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LinkedIn 101: Creating a Stand-Out Profile

When it comes to selling your value to recruiters and hirers alike, there is always some due diligence and preparation needed in order to ensure your digital profile is up to date and really sells the value you will offer to a new employer. 

Getting your CV up to date and reviewed is the most obvious first step as this humble document is still the main catalyst to displaying and demonstrating your skills and experience. 

However your LinkedIn profile is often seen as the digital version of your CV and more often than not, will be viewed in parallel with any documents you send directly in the application for a new role. Ignoring this as a marketing channel to ‘sell’ you and your suitability is a mistake some jobseekers make – but the truth is, it should be given the same care and attention as your physical CV, if not more. 

As the world’s biggest professional platform with over a billion users currently registered, LinkedIn is the place to broadcast your value as a legal professional and if utilised properly, can convey this in the most interactive and engaging of ways  ways that a CV alone can never achieve. The benefits it can provide and the edge it gives candidates willing to invest in maximising its potential are numerous and at times, it can be the only thing one actually needs to get a foot through the door of prospective hirers, particularly if you aren’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but would be open to speculative conversations about what’s out there. 

Here we look at why a polished LinkedIn profile is indispensable to your job search in the modern age and the quick, easy wins you can amass using a well-crafted profile to help earn – and cement – a place in a hirer’s shortlist. 

Headlines And Pronouns   

When talking about selling yourself, fewer things make more of a difference in your efforts than a strong first impression. As the first piece of text a recruiter or potential hiring manager will see and the second thing that will tell them about who you are, your headline is what will give the first impression of your skills, credentials and suitability for a role, and you have no more than 220 characters to make it count.  

It might be tempting to go with a simple “ Paralegal at X Company” but to hiring firms this is of little – if any – value. Rather, it is best, according to Mimax Senior Talent Partner Margaret Buj, to go with one of the below formats. You can choose any of the 3, depending on your PQE level, experience and skills but you’ll notice that each one concisely showcases your value in some way to prospective employers. This is because the key to writing a headline that captures attention, whatever the structure used is to succinctly paraphrase what you do and what you bring to the table.   

  1. Role & Specific achievement, e.g. Solicitor at BLM.  X (significant) deals closed/X high-profile cases won.
  2. Role & Years of Experience in practice area(s) and region, e.g. Solicitor at BLM. 5+ years of experience in dealing with insurance litigation, housing disrepairs and property damage in Liverpool.
  3. Role & what your expertise is, e.g. Senior Lawyer at BLM. Business Ethics & Management, London. 

You can also add a few other things that make it easier for hirers to identify you in your headline, such as pronouns. The use of pronouns lets hiring managers, colleagues or online connections know how to address you and avoid any misconceptions.   

Fix Up – Look Sharp 

We live in an era where by and large, seeing is believing, and it is well-documented how influential imagery and media can be in any context, let alone when you want your profile to be viewed by potential hirers. 

 As such, a profile photo is more of a necessity than a luxury to your job searching efforts should you be looking to remain as visible as possible to prospective employers. As it is right at the introduction section of your profile, it is very likely the first thing people will see immediately after they land on your page and whether consciously or subconsciously, the first thing with which you will be assessed both as an individual and a professional. 

Now, to some this is seen as a potential hurdle to their job-searching efforts, as a photo can be a source of discrimination, considering it can also display ethnicity, age, gender, religion and more. While it is an unfortunate reality that certain individuals, hirers included, can write off a potential candidate with unconscious bias, it still serves you well to include a well-taken photo in your profile. There are a few reasons for this:  

Firstly, from a purely technical standpoint, profiles without a photo on LinkedIn are categorised by the algorithm as incomplete and are therefore less likely to show up in the search results to hirers and/or recruiters looking for profiles similar to yours.  

They also appear inauthentic, as profiles usually tagged as fake are those assumed to be the ones without a photo to showcase proof of identity.   

A photoless profile can also lead to a perceived lack of professionalism or ability to utilise LinkedIn, as to many hiring managers, it can be inexcusable to not have one considering the level of technology candidates have at their disposal to get one of good quality.  

On that note, it is only photos of such standard that will be deemed acceptable and not just any photo will do, so deliberate effort must be taken to ensure a photo that showcases a good blend of professionalism and personality is used. Remember that your photo is what will most strongly be associated with your professional image and reputation, and what you carry everywhere with you, whether on LinkedIn, another platform or in real life. If your photo is taken on an evening out with friends from several years ago, then it is absolutely right to review and replace with something that illustrates who you are on a professional platform.  

Are You Easy to Contact? 

If your profile has garnered the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager, and boxes are being ticked on potential suitability for a role, the next step is to make direct contact.  

The quickest way to kill your chances of being selected however is a failure to include basic contact details like a phone number and an (appropriate) email address – something a surprising number of candidates still fail to check.  

Make sure these are all present and clearly visible in your profile, and that the email address provided is as professional and easy to read as can be. Avoid the likes of informal addresses like tenerifedan69@gmail.com or something indicating personal information as this can trigger subconscious biases. Ensure that this sense of professionalism is reflected in other details present in your profile such as your LinkedIn URL and any possible links to portfolios or achievements and keep them short, clean and easy to access.   

If you wish to add anything you have written such as white papers written papers or links to any recorded work done at conferences or events, then you can include them in your featured section. Regardless of where you add them though, make sure these are present in your profile if possible, as they give recruiters a chance to see more of what you can dover and above generic job descriptions and your ‘About’ section.  

Your About Section  

Contrary to what some may think, this is not a simple regurgitation of what skills and credentials you’ve got on your CV. It is your opportunity to buttress your case for your suitability and is what people will be next interested in if your headline catches their eye.  

 Think of it as an extension of this part of your profile – if your headline sparks the interest then your About section will do the heavy lifting when it comes to converting that interest to action. Therefore, make the best use of the 2000 characters you are given in this section to write relevant, useful information that sells your skillset and any successes you have seen (that is attractive to potential employers). 

 Some examples of ‘what good looks like’ from LinkedIn themselves can be found HERE which may give you an idea of how to give yours an upgrade.  

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Underneath your photo and headline you will see buttons that allow you ‘add profile section’ or add a frame to your profile picture. Both can be useful in providing more information on your job-seeking status, as well as adding more depth and insight to your personal profile and achievements. 

 The ‘open to’ button will give you three options, but as a jobseeker the one to select is ‘open to work’. If you are currently not employed this is one of the easiest ways to let recruiters and hiring managers know you are a potential candidate without even clicking on your profile. Failure to have to take this step can actually keep you out of an employer’s shortlist, as it may lead them to assume you are not open to any potential opportunities. However it goes without saying that caution should be taken if you are currently employed and your current employer is not aware of you looking for a new role.  

In the ‘add profile section’ you can add core information (education, skills), recommended (certifications, courses, links to white papers or presentations you’ve delivered), and additional (pro bono work, languages spoken, test results and more). 

Whichever section you choose to enhance, we recommend that you write this first person to avoid sounding pretentious, and to give readers a little flavour of your personality. Do you volunteer? Can you speak Russian? No one wants to hire a robot, and these added extras can help to make you more of an attractive prospect to would-be recruiters and employers.  

That said, ensure that, whatever you choose to add either in this section or throughout your profile, they tick the below boxes:  

  • Does it showcase your competence as a legal professional? 
  • Does it communicate your value, with supporting evidence? 
  • Does it help you stand out?  

Walk the Walk and Talk the (Right) Talk  

Equally important to your job-searching efforts is what you actually say and do on the platform, as this can often tell hirers and recruiters a lot about who you are and whether or not you are worth their attention, without even clicking on your profile.  

The content you post, repost, share and take the time to comment on communicates how you want others to interact with you on the platform, whether you are aware of this or not. 

