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8 steps to successfully recruiting legal talent

  • May 20, 2018

Hiring new legal staff is no easy task. You need to consider qualifications, hands-on experience, area of specialism, salary, bonus; the list of things to think about is endless. Add to that the fact that many areas of law are facing talent shortages and hiring becomes a real challenge. Solicitors are in short supply in a number of specialisms – the Law Society has published findings reaching critical shortage levels.

In the face of chronic shortages, you need to ensure that hiring is efficient and effective. If you can’t find the right person or if your hiring process just isn’t working then your firm will lose out in the long term. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to smooth any bumps in your hiring process.

Tips for hiring the right legal candidate

Follow these steps to help you get it right first time, every time:

  1. Act fast: When a candidate with an interest responds you must act swiftly. The longer you wait to get back to someone that shows an interest in working for your firm, the greater the risk of them being snapped up by the competition.
  2. Project your brand: Treat your potential employees like you would your clients – show them what’s so great about working with you and demonstrate that your firm is an attractive place to work. For a greater insight into employer branding our blog has everything you need to know.
  3. Avoid mistakes when hiring: It is absolutely crucial to get the hiring process right, not just from a business perspective, but from a legal perspective. While this is true of any organisation, it is especially true for law firms. We’re not teaching you to suck eggs here, but the importance of this cannot be overstated. Ensure that the person handling your recruitment is experienced and has a sharp eye for detail so that you won’t be exposed to accusations of discrimination or lack of due diligence. Not only do you not want to avoid hot water, the embarrassment factor of getting it wrong would be significant. Which takes us to our next point…
  4. Dodge recruiting blunders: Ensure that your recruitment agency is experienced and unlikely to make errors. Having an external recruitment provider cause an issue would be just as embarrassing and uncomfortable as if the mistake was made in-house.
  5. Be clear on how you will go about recruiting: Will the process be in-house or outsourced? Will there be a single point of contact within the firm, or will recruitment be handled by a group of people? Having a clear process in place ensures all parties know where they stand and will enable the firm to respond quickly to candidates, giving you the best chance of hiring the right person.
  6. Be transparent: If you’re going to attract the very best legal talent – and retain that talent – you need to be upfront and clear about everything: expectations, culture, the type of work available, salaries and bonuses. Any unexpected surprises could just put potential candidates off your firm, or see them jump ship shortly after joining you.
  7. Have a plan for the interview stage: A clear process for assessing candidates is crucial to screening the most suitable legal professionals.
  8. Ensure the recruiter understands the job spec: Nobody knows your staff or the vacant position you need to fill like you do. That’s why it’s so important to give a clear, detailed and accurate job description to whoever is doing your recruitment – especially if you’re handing the task over to an external recruiter. Ensure that they understand the job spec entirely, as being able to accurately represent your firm to prospective employees stands you in good stead for finding the solicitor with the skills and experience needed. Plus they’ll be able to filter out what you want to avoid. It may be a good idea to enlist the help of a reliable legal recruitment specialist who has experience of recruiting for the legal profession and is familiar with the intricacies of the sector.

Hiring the right person is tough for any organisation, especially so in the competitive climate of the legal profession. We hope these eight steps will make recruitment efficient and straightforward, so you can successfully appoint the right person to the post. Not only will a clear recruitment strategy and a trusted recruitment partner make the hiring process better, it’ll give your firm the boost it needs to thrive in the long term.

You might also like to read our blog on Talent pipelining for success, and if you’re looking to recruit now, get in touch with us by calling 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly online.

Click the following link to download our latest report on trends in law: The 7 critical recruitment trends in law that will impact your talent pipeline in 2019.

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Talent pipelining for success

  • May 15, 2018

Developing robust and effective talent pipelines is vital for any legal firm looking to grow, or indeed not looking to fall behind the competition. However, according to research from Lee Hecht Harrison, a worrying 30% of employers describe their pipeline as poor or non-existent. But why is building long term relationships with potential employees so important and how can legal firms do it effectively?

The issue is particularly important in the current market because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find and recruit good people, at a time when a number of sectors, including law, are not only suffering from skills shortages, but the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is impacting hiring too. And in order to ensure your firm doesn’t reach a stage where it can’t find the talent it requires, the best practice is to build pipelines for all the areas you may potentially need staff in the short and long term future.

