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The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

So, you’ve made it through most of the complex steps involved in finding a new role, from designing the ideal legal CV to practicing interview techniques. Finally, all your hard work has paid off, and you’ve received an excellent offer from your new employer.  

But, what happens when you hand over your resignation letter and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?  

Anywhere up to 50% of the employees who choose to resign from a role will receive a counteroffer from their current employer. In other words, they will finally offer you the additional money or benefits they didn’t consider offering you before they realised you wanted to leave. 

In the age of the Great Resignation, when demand for legal talent is higher than ever, your chances of getting a counteroffer are even higher than ever before, as many law firms are battling with retention of their top team members and attracting the best talent on the market at the same time. 

While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, if that’s what you are looking for, accepting a counteroffer could be a bad move for your future career.  

Here are the reasons why you should usually ignore a counteroffer. 

Reasons You Should Consider Saying “No” to a Counteroffer

Counteroffers are becoming more commonplace as leaders struggle to hold onto their top talent in a skills-short environment. Unfortunately, according to statistics, around 80% of the people who accept these offers end up leaving their original employer within six months anyway as the underlying issues as to why there were leaving in the first place still exist.  

Here’s why you should politely but firmly decline a counteroffer.  

1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues

Deciding to seek a new legal role isn’t something most people will do on a whim. There’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of leaving your current job and looking for something else before you take the leap. 

When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one of your problems with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every issue that convinced you to leave.  

Ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place. Is your current role not challenging enough, or are you planning on moving in a new direction with your career? Maybe you don’t like the culture of your existing company. If every issue isn’t resolved by the counteroffer, you should say “no” and continue to move on with your new employment offer.  

2. The Relationship with Your Employer will Change

Employees in the competitive legal sector have every right to seek new roles whenever they choose. However, letting your employer know you’re not happy in your role and actively looking for something else is likely to have an impact on your relationship 

There’s a good chance your employer will have questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, which means they may not have the same trust in you they had before. Your employer might end up passing you over for promotions because they consider you a flight risk, or they may start looking for other people to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually switch jobs.  

Even if your boss goes in the other direction and starts working harder to keep you happy, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable dynamic in play until you do eventually leave. 

3. You May End Up Standing Still

Career development often involves moving between different roles, exploring new jobs, and taking on new responsibilities over the years. While you can climb the ladder in one law firm and end up with a great career, consistently staying in one place could mean you miss out on opportunities to expand your skills and experience.  

When deciding whether a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if you’ll still be moving towards your long-term career goals if you say yes and stay put. Compared to the other job you have lined up, can your existing role help you achieve your targets faster? 

A higher salary won’t satisfy you for long if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important to keep the end goal in mind with your career and not get clouded by monetary values.  

4. You May Have to Work Harder to Prove Yourself

In a skills-short legal marketplace, employers will often rush to offer extra benefits and increased salaries to avoid the stress of searching for new employees. However, this could mean they start looking for evidence you’re worth the extra investment right away.  

Having extra scrutiny placed on everything you do within the business can be a stressful experience, even if you know you deserve the extra benefits you received.  

In some cases, employees who accept counteroffers find themselves under pressure to perform like a new hire all over again, trying to prove they deserve their new salary and responsibilities. In other cases, you may find that you start receiving responsibilities you didn’t ask for simply because your boss is trying to ensure they’re getting their “money’s worth” from you.  

5. You’ll Always Wonder, “What If?”

Job changes can be stressful and worrying, but they’re also an incredible opportunity to unlock your true potential and advance your career. If you’ve been offered a role at another company, and you’ve said “yes”, there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.  

Maybe you loved the idea of working remotely in the legal environment and don’t have an opportunity to do that at your new job. Perhaps you were interested in focusing on a slightly different part of your industry in a different role and that desire will always be there if you stay in your current role. 

Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get used to a new workplace and meet new people, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into the new job.  

Know How to Handle a Counteroffer

It’s worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance when you approach your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how you will reject the offer politely and firmly, and what important factors might convince you to give your old job a second chance.  

Working with a specialist legal recruitment team to find the ideal new role will help to ensure you don’t have any doubts about moving into your new position.   

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. 

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Facing Redundancy – What Next for Your Legal Career?

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with some positivity.

The New Job Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

What To Do If Your Training Contract Is Terminated

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

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

Retraining

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

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

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

But the market is now changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Property

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

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

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

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

Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Private Client

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

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

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

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

Looking at the Positives

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

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

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

A Different Location?

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

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Time to move on? Top 10 Tips to resign gracefully

  • July 13, 2022

With the prospect of a new role on the horizon, arguably the hard bit is done. You have aced your interviews, impressed your new Firm, and are no doubt looking to the future and the next steps in your career.

But even with the excitement of a new legal position looming, there is still an incredibly important step to take in making that move – handing in your resignation to your current Firm.

Here we offer our top tips on how to address this often-uncomfortable conversation – and ultimately remain professional, and on good terms as you exit the business.