Therefore, ensure that you have no track record of any ill or inappropriate communication on your profile and the content you interact with. Get rid of any comments that are distasteful, controversial, or aggressive in nature and keep your feed as clear of such content as possible. This is not to say that personality is unwelcome on LinkedIn but it should not be at the expense of your professional reputation and especially, your job-hunting prospects.  

Instead, focus on sharing content that showcases and demonstrates your commitment to professionalism, growth and value in your area of expertise. This will tell anyone that sees you on the platform through your interactions that you are a communicator who likes to stay on top of their game and has a finger on the pulse of the industry and specialism.  

Do you share (and comment on) 3rd party news relevant to your practice area? Do you champion awards or events linked to your current firm, or the wider legal industry? If so – it’s always worth glancing at your own feed from time to time to sense-check how those looking at your profile see your activity and how you interact with your own professional network. 

Similarly, if you list networking or relationship-building as a skill, but your feed is like a ghost town – there is also a disconnect, so will need amending where necessary.  

It’s not (Just) What You Know… 

 Following on from this point, capitalise on endorsements from colleagues and clients as these can be significant green ticks to employers and recruiters. Social proof remains a great influencer in people’s decision to ‘buy’ or in this case, get in touch to find out more information and whether online or otherwise, should not be dismissed as a waste of space to include in your profile.  

Any recommendations or endorsements you have acquired, you should be adding regularly and if you don’t have any, don’t be afraid to ask. You will be surprised how willing people can be to give you a recommendation (especially ifyou offer to give one back in return). 

Finally, 

The key to building a standout LinkedIn profile starts with all of the above but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Your reputation is only as good as the amount of investment you put into maintaining it, and this applies on LinkedIn just as much as it does in real life, so establish a routine that helps you stay on top of your online presence and keeps your status up to date. 

In today’s dynamic professional landscape, maintaining an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is not just a formality; it’s a strategic necessity. Your LinkedIn presence serves as a digital representation of your career journey, skills, and aspirations. It’s often the first impression you make on potential employers, recruiters, clients, and collaborators. By keeping your profile current, you signal to others that you’re actively engaged in your field, open to new opportunities, and committed to professional growth.   

Furthermore, a well-maintained LinkedIn profile can enhance your visibility, credibility, and networking capabilities, ultimately opening doors to unexpected opportunities and fostering meaningful connections.  

 So, whether you’re actively job hunting or content in your current role, investing time in curating your LinkedIn profile is a proactive step towards shaping your professional narrative and advancing your career journey. 

  

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.  

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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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 in light of where you aim to be. When you dig a little deeper, is everything working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to stay on track to meeting 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 where you stand at present career-wise and whether you’re on the right track.

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to bear in mind the reasons you are where you are in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – and what does doing so look like up to this point? Did you plan on meeting certain financial goals by this stage of your career or have your ambitions been driven by more personal goals?

An equally important point to consider is what you value most about the firm you work for. Do your values fit in with what the firm’s culture prioritises? Is there a synergy present in your working relationships with your colleagues and managers?

If you find that your current role or firm is not providing the satisfaction you had hoped it would, or that the pace of your progress has gradually petered out, then it could be a sign that some important decisions need to be made regarding your career sooner rather than later.

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!

Things aren’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying life in your current role. We suggest taking some time to reflect on the possible reasons behind your dissatisfaction and what needs to change to have them resolved. This can be anything from your current workload and position within your team to your working environment and even your practice area.

 

41-60

Room for More

A better score, which suggests there are aspects of your job you enjoy but also a lot of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but feel that there is a lack of support present within management to help you meet medium or long-term career goals. You will need to find out if there is any commitment on the part of the management team to implement changes, and assess how concrete said plans for change are. Speak with your manager and outline your concerns as well as what plans they have in this regard. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, you will have either gotten a clearer picture of what your future at the firm looks like or a clear indication that your tenure there has run its course.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals

You’re neither happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as entirely satisfied. Meaning that if the right opportunity came your way, you would be weighing up your options. Whenever you feel this way it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re leaning towards a move away from your firm, have a think of why this is your preferred option. What you want to be sure of is that there is no impulsivity driving your decision-making and that an exit is needed because of a bad career move, not a bad day at the office.

 

81+

Loving Life and Your Job

You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy life where you work. There may be elements of your work life that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough of a negative to make you consider working elsewhere. However, we suggest you don’t let complacency set in, as being in your comfort zone for a certain period of time can sometimes lead to that and prove counterproductive to your progress in the long run. If you find that despite being happy with where you are in your career, you haven’t taken any major steps forward in the last year or two, then a fresh challenge could be the jumpstarter you need.

 

Hopefully this checklist has prompted you to think harder about your career goals – and whether or not you are on track to achieve those with your current employer. If the final score however has intimated a change may be afoot, your next wise move is to call on the expertise of a recruitment specialist who can further challenge those thoughts; find out exactly what you are looking for from an employer and uncover the potential reasons you are ready to look at new opportunities in the market.

At Clayton Legal, we have been committed for the past 20 plus years to helping legal professionals build a career they can be proud of, whatever stage of their journey they might be at. If you are at a point where that next step in your legal career is unclear going into the new year, then we can give you the guidance you need to make your start in 2024 the strongest possible one. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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The Importance of Networking (and Casting That Net Wide)

  • January 8, 2024

Networking doesn’t necessarily come easy to everyone, and sometimes even the thought of it can be met with apprehension or worse, sheer anxiety when placed in a situation that can be emotionally or mentally draining.

That being said, investing time to hone your skills will pay dividends in the long run, especially in today’s highly competitive legal landscape where networking will not only help you to expand your client base but also provide opportunities for mentorship, career growth, and collaboration.

As an essential skill, networking has huge potential to open up new opportunities for aspiring legal professionals and play a major part in their career success. And, whilst it’s a given that not everyone is comfortable networking, all lawyers should at least be competent if they want their skills to advance. You might be worried about what to say, or how to introduce yourself to new people, especially if you’re surrounded by reputable professionals, but, in reality, it’s relatively easy to become a pro with a little bit of extra practice. Here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Seek Guidance from a Fellow Professional  

Consider who you know to be an impressive networker and could provide you with some helpful advice on how to approach it to form professional bonds. This could be a family member or friend, colleague or even someone from your time at university or law school. At the very least, they are likely to let you bounce some ideas off them which will enable you to sharpen and hone your skills.

Be proactive

Waiting for networking opportunities to come your way won’t yield significant results – you need to be proactive. Take the initiative to attend industry events, seminars, conferences, and bar association meetings. Through your employment at a law firm, you will no doubt have exposure, and be invited to join more formal legal networking events. However, do seek out other associations that can equally provide fantastic opportunities to widen the net in your professional network. As a newly qualified lawyer, there are Junior Lawyers Divisions set up locally and regionally, as well as Trainee Solicitor Groups for those yet to qualify. These will give you a great foundation and springboard to networking in usually informal settings, yet still add a huge amount of value to those starting out in their legal career.

Always Come Prepared

Perhaps an old-school networking method, but still an effective one, having a business card on hand can be extremely useful when actively networking with legal professionals, and even more so in the non-professional conversations you have on a daily basis that could give rise to networking opportunities. When they come your way, you want to have a way of capitalising on them. This leads to an even more important factor in networking – having an ‘Always On’ mindset is crucial if you want to do this as effectively as possible. While you don’t need to shoehorn your career passion into every interaction, looking at networking this way can help you improve your social skills in these lower-risk’ situations and build confidence for the bigger conversations you might have with employers or reputable professionals down the line.

When it comes to preparation in the more conventional sense, a set of simple but clear pointers is your best friend, no matter the size or type of network event you are attending. As these events are ultimately about getting you in front of, and eventually front of mind of other like-minded legal professionals, it is essential that on the day you are confident in your ability to navigate the most common social scenarios you find yourself in.