The importance of employer brand

By determining the gaps between available and needed talent, firms can identify the most effective strategies for acquiring and developing those individuals. After all, it’s not easy to tap into and engage with talent pools if they have no idea who you are or what you can do for them. In order to build up this relationship, professionals need to recognise and engage with your employer brand, which takes time. It can’t simply be done overnight.

By building an effective pipeline, your firm can shorten the length of time needed to fill positions, because it will likely already have a ‘warm’ relationship with people, meaning you won’t have to recruit from a standing start. It can also help you to engage with the enormous pool of passive talent in the UK. By developing a pipeline into your organisation you can engage with individuals who would be compatible with your firm, but aren’t necessarily ready to move right now.

Identifying future talent gaps

Another significant benefit of strategic recruitment like this is that it allows you to plan for your talent needs not just now, but years into the future. It’s highly likely that your firm could diversify and break into new specialisms or geographical locations, and employing professionals to work in these new departments and locations requires careful planning. If your firm plans to move into litigation, for example, you can build up relationships with talent in this field way before you’ll ever actually need to employ them. This means that when the time does come round to recruit, you will be prepared and ready, rather than scrabbling about looking to promote yourself to potential employees. It also allows you to gain a much greater insight into the people that you’re hiring and whether they would be a good cultural fit for your firm. Anyone can come across well in an interview, but by engaging and keeping a close on eye on the people in your pipeline, you’ll be able to see if they really would be a good match for your firm.

To read more insights from the team take a look at our other blogs. And if you’re seeking a recruitment partner we should be talking. Get in touch today to see how we can help your firm.

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Legal talent drought: how to attract the best legal talent against the odds

  • April 24, 2018

Legal talent; often it feels as though there isn’t any! And it’s not just a feeling either; Clayton Legal surveyed law firms nationwide and found that more than 70% of firms believe that a skills shortage is one of the biggest obstacles their firm faces in 2018. And while the statistics make for sobering reading, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are specific steps firms can take to give themselves a better chance of attracting, and retaining, the very best talent. A strong employer brand and a reliable recruitment partner could make the difference your firm needs.

Building a brand: need to know

If you were asked to name a famous brand, there’s probably half a dozen or more that you could name off the top of your head. We’ve all heard of consumer brands like Coca-Cola, but what about employer brands?

An employer brand should be to your potential employees what your market brand is to the people that buy your services. It should be appealing and should essentially portray your firm as somewhere desirable to work – as it is, no doubt. An employer brand might showcase the following aspects of your firm:

  • Success stories – what have people achieved since working in your practice?
  • Culture – is it work hard, play hard, or do you encourage staff to pursue a healthy work/life balance?
  • Type of work – is the work varied, challenging and interesting?
  • Training and development – what opportunities are there to enhance skills, and how might a solicitor grow their career with you?
  • Benefits – apart from salary and financial reward, what are the benefits of working for your firm over and above another?

Reassurance

Post-recession and post-Brexit, solicitors want to know that the law firm they decide to work for is a solid investment of their time and professional training. Firms need to reassure potential candidates that their prospects are good and that they fit together in terms of values.

A strong employer brand shouldn’t just work to attract new talent, it should help to retain existing talent. In fact, one of the most effective ways to devise a strategy for creating an employer brand is to communicate with your existing staff. Find out what motivates them, what they would like to see more or less of, and how their experience could be improved upon and you’ll have a good idea of what potential employees are looking for.

Getting the right support for your brand

Having an employer brand is a valuable asset and should pay dividends in the long term. A great employer brand, however, takes time and dedication to create, establish and maintain. And all the while the war for the top legal talent rages on. The very best legal talent work hard and it’s hard work to attract them to your firm too!

Working with a recruitment partner alongside your own brand-building activity can be incredibly beneficial. An established recruitment agency will already have their own brand and a good reputation, which reflects well on you and provides reassurance to the candidate. What’s more, a recruitment agency, especially one that specialises in legal recruitment, will have their ear to the ground and be able to keep you informed of candidate feedback, motivations and other considerations to be aware of when establishing and maintaining an employer brand.