1. Communicate to your Manager first

With an exciting new role to look forward to, it can be tempting to tell close associates and friends, however the first person who should hear about it is your reporting manager. If a senior partner, or even your Manager themselves hears about your intention to leave from another colleague, it goes without saying that it won’t leave a favourable impression which is ultimately what a well-thought our resignation is trying to achieve.

Arrange a time to speak to your Manager and let them know the situation first. Face to face is ideal as it minimises any misunderstandings or miscommunication, although video call would also work well for those who work remotely or in order to expediate the process.  It is best practice to verbally tell your Manager of your intention to leave along with the reasons that have led to that decision as it is highly likely that you will be asked both why you are leaving and where you are going to – so it’s wise to have a response planned.

 

2. Be prepared for conversations around negotiation

Whatever the reason or reasons for leaving your current firm, it is always worth having a preliminary conversation before you start looking for new opportunities, to see if those initial reasons may be overcome. If, however that conversation didn’t take place, you should nevertheless consider what you would do should a counter-offer be on the table once your make your intention to resign clear.

In the current market, where demand for legal professionals is outstripping supply, this is exceptionally common, so you need to at least be prepared for such a scenario and ask yourself, would you actually accept a counter-offer?. The answer to that lies in ultimately revisiting the reasons you wish to leave in the first place.

Counter-offers take many forms including increased pay, a promotion, enhanced benefits, or a combination of all of those, and there is no doubt that it can feel flattering to be in that position. However, research suggests that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer tend to leave within 6-12 months of accepting. Is it likely you’ll also be part of that statistic?

 

3. Prepare your resignation letter

Once the decision to leave is final, you must put this in writing. When it comes to your resignation letter, it should be short and polite. Within the letter itself, it is not necessary to justify your reasons for leaving your current law firm or go into lengthy explanations as you can are likely to have (or have had) a more informal chat about this with your reporting Manager. The document is simply to cover the legalities of ending your contractual agreement with your employer and will be kept on record, so details like the date of the notice, confirmation of notice period, and last working day should be accurate.

You may wish to use the formal communication as an opportunity to highlight things you are grateful for – skills you have learnt, help and advice you have received, and opportunities to boost your legal career that have been offered, but that is not mandatory. Do, however avoid the temptation to criticise your colleagues, boss, partners or clients.

 

4. Discuss Those Finer Details

Your Manager will mostly likely want to discuss with you the finer details around how and when you will let colleagues know you are leaving. You may wish to inform them individually, or as a group, or have your Manager tell them for you.

You also need to confirm your notice period and how this effects your new role start date. This should be communicated clearly in your contract of employment, but it is always worth a conversation on whether it is realistic to shorten this (if desired by any party) or even extended on request.

Whether your notice period is 2 weeks, 2 months or anything in between, its important you are aware of this before giving your new employer a start date that you may not be able to commit to. Be prepared that in some cases, you may be placed on gardening leave rather than working your notice period.

Garden leave (or gardening leave) is when an employer tells an employee not to work either part or all of their notice period. This could be because the employer does not want the employee to have access to sensitive or confidential information they could use in a new job (Source: ACAS) In this case, you are still employed by your employer, just not working for them and therefore you are still entitled to your salary and contractual agreements in this period of time.

 

5. Plan A Robust Handover

Scheduling time to plan for a smooth transition shows you to be a true legal professional and not someone who leaves a law firm or an employer in the lurch, or projects unfinished. Think about your specific areas of responsibility – current caseloads, unfinished assigments, urgent jobs and upcoming commitments, as well as information on your clients that your successor or wider team will need.

If possible, invest some time in training up your successor, or at least making formal handover notes, to ensure you minimise the impact on the firm when you leave and once again, keep the working relationship positive.

 

6. Start Clearing Your Desk

Once colleagues are aware that you are leaving, you can start to clear your desk so that it’s ready for the next occupant. Removing paperwork, filing and archiving, binning wastepaper and taking personal items such as photographs home will ensure your workplace is ready, clean and welcoming for the next person.

 

7. Stay Committed

It may be tempting to spend time planning what you will do in your upcoming new legal role (and if time permits, there is definitely merit in keeping in touch with your new employer during your notice period – following their social media accounts to keep track of the latest news, be aware of any networking events etc) but nevertheless, you are still being paid to do your current job – so it’s important to remain committed to that role until the very end.

Remaining an active team player, working hard up to the last minute and completing casework where possible will be noted by colleagues and your employer and will ensure you leave on a positive note – and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

 

8. Embrace The Exit Interview

If you are offered an exit interview by your law firm, it’s always a good idea to take that opportunity while you can. These usually take place between yourself and a HR manager and are aimed at establishing any way in which they can improve the firm or addressing issues of which they may be unaware of.

While you can, at this point, bring to light any concerns you might have, keep your observations professional and your criticism constructive, always keeping in mind not to burn any bridges.

