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Facing Redundancy – What Next for Your Legal Career?

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with some positivity.

The New Job Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

What To Do If Your Training Contract Is Terminated

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

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

Retraining

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

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

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

But the market is now changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Property

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

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

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

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

Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Private Client

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

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

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

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

Looking at the Positives

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

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

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

A Different Location?

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

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Legal Sector Hiring Trends: What Is Happening In The Market

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

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

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

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

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

The Hiring Trends Index

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

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

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

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

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

The War For Legal Talent Will Get Worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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What Are The Key Challenges for Law Firms in 2020?

  • February 14, 2020

Specialist legal recruiters, Clayton Legal, conduct an annual salary survey of over 4000 law firms across the UK. This gives us insight into the challenges law firms face and enables us to provide a comprehensive, streamlined and relevant service to our candidates and clients in the legal sector.

Salary surveys capture the detail of the legal marketplace in terms of remuneration offered by law firms of diverse sizes and disciplines. These surveys also highlight the current challenges faced by many firms – from small family-run solicitors to major household legal names.

In a time of political turmoil, with Brexit uncertainty, a skills shortage and a candidate-driven legal marketplace, the information available from such a report offers value and insight that can positively impact your hiring strategies, as well as provide advice on successful methods of ensuring retention of the very best legal talent in your firm.

Whether your law firm is a small family business on the high street or one of the legal 500, this information is critical to your firm’s success and will keep you ahead of the curve.

In this article, I will address the main challenges illuminated by the recent Clayton Legal salary survey that I hope you will find useful when planning your strategies for 2020.

Challenges Overview

The overall challenges for law firms as we enter 2020 lie around recruitment and retention of employees. Sourcing, attracting, hiring and retaining your legal team in a competitive sector and against a skills shortage background remain the priorities for most law firms.

A key challenge for law firms is that legal candidates are seeking higher salaries, and are often attracted by larger firms who can provide higher levels of remuneration. Consequently, many smaller firms are finding the retention of their top professionals challenging. The impact is not just in the loss of a star performer, but an inevitable increase in workload and mounting stress for the remaining team members.

Additionally, for many firms, there is a desire to expand and scale while balancing staff numbers, continuing to provide excellent service and keeping a cap on overheads. Not an easy task.

With these facts in mind, let’s take a look at the challenges exposed by our recent survey, and offer solutions to manage them successfully.

Skills Shortage

One of the main issues the survey highlighted was the current skills shortage in the legal sector.

Across all disciplines, law firms nationwide are finding it problematic to recruit to specialist areas; property, in particular, is still experiencing significant skill shortages.

Although there is a sufficient number of law graduates per se, not many have any previous experience, and there is a specific gap in the market for candidates with more than three years of PQE.

In addition, a drop in the level of general background education of candidates is reported. Firms describe inferior standards of written and verbal communication skills, including grammar, spelling and vocabulary.

With many disciplines struggling to recruit in specialist areas, law firms need to review their strategy for hiring to be able to combat this situation. So, what is the best way to attract the top legal professionals to your firm?

Attracting Talent

Securing the right legal professionals for your firm is a challenge many currently face. In a candidate led marketplace, how can you stand out above the others as a preferred employer?

Even though competition for candidates with talent and specialist experience is fierce, there are ways to attract top talent to your firm.

Although salary remains a critical factor for legal job seekers, benefits packages add value to your firm. In addition to the traditional pension contributions, flexible working and staff will-writing schemes, there has been a rise in recent years of firms looking to attract candidates by thinking ‘outside the box’.

Hence, many firms are adding additional offers to their benefits package, including duvet days, free fruit or other healthy snacks, enhanced maternity pay, and sabbaticals to attract and retain legal professionals.

Which leads me on to the third challenge.

Skills Retention

High staff turnover, a mobile workforce and increased competition from other firms are factors that you can’t ignore. So, here are three suggestions for ensuring your critical talent want to stay and grow their career with you.

Wellbeing

We know it’s not just about salary. Wellbeing is cited as a growing area which can attract and retain talent by offering a supportive environment, excellent workplace culture and better work-life balance.

Also, with recent emphasis placed on mental health in the workplace, by cultivating a culture of wellbeing and inclusion, you will gain happier employees and consequently, higher retention rates.

It’s worth noting that a wellness programme not only builds camaraderie, but research has shown the significant benefits of regular exercise in helping to increase happiness levels and lower stress.

Learning Opportunities 

 Creating a supportive environment means actively seeking to support and nurture your legal talent throughout their career. Feedback, mentoring, recognition of achievements and a focus on lifelong learning opportunities will demonstrate investment in your employees.

LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report showed a huge 93% of employees would stay with their employer longer if an investment were made in their careers.

Offering the opportunity to develop additional skills and qualifications will demonstrate your commitment to your legal team, resulting in higher productivity and establishing your firm as an inclusive and invested employer.

Diversity

Workplace diversity was one of the critical trends last year – with no signs of stopping as we head into 2020.