Set Realistic Targets

This starts with going in with realistic expectations about your interactions at the event. Under no circumstance should you be expecting yourself to speak to the majority of people at any event, whether that be an event of 50 or 500. Consider your reasons for being there in the first place. Are you looking for new commercial opportunities or are you perhaps lining up your potential next employer? This will help you narrow down the scope of your search for individuals to speak with to a select few targets, and make planning for those conversations far easier and consequently more productive.

Your next step should then be to ensure you have a few pointers in mind about said conversations, how to begin them and keep them going. A simple but firm handshake and a brief introduction of yourself, your work and what you wish to speak about, before asking them about theirs, should be enough. Avoid kicking things off by firing questions at them as it disregards the other person’s involvement in the conversation and is a quick way to get them uncomfortable with talking about themselves to you.

Prepare Your Pitch

One of the most important parts of networking is your initial pitch – and first impressions count.  How will you introduce and describe yourself to people in an engaging yet concise way? Again, the best way to do this effectively is to get feedback from fellow professionals in your network; ask them to listen to your pitch and offer constructive criticism if required. However, you should also be careful not to over-rehearse, nothing sounds less authentic than an overly polished introduction.

Find Common Ground

In terms of the content of the conversation itself, this will vary depending on who you meet on the day of course, but there are certain scenarios you can prep for beforehand. For example, if you know a certain guest or speaker will be present at the event, then you should be doing your research on their background – where they graduated from/are studying, what law firm they work at and what their own personal interests are.

The best networkers don’t just stick to the stuffier topics when networking. They recognise it’s about showing empathy and finding out more about the person that they’re talking to. And, after all, most lawyers like talking about themselves so finding common ground is of paramount importance. Whether that’s football, cycling, your children or anything else you can think of, it’s easier to build stronger relationships if you have some sort of shared interest.

Your research should not just be limited to LinkedIn or a simple Google search either, or even the person themselves, but also around what you find out about the above areas like the university or law firm they studied/work at. These can commonly be found in any interviews, podcasts or panels they’ve spoken at. The reason for this is that in reality most legal professionals attending the event will already have done their research on at least a surface level, and will therefore ask largely the same questions like: what motivated you to move into this profession, what are your personal interests outside of work, etc. which the person in question will quickly find boring.

As your goal for attending the event is to build lasting relationships and expand your network, particularly with well-known legal professionals, you need to ensure you leave as strong an impression as possible on with whom you are speaking and to do that you need to make it less like an interview and more like an opportunity to talk about their most enjoyable aspects of their life/career. For example, if you have already done your homework on the above and know they happen to also regularly play badminton in their downtime, you could ask a question like:

“I found out in your interview with X talk show that you’re really into your badminton and I also happen to love playing with my friends on the weekend! I was wondering how you manage to fit it around your schedule considering your line of work demands so much of your time. Is it a serious interest you have outside of work?”

See the difference between this and a casual ‘How do you balance work with personal hobbies’ question? While the latter really only is concerned about what the answer is, the former takes care to make it relevant and personable to both parties with the aim of learning more about the person, thereby making the chances of getting an equally engaging and unscripted answer more likely.

Follow Up

It’s all well and good meeting people at an event, but it means little if you don’t keep the conversations going by following them up. If it helps, make a short note on the business cards that you’re given to remind you about the individual and then follow up on any information you promised to send over the next day. This leads on to another key point; the importance of reciprocity. People are likely to feel much more inclined to help you if you can offer something that helps them. That means if you know a solution to a problem that someone you met was struggling with, pass it across to them. People are more likely to remember you based on how you make them feel, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to make their lives easier by addressing problems they have. This is how you facilitate reciprocity in professional relationships.

Find value in online networking

Whilst face-to-face interaction is perhaps the first thing that springs to mind when you think of ‘networking’ in today’s digital age, some of the most invaluable opportunities to connect with professionals outside of one’s local vicinity comes from online networking. Platforms like LinkedIn offer a wealth of resources for lawyers to showcase their expertise, connect with peers, join industry-specific groups, and share valuable insights through thought leadership content. Actively participating in online discussions and engaging with other professionals worldwide can equally be hugely beneficial in building your personal brand, marketing your services and that of your firm, and gaining insight and updates relating to your specific role and practice area. For legal-specific online networks, groups like the Junior Solicitors Network are also a virtual hive of activity, giving members access to news and resources to support career and personal development, as well as opportunities to connect with other legal professionals.

In conclusion

Networking in the legal sector isn’t straightforward and some professionals will find it much more difficult than others, whilst others may decide to avoid it altogether.

However, learning the skills around professional networking is essential for lawyers looking to thrive in the legal industry – not only forging strong relationships for their own career and professional development, but using it as an opportunity to market yourself (and your firm) to potential stakeholders and clients.  

By being proactive, building genuine relationships, utilising online platforms, and staying connected, legal professionals can create a robust professional network that opens doors to new opportunities, enhances their careers, and contributes to long-term success.

About Clayton Legal

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

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.  

Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here

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The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

  • November 16, 2023

If you just got that confirmation email or call from the hiring firm offering you the job you’ve long been hoping to land, then chances are you’ll have already punched the air in triumph and let out a huge sigh of relief at the conclusive news, thankful that the hard part of the job searching process is now behind you.

And while it’s certainly in order to celebrate such wonderful news with friends and family and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for making it this far, caution is advised at this junction – as there is still a transition period you are to navigate successfully, especially when there is still your resignation and notice period to manage.

Perhaps the most pertinent when discussing the activities involved in a thorough due diligence post-job search is the topic of counteroffers, an aspect of the transition process that presents a challenge to legal candidates often regardless of what they might have on offer from their soon-to-be employer.

According to the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook report, 40% of UK employers have made a counteroffer to departing employees in the last 12 months and among that number, 38% matched the salary of the new job offer while 40% exceeded it. With employers increasingly reliant on counter offers to retain their key staff and a skills shortage across the industry to contend with, these findings point to two indisputable facts that any legal candidate on the brink of leaving their current role faces at present:

  • The chances that you will be made a counteroffer are higher than ever before.
  • It will likely be a tantalizing prospect to consider, regardless of whatever offer you’ve got on the table.

All of this to say, it isn’t an issue you can afford to take lightly, simple as its solution may seem.

So, what happens when you break the news to your current employer with your resignation letter at the ready and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?

While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, they usually point to a few red flags that make accepting a counteroffer ultimately a bad move for your career in the long run.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to think twice before accepting the new offer on the table:

1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues

Moving from one job to another isn’t a decision most legal professionals will arrive at on a whim. There will be a lot of time and thought gone into weighing the pros and cons of leaving your current role, and from every possible angle, before deciding to take the leap.

When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one or two gripes you have with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every major issue that convinced you to leave. When faced with one, it’s a good idea to take a moment to ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place.

Is your current role lacking the challenge you’re looking for at this stage of your career, or are you planning on moving in an entirely new direction? Perhaps the culture or lack of flexibility are a constant source of headaches at your firm. If the sticking points with your role aren’t resolved by the counteroffer (which tend to be the case if these sit at the root of your concerns as culture and career development are not as simple a problem to fix as salary concerns) you should absolutely be turning it down and moving on with your new job offer.

2. An Unwelcome Change in Dynamics

Whilst it is well within your right to explore alternative options if your needs aren’t being met professionally and personally, an inevitable by-product of accepting a counteroffer after making your departure known to your employer is the impact it will have on your relationship going forward.

There’s a good chance your employer will have lingering questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, and this can manifest in ways that will eventually come to undermine the reasons that sit behind your decision to stay.

You may see yourself getting passed over for promotions, or find your employer actively looking to hire for your position to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually jump ship, all because they consider you a flight risk.

As they will (somewhat understandably) no longer have the same level of trust they once did, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable and awkward dynamic at play, even if they do end up going in the other direction and working harder to keep you happy.

