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Hiring Fast Versus Slow: The Facts Law Firms Need to Know

  • March 4, 2023

The average time it takes to hire a legal candidate is increasing.

According to a recent post from LinkedIn, it can take more than forty days for a hiring manager to find and make an offer to the right employee. While part of this problem may be attributed to skill shortages in the legal sector, there’s a larger underlying issue.

Law firms are taking too long to make decisions.

While it’s important to be cautious when choosing the right employee to bring onto your team, a slow hiring process can have a number of negative repercussions. As competition for legal talent in the legal industry grows, taking too long to select a candidate could/will mean you miss out.

At the same time, there’s a risk you could end up impacting your employer brand, prompting future candidates to avoid applying for your roles.

Remember candidates talk to each other and especially online.

So let’s talk about why hiring faster is a good idea.

Hiring Fast vs Hiring Slow: Why Speed Wins

The best legal candidates are always highly coveted and receive multiple offers from a variety of different employers. If you’re not fast to act, the chances of losing your ideal employee are higher than ever.

As a legal recruiter, we can only do so much to persuade candidates to wait.

Recruiting faster doesn’t mean abandoning your standards when choosing the correct candidate. Instead, it means reworking your process so you can make intelligent decisions quickly.

Here are some of the reasons why law firms need to increase the speed of their hiring strategy if they want to remain competitive.

1. Increases Your Chances of Securing the Right Legal Talent

The hiring marketplace has changed drastically in the last three years. Today’s legal employees don’t have time to wait around for an employer to offer them a role. More importantly, they usually don’t have to. Even if you don’t offer a role to a candidate straight away, there’s a good chance another firm will.

Making slow decisions about who to bring onto your team doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of getting a high-quality candidate. While you’re busy consulting with your recruitment team about whom to hire, your ideal candidate is already looking for alternative roles.

The longer you take to decide, the more chance you have of someone else swooping in and recruiting your top choice. This could mean you need to settle for a less-than-ideal alternative, just so you can fill the gap in your legal team.

2. Better Existing Employee Experiences

A slow hiring process isn’t just a problem for future employees, it can cause issues with your current workforce too. When positions go unfilled for too long in a firm, many leaders need to distribute the tasks associated with those roles to other team members, to fill the gaps.

This means staff ends up focusing more of their time on projects and initiatives not included within their general job description. This can increase your risk of burnout and overwhelm, and even encourage employees to start searching for new roles too.

Placing more strain on your existing team also means they’re more likely to be prone to making mistakes in their day-to-day work. Overwhelmed staff need to rush through tasks, rather than giving each job their direct focus.

3. Enhanced Candidate Experiences

Legal professionals are no longer just searching for great salary options and benefits when it comes to their job search. Amongst other things (and there is quite a list these days) they’re also looking for evidence their employer will treat them with empathy and respect. This means the candidate experience has become more important than ever to firms in search of new legal talent. Fail to deliver a good experience, and you’ll miss out on future opportunities.

A speedy hiring process delivers a better all-around experience for your candidates, showing them, you respect their needs.

The faster you provide your candidates with an offer, the more likely they are to feel committed to your brand and their role within your firm. The longer your hiring process takes, the more your new team members are likely to lose their enthusiasm about their new role.

Ethical recruitment (something we’ve looked at recently) means in simple terms, doing the right thing – always. This should be the very foundation and principles on which your hiring activity is built.

4. Improved Employer Brand and EVP

Ensuring you can attract and retain the best quality legal talent in the current market requires significant effort. You need to ensure you’re promoting an employer brand that convinces legal candidates you have the right opportunities to offer.

Your employer brand is influenced by everything you do when interacting with both your existing employees and future staff. This means if your candidate experience is poor, due to a long recruitment time and lack of communication, you could risk scaring off new employees. In fact, around 43% of job-seekers say they might even write a negative review about an employer when the hiring process takes too long.

Committing to quickly providing your candidates with insights into the success of their interview, and making decisions fast about who to hire will ensure you stand out in the legal sector.

Speed Up Your Hiring Process

The best candidates in the current legal landscape won’t wait around for a long hiring process. And it goes without saying that the more in demand they are, the more options will be open to them when it comes to choosing where to make that next move.

If you can’t act quickly to secure the best for your firm, simply put – you’ll miss out.