Not just a helping hand

Clayton Legal’s report on Employee Branding firmly establishes it’s a key driver in recruiting the best legal talent. It doesn’t appear that the skills shortage will be coming to an end any time soon. The advantage of working with a recruitment partner is that while you’re busy building up your employer brand, they can access their existing pool of talent to find you the best candidate.

An agency that understands the legal job market is key too. They can use their extensive knowledge of the sector to filter out the very best talent that matches up with your needs. And while the skills shortage isn’t likely to disappear overnight, it can take a weight off your shoulders knowing that a professional is handling your firm’s recruitment.

If you’re thinking of creating an employer brand or think that your existing brand needs re-developing, then why not get in touch with Clayton Legal? We’d be happy to chat about employer branding or help with finding the best legal talent for your firm.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of using a specialised recruitment company, have a look at our blog on how to get the best out of your recruitment company.

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Where’s all the Legal talent gone?

  • February 20, 2018

You place an ad with a recruitment agency, excited to see who will apply and what the crop of candidates will bring. You’ve a great reputation, an attractive benefits package and offer a generous salary, so why aren’t quality candidates coming through the door?

It’s a familiar story. Plenty of undergraduates show an interest in law; according to the Law Society, a total of 22,765 students were accepted onto undergraduate law courses in England and Wales in the academic year 2016-17. And it’s not as though there are only a handful of fully-qualified, experienced solicitors in the land, as the same report indicates that there were 175,160 solicitors on the roll at the end of July 2016. While the figures appear healthy at first glance, the reality is that law firms are struggling to keep pace with changing demands.

What does a talent shortage mean for the legal sector?

One area of the law where a lack of quality candidates is particularly prevalent is in Conveyancing. The labour-intensive process of Conveyancing and the growth of other areas of law, such as work for private clients, mean that firms are struggling to meet the property-related demands of their client base. Firms are under pressure to retain existing talent and attract new talent from a shrinking pool.

Firms should take action to remain competitive

A 2017 survey by PwC found that more than half of the top law firms within the UK were not keeping pace with new technology. As a result, labour-intensive processes, such as facilitating the sale of property, remain just as labour-intensive and reliant on slow postal systems for sending documents to be signed as they ever were.

Not only does this make the field of conveyancing unattractive as a whole, a lack of investment in technology signals to a candidate that this is not a firm that is looking forward or moving in the right direction. Investing in technology to allow electronic signatures and cut out snail mail makes life easier, and the service more attractive, for all parties from staff members and candidates to clients.

Alongside investment in best practice for the future, training is another key factor in offering a competitive edge when recruiting candidates. As time moves on and client demands change, so too must the skills offered by solicitors. And of course, there’s the ever-present spectre of Brexit looming, bringing with it an uncertain future with Europe, and clients that may need advice on trading overseas. Equipping your staff to deal with these issues broadens their skill set, strengthens what your practice can offer, and makes the whole package more appealing to candidates.

The most important factor for law firms

With ways of working changing faster than they have in decades, technological advances continuing apace and an uncertain relationship with Europe on the horizon, flexibility is the defining characteristic law firms need to display. Investing in better ways of doing things and training staff is all well and good, but it’s only relevant until circumstances and client demands change next week, next month, or next year. Law firms need to have one eye on the future, one eye on the lay of the land, and adjust and readjust as times move on to be in with a fighting chance of attracting – and keeping – the very best candidates.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your Recruitment needs by calling us on 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly.

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How your firm can retain talent during a skills shortage

  • February 5, 2018

After 2017’s climate of uncertainty, largely triggered by Brexit, UK law firms are understandably cautious going forward. However, on the whole, they are demonstrating their robustness by expressing a desire to continue with business as usual. In fact, our latest white paper, The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Legal firms in 2018, reveals that a significant majority (66%) of firms are looking to increase their headcount over the coming year. Of those businesses, 4% expect to increase staffing by 5% and 11% predict that it could be by as much as 30%. So, clearly there is considerable optimism about the opportunities for headcount growth in the coming year.

However, there appears to be challenges ahead surrounding the availability of labour. Around two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed say a skills shortage is their top concern for 2018 and 20% cited staff retention. And with business lobby group British Chambers of Commerce saying that skills shortages reached ‘critical levels’ in the last quarter of 2017, it is now vital for firms to retain the talent that they already have. So, which retention strategies can be used to incentivise existing staff to stay?