Taking these steps will not only provide closure on your previous role but will ensure you leave your law firm a well-respected and professional ex-colleague, with whom your former team and senior partners will be happy to network with and recommend in the future.

 

Next Steps

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

 

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.

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

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How to Create a LinkedIn Profile That Stands Out To Legal Employers

When it comes to selling your value to a recruitment company like Clayton Legal and the clients we work for, there are a few pivotal documents required to draw attention to yourself. 

The humble CV is one, followed quickly by your LinkedIn profile. 

As LinkedIn is the biggest social business network outside China, with 850 million members listed, it is more crucial than ever to leverage the opportunities your LinkedIn profile provides as a positioning tool for your legal career. 

Your LinkedIn profile has many positive attributes. Unless you share a name with a well-known person, it is highly likely that your profile, if created properly, will appear on the first page of Google. 

Even though your CV/Resume is a standard document that demonstrates your career journey, a LinkedIn profile can deliver even more insight about you as a potential recruit in an interactive and engaging style that a CV alone cannot achieve. 

In today’s post, I want to share why your profile is so important and the easy, quick wins to ensure your legal LinkedIn profile stands out from the crowd. 

Headlines and Pronouns 

Your headline is often the first piece of text a recruiter or potential hiring manager will see, so make it count. Paraphrase what you do, and the good news is LinkedIn now allows 220 characters, including spaces. Here is an example of a legal headline that works.  

“Solicitor at BLM. Working in the Housing Team dealing with insurance litigation, housing disrepairs and property damage in Liverpool” 

With D.E.I. being on most workplace agendas, LinkedIn now allows you to add your preferred pronouns on your profile. The use of pronouns will let hiring managers, colleagues or online connections know how to address you to prevent any misconceptions.  

A Professional Photo 

LinkedIn produces numerous reports that demonstrate the power of imagery and media on your profile. Profiles with a professional photograph can get 14 times more profile views vs those with selfie style images or group pictures. 

Phone technology today means there is no excuse not to have a professional LinkedIn profile picture. Ask a colleague or friend to take a photograph with their smartphone in good lighting where you shoulders and face are visible to give an honest and accurate perception of who you are professionally. 

Head and shoulders are the best shots. Your face, preferably smiling in appropriate business attire, makes the best impact. Remember, recruitment consultants viewing your profile are imagining how you will fit into their client’s organisation, so this is an easy way to make an impact.  

How To Get In Contact  

As a first start, do you have all your contact details visible?  

Make sure you have a mobile number and a Gmail/Hotmail address that is your most active and professional email account. Try to avoid the likes of 90sbaby@hotmail.com or something with your birth year in as this can indicate age bias subconsciously.  

A professional url demonstrates your attention to detail, for instance, LinkedIn.com/in/Andy Gold as opposed to LinkedIn.com/in/Andy-Gold-2671c567. 

It’s also important to include links to your blog where you share knowledge related to your sector which is a great feature a lot of LinkedIn users forget to utilise.  

Featured Section

Have you written papers or presented at a legal industry conference, or recorded any work-related videos?  

If the answer is yes, add them here, and this will certainly make you stand out from the crowd and gives recruiters or potential law firms the chance to see more of what you can do rather than just reading it on a CV. 

Your About Section

Please do not add only your essential skills or paste sections from your CV into your summary section. Use it to catch people’s attention as you share relevant information about who you are and your skills and abilities; you have 2000 characters, so make them count. 

In this section, talk about the value you will add to an organisation alongside your skillset. Be different and stand out by explaining how you might help a potential new employer solve their problems while being genuine and authentic. 

Our experience as recruiters is this attracts our attention, plus it makes it easier for us to ‘sell’ the fact you are a ‘must see’ candidate for our client and pick out your best attributes towards their needs. 

Here are some examples from LinkedIn themselves as to what they see as great profile summaries. 

Add to Profile and Open To

On the right-hand side of your profile, you will see a button that says ‘add to profile’. When you click this, it reveals all the additional sections you can add to your profile.  

From featured items to licenses and certifications, and courses and recommendations the list is endless to really boost your profile against your competitors.  

If you are open to work and currently not employed, you can add this to your profile picture by clicking the relevant button. This lets recruiters know instantly without even clicking on your profile that you are a potential candidate for their client and therefor you are most likely to be seen.  

In the ‘add your profile’ section under background, share details of all your work experience that will communicate your capability. Then list all your education and volunteer activities. Today, organisations have an active CSR programme that they love to promote to new starters; therefore, this area is essential to share too should you have experience in those departments. 

Under accomplishments, you can list publications, certifications, patents, courses, projects, honours and awards, test scores, languages and how you are involved with communities that are important to you. 

This makes it easy for a recruitment organisation to identify your skills and expertise as a potential match for their client. 

The big question is, does your profile: 

  • Help your standout? 
  • Communicate your value, including providing supporting evidence? 
  • List your work achievements? 