Recruiting faster doesn’t have to mean lowering your standards, but it could mean looking for ways to optimise your hiring process.

And, whilst time may be of the essence, it’s equally as important not to make any rash decisions or rush into a decision that could ultimately come back to bite you. After all, there is a significant commercial cost of a bad hire too.

Working with a legal recruitment agency can help to focus your activity – helping to source, and shortlist candidates faster, so you can get the right talent quickly  – whilst also ensuring that no balls get dropped along the way in ensuring that the candidates that are presented to you are still the right ‘fit’ for your firm.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviablese 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 get in touch with us here

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Designing Onboarding Plans to Build an Outstanding Legal Workforce

  • January 7, 2023

Designing the perfect legal workforce doesn’t start and end with choosing the right candidate for each role. Ensuring each employee can achieve their full potential means creating a long-term development plan which aligns your new staff with your company culture and goals and the results you want to achieve.

The correct development plan doesn’t just prepare your candidates for success when you first integrate them into your team. It also ensures they can continue to thrive for as long as they work at your firm. With the right plan of action, employers and managers can use the process of “onboarding” to enhance their company culture, inspire teams, and boost staff retention.

So, what exactly should your development strategy entail? Here’s what you need to know about building the perfect development plan.

Employee Orientation vs. Employee Onboarding

First, it’s worth defining what onboarding actually is. Many people still use the terms “onboarding” and “employee orientation” interchangeably. However, orientation and onboarding are two very separate concepts.

Employee orientation is a one-time event, focused on embedding new hires into your firm. During this process, human resources personnel and partners formerly introduce employees to the firm. They may take them on a tour of a physical office, or deliver information virtually through videos and presentations.

The idea behind employee orientation is to get your staff members prepared for their new roles. Employee onboarding is a more long-term concept. Onboarding encompasses the entire employee journey, starting from the moment they meet their colleagues, all the way up to the point where they are fully performing.

Used correctly, this process not only strengthens your employer brand and employee engagement, but it also paves the way for a more successful, productive, and efficient team. It helps to acclimatise staff to the company culture, set expectations, and keep team members aligned with the vision, mission, and goals of the firm.

How to Design an Onboarding Plan

Studies show an effective onboarding strategy and employee development plan have a significant impact on the success of any company’s team. Organisations with the right onboarding and induction programs achieve 50% higher new hire retention.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for onboarding, there are some steps you can use to improve your chances of the right results for your team.

1.    Choose a Strategy for Onboarding

First, it’s worth considering how you’re going to deliver your onboarding experience to candidates. Traditionally, onboarding took place within the office environment, consisting of regular face-to-face meetings, training opportunities, and induction processes. Since the shift to hybrid and remote work, around 1 in 7 working adults in the UK according to the ONS are currently working from home. In the US this figure is higher at 1 in 4 and in Australia, this figure hit 40% according to the ABS.Gov website.

As a result, more law firms are beginning to implement new virtual and hybrid onboarding efforts. While some meetings and interactions may continue to take place in-office, others may be delivered via video conferencing and online software. The key to success is figuring out which parts of your onboarding strategy require in-person interaction.

Consider asking your new hires which parts of the onboarding journey they may want to tackle in person, and which they’d prefer to do virtually, or in their own time.

2.    Assign Each Staff Member an Onboarding Buddy

Because onboarding is a long-term development strategy for each employee, it requires staff members to have someone they can turn to whenever they want to discuss their goals, explore training options, or ask questions.

An onboarding buddy is someone your employee can turn to whenever they need assistance getting the most out of their role. This could be a supervisor or manager. You could even consider using mentorship campaigns to connect new hires with senior staff across the firm.

Encourage regular communication between your new hire and their onboarding buddy, so they can develop a more transparent, authentic relationship. Some companies even use informal coffee chats and video calls between staff members and their “mentors” to help further integrate new hires into the company culture and track their progress.

3.    Prioritise Regular, Transparent Communication

For a legal development plan to be successful, every member of the team needs to feel as though they have a voice. Scheduling regular meetings between individual employees and managers where they can discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities is key.

Team members should be able to contribute to their own development, by suggesting areas where they feel like they need to improve, and requesting training opportunities where necessary. They should also feel comfortable reaching out to their line managers and/or other senior members of the team when they’re struggling with their workload, experiencing burnout, or feeling disconnected from the business vision.