Proactively hiring for difference in gender, race, age, ethnicity and outlook will contribute to making your law firm diverse and encourage your legal talent to stay.

Diversity also brings in more clients, spurring economic growth as well as leading to increased innovation. Creating an excellent company culture that embraces diversity will result in a dynamic workplace that helps sow the seeds of creative ideas. Your legal team will feel valued and more likely to want to grow their career with your firm.

Implementing these benefits will improve employee engagement and heighten your chances of holding on to top performers, even against the lure of bigger salaries from the competition.

Conclusion

Despite the recent election win, the stark reality is that there is still a considerable number of unanswered questions in relation to the UK’s economic future, the impact of which are likely to be felt by law firms up and down the country as we go forward in 2020.

In the face of continual changes, the pressure to exploit growth opportunities while remaining agile is high – but for those law firms that can adapt and hone their attraction, hiring and retention rates, 2020 could prove the most successful year yet.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, or you would like a copy of our Salary Survey 2020, please call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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How to Handle The Legal Employee Who Isn’t a Team Player

  • November 1, 2019

In the legal world, as everywhere, teams come in all shapes and sizes. Getting the right people into your legal team can be challenging. When you onboard, you are looking for a good team ‘fit’ – attitude as well as aptitude to do the job.

For the most part, if you have followed due process when onboarding, your team should ‘gel’ well and work collaboratively.

But what happens when one of your employees isn’t a team player?

For example, you have a new, big client. You want your top team to work together on a case this client has given you. It will involve much collaboration, sharing out the tasks, visiting the client, days in court, etc. Everyone is excited to be part of this.

Your Compliance and Risk Manager will handle the case review and ensure call listening is carried out; your corporate paralegal will review all documentation, maintain the files and attend meetings; even the graduate trainee is looking forward to experiencing being part of an exciting case.

But your new Corporate Solicitor, who is in a pivotal role, is not engaging with the project at all. In fact, they are looking distinctly as though they wish they were somewhere else.

Are they just not team players, or is it something else?

The Pitfalls of Not Engaging Your Team

It’s a fact that people grow your law firm. If one or more of your team are disengaged, it will affect productivity and performance across the whole team.

Collaborative working may not be top of the priority list for everyone, but the job of a team is to move the firm forward to success. The bottom line is that it is part of everyone’s job description – and that means working together.

TEAM – the rather cheesy acronym of Together Everyone Achieves More, does ring true. Handling a member of your team who doesn’t believe that collaboration and communication are the way forward can be a major challenge and one that you need to address – quickly.

So, what are the best ways to deal with your legal employee who just won’t join in?

Look for Hidden Reasons

As Stephen Covey advised, “Seek first to understand”.

It’s easy to leap to conclusions about other people who aren’t playing the way you want. You could dismiss your new solicitor as just lazy or being deliberately awkward in their unwillingness to work with the team.

But maybe there’s something else?

It could be that they don’t believe they have the necessary skills for the project in hand, or that they have a personal problem at home that no one at work is aware of.

They are only human – and problems can manifest in many ways.

So, check-in with them and give them the opportunity to explain if there’s a problem that’s stopping them from getting involved.

Check Your Communication is Clear

Make sure you are clear with your instructions and communications.

Is it possible that the individual has misinterpreted your intentions? Have you been clear?

Especially if you have more than one disengaged member of the team, it could be that you need to communicate your intentions more clearly.

So, make sure your expectations are transparent so that each individual knows exactly what their role is and what is expected of them.

Listen

It can often be the case that an employee feels disengaged because they don’t believe they are being listened to. So, consider talking less, and allowing them to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas.

By practising active listening, you will gain valuable insight into what makes them tick, and where the root cause of their disengagement lies.

You will also empower them, and they will be much more likely to see themselves as part of the bigger picture with a role to play. By engaging them in this way, you can also encourage feedback and offer support.

Acknowledge Their Work

Do you remember the last time a senior member of staff said ‘thank you’ to you for a job well done?

Receiving praise and acknowledgement is a sure-fire way to instil a sense of passion and willingness to do more in an individual employee.

The ‘win’ doesn’t have to be major; it could simply be a thank you for staying late to help finish a case or write up a report. But it indicates your appreciation of the employee and the part they play in your law firm.

Offer Development Opportunities

Whatever job role you have, sometimes the daily grind can seem just that. Let’s be honest, we all have moments where we feel bored at work; stuck in the same routine every day.

Mixing it up, where possible, will reignite enthusiasm in your team. So, send your Paralegal out to visit clients with a Solicitor, or allow your Legal Secretary to work on an extra project where they have autonomy.

Coaching or mentoring is a great way to get individuals involved and build up their confidence and skills.

By offering opportunities, either official training and development or just something a bit different in the daily workload will help re-engage disinterested employees.

Embrace Inclusivity

Inclusivity into a team and the law firm as a whole will ensure that each individual can see how they fit into the overall aspirations of the firm and make them feel that they are contributing to its success.

As part of that inclusivity, it’s crucial to ensure that all staff are kept in the loop with the firm’s news – whether that’s good or bad.