3. A Growth Plateau

Career development often involves moving between different roles, taking on new responsibilities over time and stepping out of one’s comfort zone constantly to keep the trajectory of one’s growth on the up. While there is the benefit of quickly climbing up the ladder in one law firm and building up experience working within a particular team or role, staying put for too long can be as damaging to your career prospects in the long run, as it keeps you out of the loop on what opportunities are ripe for you to expand your skills and experience and consequently stunt your growth.

When deciding if a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if it keeps you on course to achieving your short and long-term career goals. Compared to the job you presently have lined up, does your existing role get you closer to meeting those key milestones any faster?

Remember that a higher salary won’t bridge the gap that an unrewarding role leaves. Yes, the money will certainly be a welcome incentive but that will quickly become irrelevant if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important that you keep your end goal in mind when considering a counteroffer and avoid any ill judgement based on the promise of monetary value.

4. With Great Investment Comes Great Scrutiny

Given the gravity of the skills shortage prevalent in the hiring market today, keeping a hold of top talent has become a lot more of an urgent imperative for businesses across the industry. As firms increasingly opt for desperate measures to retain their key personnel, it has become commonplace to see employers rush to offer a more handsome remuneration package to save themselves the stress of scouring the market for an adequate replacement.

While this is good news for candidates currently without a role, it is a double edged sword for anyone considering the prospect of a counteroffer. This flexibility towards a salary/benefits increase can and often does mean employers  become increasingly wary of how much you warrant the extra investment down the line and can lead to them actively looking for tangible evidence you’re worth it right away.

Having this extra scrutiny placed on your performance, conduct and attitude – down to the smallest of things – can be a stressful experience, even if you are conscious you are well-deserving of 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 some of these responsibilities aren’t ones you asked for or are fit to handle, and that’s because your employer simply wants to ensure they’re getting their “return on investment” from you.

5. Risk of Regret

Job changes can be stressful and worrisome, but they can also present incredible opportunities to tap into your potential as a legal professional and build a stellar career for yourself. If you’ve been offered a job at another firm, and you’ve said “yes”, then chances are there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.

Maybe you loved the level of flexibility it offered and don’t have an opportunity to get that kind of work life balance at your current firm. Perhaps you were interested in branching out into a slightly different aspect of your practice area and won’t get the chance to explore that in your current role. Bear in mind that any unfulfilled desire will always be there in the form of regret if you do nothing to change your circumstances when opportunity knocks at the door.

Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get accustomed to a new working environment or team, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into that new role.

Counteroffer Strategies 101

It’s always worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance before approaching your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how best to pass across your rejection to their offer politely and firmly, and whether there are still any important factors at play that warrant you seriously considering passing up the chance to make a new move.

By far the best way to add that extra layer security to your preparation is to work alongside a specialist legal recruiter throughout a process. They possess a great deal of knowledge about the job application process, from both a hiring and employee perspective and are best placed to help alleviate any doubts you might have about your current options – counteroffer or not.

If you find yourself at a critical junction in your legal career with no clear pointers on how best to advance, then you’re in luck. At Clayton Legal we make it our goal to simplify the job-hunting process as much as possible for legal candidates, whatever the complications involved may be, and would love to give you the helping hand you need in navigating any uncertainties about the next move for your career. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

About Clayton Legal

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

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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10 Smart Questions to Ask In Your Legal Interview

  • November 13, 2023

So, you’ve reached the first major milestone in your journey to finding a new legal role: being invited successfully for an interview.

Whilst there is already much to celebrate, arguably the hard work starts now and many legal recruiters will tell you it all boils down to one thing – preparation (and plenty of it).

There is already much written on the specifics of what kind of preparation you should consider. From researching a firm’s digital footprint (including PR, reviews, news articles and social media channels) to connecting with your interviewers on LinkedIn.

But there is also one element of an interview that is essential in not only demonstrating your interest and enthusiasm for the role and firm, but also in ensuring you are sense-checking job suitability against your own objectives while you’re in the room.

All interviews, whether they are conducted over the phone, over video/virtually, or face to face, will present the opportunity for you as the candidate to ask questions.

Pass up this opportunity at your peril.

We know from our own independent research that the top reasons legal professionals choose to move roles are:

  1. Progression
  2. Salary Increase
  3. Redundancy
  4. Relocation
  5. Work/life balance

It certainly makes sense therefore to pose your interviewer relevant questions that align with the above and use the interview as an opportunity to conduct your own due diligence of sorts.

Here are 10 smart questions to consider:

1. What are the opportunities for progression with the firm?

The question itself is multi-faceted in that by asking it, you are already demonstrating you are ambitious and career-minded and are already in it for the long run. It is also an essential question to pose if you have decided to leave your current role due to a lack of progression opportunities.

As your role’s career path and available opportunities are critical for your professional growth, it is in your best interest to find out where your future lies with the firm in question. One way to circumnavigate this topic if you’re concerned about being too direct is to ask instead ‘Where have successful employees in this role moved on to?’ or ‘How are promotions handled?’

You can also ask if there is specific career-path documentation although don’t be put off if this doesn’t exist in smaller firms. Whilst some roles may not necessarily have an apparent move ‘up’, you may still want to check that there are opportunities to train and upskill more generally.

2. How will my performance be evaluated?

Whilst we know that salary and remuneration are often a catalyst for moving roles, it is generally a no-no to ask about specifics in your interview – at least initially. That is of course, unless your interviewer brings the topic up themselves.

However, one area of questioning to consider instead which is likely to touch on the subject is around performance.

The question in itself demonstrates that you are eager to make a positive contribution to the firm and are once again thinking about your long-term career in understanding how job performance is evaluated.

You may want to probe a little further around expectations in the first 90 days, or the formal review process but should seek to understand any specific metrics or KPIs that you will be measured against.

Whilst this line of questioning doesn’t necessarily touch upon base salary on offer with the role, it is likely any sort of performance-related incentives or bonus will be communicated at this juncture.

3. What are the firm’s plans for growth and development in the next 5 years?

Asking questions about the firm’s growth trajectory will certainly impress during an interview. It shows that you are curious about the wider company and its success, rather than a sole focus on your role and the specifics that come with that.

However, the response you get from your interviewer will also give you further insight into progression plans (and where you may fit in with these in the future) as well a general idea of job security – a must if you have concerns in this area or perhaps find yourself on the job market due to a recent redundancy.

You shouldn’t however ask questions on this topic that you could typically find online – on the law firm’s own website for example. This may include things like their mission statement, their vision or press releases. This will only demonstrate that you haven’t done your homework.

Instead do an ‘environmental scan’ (a term used by Dr. Lenaghan at the Hofstra University School of Business) to understand what is happening in your specific practice area, region, or the legal sector more generally. The questions you ask then could focus on the broader implications of these on your role and the firm you are interviewing with.

4. How has the firm changed since you joined?

Questions that focus on the individual(s) who are interviewing you are a great way to build rapport and that initial relationship – imperative if they will be your direct line manager or supervisor if you are successful in getting the job.

However, this line of questioning is more so about ascertaining what the culture is like at the firm in question.

It allows you to sense-check that your own values align with the firm in question and consider your general compatibility and ‘fit’ on a deeper level than just being competent and able to do the job.

Making the transition from interviewee to interviewer isn’t always easy, but it will certainly help to uncover how those individuals view the office environment and helps to build a certain camaraderie from such a personal response.

5. What are the opportunities for collaboration within this particular role?

Asking questions that focus on your relationship with existing members of the firm is great in showing your interviewer that you are a team player that can think outside of the singular job description in front of them.

Questions that probe more generally around the specifics of the position are also worthwhile in understanding more about team dynamics, the structure of the law firm in question, and scope for growth and personal development.