Share Useful Content

Depending on your current organisation and their social presence, you can share and like content until your heart is content. This unconsciously communicates to everyone how connected you are and what is important to you. When someone arrives on your profile, it is one of the first sections they can see. 

You can now share an article or even upload a compelling image or create a video on your LinkedIn profile. All of which enable you to communicate your personal brand and show recruiters areas of your work you are particularly interested in the most. 

List The Skills You Know Are Important in Legal

When it comes to legal skills, you can add up to 50, which could help you stand out to a recruitment consultant and your future employer. You don’t have to add all of them as only your top ten will be profiled, so make these the most important. 

The UK is in the grip of a skills shortage. Therefore, if you know you have in-demand skills, communicate them on your profile wherever you can. You would be surprised that this is an area often forgotten by even the best of candidates. 

Endorsements and Recommendations

We all now live and work in the review society. Social proof is a significant influencer in our current community. Who has not viewed Trip Advisor before booking a restaurant or holiday with their significant other? It is the same in the business world. 

Therefore, collecting recommendations and endorsements is crucial for your career. If you have not got any, ask for them from your contacts. All too often, people are shy about asking for validations of their work. The good news, which might surprise you, is that many people are more than willing to give you a recommendation as long as you offer to give one back in return. 

Finally, Complete Your Profile in Full

A question for you? Are you using all the features we have mentioned? 

Do you have a presentation or video on your summary? Have you got a link to a paper you have written? 

It is interesting the impression people get from reading a full LinkedIn profile. It sends a message to recruitment companies that you are a person with attention to detail and take their career and work-life seriously – a great candidate for their clients.  

About Clayton Legal 

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

 

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Easy to Action Interviewing Strategies for Legal Hiring Managers

The interview process can be a gruelling task for all parties involved. When most hiring managers think about the complexity of interviewing, they focus on the challenges facing the person being interviewed. However, those hosting the interview also have their own hurdles to overcome too.  

From avoiding unconscious bias, avoiding ageism, and making sure you sell your candidates on the idea of working with your law firm, there are several important points to keep in mind as well as remembering all the main points covered at the end of the session.  

Here are some of the top strategies to follow as a legal professional hiring manager if you’re concerned you might not be getting the most out of your interviews. 

1. Know Your Interview Options 

The first step in ensuring you can master your interviews as a hiring manager is knowing what methods you can use to best connect with potential candidates.  

Today, the traditional face-to-face interview isn’t your only option. Video interviews have increased by 67% due to the pandemic and the rise of remote working with technology advancements being key. As hybrid employment options continue to thrive and companies look for ways to streamline the interviewing process, video conversations will likely grow to be more common in many law firms throughout the upcoming years if not already popular.  

But not forgetting, there’s also the time-old classic of picking up the phone for simple phone interviews as well to simply hear the person who could potentially be working with you. 

Each type of interview has its own challenges to consider. For instance: 

  • In-person interviews:
    You’ll need to think about where you’re going to host your interview, whether it’s a welcoming space, who will attend, and whether the candidate will present or just have a simple face to face conversation. 
  • Video interviews:
    Consider what kind of video meeting software you’ll be using, the background you’ll have in your video, and how you can present yourself as professionally as possible over a webcam. Always test the sound and camera quality beforehand and check whether all those participating are visible on screen. 
  • Phone interviews:
    Ask yourself whether you may need to record any phone interviews to go back over them later and how you can ensure you get a promising idea of what the candidate is like based on voice alone. 

2. Avoid Inappropriate Questions 

Inappropriate questions are becoming more common than you would think in legal interviews. While certain topics of conversation can feel like polite small talk at first, they often cause more problems than you’d think. For instance, asking people about what they did on the weekend can create an unconscious bias if you also have a shared hobby with them – but also at the same time, could be harmless conversation to break the ice. 

Unconscious bias could favour one candidate over another because you like certain things about their lifestyle or personality, which have nothing to do with the role or the ability to complete their tasks. 

Some other questions to avoid are: 

  • Where do you live?  
  • How did your childhood shape your professional life?  
  • If you could choose a different career, what would you choose?  
  • What is the worst trait of your previous manager? 

All the above questions could be classed as too personal, too confronting and encouraging speaking badly about others – all traits you want to avoid when interviewing someone for the first time and something you don’t need to hear to assess their capabilities for this role. 

3. Interview Styles and Formats 

There are many kinds of interviewing techniques that today’s business leaders and hiring managers can use, including competency-based or collaborative interviews, presentations, and group interactions to get a real feel for the potential candidates. 

Interviews are always best performed with two people from the hiring company, which can help avoid bias. It also gives those hiring the chance to discuss different opinions on those they are interviewing and not decide based solely from one person’s perspective and therefore giving the candidate a fair chance. 

Other methods are to consider using a first and second stage interview format before the final decision is made. In today’s environment, many first and second stage interviews can take place over Zoom or Teams so that it suits all parties involved. Carrying out interviews online also gives you more chance to interview more people, without the need for travel, time allocation and gives the candidates a better chance of being able to partake at a time that suits them and you best. 