Good news will, of course, help engage and inspire, but not so good news is also important. Delivering bad news is never easy. But sweeping it under the carpet is a source of frustration for many employees – it can lead to a feeling of being kept in the dark by employers (and consequently a feeling of not being important) as well as leading to the rumour mills springing into action.

So, deal with news, whatever kind it is, by engaging your team, so you can all move forward together.

Be Aware of Social Styles

Finally, remember not everyone absorbs information in the same way.

The way individuals interact is known as their preferred ‘social style’, a phrase coined by David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1960s. It explores how people behave in social (or work) situations to ascertain how to predict managerial, leadership and sales performance and therefore how managers can get the best out of their team.

Spending time with your team will enable you to understand how each member prefers to interact and contribute. You can then use that information to moderate your behaviour towards them, making them feel more comfortable to make their contribution.

So, bear in mind that a disengaged employee isn’t a lost cause.

By utilising one of two of the suggestions in this article, you can help foster a culture of inclusivity where individuals are inspired, encouraged and motivated because they feel part of a bigger team and can see the role they play in contributing to growing your law firm’s success.

Next Steps

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Suffering End Of Year Career Blues, Is It Time to Leave?

  • September 15, 2019

Here we are, over halfway through the year already, and if you’re currently on a sun lounger sipping a cocktail (lucky you) enjoying a well-earned break, you may be thinking about your return to work and whether you’re currently happy in your career, or if it’s time for a change.

We all get the mid-career blues. And it can be for several reasons.

Perhaps you feel you have plateaued in your legal career, reaching a certain level of achievement but you can’t seem to break through to the next level?

Or you may be feeling a bit jaded in your current job role and looking for the thrill of something different?

Or maybe you really do think it’s time to up sticks and seek out a new career with a different law firm?

Spending some time asking yourself what the cause of your dissatisfaction stems from will enable you to make a rational decision on how to progress so that when you return after your summer break, you’re one hundred per cent committed and sure of your next steps.

So, let’s take a look at some of the things that could be stalling your career.

Have You Become Static in Your Current Law Career?

If you feel you have reached a plateau in your legal career, it may seem that there’s no way you can progress. Asking yourself what you ideally want to accomplish at work will help you decide the best way forward in this scenario.

There are several options to consider:

Make a lateral move. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for you to do a similar job elsewhere in your law firm but working in a different area. This would give you new day to day challenges and prevent you from feeling you are stagnating in the same job role.

Using the soft and hard skills you have already acquired in your career will set you up for success in a slightly different position as you will be able to adapt quickly to different tasks.

New tasks could also lift you up from a wellbeing point of view, improving your mental health and outlook and enabling you to feel positive about the future.

Become an expert in your area. If a move is not possible, you could consider becoming the ‘go-to’ person for information and expertise in your specialist area.

For example, if you are a Dispute Resolution Legal Secretary you could enhance your knowledge of IT so you are able to help others with IT-related questions.

Or if you are a Residential Conveyancing Fee Earner you could hone your customer service skills and knowledge to become an in-house trainer for colleagues.

By expanding your understanding of a specific area and developing your personal profile, you can soon become the name everyone thinks of first for advice or guidance.

Additionally, with your expertise, you could offer to train up new employees, giving both yourself and the firm a boost.

Consider an alternative to a salary increase. If there’s little chance of a pay increase in the foreseeable future within your law firm, have you considered other non-material rewards instead?

As well as the options of adjusting your working hours, having more flexibility with working from home will improve work-life balance – giving you more opportunity for activities outside the office: going to the gym, socialising with friends or spending time with your family.

It’s also worth remembering that by staying with your current firm, you could also enjoy less stress in your day to day job as you know what you are doing and what the firm’s goals are already.

This avoids the stress and anxiety that a new job can bring.

Are You Feeling Jaded in Your Current Role?

If you feel you have exhausted all opportunities within your current career specialism, it may be time to look for a new challenge.

Changing jobs is always a daunting prospect – especially if you have dependents, rent or mortgage repayments to think about, or even just a step outside of your comfort zone.

The Law Society offers practical advice on changing specialisms.

Although not for the faint-hearted, it is possible to take on a new challenge. This could be a move within your current firm from Property Law to Personal Injury, for example.

If you do decide to go down this path, being prepared is critical. Make sure you do the necessary research and be focused in your approach.

It takes courage to choose this route, but it could reap dividends in the long run.

Are You in Danger of Burn-Out?

The dangers of over-doing things at work and suffering burn-out, as a result, are very real.

There’s a lot of pressure on all employees these days, and especially on Senior Partners and Managers within a complex and competitive legal marketplace.

It’s crucial to remember that it’s vital that you remain mentally at the top of your game at work – you can’t run a legal firm with employees who are trying to burn the candle at both ends.

Something is going to crash and burn.

So, look after yourself.

Daily exercise, yoga, meditation, socialising with friends – whatever is your preferred way to relax away from your desk.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day (or by one person!)