If the role in question is hybrid or remote, this question also demonstrates that you are looking to cement working relationships regardless of where or how you physically work for the firm. This is important as the general sentiment around hybrid working and an apparent ‘gap’ between business leaders and employee preferences continues to widen, according to an article from the World Economic Forum released last year

The article focuses on research conducted by Ipsos in which over half a million survey responses from 95 countries were analysed revealing attitudes to hybrid working. Interestingly, over 25% said that working remotely improved communication and collaboration (and actually led to decisions being made swifter as a result).

Regardless of your anticipated working pattern, however, this question will also give you an insight into your direct team, individuals you will be working alongside, and other projects or steering groups you could be a part of.

6. What does a typical day look like in this role?

If you are looking to ascertain or enquire about work-life balance at the law firm in question, then you need to tread carefully. You don’t want to jump straight in by asking questions around working patterns, flexitime, expectations around working outside of contracted hours or holiday allowance (although all of these may certainly be on your mind when considering a new role).

Whilst there will be the opportunity to gain answers to some of these as part of the general hiring process (indeed your Recruitment Consultant can act as a liaison here) in the interview itself, you can certainly assess the work-life balance without projecting a negative impression – even if that means reading between the lines in places.

You might ask about a minimum billable hour requirement or ask the interviewer about their own work schedule over a typical week/month/quarter as well as ascertain if there are seasonal peaks (relevant to certain practice areas over others).

There is also a lot to be gained by assessing more generally the interview process itself; was it easy to get the interview arranged or has it been chaotic? Do the other team members in the office (or on-screen) seem relaxed and happy, or distracted and frenetic?

If you are looking for a new opportunity that offers a more suitable work-life balance, then questions that probe around this topic are essential, yet should be handled with care in order to still leave with a good impression and not focused solely on the ‘what is in it for me’ sentiment. A fine balance to strike.

7. How much contact with clients can I expect to have on a daily basis if I’m successful?

As a bit of a spin-off from the previous question, this one helps to further build a clearer picture of what to expect on a more practical level in a typical day on the job. As your skillset will be better suited to some aspects of the profession than others, this question provides the opportunity to gauge how much of the role actually aligns with your key strengths and whether it will ultimately be a good fit for you skill-wise.

If for example, you find that the role involves a lot more of the behind-the-scenes aspects of client management, such as document writing and paperwork than actual face-to-face interactions with clients, it may be best to reconsider the options you’ve got on the table with your recruitment consultant to find out where your preferred work style can be better accommodated.

8. Can you describe a typical client the firm represents?

This question serves a dual purpose here, for your sense-check of each party’s suitability. While you will likely be aware of the firm’s values and culture by this point from your own preliminary research about the business, learning what kind of clients the firm usually represents can give you an inside look at exactly how well this lines up with what is professed. It can also prove useful in determining whether you are likely to handle cases that resonate with any ethical considerations you might have, particularly if you’re being interviewed by a larger firm, as you would likely be working with a more diverse clientele. However, if you’re being interviewed by a smaller firm, it can be quite beneficial to gain pointers on which strategies and approaches can be best used to build rapport with clients, considering the type of client you will be working with will be more frequent.

9. How is workload distributed?

Getting a general idea of the distribution of tasks among team members allows you to gauge the level of collaboration, potential stressors, and potential work-life balance within the firm. This question helps to assess if there is a fair allocation of responsibilities, whether there are support systems in place, and how teams collaborate to meet deadlines. Moreover, it signals to the interviewer that the candidate is mindful of the practical aspects of the work environment and is interested in ensuring they can maintain a sustainable level of productivity.

10. What are the next steps in this process?

Understanding the general timeline and steps that follow the interview is important and shows the interviewer that you are still engaged and wanting to progress (if of course, you decide that you do at this juncture).

Rather than focus however on the ‘yes/no’ decision, or when to expect an invitation for the second/third interview, asking about the onboarding process or what the first few months will look like demonstrates further that you can envisage yourself in the position, and are enthusiastic about starting on that journey.

If nothing else, this line of questioning and the responses you get may indicate the interviewers’ own thoughts on you as a potential candidate through their body language and general fervour when they run through what those next steps look like.

In Conclusion

Asking strategic questions in your interview is always recommended and will undoubtedly impact the chance of you moving on to the next stage in the process.

In the same way that you will spend time researching the firm in question, as well as perfecting answers to the most commonly asked questions, preparing for the questions you wish to ask is always worthwhile.

At the very least, it demonstrates that you are engaged in the process and focused on a long-term career with the firm. Yet it is also the chance to cross-check against your own objectives and goals when looking for your next employer.

If you are leaving your current role due to a lack of progression – ask about those opportunities at this firm. If the catalyst to move is around culture fit, probe a little around that.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t focus too much on the specifics of the role regarding salary and benefits but do use this part of the interview to ask about the elements of the role you’re not sure about, any concerns, or to clarify a point that had been discussed earlier in the interview.

At Clayton Legal, our regional recruitment specialists help to prepare candidates for interview as standard as part of the service we offer. We already have valued working relationships with the many law firms we work with and, as such, can help to get a head start on some of the topics raised here around culture, structure, and remuneration.

If you are considering a move at the moment, our team can help to understand current opportunities in your region and practice area specialism, as well as general market conditions and the competitive landscape.

Get in touch today for a confidential, impartial chat and we’ll help you take that all-important first step in the next stage of your career.

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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The Ethical Steps to Finding A New Legal Role While You’re Still Employed

  • November 4, 2023

If you’re ready to start a new legal role this year, you’re not alone.

Despite the current economic climate and still choppy waters as we look ahead to 2024, it is nevertheless a great time to consider the next steps in your career – especially as law firms across the country continue their search for top talent in line with their own growth trajectories.

Multi-skilled legal professionals are in high demand across a number of practice areas and there are some fantastic opportunities for individuals at all levels who will no doubt be mindful of not only salary and benefits, but also assessing that all-important ‘fit’ on a number of levels including culture, shared values, green credentials, and genuine career development opportunities.

Current employment rates in the UK mean that most individuals will already be employed when considering a new role which can present several challenges in the job-searching process, particularly with regards to time and prudence in the manner of approach. Searching for a role when you’re currently employed elsewhere can be a tricky process, as the last thing you want to do is burn any bridges with your existing employer.

But there are several steps to take to kick-start the process:

Step 1: Prioritise Discretion

Discretion is key when you’re searching for a new role while you’re still employed. Although it might be tempting to speak to colleagues about your plans; avoid doing so at all costs.

Being discrete about your job search doesn’t just mean keeping quiet at work. It’s important to think about how you’re interacting online too.

Avoid mentioning your job search on social media or setting your LinkedIn status to “open to work”. It’s best to avoid posting your CV/Resume on job boards too.

This might seem like stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often the above mistakes are made. Candidates are often left frustrated and unsettled when having to stay silent about their job search, as there is no one to share their progress or struggles with. But fighting that urge to spill the beans is crucial, as there is often no such thing as telling ‘one co-worker’ when a potential leaver is involved. You might as well be announcing it to the whole office! 

Not only can being overly vocal about your job search cause friction with your current employer, but it might tell future employers you’re not respectful of your role or the Firm you work for and represent. So, avoid putting yourself in a bad light with both parties – the last thing you want to do is sabotage your job search efforts through a lack of self-control. 

The points above however are largely null and void if you are in a position where redundancy is on the cards.

Step 2: Update Your CV & Cover Letter

If you’re going to be looking for a new legal job in the next 6 months, it’s important to ensure you have the right resources in hand. This could mean you take some extra time to update your CV and cover letter, focusing on adding your most recent achievements into the mix and learning what works in today’s job market when writing a CV or cover letter.

Speaking to a specialist legal recruiter will pay dividends here as not only will they be able to give you the inside track on the market and hiring activity, but they can also advise on the tangible elements of looking for a new role and how to craft a killer CV that will get you noticed.