Regular and transparent communication will also ensure  direct managers as well as senior leadership teams  can consistently set expectations for team members, based on the values and mission of the company. Make sure each employee knows how their performance will be evaluated, and what kind of qualities they need to demonstrate in their day-to-day work.

4.    Set and Regularly Update Goals

Up to 33% of employees quit within their first 6 months with a new company, and 86% of respondents in one survey said they would still switch jobs despite it damaging their CV/Resume and reputation. Following the effects of the Great Resignation, partners need to be extra sensitive to the engagement and satisfaction levels of their staff members.

This means providing every team member with a clear vision of the future they have in the firm and helping them to set and achieve their career goals. During regular meetings with each employee, line managers should encourage staff to discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and share insights on how they can grow moving forward.

As an employee’s position within the business continues to evolve, the individual or team responsible for their onboarding process should work with them to expand and update their goals. This will ensure staff feels as though they’re consistently moving in the right direction.

5.    Focus on Employee Development from the Get-Go

Creating a plan for employee development as part of your general onboarding strategy will ensure you can retain your top talent for longer, and achieve the best results from every member of your team.

Having clear communication and documentation around career paths, professional development, and objectives around progression will demonstrate to new legal professionals that there is investment in the long term.

The regular meetings with your new starters should also touch upon their professional development – where they are currently on that career path, as well as their future aspirations and goals.

In Conclusion

Hiring a new individual is a huge investment of time, money and internal resources so it’s imperative to ensure that once that individual joins your firm, their onboarding process is designed and focused on their long-term career (and not solely focused on the inevitable HR administration and initial IT setup!).

Of course, the success and retention of your new hire starts with ensuring that all important ‘fit’ from the outset. Using the services of a legal recruitment specialist can help here as they have the time and resources to ensure a deeper understanding of not only your challenges and objectives as a hirer, but the career aspirations and goals of the legal professionals they help as well. What’s more, many recruiters offer alternative services such as ‘retained search’ which may include elements such as psychometric testing, video profiling and virtual interviews which are all focused on that ‘fit’ giving you a head start on your onboarding process, and ensuring that individual is in it for the long run.


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 3 Most Crucial Skills To Teach Your New Legal Hires

  • November 14, 2022

Taking the right approach to training your legal hires is one of the most important things any employer can do. The right education and guidance sets your employees up for success in any role and ensures they can thrive in your law firm.

What’s more, today’s legal employees crave training more than ever before.

A 2021 global workforce report from Randstad revealed that the vast majority of employees worldwide (especially those in the younger age brackets) believe they need to upskill to keep up with the labour market changes since the beginning of the Pandemic. Some other studies show that around 40% of staff members worry their skills will become outdated in today’s quickly-evolving landscape.

However, according to the same studies, 49% of employees want to enhance their skills but are unsure where to begin, and this correlates with the findings from the aforementioned report, which saw the majority of survey respondents say that they are unsure of which skills to acquire due to the rapid changes occurring in the global workforce.

For those in leadership positions at your law firm, the focus areas for training an initial new legal hire should revolve around developing critical soft skills. Most of your new team members already have the technical talents required for their roles. However, you can always look into upskilling and expanding this knowledge later.

Your legal team members need help with the critical skills that will define their future with your law firm. Here are the three areas you need to focus on.

Skill 1: Goal Setting

Goals are critical in any legal role. According to research from Harvard Business School, people who successfully visualise and write down their professional goals are often 20% more successful. Goals act as a compass in any career, giving direction and guidance to your team members.

Start by providing your legal employees with a clear insight into your firm’s core values and expectations for their work. This will help them monitor and measure their performance to ensure they’re delivering the right results. Next, arrange for a meeting during the onboarding process, where you can set different types of goals with your new team member, such as:

  • Short-term goals: Define what your new employee should be working towards during the first few months of their position in your firm. As a manager, outline what you’d like to see from them, and ask what they would like to accomplish during this time.
  • Long-term goals: Ask about where your employee sees themselves in the future. Do they want to work towards a promotion or a higher-paying role? Together, you can outline a plan for how they can make their targets a reality.
  • Development goals: Where would your employees like to improve their skills or become more proficient during their time with your firm? What training opportunities would they want access to, and where do they feel they need the most help?

It’s also worth providing your employees with key tips on improving their chances of successfully reaching their goals. Discuss the difference between setting realistic and unrealistic targets, and look at how you can help your employee to become more focused.