Stop trying to do everything and make time in your life for relaxation to ensure you are in peak form physically and mentally when you are in the office.

Is It Time to Break Away and Look for Something New?

If you really can’t see a way forward in your current law firm, then perhaps it’s time to consider a move.

If you are considering this option, here are a few tips to help you plan your move:

  • Set up job alerts. Make sure you have registered with relevant career search sites online.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile as recruiters and hiring managers will be looking here to find out about you.
  • LinkedIn also provides the opportunity to seek employment and new challenges but beware of making this visible on your page unless your current manager is aware of your intentions!
  • Talk to colleagues you can trust at work and ask them to let you know of any opportunities. They can also provide an excellent sounding board for interview practice.
  • Contact a specialist legal recruiter to help you navigate the job market. They can offer valuable advice and have many contacts to help find the right job for you.

Next Steps

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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

  • September 5, 2019

As a successful legal professional, be it a Senior Partner, Managing Partner, Senior Leader, you are the primary driver for your law firm, determining its growth.

Ultimately, you are pivotal in creating your firm’s story and building a pathway to its goals.

Maybe you are experiencing current success – but don’t fall into the trap of overlooking areas where you could improve. It’s easy to become complacent, and before you know it, you will start to slip backwards.

So how can you ensure you don’t fail to grow? In the current climate with market forces as they are, you must strive to remain successful – and the key to that lies in planning.

Sometimes it’s natural to overlook areas where you could make improvements if the firm is experiencing overall success. It’s easy to miss opportunities to progress.

Alternatively, you may feel that your business is suffering due to market forces out of your control and you’re unable to take a step forward in the current climate.

However, there are always ways to improve and move forward. So, take a step back to review your law firm, its customers, systems, processes and employees to reassess your goals and ensure you are making the most of your business.

Talk to Your Customers

It doesn’t matter how qualified your employees are or what specialist services you provide if you don’t focus on customer service first.

Customers define your firm, so your priority is to ensure you understand their needs.

You can do this by conducting surveys and research to gain valuable feedback. Just ensure that your surveys facilitate honest feedback, or you’re wasting your time, and theirs.

Having honest insight into your customers’ thoughts on your service will allow you to develop the services they want and need, as well as enabling you to improve those areas that need development.

It’s essential to take the extra step to make your customers feel valued and unique, so make sure you talk to them and listen to (and address) any problems they have. That way, you will inspire loyalty – and loyal consumers won’t just come back to you – they will recommend their friends and colleagues to you too.

Check Your USP

What does your law firm offer that others don’t?

Brand awareness is not only about the external perception of your law firm, but how your employees see it too.

A good brand will utilise its profile in the marketplace to position itself ahead of the competition.

Developing an excellent company brand will enable you to develop a reputation as a great place to work and do business with, providing exceptional company culture and customer service.

Be Clear on Your Value Proposition

This is all about the ‘c’s!

Improve your communication – with customers, colleagues and competitors. Listen to the words others use and use them right back. Be clear about who you are and the value you provide.

Be concise – get a clear message out there about your law firm. Don’t make your messages long and overly complicated – people are more likely to remember short, punchy information.

Be compelling – are you persuasive in making people want to do business with you? Can you offer them something no one else can? I refer you back to your USP…

Focus on Strong Leadership

Does your leadership come up to scratch?

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

If you believe your leadership could develop in some of these areas further, take steps now. Training in personal development will enable you to lead from the front.

Failure to invest in leadership will result in good ideas coming to nothing, so start at the top.

Invest in Building a Top Team

Developing a high-performing team who work collaboratively will enable your law firm to achieve its goals, both short and long-term.

It will create a positive mindset and ethos of encouragement and positivity that will allow your firm to excel and grow, keeping you ahead of the pack in the competitive legal marketplace and making your law firm attractive to further top talent.

As part of this, professional development should play a significant role in ensuring your team keeps ahead of trends.

Training and development of both hard and soft skills will not only instil a sense of pride in specialist knowledge and ability but make employees feel valued by the firm.

This, in turn, will lead to better staff retention saving you the costs of hiring and onboarding new employees.

Additionally, happy staff are more productive, so you will see positive developments on the bottom line.

In a working environment where individuals are part of a capable team, the quality of an individual’s sense of purpose in understanding big goals is enhanced. They feel ‘included’ in decisions, and their ideas and concerns listened to and acted on.

Embrace Technology

The legal sector is growing at a rapid pace. If you’re standing still in terms of digital ability, then you might as well be going backwards.

Using the internet to grow your law firm allows you to reach a much larger number of potential clients than ever before.

As well as building your client base, if you regularly post industry articles online, you will develop a reputation as being an authority in your specialist areas – attracting both top talent to want to work for you as well as establishing you as a credible law firm in the eyes of competitors.

Your website should also reflect your forward-thinking by embracing new technology.

Refining your online platform will make it more responsive, and maximising your SEO will enable you to reach more viewers online, as well as offering you the opportunity to connect and network with others – crucial in moving forward.