Flexible hours

The most important thing is to consider what your staff value the most. New research from HSBC reveals that 89% of employees view flexible working as a key motivator – more than the 77% who were influenced by financial incentives. Yet our survey found that only 33% of respondent firms offered flexible hours and fewer still provided part-time options. While it is encouraging to see that practices are increasingly aware of the demand for adaptable working patterns, those that don’t offer them to staff – and at all levels of seniority – risk losing them to businesses that do.

Remote working

Our survey revealed that 22% of firms offer staff the opportunity to work outside of the office. And, in a profession where long hours are the norm, there’s no doubt that many employees would welcome the opportunity to dispense with their commute on occasion. Does your firm make use of the technology available that facilitates this, such as cloud storage?

Training and development

In its recent Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte found 51% of companies rated ‘investing in talent’ as an urgent priority. Consequently, it is a surprise that none of our survey respondents cited training and development as a key retention offering at their firm. Millennials, in particular, will be hard to attract without excellent training and development programmes: a recent report by PwC found that 74% of the millennials it surveyed said that learning new skills to remain employable was something that they valued highly. And, over a quarter said this was the most important factor in making an organisation an attractive employer. Given that this generation will make up three-quarters of the UK workforce by 2025, firms cannot afford to overlook their needs: doing so will mean that they could fail to engage with a large share of skilled talent over the coming years.

Bonuses, sabbaticals and other offerings

Of course, while our research shows that flexible hours, remote working and training opportunities are important ways to invest in and retain staff, they aren’t an exhaustive list. Other benefits such as bonuses, sabbaticals, employee discounts, paid volunteering leave and a holiday allowance that increases over time, are just some of the other ways to incentivise staff. The best way to find out what your staff would value is to simply ask.

Not only are these methods excellent ways to keep staff engaged, they will also make your firm more attractive to potential recruits. At a time of significant skills shortages, are you doing all that you can, to attract and retain?

To request a full FREE copy of the report, click here.

Furthermore, to speak to the team about your recruiting needs, call 01772 259 121

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Is there any legal talent left?

  • November 30, 2017

Over the last couple of years, the legal sector has been hit by a skills shortage that isn’t showing signs of desisting.

The demand for private practice and in-house lawyers has been steadily rising, and increased competition for skilled employees has driven salaries up and put pressure on practices to re-evaluate their working culture.

The legal sector itself is currently undergoing a period of transformation as it learns to adapt to technological developments, shifts in demographics and the need to offer more clients better value for money – all of which demands firms to be more competitive and attractive in order to appeal to the best talent out there.

And while this may be good news for candidates, it does raise a question for businesses…

Is there really any talent left in the legal sector?

 

 

It’s true that there are considerably fewer legal professionals available for work in the UK than there once was.

Brexit has taken its toll; while future changes to rules around EU workers will no doubt have an impact, the very idea of Brexit itself has encouraged many legal professionals to leave the UK in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

And despite all this, demand for legal professionals with expertise hasn’t waned. Increasingly, companies are looking at ways of being able to cope with, and adapt to, the new legislative changes that are afoot – and in many cases, that means hiring mid-level legal professionals to help guide them through the process.

So, has all the top talent already been recruited?

Labour shortages don’t have to mean businesses “making-do” with below-par employees; it simply demands a re-think in the way they approach their recruitment, as there will always be good people out there. It just means firms need to actively consider strategies to become more attractive to potential employees.

When talent is a scarce resource, it’s important that practices are able to draw from the right network, insight and market expertise to find exceptional individuals for vacant roles. Capitalising on previously fostered relationships. For example, can be invaluable, and can provide unique opportunities to harness talent within the business.

Of course, it’s not simply about recruiting new candidates every time a new vacancy becomes apparent – there is a real need for practices and firms to nurture their employees and provide them with enough training, support and incentives, to keep them on-board and engaged, so that they can become the talent of the future.

As employee expectations continue to change, and legal professionals increasingly demand more, organisations will need to look closely at developing an effective talent strategy, so as to remain competitive, not just today, but for the years to come.

If you have your concerns over keeping and attracting the best people, perhaps we can help? Here at Clayton Legal we know the legal profession inside and out, so we’d be more than happy to help you find and recruit the top talent for your firm, as well as to advise you on talent retention. For more details on how just get in touch with our team.

 

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