would like a more informed discussion about how we can help with your current recruitment project.

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 get in touch with us here .

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Ethical Recruitment: Helping to Define Good Practice in Your Hiring Strategy

  • January 12, 2023

The recruitment process for many businesses can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and costly. Add in the tail end of a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political instability, and the process soon becomes a minefield.

Yet the objectives remain the same for those responsible for hiring within their Law Firm – retain, engage, and motivate their existing people, and attract top talent in line with growth and business objectives.

As businesses in many sectors, law included, battle skills shortages and a shrinking workforce, vacancies remain unfilled and incumbent teams are smaller -putting pressure on service levels, productivity, and ultimately profitability.

When market conditions are challenging, it is easy for Hiring Managers and/or Partners to make rash decisions or have a temporary lack of judgment. Recruiting under pressure can mean that processes aren’t followed in the same manner, including ethical recruitment practices and standards, albeit temporarily.

But what is ‘ethical recruitment’ exactly? And why should it help to guide your recruitment strategy even more so when times are tough?

Ethical recruitment – a definition

Ethical recruitment as a searchable term has a number of definitions that focus on everything from inclusion in your DEI policy to unconscious bias and the legalities of working conditions and non-discrimination.

Whilst the above undoubtedly should be a considered part of your general hiring practice and standards, ethical recruitment in general terms can be defined as ‘practices designed to ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency’.

In even simpler terms, it is about doing the right thing – and in hiring, that relates to the jobseekers and candidates you are hoping to attract to your firm.

Why is ethical recruitment important?

The last few years in particular have seen a spotlight on the importance of an ‘EVP’ (Employer Value Proposition) – the way, or ways that your Firm differentiates itself from its competitors when it comes to attracting talent.

Fundamentally it is a list of specific and unique benefits an employee can expect to receive when they join your firm – but also seeks to communicate and describe what your company stands for and offers as an employer.

Whilst your EVP should unquestionably be viewed as a tool to impact retention of existing team members (ultimately creating advocacy amongst employees to further engage (and promote) the business from within) it is also an essential part of a firm’s hiring strategy and chance to showcase to the market why your law firm is the first choice for jobseekers in that particular region or practice area.

As well as communicating tangible rewards (remuneration, benefits, bonuses), a firm’s EVP should also seek to demonstrate its vision, values, good standing, and reputation amongst its own customer-base and existing employees.

The recruitment of new members of the team – the end-to-end process, therefore, undoubtedly impacts the latter point here:

Your Firm’s Reputation

Acting with the candidate’s best interest at all times is a fundamental part of ethical recruitment and needs to be considered from the very outset and start of the hiring process. Your firm’s reputation in a competitive market will be a key element in a jobseeker’s decision process – and how you treat potential employees is key.

This includes being honest and transparent in your job advertisements, accessibility, and general communication throughout the process.

Quality of Candidates

Jobseekers, particularly in a candidate-driven market, are looking more intrinsically than ever at their potential new employers. From their corporate social responsibility endeavours to ways they demonstrate their values and vision, legal professionals who are actively looking for a new opportunity are looking beyond salary and the once-heralded annual bonus.

Rather, they are looking for firms that take the time to understand their own ambitions, long-term career aspirations, personal development goals, and motivations.

Demonstrating all of these things in your hiring process will undoubtedly lead to a ‘better’ quality of candidate – facilitating the right long-term fit as opposed to just filling the position.

Financially Logical

If a firm has to backfill a position or is struggling to hire a seat that brings in fees (or business leads), the impact on the bottom line can be significant. Yet making snap decisions in the hiring process can be equally as damning financially.

A recent article in Forbes looks at this exact problem and likens the impact of hiring the wrong person for a role as a ‘crack in a dam’ that you may not notice at first, but in time will ‘deepen, widen’ and ultimately collapse. The cost of a bad hire therefore should not be underestimated.

Ensuring that your hiring process is fair, consistent, and purposeful is key to ensuring you not only attract quality candidates but ensure that those you engage with are already a good fit and committed to a long-term career with your firm.

Putting ethical recruitment at the heart of your hiring

There are a number of steps a firm can take to ensure that ethical recruitment is a considered element of their overall strategy. Whilst not exhaustive, these include:

Recruiting candidates without discrimination

Discrimination in the hiring process often comes down to something called ‘unconscious bias’ that can affect judgement and decisions around who to interview, offer and hire.

Even today, businesses across all sectors struggle with diversity, so having practices that mitigate bias and promotes fairness as part of a wider DEI programme is key.