Additionally, a social media strategy will enable you to reach more clients, develop relationships and strengthen existing ones, gain insight into competitors and demonstrate your industry knowledge.

Develop a Strategic Plan

Ultimately, a strategic plan is the tool that will enable you to move forward and grow your legal firm.

Using your knowledge of what has worked well previously, you can build a pathway to achieve your ultimate goals, avoiding strategies that have failed in the past.

A good plan will move you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Including milestone achievements will keep you focused on the end goals and provide you and your team with motivation along the way.

Make your strategic plan achievable (but aspirational) and timely – and don’t be afraid to amend it as you progress if your law firm’s requirements change.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to scale your law firm and achieve your goals, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our guide here.

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Is Your Strategic Plan Still Fit For Purpose?

  • September 1, 2019

How long is it since you wrote your strategic plan?

Some Senior Partners and Managers in law firms write their plan and then place it with some reverence in a dusty file somewhere, never to be reviewed again.

I know that’s a bit extreme, but it does happen.

It’s best to consider your Strategic Plan as a working document that you can refer to as you move from where you are to where you want your firm to be.

You may have incorporated long- and short-term goals in your plan. You may have mini-milestone achievements to celebrate along the pathway. And you may even have referred to the plan to make sure you are still following it.

But is it still relevant?

Things can change, and your law firm may have different goals to those in the original document. A Strategic Plan should not be something that is set in stone; it’s an honest, relevant and significant document that reflects your firm’s current state and how you plan to achieve your aspirations.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to review it and ask yourself the question, “Is it still fit for purpose?”

If it is, then that’s great. You can go back to work and don’t need to read further!

However, if you have an inkling that perhaps it could do with a few tweaks here and there to make sure it’s current and reflects your law firm’s ambitions as they stand today, then read on…

Is It Realistic?

So many strategic plans fail, and the main reason for failure is that they are not achievable.

It’s fine to set yourself high goals, but if you make them impossible to achieve, you only serve to demotivate your entire firm as they struggle in an uphill battle that they can’t win.

So, while your goals should be something to aspire to, they should also be realistic.

Conversely, it may be that when you wrote the original plan, your end goals were something you considered as something to strive for in the future, but now you know they are easily achievable in a shorter time frame.

In this case, you may want to move your original overall goals into ‘milestones’ and set yourself another ultimate goal.

Just make sure it’s realistic too!

Is It Still Aligned to the Firm’s Ethos?

Depending on when you wrote the strategic plan, it could be that the ethos of your law firm has changed.

For example, you may have improved workplace well-being; by embracing diversity and inclusion in your law firm and implementing recognition and reward schemes for employees.

Celebrate and reflect this by adjusting your plan to accommodate these admirable factors and set milestones for more of the same!

Are the Timelines Still Relevant?

Additionally, check your timelines and deadlines. Are they doable?

It could be that you have more – or fewer – staff in your law firm than previously. This could impact on your ability to achieve deadlines and may need some adjustment either way.

Or it could be that your employee numbers are the same, but your workload has increased dramatically. In which case, you may want to allow yourself a little longer to hit deadlines.

Who is Leading the Projects?

Initially, you will have assigned individuals to lead specific projects within your strategic plan.

Are the personnel in charge still the best people to lead on projects?

It might be that they have moved on, retired or even been promoted to a role which doesn’t allow them to focus on the initial area assigned to them.

What about the new talent within your law firm?

It may be that you have a new, gifted IT Manager who would be perfect to take over the reins of developing an improved in-house IT system, or that your recent Practice Director hire is ideal for overseeing the firm’s expansion plans.

Have You Communicated Goals to Your Team Recently?

Are your employees all up to speed on the strategic plan?

If you have had several staff changes, now may be a good time to go over the plan again, taking into account the new talent within the firm who can help you achieve long and short-term goals.

Revisiting the strategic plan will also embed a sense of belonging and ownership within the law firm as a whole, encouraging everyone to play their part in its achievements, celebrating milestones and working collaboratively to achieve the aims set down.

I can’t overemphasise the importance of transparency in your communication with your team – you need to get them on board with your strategic plan; otherwise, that’s all it is, a plan with no-one engaged and willing to take it forward.

And trying to take anything forward in those conditions will prove difficult.

Has the Marketplace, or Your Clients, Changed Significantly?

Finally, take some time to consider the legal marketplace around you.

It may have expanded or decreased in your area, both geographically and in terms of specialisms; talent may have become more challenging to find and hire. It may be that you should consider revisiting some of your plans.

Have the requirements of candidates changed since you wrote your plan? Is it worth reconsidering your hiring, onboarding and expansion strategies?

Do you need to rethink company culture and the part it plays in helping you grow your legal team?

Additionally, what about your clients? Has your client base changed? Does your geographical location still work in terms of serving those clients?

Does the service you offer reflect their needs? Do you offer more specialisms, or has the firm decided to go more ‘niche’?

In either case, do you need to revisit any of your original goals?

What Next?