It’s worth noting that your CV is only one of a number of formal documents you may need to present to a potential employer or recruitment consultant. Depending on your current role or the one(s) you are applying for, you may also need reference documentation, business portfolios, or presentations. So make sure to get in order sooner rather than later.

Step 3: Plan For Interviews Accordingly

If you successfully apply for a new role and receive an offer for an interview, you need to be mindful of how you approach this next step and its impact on your current role and place of work.

You could request an interview outside of office hours or over a lunchtime if the hiring manager or interviewee can accommodate. With the prolific rise in video interviewing (at least for stage one) this is more achievable than it once was.

Scheduling your interviews around your existing work hours will also ensure you can stay focused and productive when you’re on the job, to maintain a strong relationship with your existing employer. However, if you do need to book off annual leave in order to attend interviews, ensure you always abide by the rules set in place by your current employer regarding the notice required.

When you contact the hiring manager for the job you want to apply for, let them know you need to keep the process discrete. Ask them to only contact you on your personal phone and email (don’t use any business contact details). It might also be worth letting them know when you’re likely to be at work, so you can avoid any overlap.

If you have instructed a legal recruitment specialist to help with your job search, this discretion should come as standard – but it’s still worth communicating the best times (and methods) to get in touch with you about progress and next steps as you move through the process.

Step 4: Job Hunt on Your Own Time (and Devices)

If you want to maintain a good professional reputation in the legal space, it’s important to demonstrate commitment to every role you take. Searching for a job when you’re in the office, on company time, shows disrespect, and could scare off future employers.

Avoid the temptation to review new job postings when you’re in the office, or respond to messages from potential employers. If something needs to be addressed quickly, set time aside in your lunch hour, and get outside of the office so you can maintain your discretion.

Always make job-related calls away from the office, particularly if you’re scheduling an interview or need to ask questions about a new role and stay off company equipment. Remember, many businesses have access to tracking software to check which sites are being visited.

Step 5: Continue to Give Your All in Your Current Job

Commitment to your current role is crucial, and even if you’re tired of your current role, or unhappy in your position, it’s important to act professionally. Avoid any notable drop in performance and maintain your work ethic throughout this period. Not only will this reduce suspicion but will also leave your employer with a favourable impression of you long after you’ve left the firm.

Don’t allow yourself to “check out” and ‘coast’ performance-wise because you’re planning on going somewhere else. Preserve your reputation and prove yourself to be a fantastic employee. This will be particularly important if your future employers decide to contact your previous manager at a later date regarding a reference.

Find Your New Role the Right Way

Searching for a new legal role while you’re still employed can be a complex process. In any situation, finding the right job can take significant time and effort. However, the process becomes a lot more challenging when you’re trying to balance your existing employment with your career plans.

If you need help discretely searching for a new position, utilising the services of a recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start as well as a competitive advantage.

Not only can they give you an assessment of the current job market for the roles you are looking for, but they will ensure that you are fully informed and in-the-know about the culture, vision, and values of the firms that you have in mind. And, when the time comes, can furnish you with a wealth of insight and advice on how to ace your interviews and provide further guidance to ensure you resign gracefully – ensuring you leave on a positive note, and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

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. And, if you are currently employed, you can be assured of complete confidentiality, professionalism, and honesty throughout the process – as standard.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or get in touch with us here

 

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Why Now is The Time to Start Putting Your 2024 Plans Into Action

  • October 18, 2023

With the darker nights noticeably creeping in, and the shops already stocked with Christmas paraphernalia, the final push towards the end of the year is upon us. This last quarter is often a period where many businesses and individuals will be making firm plans for the following calendar year, setting budgets and agreeing business objectives. And for many, with an average three months’ notice period across the industry – consideration of the ‘c-word’ is also likely. Not ‘Christmas’ per se…but career – what it looks like and where it is heading in the new year.

The so-called mid-career career blues happen to everyone at some point or another  – and it can often be for a number of reasons…

You have outgrown the position

One of the most common reasons legal professionals cite as a reason to leave their current position is around progression – or more specifically, lack of opportunities at their current Firm. Often, a lateral move within the firm is one viable route that, whilst perhaps offering a similar overall remuneration package, does provide the individual with the chance to expand their skills and professional network. Quite often a lateral move can provide a revised career path that still gives that individual chance to develop and learn about other areas of that business, and in turn raises the status of that employee and their broader influence internally.

However, this is not always possible either due to the size or structure of the Firm in question, or because of the current practice area that individual operates in. If the role no longer provides opportunities for the growth you seek in your career and there isn’t an obvious path to promotion, chances are finding a new opportunity elsewhere may be the only option to further advance your career. Before making that leap, it is always time well spent to review the market for opportunities, particularly if this is the first time in a few years you find yourself looking for those greener pastures. Ensuring that the firms and roles you look at do offer clear paths for progression and advancement is key for ambitious individuals.

Recruitment agencies have a vested interest in understanding the sector in which you (and by extension, they) operate, and because of the trusted position that they have with Clients, they will undoubtedly be able to offer you market insight, practice-specific guidance as well as trends and activity they are experiencing in the recruitment cycle. It is always worth enlisting their help at an early stage to get that birds-eye view of market trends and movement, as well as the inside-track of Firms in your area.

You are looking for an increase in remuneration

If the driver for moving is monetary, then it goes without saying that the first step should be to explore the option of a pay review at your current firm first. Whilst few individuals relish the thought of having those perhaps awkward conversations around money, it is important to see where the land lies first, even if that is to sense check the Firm’s position ahead of a diarised salary review later in the year/early next year. It is important to head into such conversations realistically and professionally – can the Firm afford the figure you have in mind for example? Have you got clear reasons why the review is justified, based on performance perhaps or the value you have brought to the business? Building a strong business case here is important – as is knowing your value and worth in the wider market.

This brings us to the second point – researching your market value. Understanding the current average or better still, range of salaries for similar roles in the market is crucial, especially if conversations around a pay rise end without the desired resolution and your hand is forced to look elsewhere. Recruitment agencies undoubtedly add value here with live salary data and wider benefits packages on offer for active jobseekers.

However sometimes the only way to achieve your salary expectations is to talk with your feet and look at other opportunities in the market where they can be realised. It is a perhaps unfortunate reality that pay increases tend to be more significant upon a move (as opposed to an internal promotion) so doing your due diligence early on will pay dividends so you have a realistic view of what those next steps look like.

You are looking for more work/life balance

Long hours and demanding workloads within the legal profession are much documented (and prevalent even amongst those who work from home according to a recent article in The Law Gazette).

Whilst changing job roles may not necessarily negate all of these, the landscape of work has altered significantly following the aftermath of Covid, meaning that the likes of hybrid and home working models increased exponentially which for many has helped to strike a balance between work and home life.  Whilst this won’t be the case for everyone (and ongoing conversations about whether hybrid work arrangements should be abandoned altogether rumble on ) conversations around flexi-, agile-, home- and hybrid- are still taking centre-stage amongst jobseekers are legal job roles offering such work arrangements.

Conversations around the pros (and indeed cons) of flexible working arrangements is still ongoing – and there is a fine line to tread when sometimes homeworking leads to an ‘always on’ mentality. A recent article even looked at research highlighting a negative impact on wellbeing….

Nevertheless, there has never been a better time to have an open conversation with your Recruitment Consultant, or prospective employer about the ways in which they can support the balance you’re looking for.

There are many other reasons of course that trigger that early decision to start looking for new opportunities. The reasons may be complex, and numerous, yet it is often not a decision that is taken lightly. According to our own Salary Salary and Market Insights Report, other reasons include envisaged redundancy, conflict in the workplace, and down to a relocation. Most respondents we spoke to however (37%) said the decision came down to a desire to progress, upskill, and take on a new challenge.  Employee expectations around how, when, and where they work have changed – and as clients continue to compete for the best talent, arguably it has never been a better time to make the leap.

Next Steps

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you – especially if you have your heart set on a new challenge for the new year.