A McKinsey study in late 2020 found that diverse team members struggled the most during the pandemic and a lack of awareness around diversity, equity and inclusion issues continue to negatively affect employees even now. The data also confirmed that diverse teams tend to achieve ‘more.’ Therefore, it is logical to assume that law firms want to attract diverse talent in a competitive business environment.

So how can a firm seek to mitigate any bias in their hiring?

  1. Consider anonymised applications (names, photos, address omitted)
  2. Consider skills-based assessments rather than CVs that focus on qualifications and education
  3. Ensure your interviews are consistent (structure, flow, question set, interviewers)
  4. Consider interviewer ‘panels’ rather than the same interviewer

Move the process forward with cadence

Not to be confused with moving ‘quickly’, moving at an appropriate pace is important as it ensures that candidates in the transactional part of the process (CV review, interview, negotiation) are kept informed of progress and not left wondering about their options.

‘Ghosting’ candidates is a strict no-no. Legal professionals who have taken the time to update their CVs and covering letters, engage with a recruiter or gone through lengthy applications, taken part in virtual or face-to-face interviews, prepared business cases, or in the very least researched your firm and your people deserve the respect and swift response throughout the hiring process.

Once again, tardiness here can impact not only your professional reputation but can also impact your firm competitively if that candidate has a number of options on the table.

Transparency and Honesty

Communication and regular updates are at the centre of ethical recruitment practice. This starts with the job description and associated advertisements which themselves should provide clarity about the role, expectations, and responsibilities.

Individual feedback following applications may not always be realistic due to the volume and time needed to do so, however ensuring that communications around what an applicant can expect should be a bare minimum, ie an auto response that advises that successful applications will be contacted only.

Feedback following interviews however should be mandatory – and regardless of the subsequent decision, should be professional, respectful, and honest.

Partner with an Ethical Recruitment Partner

If you are responsible for hiring at your firm, whether that is your sole remit as a Hiring Manager, or an element of your role in HR or even as Partner, ensuring that ethical recruitment runs throughout your supply chain is key, including the use of recruitment agencies that you partner with.

Selecting ethical agencies is harder than it sounds, but there are some key things to look for that echo the main points above:

  1. They have a good reputation
    …Check their website and general digital footprint for case studies and testimonials from other law firms AND jobseekers. Whilst on the face of it these focus on the outcome of a ‘filled role’, what else can you ascertain about how the candidate was treated, or the service that the consultant provided to the firm?
  2. They are affiliated with an organisation or membership body that focuses on excellence and good practice
    …Recruitment as an industry is not legally regulated, yet many agencies choose to be part of a professional body that is dedicated to quality, professionalism, and trust. These organisations (such as the REC or APSCo) ensure that the agency is informed of any legislative changes within their sector and also provides members with the information, intelligence, ideas and support they need to be compliant and act in the best interest of clients and jobseekers alike.
  3. They take the time to understand the role, your firm, and your requirements
    …Building long-term professional relationships is the sign of an ethical recruitment business. They are not interested in just filling a role and moving on to the next, but take time to understand your challenges, your motivation, and your specific requirements in detail before representing your firm with their candidate pool.
  4. They only shortlist candidates that are a fit
    …In a similar vein, agencies that scatter-gun CVs that are irrelevant only demonstrate that they have not understood the brief or your firm, or indeed the candidates that they represent in the market.
  5. They adhere and respect your own processes
    …Whatever your individual role in the hiring process for your law firm, you will undoubtedly have your own internal processes to follow – whether you invite speculative CVs, only work with agencies on your PSL, or have a recruitment portal. An ethical recruitment agency will respect these processes and seek the relevant permissions from candidates regarding representation before liaising with you according to your preferences.

In Conclusion

Whether you use the services of recruitment partners or not, ethical recruitment practices are essential to embed and maintain, as failure to do so can damage your professional reputation and general ability to hire, at least from a long-term perspective.

If you do choose to seek help with your hiring via a recruitment agency, then taking some time to conduct your due diligence into their own reputation and processes is essential as failing to do so can certainly come back to bite you, and by association, can be equally as damning.

At Clayton Legal, our reputation and good name in the legal sector has been built up over 25 years, and as members of APSCo, fairness, transparency, and ethical practice is a real driving force that we instil into our own processes. If you are actively hiring at the moment, we’d love to be a part of that conversation and talk to you in more detail about our approach, our market knowledge, and the movement of talent in your region.

 

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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