Revisiting your Strategic Plan and ensuring it’s still fit for purpose will enable you to make sure you’re on the right track for success in your law firm.

It will enable you to move forward with relevant goals and strategies in place, and help with employer branding by positioning you at the front of the pack.

So, it’s crucial to see your Strategic Plan as a working document in order for it to be useful.

Don’t let it sit in a file any longer!

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to grow your legal business, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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How to Write A Winning Strategic Plan

  • August 15, 2019

In the current marketplace, two things loom on the horizon that can directly affect your law firm.

The first is the B-word. Brexit.

Now, I appreciate there’s not much anyone can do about the effect it will have just yet. However, the second trend is something you can address.

And that’s the fact that in a skills short legal arena, competition in the marketplace is fierce as law firms position themselves to attract the top legal talent.

To ensure you are ahead of the pack, you need to consider a strategic plan.

If you have not already got one, it’s crucial to get one in place quickly. If you have a plan but it was developed some time ago and you don’t refer to it – check to see if it’s still fit for purpose and if not, update it.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

All law firms, from the smallest family-run business to a multinational organisation, need an effective strategic plan to help drive business.

A strategic plan is a working document that allows you to put in place a plan to move from where you are now to where you want to be. Sometimes referred to as ‘Escape and Arrival’, it lays out the law firm’s ambitions against specific timelines.

A good plan utilises milestones along the way to enable your legal team to celebrate progress as you move along, boosting morale and keeping you on track.

According to a report in Harvard Business Review, many strategic plans fail due to various reasons including lack of rational goals, refusal to adapt, poor communication and more.

So, when compiling your strategic plan, keep it real. Make it fit for purpose and set realistic goals and deadlines.

And remember, it’s not set in stone – if something isn’t working in your document – change it.

Define Your Goals

Start your plan by outlining your vision: Where are you now? Where do you want to be in the future?

  • Consider your firm’s ethos, ethics, reputation and aspirations; these form part of your employer brand and help you differentiate your law firm from the competition. The key points need to be tied into your strategy to give weight to the plan and ensure you are aligned to company beliefs.
  • Factor in how you plan to move the firm along to achieve these goals, how you will implement ideas and be able to ensure time, finances and resources are effectively utilised to achieve goals.
  • Think about problems that may hold you back. How will you tackle any that arise?
  • Is it possible that you may need to consider a relaunch, additional staff or even a change of location?
  • I recommend you keep your objectives aspirational but achievable. Setting unrealistic expectations will only serve to demoralise you and undermine your plans.
  • While it’s beneficial to have a timescale for your ultimate goals, its equally crucial to check in regularly, celebrating those milestones achievements along the way. More on this later.
  • Finally, be clear on who is leading the project and who is responsible for different areas of development. A positive and reliable team is needed to drive the plan to fruition, so choose wisely.

Conduct an Internal Audit

A good place to start your plan is with an internal audit. It will allow you to assess the current state of play. It should include a review of the systems you have in place and their effectiveness, the skills and current knowledge of your employees, and the procedures you currently use.

What works, and what could you improve?

Do your teams work coherently across your law firm, and understand how they fit into the ‘bigger picture’? Are their skills being fully utilised?

Are your systems out of date and do you need to upgrade? A reliable and secure network will allow your employees to access information quickly to leapfrog competitors.

Are procedures time saving and coherent, or could things be done better?

Would you benefit from additional team members bringing new skills and experience?

Check Out the Marketplace

An external audit gives you powerful knowledge of current trends in the legal market and how competitors are faring.

Legal journals, law-related books, news and industry blogs will provide intelligence on development across the legal world and ensure you stay up to speed.

Consider a survey of your current clients. Asking for suggestions for improvement could provide you with a plethora of information that could inspire future goals.

Additionally, if your survey results are complimentary this will bolster your morale – and you could use the accolades for promotion on your website!

Communicate Your Intentions

The strategic plan is not a dusty document to be kept in the boardroom for only senior leaders to view. It’s for everyone to understand and pull together to achieve.

So, always remember to communicate your ideas to your staff – from Partners to secretaries.

Respect your employees by keeping them up to date and ensuring transparency across your law firm.

Additionally, when employees know what is happening in the firm and where its future goals are, it will increase confidence and security, enabling them to engage with the plan.

And engaged colleagues are happier and more productive. So, it’s a win-win situation.

Create a Great Company Culture

Company culture is a buzzword at the moment. It defines the environment in which employees work and incorporates everything from your company ethics to diversity.

As specialist recruiters, here at Clayton Legal we are finding that the demand is now for more than a good salary and benefits package. The move is towards a focus on the culture of a company.

It’s therefore important to assess your company culture in order to ensure you can attract the top talent to your law firm.

So, examine your ethics, values and attitude to inclusivity and diversity and if they need improving, add them into your strategic plan.

Celebrate Milestones

It’s very easy to get caught up in the long-term goals of your law firm. But setting a distant goal may soon seem unachievable, and you may become despondent.