One option could be to set your new legal team member up with a mentor, so they can constantly get feedback on their progress. It’s also worth having regular meetings with each employee throughout the year to see whether they’re accomplishing their goals and what you can do to assist them.

Skill 2: Relationship Building

Relationships form the foundation of any strong firm culture. Research shows positive relations between employees and their managers and colleagues lead to better job satisfaction, increased retention, and boosted productivity. However, many legal employees struggle with creating the right connections throughout the firm.

During the initial onboarding process, when you’re bringing your new team member into your law firm, introduce them to the people they will be working with. Some bonding activities can be extremely useful during this stage to help with breaking the ice.

Next, provide tips on strengthening your team members’ relationships with colleagues and managers. For instance, you can encourage them to:

Be proactive in offering help: Employees who constantly look for ways to support and assist their other legal team members are more likely to be appreciated by the rest of the team. Encourage your staff to be proactive team players.

Take part in meetings: While not all of your business meetings may be mandatory, many provide networking and communication opportunities. Asking staff members to participate in regular video and in-person meetings will help to strengthen bonds.

Develop emotional intelligence: Training your employees on how to demonstrate good emotional intelligence is fantastic for enhancing their relationship-building abilities. They should be aware of how to recognise and understand the emotions of others.

Communicate constantly: Make sure your legal team has a strong culture of constant communication and collaboration. Everyone should feel included in conversations, and every team member should feel as though they have a voice.

Network whenever possible: Allow team members to attend events and networking opportunities. This is a good way to help them expand their relationships in the legal industry and feel more confident communicating with others.

It’s also helpful to have diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, which highlight how each team member should show respect for their fellow workers. If any of your employees seem to be isolating themselves from the group or show a negative attitude towards others, jump in and see what you can do to fix the problem.

Skill 3: Productivity

All legal employers want productive, efficient, and engaged team members. While the support you give your employees in the form of the right technical skill training and tools will help to enhance productivity, there are also steps employees will need to take themselves.

Ask your staff members how they currently pursue productivity in their workflows and where they’re most likely to struggle. If your team members are working in a remote or hybrid environment, they may need more assistance with scheduling their work and ensuring they adhere to deadlines.

Introduce your employees to different methods of boosting productivity, such as:

  • Arranging their to-do list: Some employees will find it easier to tackle the toughest jobs first thing in the day. Others will prefer to start with easier tasks and work on complex challenges later. Encourage your staff members to discover what works for them.
  • Taking regular breaks: While pushing your employees to be productive at all hours of the day is tempting, we all need breaks. Help your employees to take time out when they need it, by allowing them to step away from their schedule from time to time.
  • Tackling one task at a time: Teach your employees that multi-tasking is rarely the best way to generate the right results when it comes to productivity. Breaking large tasks into smaller pieces and working on targets one at a time is more likely to generate results.
  • Managing energy (not just time): Give your employees the freedom to adjust their work schedule according to when they have the best sense of focus. In today’s hybrid and remote work world, giving your employees more autonomy can boost productivity.
  • Leveraging useful tools: Certain tools and technology in the workplace can assist with productivity. For instance, some team members might use time-tracking applications to discover how long they spend on different tasks. Others might organise their day with a centralised project management system.

If any of your employees are struggling with productivity, it’s important to reach out and find out what’s happening. The problem could be with their schedule and how they organise their day. Alternatively, you could find your employees are experiencing the early stages of burnout. Either way, you can work together to develop a plan to promote the best workflow.

Finally, remember that the success of any new hire depends as much on the kind of training and guidance you give them as their own input and engagement into their work. Getting this part of the onboarding process right not only provides them with what they need to thrive at your firm, but can also help to improve employee retention, and avoid high employee turnover.

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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5 Key Essentials to Note When Onboarding Your New Legal Employees

The Legal landscape has changed drastically in the last couple of years. Job opportunities are becoming more flexible with the rise of remote or hybrid work and the four-day work week, which started as a trial in the UK in recent weeks. 

Even the way law firms source and assess new candidates for roles has evolved, with an increasing number of virtual and video interviews as well as new software being developed since the pandemic. 

On top of all these changes, hiring managers and employers are also facing new challenges in employee retention, with the “Great Resignation” now causing significant talent turnover.  

