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Building Leadership Skills in Your Law Firm

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

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

Good leaders exhibit specific traits which allow them to inspire, motivate, engage, and boost the productivity of their legal team.

Today’s post shares five key leadership skills for today’s legal workplace to develop in your team and those to look out for as you recruit.

The Ability to Set Goals Based on a Vision

Great leaders have a vision. All successful law firms were started because the founder had a vision of what they could create.

As you build your legal team at every level, remember that employees often join firms because of the vision and direction shared during the interview, as well as fair pay and conditions, and the opportunity to work with great clients. Unequivocally, elements such as this should be communicated as part of the hiring process.

Innovating and reacting to change is part of a law firm’s growth and is necessary for development. So, it’s vital to deploy your strategy to manage challenges while considering that you need a solid business plan that indicates where you are adjusting and setting relevant goals.

Effective legal leaders ensure everyone is on board with the strategic plan and its ultimate objective – alignment across the firm will be key to success.

Greater leaders can tap into team creativity, developing a sense of purpose that develops an inspired team.

Setting goals in a S.M.A.R.T.  way can also increase performance – specific objectives that are challenging yet achievable are more likely to inspire your team and give them something to work towards collaboratively.

Clear Communication Skills

Part of sharing the vision is the ability to communicate both authentically and with authority.

Law firm leaders must develop the ability to communicate with people at every level, from a stressed-out client to every member of their wider legal team.

Effective leaders must be able to express ideas and information to the people they want to lead.

Successful communication also involves clarity of message, which happens when leaders ditch the jargon and listen to what is important to their team.

As human beings, before we mentally agree to follow someone, we need to feel listened to by our leaders.

Decision-Making Ability

It is easy to assume that everyone in the legal profession has good judgement alongside the ability to make decisions. This occurs as lawyers handle complex caseloads, though not always when addressing challenges in the team or performance managing a difficult employee.

Lawyers are generally confident individuals by nature. However, making decisions in a team setting isn’t always as black and white as it might first appear, as highlighted by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning professor who developed prospect theory which shifted opinions on decision making.

To make a good decision, you need to understand how different choices change the likelihood of various outcomes and how desirable each of those outcomes is. In other words, decision making requires both prediction and judgment.

Focus on listening and gathering data from your team as you would for any case you are handling, and you will notice how your decision-making ability improves.

Create a Learning and Development Culture

Here at Clayton Legal, we often ask candidates applying for roles whether the law firm hiring has a development culture and one where the team is encouraged to grow and develop. A stronger leader will make this part of the plan for their firm.

With advancements in digital platforms, online learning is easy to implement alongside more formal events in your firm.

Create a training program for your law firm’s team that allows them to engage at their own pace and with topics that interest them personally. These topics should be largely focused on the team member’s speciality and what your firm needs from them, but it’s also valuable to offer the opportunity to learn about areas outside of their speciality.

Being Accountable

Being accountable for both actions and results is the hallmark of a great legal recruit. This is even more vital when we consider the approach of our legal leaders.

Leadership accountability in your law firm is an essential component of a healthy culture. But what is an accountable leader, and how do they drive business results?

Being accountable suggests that leaders are ultimately responsible for outputs, which is true.
There are multiple layers of accountability, including business performance, company culture, client experience, and the legal workforce itself.

For leaders to be accountable, they need to be committed to the business and its people. They must take their role as people leaders seriously, building trust among team members. Accountable leaders clearly communicate their goals and objectives to their teams to foster alignment and team focus. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and give credit for success where it’s due.

What Next?

The legal sector experienced increased growth last year. Many firms are looking for new legal leaders and hires for their teams. This is where Clayton Legal can help. For a conversation about your legal talent growth plan, do not hesitate to contact one of our team.

 

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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Why Does Your Legal Firm Need an Employer Branding Strategy?

  • June 15, 2019

What is Employer Branding?

First coined in the early 1990s, Employer Branding has become widely adopted across global management, gaining momentum as the preferred way businesses differentiate themselves in the marketplace to attract the best talent. Employer Branding focuses on your legal firm’s reputation as a place to work, the value proposition of its employees, and company culture.

Put simply, it is the essence that, according to LinkedIn, ‘lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your former, current, and future employees’.

Why Do You Need to Build an Employer Brand?

All employers have an employer brand, whether they are aware of it or not. The trick is to control your employer brand and ensure you are creating a strong presence, establishing credibility in the legal arena. It’s a useful tool to have, helping you showcase your brand and attract the best legal talent to work for you. Without it, recruiting can become challenging, especially in candidate short practice areas such as commercial and property law, to name just a couple.

You want to attract and hire the best legal talent to drive your practice forward, and so it’s crucial to have not only a great salary offer but added benefits such as career development opportunities and an inclusive culture to attract people to want to work for you. This will build your reputation and encourage staff retention, saving you time and money in the long run.

Improving Your Legal Brand – Key Steps

Define your message with your tone of voice. Consistency is imperative across all marketing from your website to correspondence, advertising to individual conversations. It should reflect your status and your role as a professional legal practice.

Be clear on company culture. The culture your workplace offers will make or break the hiring and retention of great legal staff. More and more, Millennials hitting the workplace now are looking for more than a good salary offer; they are attracted by company culture.

A recent Deloitte report states that 83% of Millennials become actively engaged in a job hunt if they believe the organisation fosters an inclusive culture experience. Also high on the list are career development opportunities, teamwork, a good work/life balance, and a cooperative and supportive environment.

Understand the perception of your brand. How do others see your firm? Are you maintaining your firms branding across online platforms? As these are often the first point of call for candidates (and your competitors) its essential to present a streamlined and consistent approach. Consider whether your brand reflects your aims, facilitates awareness and encourages brand loyalty.

Don’t underestimate Word of Mouth. Brand advocacy can influence how people perceive you. Getting the thumbs up from your employees is the icing on the cake. We live in a world where employees past and present can review their opinions on what it’s like to work for you online. What would your employees say about you? From the Receptionist or Paralegal, to a Legal Analyst or Senior Partner, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone is a brand ambassador, helping to positively build the firm.

It’s a fact that more people trust a recommendation from friend or colleagues than general marketing and advertising claims – peers, friends and acquaintances can tell you about their first-hand experience of a legal firm, so make sure yours is a great experience.

Move with the times. Technology can streamline your operations, ensuring a good experience for candidates and clients alike. It can save you time and money, and help build your brand as a positive experience. It also shows that you are quick to embrace progress and receptive to new ideas, planting a subconscious seed in the candidate’s mind that you are a progressive legal firm with their eye on the future.

Communicate like a real person. Let candidates see your human side. Profiles of the team including Heads of Practice and Senior Partners, and engaging testimonials from satisfied clients, will help attract talent that’s a good fit for your legal firm. Use social media to connect and showcase your brand to your target talent.

How Do You Know It’s Working?

It can be problematic to measure employer branding awareness. However, a drip feed method of communication using the brand does result in better brand recall. It can also heavily influence an
in-demand Senior Commercial Litigator’s decision to join your firm or your competitors.

There are several ways to measure employer brand awareness ROI, including traditional surveys and analytics. Conducted face to face, by email, or on your website, surveys are one of the easiest ways to check your employer branding is working, simply by asking your clients and candidates.

Analytics can measure blog shares (like this one!), an increase in social media engagement, external links, higher footfall to your website and improved online ranking via refined SEO. For more information on how to track these, see here.

The good news is that a few fundamental steps like these can improve your employer brand and help you attract, recruit and retain great legal employees who will want to stay with your firm. If you’ve found this advice helpful and would like to talk more about developing your strategies to recruit better candidates, 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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