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

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The Evolution Of The CV – And Its Place In The Digital Age

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever for candidate profiles to stand out. With digital channels such as LinkedIn (often seen as an online CV) and video platforms becoming the norm, it’s quite normal to consider where the traditional CV lies in all of this. Is crafting a 2-4 page document still worth your time and effort as a jobseeker?

In short – absolutely.

The CV (Curriculum Vitae) continues to play a crucial role in the job application process. It serves as a summary of an individual’s skills, qualifications, and experiences, showcasing their suitability for a particular role. But have you ever wondered how this document came to be and how it has evolved over time?

Here we look at the history of the CV, from its humble beginnings to the digital age, and explore its impact on the job search process – and its future.

The Birth of the CV

The origins of the CV can be traced back to the Renaissance era, specifically to the genius mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. In 1482, Da Vinci, in search of work, crafted a letter to the Duke of Milan, outlining his skills and experiences in various fields such as engineering, sculpture, and bridge-building. This letter is often considered to be the first official CV on record. Although Da Vinci did not secure the job he sought, his innovative approach to presenting his qualifications set a precedent for future job seekers.

The Middle Ages: Portfolios and Personal Profiles

While the concept of a formal CV did not exist during the Middle Ages, there were instances of artists and inventors creating portfolios to showcase their work. These portfolios, often referred to as sketchbooks, contained designs, sketches, and examples of their craftsmanship. One notable example is Villard de Honnecourt’s portfolio, which dates back to the 13th Century and includes architectural drawings and mechanical designs. These portfolios served as a visual representation of the artist’s capabilities and can be seen as precursors to the modern-day CV.

The 20th Century: Newspapers and the Rise of the Modern CV

In the early 20th century, job applications predominantly relied on newspaper advertisements. Applicants would submit handwritten or typed resumes, which included personal details such as age, height, weight, and marital status. These characteristics, as you would imagine, were often used as discriminatory factors in the hiring process. However, as societal norms progressed, legislation was implemented to address these biases. The inclusion of hobbies and interests in resumes became popular in the 1960s, allowing job seekers to showcase their personality and interests beyond their professional qualifications.

The Internet Age: Online Job Boards and the Power of LinkedIn

With the advent of the Internet, job searching underwent a significant transformation. Online job boards, such as Monster.com, emerged in the 1990s, providing a digital platform for job seekers to submit their resumes and connect with potential employers. The rise of social media further revolutionized the job search process, with LinkedIn leading the way as a professional networking platform. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn allowed individuals to create online profiles, highlighting their skills, experiences, and professional achievements. It became a valuable resource for recruiters and job seekers alike, providing opportunities for networking and job discovery.

The Future of the CV: Multimedia Resumes and Personal Branding

As technology continues to advance, the CV is likely to undergo further changes in the future. Multimedia CVs, incorporating elements such as videos, infographics, and interactive content, have gained traction in recent years. These dynamic platforms offer job seekers a unique opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity in a visually engaging format. Additionally, personal branding has become increasingly important in the job search process. Job seekers are encouraged to cultivate an online presence through social media platforms, personal websites, and blogs, allowing them to showcase their expertise and stand out from the competition.

The Role of the CV in the Modern Job Application Process

Whatever the design and format, the CV has become an essential tool for both job seekers and employers in the modern job application process. It serves as a snapshot of an individual’s qualifications and experiences, providing employers with valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. However, the evolution of the CV has brought about new challenges and considerations. Job seekers must adapt to changing trends, ensuring that their CVs align with current expectations and industry standards. Employers, on the other hand, must navigate through a vast pool of applicants, leveraging technology and innovative recruitment strategies to identify the most qualified candidates.

Changing Candidates’ Approach to Job Searching

The evolution of the CV has also influenced how candidates approach the job search process. Job seekers are now more proactive in building their personal brand and online presence, recognising the importance of networking and showcasing their skills beyond the confines of a traditional CV. They are leveraging social media platforms, professional networking sites, and online portfolios to engage with potential employers and demonstrate their expertise. Additionally, the accessibility of online job boards and digital application processes has made job searching more convenient and efficient, allowing candidates to explore a wider range of opportunities.

The Impact of Technology on the CV

Technology has played a significant role in shaping the evolution of the CV. The shift from paper-based CVs to digital formats has streamlined the application process, making it easier for candidates to submit their credentials and for employers to review applications. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have also become prevalent, enabling employers to efficiently screen and manage large volumes of documents. However, it is important for job seekers to optimize their CVs for ATS compatibility by using relevant keywords and formatting techniques.

Other AI-focused platforms that can help jobseekers appear on the market almost weekly – and whilst it becomes hard to see what is truly useful and what is a distraction, there is certainly more in development that can help to elevate your profile.

The Importance of Continuous Learning and Adaptation

As the job market continues to evolve, it is crucial for both job seekers and employers to stay abreast of industry trends and adapt their strategies accordingly. Job seekers should invest in continuous learning and skills development to remain competitive in a rapidly changing landscape. Employers, on the other hand, must embrace innovative recruitment practices, leveraging technology and data-driven insights to identify the best talent. The CV, as a reflection of an individual’s qualifications and experiences, will continue to be a fundamental tool in the job search process, but its form and presentation may continue to evolve.

Conclusion

The evolution of the CV from its humble beginnings to the digital age exemplifies the dynamic nature of the job search process. Leonardo Da Vinci’s letter to the Duke of Milan marked the birth of the CV, setting the stage for centuries of innovation and adaptation. From portfolios in the Middle Ages to the rise of online job boards and professional networking sites, technology has continually shaped the way job seekers present themselves and connect with potential employers. As we look to the future, multimedia CVs and personal branding will likely play an even greater role in the job search process. However, amidst these changes, the fundamental purpose of the CV remains the same – to showcase one’s qualifications, experiences, and potential to prospective employers.

We have a number of resources and guides about what to include in your CVs (and indeed, what to leave off) – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THOSE.

Whether printed and taken into an interview, uploaded to a role profile online, or sent as a PDF speculatively to a potential employer, the 2-3 page document certainly has to work hard to confidently ‘sell’ your suitability for the job in question. That’s why it’s also worth enlisting the help of a specialist legal recruiter to represent you in the market. A good recruiter will take the time to get to know you – your skills and strengths, and how to leverage these when talking to a hiring manager or Partner. They will also help to bring your 2-D document to life, talking to the hiring firms about your suitability, how they envisage you fit in with the culture, and the driving force behind your move.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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How to Excel In Your Virtual Interview

  • September 17, 2023

The practice of virtual interviewing has become far more commonplace across the legal industry, especially since the pandemic when it was largely the only option on the table. Forbes highlighted recently that rather than a systematic return to face-to-face, virtual interviews are now providing hirers with a sometimes additional step in their hiring process, helping to screen candidates using tech that is now familiar to all parties.

Despite lacking the obvious physical elements, most legal candidates will agree that any interview, virtual or physical, can be the most daunting aspect of the application process and as such, need thorough preparation. While there are notable upsides to the former that can help ease the nerves, there are also challenges to contend with, such as the added difficulty of figuring out how to make a great first impression without some of the reliable methods a face-to-face interview offers (such as a firm handshake and positive body language), and from an interviewee perspective – assessing whether the firm you’ve applied to is a good cultural fit.  

That said, nailing a virtual interview needn’t be as daunting as it may appear.

1. Do Your Homework

Whether an interview is virtual or physical, its fundamental goal is the same – it is an opportunity for candidates and employers to meet, ask questions of each other and demonstrate why you as a candidate will be an ideal hire for the firm in question, while you test their compatibility with your skillset & ability to help you develop your legal career. 

As such, there will always be constants present in the interview process and consequently, your preparation for them. Virtual or not, you can absolutely expect to be asked a number of questions about your professional profile, such as your background, career ambitions, reasons for moving into a new role and suitability for the role and firm.  