4. Generalise Your Interview Questions 

Standardising your interview questions makes it easier to assess your candidates when you have interviewed several people for a role. It also means you’re less likely to allow unconscious biases to get in the way of your hiring decisions because you’re evaluating everyone based on the same set of guidelines, criteria, and questions. 

Create specific competency-based interview questions for the specific legal role in question, which allows you to score each potential employee based on their specific values, behaviours, and results.  

For instance, you can ask questions like; “share examples of times they’ve acted as a leader” or “shown exceptional teamwork”, and then make notes about their responses. Assigning scores to answers will also help you see who you should be shortlisting based on their answers compared to others if you are interviewing a larger number of people. 

Your interviews need to maintain a level of flexibility. It will be logical to ask follow-up questions to elicit more detail at times when needed if the candidate doesn’t elaborate themselves. 

“Tell me more about X or Y or why you decided to do B or C” are classic follow-up questions that work well to get more of an understanding of the candidates’ experiences.  

To make sure you know about a candidates’ hard skills, behavioural and soft skills there are some questions that LinkedIn Talent Solutions suggests you cover.  

  • “Say you’re negotiating a contract or administrative action or settlement in which the parties are far apart in what they want. Use a past example of this to talk me through your negotiation process.” 
  • “What would you do if you were asked to work on a case, contract, or business scenario that gave you ethical qualms? Has this ever happened to you—and what did you do?” 
  • “Tell me about a time you had to make a tough call that required you to decide between a gut feeling and the strategic decision-making of outside counsel.” 

5. Make Notes and Follow Up 

Finally, make sure you take notes as often as possible as you progress through the interviews. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the conversation and then forget everything you needed to know about the candidate when you come back to review later.  

Always set aside some time at the end of each interview to gather your thoughts and catalogue what stood out to you most about the candidate (good and bad) before heading into another interview or meeting.  

Making notes can also help when you’re following up with your candidates by allowing you to provide a more contextual and relevant message and feedback, should they be successful or not. Showing you remember what you said (like any requirements for their starting dates or training they need) shows the potential candidate you’re invested in working with them and that you are attentive to what they were talking about during their time with you. 

Remember, if you’re struggling with your interviewing process, it’s often helpful to seek some help from a specialist recruitment company like ourselves that can help with a lot more than just finding you new candidates – we can also give you advice on how to interview more effectively, with tips on questions you might need to ask. 

About Clayton Legal 

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Legal Sector Hiring Trends: What Is Happening In The Market

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

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

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

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

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

The Hiring Trends Index

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

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

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

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

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

The War For Legal Talent Will Get Worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Your Legal Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Did You Score?

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

 

20-40

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

 

41-60

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

 

61-80

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

81+

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

 

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Interview Preparation – Top Tips

  • March 20, 2022

Look the part.

Dress to impress regardless of the level of the role that you are going for. Make an effort and dress in a suit or if you don’t have one, your smartest interview clothes. (Remember 1st impressions count)

Know where you are going.

If you don’t know where you are going it never hurts to do a dry run prior to your Interview, failing this make sure that you leave plenty of time to get to your destination. It is better to arrive early and go over your research than to turn up late and flustered.

Know you target audience.

Research the company that you are going to interview for and use any additional knowledge that your consultant may have gained to improve your chances to blow them away!!

Don’t rely on the interviewer being a mind reader.

Ensure that you sell yourself to the best of your ability; the person interviewing you may have had nothing to do with short listing you and has only seen your CV 5 minutes ago, not having time to digest it. Use this opportunity to sell yourself into the job.

Smile!!! Be happy to be there.

Employers are not just looking for excellent skills but someone to fit into an existing team, smiling will help overcome your nerves and show the employer that you are a happy, enthusiastic individual that they should have on board.

SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

• Why do you want to join our organisation?
• What would you do if …….. happened? (hypothetical questions)
• Describe a situation in which you dealt with confrontation (for example a difficult customer).
• Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people.
• What other roles have you considered/applied for?
• Describe yourself in three words.
• Describe a situation in which you used your initiative.
• Describe a situation in which you solved a problem.
• Describe a situation in which you took responsibility.
• What are your hobbies?
• What was your biggest setback? Or how do you deal with adversity?
• Describe a situation where you had to plan or organise something.
• What is your usual role in a team?
• Describe a situation where you had a difficult decision to make.

EXAMPLE ANSWERS FOR QUESTIONS

Please note Clayton Legal does not advise that these are the correct answers to the questions listed but are a guide on how they may be approached.

Why do you want this job?

One of the most predictable questions and very important! You need to demonstrate that you have researched the employer and tie your knowledge of them into the skills and interests that led you to apply. Try to find some specific features on which the employer prides themselves: Their training, their client base, their individuality, their public image, etc. This may not always be possible with very small organisations but you may be able to pick up something of this nature from the interviewer.