It’s much better to work on a 90-day plan. So, schedule in what you want to have achieved in three months and how you’re going to get there. This will inevitably involve some creativity and forward-thinking, but it will enable you to regularly review your achievements so far and create a plan for the next 90 days based on that data.

Make sure that you address pain points in the plan – ones that are causing current friction in the team or wider firm.

For example, is the processing of court documents taking longer than expected because of faulty or old IT equipment? If so, plan to have new upgraded software installed by date A, and staff trained up to use it by date B.

Celebrate the small milestones along the way. It will boost morale and encourage you and your legal team on to the next base.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to scale your law firm and achieve your goals, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Your Legal Employee is Leaving – Should You Make a Counteroffer?

  • August 10, 2019

As a legal professional, you know it’s a reality that employees come and go over the years. Sometimes that’s a good thing for everyone concerned, and some you will be sad to see leave.

So, if your talented and likeable Senior Conveyancing Solicitor comes to tell you they are leaving to go and work for a competitor, what’s your first reaction? Do you panic and wrack your brains for a motive to make them stay?Do you think “Oh well, we had a good run” and wave them goodbye?

Do you want to keep them, and should you even try?

If that individual is a great team-player, motivated, hard to replace (or expensive), planning a move to one of your biggest competitors and is currently working on a time-sensitive caseload, you will be tempted to offer them the moon to stay.

Additionally, the true cost of losing an employee can be prohibitive – hiring fees, recruiting time, onboarding and training – not to mention the nose-dive in morale for other employees who see a valued and talented colleague walking out of the door.

But a word of warning. Think twice before making a counteroffer as there are pros and cons to consider.

Why Employees Leave

Avoid the temptation to go in with a financial incentive to stay straight away. Research states that the individual will leave anyway within six to 24 months of your counteroffer.

Surprised?

The fact is that it’s rarely a salary issue that sees employees leave to take up another job offer. So, an offer of increased salary isn’t going to cut it long-term.

The main reasons people leave their current workplace include the following:

Lack of career progression. If an employee feels they have climbed as far up the career ladder as they can with your law firm, they are going to start casting their net elsewhere to discover better opportunities.

Poor management. People don’t quit their job; they quit their boss. And it’s true in many cases. Poor management practice can do a lot of damage – decimating and demoralising a workplace – often unnoticed by senior staff until it’s too late.

Unsatisfactory working environment. A workplace that doesn’t encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking or is inflexible with its staff is not going to be successful. Individuals need to feel valued and respected. They need to look forward to coming to work and enjoy their job. That way, they will have the drive and motivation to boost not only their own career but the firm’s fortunes too.

Desire for more challenging work. The employee may be bored in their work. Perhaps your Portal Fee Earner has been hoping for promotion to Team Leader for some time but hasn’t been successful. Or your Conveyancing Solicitor has been dealing with the same clients doing similar work for several years and yearns for a new challenge.

Either way, if your employee isn’t stretched or challenged in their job, they become disinterested. Then disinterest quickly transforms into boredom, and they start looking for something else to extend their capabilities.

Opportunity to join a high-profile law firm. Blinded by the dazzle of a top law firm, an employee might feel the urge to leave just to be part of a well-known firm. While it’s hard to argue with this one, they (and you) should be warned of the possible pitfalls. Does the company have a good reputation? Does it have a high staff turnover?

Better work-life balance. Some things money just can’t buy, and this is one of them.

Burn out is common amongst legal professionals. It’s challenging to juggle the needs of a busy job with home life, and inevitably, many employees look towards leaving a position to try to claw back some time for themselves and their family.

Asking the Right Questions

I would propose that initially, asking a few questions can give you a good indication of why your employee is thinking of leaving. You could open with a general “So, what’s got you thinking of leaving” or “Do you want to discuss it?”

Not everyone will want to talk about why they’re leaving a job – it might be personal. I read an article recently in Harvard Business Review in which Brian Kropp, head of CEB’s HR practice said, “The big realisation is that it’s not just what happens at work—it’s what happens in someone’s personal life that determines when he or she decides to look for a new job.”

Asking questions may help you gauge what the problem was that’s got them to the point where they are genuinely planning to pick up their things and go.

The best-case scenario of discussing it is that you will find out there’s a specific reason that you have the power to address and retain your employee.

The worse case is that you will have learned what was wrong and can put it right for future employees.

Either way, you will have addressed the issue and done as much as you could.

Making Your Counteroffer

If you want to make a counteroffer, first ask the employee these two questions:

Do they enjoy working with your law firm? Can they see themselves having a future with you?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then it’s worth making a counteroffer.

Start with non-financial incentives to stay. We already know they don’t work. Instead, consider these alternatives:

• Improve your workplace culture to allow diversity and inclusion to flourish.

• Explore flexible working hours. It’s worth considering offering flexitime to employees who feel stressed.

• Offer other options, such as working from home. Employers who are more fluid in their approach to alternative working arrangements will be more respected by their teams and see better staff retention.

• Give them a role that plays to strengths. Is there an opportunity to move the employee into a position that better suits their skillset and ability? Is there a project/case they could lead on which would challenge them?