In a skills-short legal environment, it’s important to ensure you’re taking every precaution to not only find the right new legal professional but prepare them for long-term success within your law firm.  

A successful onboarding strategy could be the key to providing your new team member with all the support, guidance, and insights they need to thrive at your firm. 

Here are the onboarding strategies you can use to empower your legal hires. 

1. Start with Preboarding

Employee “preboarding” is essentially an introductory step before the more intensive onboarding process begins. Today, as the competition for top legal talent continues to grow, talented candidates are increasingly looking to work with employers who make them feel valued, not those just paying the highest salary. 

Just as your new team member will be working hard to prove you made the right choice by bringing them on board, you want to demonstrate they’ve made an excellent choice by deciding to work for you. An introduction email as soon as your candidate accepts your job offer can set you off on the right track to building a great working relationship. You can even use this email to give your new employee some useful information such as parking on their first day, start times and any other useful information that could help them out.  

Start by welcoming your candidate onto the team and let them know the names of some of the people they will be working with. Next, include valuable information your employee might need, such as videos highlighting information about your brand identity and general updates about the new firm they are joining.  

2. Adjust the Onboarding Process for Different Roles

Do you have an onboarding plan? View our report here on a Quick Guide To Onboarding New Legal Talent.  

Certain parts of the legal onboarding process will be the same for all employees. You’ll need to introduce every new team member to the company culture in your business and the kind of values you’ll expect them to adhere to. However, this doesn’t mean an onboarding process should be entirely one-size-fits-all.  

Adjust the steps you take in the onboarding process based on your new employee’s needs. For instance, ask yourself what kind of software and tools the team member will be using from day one, and provide them with training support or video guidance on setting up new accounts.  

Think about the specific members of staff your new employee is going to be working with and arrange for a video or group meeting where you can all get to know each other in an informal and friendly setting.  

Creating a streamlined and personalised process for each employee will ensure your new candidates aren’t overwhelmed by information that may not be pertinent to them when starting their new role.  

3. Focus on Inclusion

The needs of today’s employees are beginning to change. While all team members want access to great development opportunities, a good salary, and fair benefits, they’re also looking for an immersive company culture and a sense of inclusion within their teams.  

Today, 64% of employees say diversity and inclusion is a crucial consideration in their decision to take a job offer. As soon as a new candidate agrees to join your team, start focusing on how you include them.  

Ask new hires about their preferred pronouns and names and introduce them immediately to the people they will be working with. Allow your employees to sit in on video meetings even before their role officially starts if you’re not going to be sharing sensitive information and add them to your group messaging boards. 

Make sure every team member feels like a crucial part of the team, regardless of whether they’re working in the office, remotely, or on a hybrid schedule. 

4. Build a Training Plan for Development

Great onboarding isn’t just about welcoming a new legal employee into your team and ensuring they have all the information they need about your business. You should also be looking for ways to build a foundation of a long professional relationship between your law firm and your hires. 

Around 93% of employees say they would happily stay with a company for longer if they felt their managers were investing in their careers with training and development. During the onboarding process, you can begin helping your employee see a future with your brand by working on a professional development plan together. 

Set up a one-on-one meeting where you discuss what the future might look like for your new team member and what kind of goals they would like to achieve while with your firm and in later life also. Discuss how you can help your employee reach new heights in their career and what your training opportunities look like. 

5. Collect Feedback Regularly

Finally, the only way to ensure your onboarding process is having the right impact on your legal employees is to ask them about it. Collecting feedback is an excellent way to determine whether you’re giving your new team members all the support and guidance they need.  

Ask your new hires what they feel you did well in the onboarding process and what they would like to change if given a chance to go through it again. Pay attention to productivity levels after your employees start their new role and look at how they might change when you add further steps to the onboarding process.  

The feedback you get should guide your future onboarding strategies, helping you build a more comprehensive experience for every new hire.  

Great Onboarding Starts with the Right Hire 

Remember, a great onboarding process can be a powerful tool, capable of improving new hire retention by around 82%. An excellent onboarding process will always start with the right hiring decisions. Improve your chances of bringing the right people on board by working with a specialist legal recruitment team like Clayton Legal. 

We can help you improve yours by taking care of the pre-onboarding and sourcing of talent. If you want to find out more call us on 01772 259 121. 


Next Steps 

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


About Clayton Legal 

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

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


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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director