Describe a situation in which you lead a team.

Outline the situation, your role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it. Try and keep the examples work related and as relevant to the role you are applying for as possible.

Describe a situation where you worked in a team

Most jobs will involve a degree of teamwork. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate to other people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your particular role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it.

What are your weaknesses?

The classic answer here is to state a strength which is disguised as a weakness, such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I push myself too hard”. This approach has been used so often that, even if these answers really are true they sound clichéd. Also, interviewers will know this trick. If you feel they really apply to you, give examples: you could say that your attention to detail and perfectionism make you very single-minded when at work, often blotting out others in your need to get the task done.

A better strategy is to choose a weakness that you have worked on to improve and describe what action you are taking to remedy the weakness.

Don’t deny that you have any weaknesses – everyone has weaknesses and if you refuse to admit to them the interviewer will mark you down as arrogant, untruthful or lacking in self-awareness, This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “How would your worst enemy describe you?”

Who else have you applied to/got interviews with?

You are being asked to demonstrate the consistency of your career aims as well as your interest in the job for which you are being interviewed. So if you have applied to one large Law Firm it is reasonable to assume you will be applying to them all.
What you can certainly say in your favour, however, is that the present employer is your first choice. You may even answer the question by explaining you have yet to apply to any other organisations for this very reason. Perhaps your application to the other firms is imminent, depending on the stage you are at in the recruitment cycle.

Give examples that are:
• Relevant – related to the business you are presently being interviewed for
• Prestigious. They will reflect well on the firm interviewing you
• Consistent. Not from lots of different job areas or employment groups of less interest to you than the present opportunity
• Successful so far. Do not list those firms who have rejected you.

What are your strengths?

This allows you to put across your “Unique Selling Points” – three or four of your key strengths. Try to back these points up with examples of where you have had to use them.

Consider the requirements of the job and compare these with all of your own attributes – your personality, skills, abilities or experience. Where they match you should consider these to be your major strengths. The employer certainly will.

For example, team work, interpersonal skills, creative problem solving, dependability,
reliability, originality, leadership etc., could all be cited as strengths. Work out which is most important for the particular job in question and make sure you illustrate your answer with examples from as many parts of your experience, not just university, as you can.
This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “Tell me about yourself” or “How would a friend describe you?”

Have you got any questions?
At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to put your own questions to the interviewer.

  • Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.
  • Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!
  • Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to ask.

It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as follows:

Interviewer:

Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there anything you would like to ask me?

Interviewee:

Thank you! I’d made a note to ask about your appraisal system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went over those earlier and I really feel you’ve covered everything that I need to know at this moment.

You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you feel is important to your application:

Don’t feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions – if the chance to ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation – with a purpose.

Examples of questions you can ask the interviewer

These are just a few ideas – you should certainly not attempt to ask them all and indeed it’s best to formulate your own questions tailored to your circumstances and the job you are being interviewed for! Make sure you have researched the employer carefully, so that you are not asking for information which you should be expected to know already.
• I see it is possible to switch job functions – how often does this happen?
• Do you send your managers on external training courses?
• Where would I be based – is this job function located only in …?
• What is a typical career path in this job function?
• Can you give me more details of your training programme?
• Will I be working in a team? If so, what is the make-up of these teams?
• What are the possibilities of using my languages?
• What are the travel/mobility requirements of this job?
• How would you see this company developing over the next five years?
• How would you describe the atmosphere in this company?
• What is your personal experience of working for this organisation?

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.

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

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Legal Interview Skills: How to Excel In Your Virtual Interview

  • January 22, 2022

Though this post will focus on virtual interviewing ideas, the fundamental process of the interview is the same.

Interviews are an opportunity for candidates and employers to ‘meet’ virtually or face to face. This enables you to ask questions of each other, demonstrate why you as a candidate will be an ideal hire for the firm in question while you test their compatibility to help you develop your legal career.

Interviews can still be an unsettling experience, particularly in an environment where virtual interactions are still taking place across the sector, and many of us aren’t always keen to jump in front of a camera.

Like any life skill, preparation is key. As you prepare for your interview, ensure you answer the following.

  • Knowing why you want to move now.
  • How you will communicate the value you bring through the results you can achieve.
  • How to demonstrate your confidence and capability in every way, including on video
  • And how to confirm you are what your prospective employer is looking for.

If you plan to develop your legal career in a new role, this blog will help. I will be reviewing several interview fundamentals and how to present well on video.

The first part of any interview process is to gather data – let me explain.

1. Do Your Research

As a legal professional, you will be used to researching extensively for cases and arguments. The same dedication should influence your job search too. Start by getting to know the firm you’re hoping to work for and make sure you can answer the question, “Why are you a good fit for our team?”

The legal recruitment consultant you are working with will help with this, and it is vital to do your research.