• Consider mentoring opportunities – a great mentor can provide invaluable insight, support and guidance to an employee who is struggling with their career.

• Address management issues. There’s no excuse for poor behaviour in the workplace. Bullying, harassment or just downright rude bosses need to be dealt with before you lose your staff.

• Consider employing extra staff to relieve the workload. If it’s an issue of workload overwhelm, it might be worth considering getting additional staff. This could be on a temporary or permanent basis but would ease the pressure on your current employees and enable them to be more productive, less frazzled and less likely to be off work due to stress.

• Have a clear progression pathway. Everyone wants to feel they can achieve their ambitions at work and progress. It’s part of life’s journey.

• Have an employee development plan that shows a clear training, development and progression route for each employee. This will give individuals something to aim for and ensure they are more likely to stay and grow with your law firm.
Remember – for all the above, real action is needed for your counteroffer to be successful.

Potential Pitfalls of a Counteroffer

The ‘cons’ of your counteroffer also need consideration. Things to think about include:

• Will offering a salary increase create imbalance across the team?
• Will other team members pressure for a salary rise when word gets out – and if so, can you manage expectations?
• Will you get a reputation in the market for overpaying that could lead to unsuitable candidates clamouring to join your law firm for the wrong reasons?
• Can you afford an increased financial offer?
• Will the employee take advantage of you? Will they continue performing at previous levels or become complacent, even arrogant, because they got their own way?

Moving Forward

Whatever the outcome, you may want to consider ways to improve staff retention going forward; improving company culture, opening lines of communication to provide transparency and most importantly, valuing your employees.

Moving On?

If your employee is still inclined to leave despite all reasonable negotiation, it’s probably best to agree to part ways and wish them well.

Remember, life is about change. If it’s time for them to move on, let them resign gracefully. Don’t be tempted to behave childishly – that will only get the rest of your team thinking about starting their own covert job hunt.

Instead, throw a party and thank them for their contribution.  That’s the best way to build trust and successfully manage your legal team.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking at ways to improve staff retention, or you want to build your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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How to Manage that Challenging Manager in Your Law Firm

  • March 10, 2019

In a perfect world, every legal professional would have a great manager, dedicated to helping them pursue their career plans and overcoming business challenges. Unfortunately, while there are some fantastic and supportive managers out there, there are some individuals that can only be described as terrible.

It’s a well-documented fact that the key reason employees leave organisations is because of a challenging relationship with their first line manager, rather than their level of compensation or the culture of the organisation as a whole.

I am sure many of you reading this post will have experienced your own terrible boss from hell. No doubt it made it harder to thrive within the organisation. If you’ve ever had an ineffective manager before, then you’ll know how frequent scrutiny or disapproval can damage your confidence.

Whether the person you work for is a micromanager or simply doesn’t do enough to support you, it’s important that you know how to make the most of any situation.

Seek First To Understand

Remember, it’s not the easiest job in the world to manage a team or lead a company, and your manager will be under a great deal of pressure to keep the business running smoothly.

In Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he suggests that one of the most important things a successful employee can do is “seek first to understand, before being understood.” Let’s say you have arrived late for work on a number of occasions during the week because of roadworks and your manager is annoyed and frustrated. Instead of expecting them to understand that you were late to work because of the new road works; look at it from their perspective. If you know that traffic is now a challenge, it’s reasonable that you take responsibility and leave the house earlier rather than getting annoyed that your manager is frustrated at your behaviour. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can and will save you a lot of heartache.

Identify Their Triggers

If the problem you have with your manager is that they’re frequently criticising your work, or as we like to call it ‘giving you developmental feedback’, then work out what is triggering their behaviour? Perhaps you aren’t following a specific process that is important? Being open to feedback from a boss is a great way to set the foundations for a stronger relationship and overcoming any personal hurdles that might be holding you back from success.

Prove Yourself

A micro-managing boss can be the most difficult to deal with. If someone frequently hovers over your shoulder, it can feel as though you have no room for creativity or expansion. A good way to reduce micromanagement is to conduct an audit of your work and skills. Think about how you can improve your performance in the role so that your manager has nothing to complain about. A friend of mine says “every day is a school day Lynn”. A learning mindset will help you excel and standout to your manager. Pretty soon you’ll find you are respected, and their micromanaging behaviour becomes a thing of the past.

Become Indispensable

Becoming an incredible employee is a great way to improve the relationship between you and your manager. If your manager often overlooks you, then making sure that you have the right skills to improve profitability for the business will certainly make you stand out to your boss in the right way; trust me, managers are always looking for employees that add value.

And If All Else Fails?

An ineffective boss doesn’t have to be harsh or insensitive. Some employees can struggle to perform well under a manager that simply doesn’t deliver frequent feedback or support to their staff. If your manager, despite all your best efforts isn’t helping your legal career or valuing your contribution It might be time to reconsider your career. First of all, read our comprehensive post on the subject here.Then once you have a plan in place get in contact with us here and let’s have a conversation.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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