You can and should start by researching the hiring firm, getting to know how it operates and what values and principles guide the business. The best places to get a good idea of these are the firm’s website and social media channels, as well as the kind of content the business posts online. 

Remember that the firm will want to be absolutely sure the candidate they’re interviewing is meeting the bare minimum standards at the very least by doing their homework, and will be paying attention to how you tie your answers to questions about your suitability to their own core values, ambitions and culture, as well as your general knowledge of your practice area.  

As this largely all boils down to having the basics covered, the hiring manager will be even more interested in what you can do to set yourself apart from the competition and so will be looking for how you can use the opportunity to add to what you’ve said in the interview. This means now is the time to ensure you have up-to-date knowledge of your practice area and the industry in general, and go beyond what is commonly found on the internet, bearing in mind other legal candidates will be thinking along the same lines. 

This will often come in the form of the hiring manager asking you if you have any questions for them and this is where preparing questions of your own for the interviewer becomes crucial to making as strong an overall impression as possible. A useful tip for candidates is to spend a bit of into the background of the person you will be interviewed by on LinkedIn.  

Although you can’t predict every single question, you can certainly make your answers to ones that you do prepare for foolproof, especially when it comes to competency-based questions. These are questions asked in order to see if the candidate can demonstrate their knowledge and skill in a specific area. Say that is client management for example. You would be asked to describe a situation or scenario where you demonstrated excellent client management skills, and be expected to back it up with the measurable result you achieved. Other competency-based questions to expect include:  

  • How do you deal with an X, Y or Z situation? 
  • How would you handle a difficult client? Can you share an example? 
  • Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace? 

2. Have Your Notes Handy (But Don’t Rely on Them)

It will be standard for the interviewer to ask for the best examples of your work, and so a digital document with bullet points highlighting what you wish to share, along with supporting notes should suffice and should be brought with you to the interview to refer to.

It is common for candidates to make the mistake of writing several pages of notes and then during the interview become overwhelmed by them when fishing around for the answer to a question. This misses the point of bringing notes to a virtual interview – they aren’t meant to be a crutch or a ‘cheat sheet’ to rely on, but rather a supplementary document to use only minimally.

Use them to refresh your memory of points you’ve already looked over and need a reminder on.

3. Practice Makes Perfect  

General preparation for any interview should involve some element of practising your responses to anticipated questions, verbally and non-verbally.

Although what you say in an interview certainly matters, how you say it is also important– as your tone of voice and inflection should convey an air of confidence & enthusiasm for the role. Despite how much focus is often given to the words spoken in a virtual interview and how little body language is thought to be perceived, the majority of information about a person’s attitude, confidence level and interest in the topic will still come from your nonverbal communication. Just like in a face-to-face interview, this is what hiring managers will be paying close attention to when gauging if you are the right cultural fit for the firm. 

Are you eyes darting about as you look at your notes off screen, or worse – your phone? Do you move about a lot on screen or appear agitated? Body language still matters even if you’re not there in person, so be mindful of how you conduct yourself. 

Try practising with a friend or colleague, and keep an eye on things like your posture (which should be upright and not slumped forward or lax), eye contact (maintained when you or the interviewer is speaking), hands (gesturing when speaking but not overdoing it or fidgeting) and facial expressions (smiling regularly). Practice active listening when listening to your friend/colleague’s responses, nodding your head to give affirmation of your attention and understanding to them, and asking questions for clarification when necessary. 

 The practice you put in will be the foundation of your confidence when you hop on camera or send that recording to the hiring manager, and will be your biggest help in keeping the nerves at bay both during and after the video interview. 

4. Get Comfortable – And Competent – On Camera 

Whilst you may be asked to have a virtual interview on screen as part of the general hiring process, many firms now ask for a piece-to-camera as part of the initial screening process too. This may be to simply introduce yourself and highlight your skills and suitability for the role, or more often than not, to answer pre-set questions by the firm itself.

The obvious advantage here is the opportunity to record and retake as necessary to ensure you present yourself in the best possible light. 

Two common cameras used for this purpose are webcams and smartphones but regardless of whichever you prefer, there are a few things to note about both:  

When it comes to video technology in general, smartphones do a far better job, but will need to be used in conjunction with other accessories (such as a stand to avoid any shaking when recording, and a lav microphone to better capture your voice and avoid choppy audio) – in order to improve the overall quality of the video. With the use of video technology now widespread, they are a relatively inexpensive investment.  

Another thing to note – and this applies whether you’re using a smartphone or webcam – is your background and lighting. Make sure you’re recording in a well-lit room with a plain, clutter-free and fairly quiet background that doesn’t have a window behind you in the frame. If you’re struggling to find a room that ticks the above boxes, you can use virtual or custom backgrounds instead.  

Similar principles to the above apply when opting for a webcam, as these can often be plugged onto a monitor screen or already be part of your computer, should the video quality be good enough. Audio quality should be tested ahead of time, whether you’re using wired earphones, wireless ones or a lav microphone. Try to avoid using headphones or gaming headsets if possible, as they don’t give the most flattering impression and can be restrictive when you’re moving.  

If it hasn’t been emphasised enough, practice is crucial, prerecorded video or not, as your first video recording is unlikely to be your best version and a rushed or poorly prepared video is easily noticeable. Apply the same tips mentioned above when recording, maintaining eye contact, and adjust your gaze when either you or someone else is speaking to get a good view of the body language they’re sharing. If they seem bored or look like they’re waiting for you to finish, chances are they are, so it’s best to avoid waffling when giving lengthy answers. 

5. Don’t Neglect Your Appearance 

Treat your appearance as you would in a physical interview and dress to impress, while keeping it polished, tidy and professional. While you can be a bit more relaxed with bottom wear – considering your top half is very likely what will be seen by the interviewer the whole time – avoid wearing anything informal or inappropriate – in case you’ll need to get up to adjust a cable quickly – as you may not be aware at that moment that it will be visible to the interviewer.  

6. Sort Out the Technical Details – And Master Your Platform 

Lastly, the software you’re using is also something you should be confident in using on the day of the interview, so be sure to verify what that will be with the hiring manager, and familiarize yourself with the platform ahead of time by practising the features you will be using, such as receiving calls, turning on your camera, setting up the virtual background (if you’ll be using one), sharing documents through the chat feature and screen sharing.

Be sure to double-check that your internet connection quality is working perfectly in advance, and notify the interviewer well ahead of time if you anticipate any issues. A thorough quality check can go a long way in calming the nerves before the video interview and minimise tardiness due to any technical difficulties.  

That said, the best way of ensuring you show up on time and avoid letting the nerves take over, is to simply arrive early, like you would at a face-to-face interview, about 10 minutes before the set time. That way, any issues you do run into technical-wise, you will encounter while waiting, with enough time to resolve it, rather than at the very minute you’re expected to already be ready to start the interview. 

In Conclusion

The shift towards virtual interviewing in the industry has brought with it a new and unique set of challenges for candidates to navigate and regardless of the format, interviews remain a crucial and often nerve-wracking part of the job application process. But a confident, well-thought-out and well-practised approach can make them work to your advantage.

If you are using the services of a specialist recruiter as part of your job search, the likelihood is that you will also get the chance to ‘meet’ them on camera too as part of your introduction and registration. Use this as practice for your interview with the firm in question – and don’t be afraid of asking your recruitment consultant for help, advice, and constructive criticism – or even a mock-interview on screen so you can ensure you are fully ready and prepared. 

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 looking for your next career move, are unsure of opportunities in the market, or need a hand brushing up on your interview skills – we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Time to move on? Top 10 Tips to resign gracefully

  • September 5, 2023

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 expedite 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 you 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 most 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 affects 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 extend it 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 assignments, 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 need any more general guidance as you exit one role for another, or are at the very start of your search for a new opportunity, do give our recruitment specialists a call today.

 

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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