Assessing the firm’s website, social media channels, current legal team, and online content can give you a good insight into the values and principles that guide the business.
You may even find it helpful to look into the background of the person who will be interviewing you on LinkedIn so that you can ask questions related to their role. Remember, asking questions in an interview is a great way to show you are interested, involved, and engaged, all key employability skills every firm is looking for.

2. Plan and Prepare

Planning and preparation can make all the difference to how confident you are as you enter the interview.

As you prepare, look through the job description and expectations and discuss the key motivations and drivers for the firm with your recruitment consultant.

For example, suppose you were applying for a Family Solicitor role. In that case, the requirement might be to demonstrate prior experience working within Private Family Law and manage your workload efficiently.

Therefore, logically what examples do you have to demonstrate where you have gone above and beyond in this area? Once you are clear on examples, it is much easier to use them to answer questions.

Though you can’t predict every single question you will be asked, several time-tested questions might appear. Prepare for questions around:

  • Your motivation to study law
  • What’s the most difficult case you’ve ever had to deal with?
  • How do you deal with an X, Y or Z situation?
  • How would you handle a difficult client? Can you share an example?
  • Why us and why now?
  • What are your career aspirations?

Many firms use a combination of general and competency-based questions, so be prepared for both. A general question may have a yes or no answer though there is usually an opportunity to share more detail, which helps you demonstrate your knowledge and the drive you will bring to the role.

A competency-based question may be asked so that you can demonstrate your knowledge and skill in a specific area. Say that is client management. Use a situation here and describe the scenario, then share your action and the result you achieved.

Practising your interview skills is a great way to perfect your answers to complex questions. It’s also a chance for you to ask people whether you’re making the right impression with your overall attitude, presentation, and image.

3. Master Your Video Skills: It is Easier Than You Think

Video interviews are still often part of the first stage of the hiring process after the hiring team has viewed your CV.

Depending on the firm, you may be asked to record a video where you answer a number of questions about yourself and your capabilities as part of a first screening stage.
Videos ahead of time give you an opportunity for multiple takes to get everything right. Though the hiring manager won’t expect you to be in a professional studio, it is important to record your video to profile you in the best possible way.

People use two popular cameras; one is a webcam, the other a smartphone. I want to share a few important details about both.

Using a smartphone, use a stand to avoid a camera shake from a nervous had. A useful technique is to look up or directly at the camera rather than down. This allows you to use your eye contact and body language to maximum effect.

When it comes to video technology, smartphones do an amazing job, and to improve the impact, better lighting and an external microphone will lift the experience. The number of people using video technology has meant that you can get a camera stand, lighting, and a microphone for under forty pounds.

Remember to record in a well-lit room with a plain background behind you.

Recording ahead of time allows you to practise what you say and how you come across. Importantly remember to look into the camera lens, which you can test ahead of time.

Similar principles apply to web cameras which can often be plugged onto a monitor screen or are part of your computer. Test the audio quality ahead of time as using ear jacks or an external microphone might give a better experience.

A headset and earphones are gamers’ choices; however, try to avoid using a headset like this during an interview as they can restrict your movement and are not flattering to wear.

It’s also worth taking extra steps to “set up your space” for video. Make sure your lighting is excellent in your room of choice, and there isn’t clutter or a window behind you in the video stream. If you can’t find a professional-looking space in your home, use virtual or custom backgrounds instead.

Remember, when you record a video like this, taking one will rarely be your best version. Practice really does make perfect, and a rushed or unrehearsed video stands out a mile.

When it comes to having an interactive video interview, the same principles apply that I mentioned earlier.  Remember to look into the camera as much as you can, varying your gaze when someone else is speaking so that you can get a sense check on the body language your interviewer is sharing.

It goes without saying that you should dress for the role you want, which includes all areas of your body that will be both off and on camera.

Being generally confident, friendly, and open will make it easier for your interviewer to connect with you and imagine a space for you in the firm. Pay attention to your actions throughout the interview, and try not to engage in any nervous behaviours like wringing your fingers, or tapping your desk, as this can make you look impatient.

We have focused on working with the camera and sound, and there may be other software involved. If that is the case, download the software you need for the conversation in advance, and practice using it. Ensure you know how to do everything from sharing your screen to muting yourself when someone else talks.

Check the quality of your internet connection in advance, so you can warn your interviewer if you’re concerned you might have any lag issues. You can also contact a friend or family member via video to check your video and audio look and sound as good as possible.

Next Steps

The legal industry is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for legal job seekers.

Contact the Clayton Legal team today if you would like support to develop your legal job search in the virtual age.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Planning Your Legal Career in Our New Normal Workplace

  • January 18, 2022

At the start of a new year, many of us review where we are in both our personal and professional lives. For those of us working in the legal sector, it’s no different.

The specific details of the legal path you want to take might differ slightly. However, the five fundamentals we are sharing today form part of any successful career planning process, as we have observed placing more than 5000 legal professions over the last twenty-two years.

First, let’s put some context around the impact of the new ‘norm’ when it comes to creating your plan.

The New Norm

As we navigate our way out of the pandemic and multiple new variants, it is fair to say that the new normal hasn’t impacted the legal sector as much as others, except for improved technology, communication channels and virtual recruitment.

We noticed here at Clayton Legal that the phone continued to ring after the initial few weeks of the first lockdown as clients asked us to help fill their roles. This continued throughout 2021, accelerating at pace as the year went on. 2022, so far, shows so sign of this appetite to hire slowing down.

Hybrid, home, and remote working are still major debates across firms as they consider the permanency of such working arrangements.

As predicted by the Microsoft Workplace Trends report, many candidates we speak to are keen to have some flexibility around working in the office or at home. Consequently, we are seeing more firms willing to consider hybrid working moving forward.

The critical piece of the conversation is that skilled legal candidates are in short supply. This results in employers counter offering employees to stay with them rather than moving to a new law firm. Some legal candidates continue to have multiple offers on the table.

In summary, if you are a skilled candidate looking to move, this is your time.

What an opportunity, though let’s have a sense check here. Jumping into a new role with an improved package and a hybrid working opportunity is OK, provided it is part of your long-term plan.
Therefore, consider this as you plan your career. Moving and building your career takes time, depending on the level you want to achieve.

So, what should you be considering in your overall plan?

Decide What You Want

Goal setting and tweaking can happen at any time of the year. As Professor Maxwell Maltz shared in his New York Times bestseller, human beings are success-seeking creatures, and therefore we want to achieve success.

Without goals to inspire and drive you, it’s impossible to know if you’re moving in the right direction. In simple terms, if you don’t know the destination, then you can’t plan the journey.

Deciding what you want allows you to take control of your professional life.

Simply saying that you want something isn’t enough. Goal setting is a strategic process that considers what you want to achieve through a series of milestones and action steps and ends with hard work and dedication.

Therefore, setting a goal and then moving towards it is a logical process we would all be advised to tap into.

Most legal professionals want:

    • To work in an area of law that they enjoy and find interesting

To receive sufficient income for their work to enable them to live comfortably

  • To be considered as being professional and knowledgeable
  • To achieve a work/life balance that allows them to enjoy a life away from their work

No matter your opinion about setting goals, you will find yourself meandering around with no real sense of purpose unless you are clear on what you want.

Choosing stretch goals means finding the right balance between targets you can realistically achieve and aims that challenge you.

However, don’t set goals that are too easy, either. It’s essential to challenge yourself, as that way, you can reap the rewards of feeling accomplished and driven. Find goals that help you raise the bar on your work and performance.

Always have both short- and long-term goals in mind.

Let’s take an extreme example. If you are a trainee solicitor who wants to become a barrister, you will have to move, study, and gain experience over several years to achieve what you want. This will therefore inform the steps you need to cover in your plan.

Remember, the legal field has many options for you to consider. The more you learn about the legal space, the more you’ll discover new career opportunities and paths you can take.

A Goal Setting Framework

One of the most popular goal-setting strategies involves creating “SMART” goals. There are variations on what the “SMART” acronym stands for, but most experts agree that it requires your goals to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Your legal career goals must be clear and defined. A vague goal like “I want to get a promotion” doesn’t provide sufficient direction. Determine what kind of promotion you want that will fit your plan and when you want to accomplish that target.

Conduct a Skills Audit and Contact A Legal Recruiter

To accomplish what you want in your legal career, you will have to up-level your skills relevant to your desired roles. Knowledge is power, and this is where talking to someone who has the ultimate position you want can be useful.

Although, remember that a lot has changed during the last few years and what was once required for a role, either skills or experience, might have changed.

This is where talking to a specialist legal recruiter will help. Here at Clayton, we have over twenty years’ experience recruiting legal professionals and can guide you on the best next steps according to the specific legal career path you want to take.

With the specs for your ideal job to guide you and your CV in hand, write a list of the skills you need to work on and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 4. A rating of 4 indicates that you’re an expert in the area, while a rating of 1 means that you have very little knowledge or skill in that area.

Once you know which elements need the most work, you can develop a list of activities that will help you close the gap.

Managing Your Mind

The first step in developing your legal career is to embrace the right mindset by managing your mind. More than ever, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of working with our mentality to handle whatever is happening globally.

It’s easy to assume that creativity, intelligence, or talent are the things that set successful people apart from the rest of the world. However, the truth is that all the most powerful people in business today reached their goals through perseverance, grit, dedication, and the right mindset.

Your ultimate goal may take a few years, and the more you can manage your mind through the process, the better.
Good Luck!

What Next?

Though many workplace sectors experienced poor growth in 2020 and into last year, the legal sector wasn’t one of them. Here at Clayton Legal, we have multiple clients looking for skilled and ambitious candidates like you. For a confidential conversation about your legal career goals and your next move, please get in contact with one of our team here.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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