banner image

5 Top Tips On Retaining Your Legal Clients And Market Position

  • March 8, 2020

Earning a client’s trust is paramount to the success of your law firm.

Additionally, you work hard for your clients and to maintain and build your legal professionalism. Retaining clients and your place in the legal marketplace requires strategies to help build relationships and keep those clients coming back to you as their firm of choice.

Client retention means you can avoid spending a lot of valuable time in marketing your law firm to earn new business. Also, happy clients who return to your firm may even provide a lead to additional work if they recommend you to others in their network. This can be a huge boost, especially if they have wide-reaching connections.

So, how can you help retain those valuable clients and increase your repeat business, thus placing yourself well ahead of the pack and accelerating your market position? This article, will provide five top tips to implement that could accelerate retention levels and see your firm’s reputation rise.

1. Communicate

How often do you hear clients complaining that their solicitor doesn’t return their calls, or that they don’t know where things are in their case?

Your clients want to feel valued, and it’s easy to make them believe their business is important to you. Start by returning their phone calls or emails. You can delegate some of this work if necessary, but if correspondence requires your personal attention – make the time to address it. This could be as simple as setting aside a specific time each day and blocking off your diary to give you space without interruption to answer client’s questions.

2. Be Honest

Things don’t always go to plan. It’s critical for your legal team to be able to handle bad news, as well as good, and deal with unexpected results.

Therefore, it’s vital to be clear with your client that you can’t guarantee results. Managing potential outcomes can be tricky, but preparing your client from the start will make results easier to handle.

Remember that your clients have come to you at a time that they need assistance – it could be any one of several challenging issues in their personal or professional lives, and they will want to hear positive news from you.

But honesty is essential. Don’t be tempted to give false hope and be clear that there may be problems or even a negative outcome if you believe this to be the case.

It’s also essential to be honest about your own performance as a provider of legal services. For example, if you are late with documents, admit it. If a client discovers you were untruthful about a small issue like late documents, they will doubt you over more significant issues. Aim to protect your firm’s integrity in all circumstances.

3. Bill Clients Accurately

Overbilling or charging in a way that was not clearly demonstrated initially to the client will not help establish your firm’s professionalism.

Therefore, invoices should always correctly reflect the work done. Time tracking and billing software can help your firm create accurate bills, avoiding unhappy clients who believe they have been overcharged, and resulting in faster payments and higher levels of customer confidence in your firm.

Additionally, you may wish to offer various billing options such as fixed fee, hourly billing or flat fees for services – clients have different preferences, and to keep ahead of the pack it’s a good idea to consider offering different options. Being agile in this way could be the difference between keeping and losing a client.

4. Remain Professional

Of course, the most critical aspect of retaining clients and gaining market position is to complete the legal work you have taken on; providing services that are effective and offer value to your clients.

Meeting deadlines, employing skilled solicitors and handling cases efficiently will ensure clients recognise your professionalism and return to use your services again – as well as recommending you to others.

Equally pivotal to ensuring your law firm remains relevant is to keep all your employee’s certifications up to date, and make sure you stay informed about legal changes and court decisions.

5. Consider Diversifying

It may seem a bold move, but diversification can give you an advantage over competitors and place you ahead of the curve. Addressing the ‘where’ and ‘how’ to scale your law firm should be considered carefully and will be dependant on your current position – both geographically and in terms of client base and marketplace.

Dramatic strategy changes may seem radical, and remaining credible is paramount, and so you may wish to consider small steps if looking to increase your service offer. If you choose to consider this route, a good place to start is by re-examining your strategic plan to highlight areas you could develop as well as ensure you are on the right track for success.

Following these top tips will help you create better client retention, enhance your reputation and keep you one step ahead of the competition in a crowded legal marketplace.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, 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.

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

Is Your Feedback Worthwhile to Your Legal Team?

  • October 1, 2019

Feedback is something of a controversial subject.

Some argue that it doesn’t fulfil a valuable function in the legal workplace; that it merely wastes the time of those giving and receiving it and that it can undermine an individual’s confidence in their ability to do their job.

But feedback can be a powerful tool in your legal team.

Useful feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver, and your law firm as a whole; it can be used to make critical decisions.

Continuous improvement is not just the latest buzz word; it focuses your law firm on building performance by helping individuals make better decisions going forward, doing more of what is already going well, and establishes a culture of ongoing two-way communication.

Feedback is a Skill

Firstly, it’s essential to recognise that giving and receiving feedback is a skill.

Good feedback relies on your ability to embrace emotional intelligence – using your self-knowledge to enable you to accept positive criticism and use it to learn and grow, and using your empathy to put yourself in another’s shoes to see things from their point of view when providing feedback.

Feedback also requires active listening – making sure that both parties know they have been understood and that what they said holds value (more on this later).

So, the trick to implementing valuable and worthwhile feedback to your legal team is to understand what it provides and to use it correctly.

Feedback is a Constant Process

Most law firms, when asked, would say feedback is given during employee surveys, at performance appraisals or in training evaluations, and that’s true. But, feedback is also there all the time in our day to day working lives.

So, be aware of feedback being a constant – and aim to use it wisely when communicating with your legal team. In effect, good feedback between senior partners or managers and their teams can enable you to grow the firm by instilling a sense of support across all employee levels, from trainees to Senior Partners.

Feedback is a Two-way Conversation

Feedback provides an effective way of giving value to and acknowledgement of another’s thoughts – it’s also critical to ensure that for everyone concerned, feedback provides an opportunity to speak and be heard.

That means providing feedback and allowing for comment back on your observations.

It involves practising active listening to ensure that both parties are on the same page with exactly what the feedback means.

It’s so easy for comments to be misinterpreted: I find it useful to repeat what someone has said to me to be sure I’m clear on their meaning.

So, for example, if you are giving feedback to your legal secretary, you might say, “So, from what you are saying I understand that you are unhappy with the level of caseload work and would like to know if it’s possible to introduce a software package to help speed up the admin process. Is that correct?”

This sort of clarification opportunity ensures that you don’t misinterpret the message – which of course can lead to problems further down the line.

Feedback Provides Opportunity

Feedback should be an opportunity to help individuals know where they are doing a great job and where they need to focus on developing skills and abilities.

Without feedback, there is a lack of understanding for an individual as to how they are measuring up in their legal work and therefore, limited opportunity for them to improve.

If individuals do not receive feedback or don’t know how to receive it in a constructive fashion, they are likely to lose out on potential promotion and the chance to grow in their skill set, knowledge and capabilities – and gain a fulfilling career in law.

Feedback Addresses Specifics

Feedback should be delivered with respect – always.

Even if the feedback is negative, it’s critical for the giver to be aware of the manner in which they are delivering their comments to ensure that the feedback is constructive and specific.

That means referring to specific incidents rather than vague statements, for example, “In the meeting last Thursday you interrupted Jim before he had a chance to put his case” rather than “You’re always talking over other people.”

The feedback should be non-judgemental – so, “I believe you may have misunderstood the reasons for the client costs going up?”, rather than “You were wrong to say the cost shouldn’t have been increased.”

It should also let the individual know the effect their action or comment had. For example, “After you talked over Kim’s suggestions in the meeting last week, she felt upset and undermined, which affected her confidence in her professional opinion.”

Feedback Enables Growth

Remember, feedback isn’t just about the negatives.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to acknowledge where good work has been done and to formally recognise it as part of your employee development plan.

Positive feedback provides a significant morale boost and is part of the learning process – reinforcing what a team member is doing right. It shows you recognise excellent performance and enables the employee to be able to move forward, doing more of the same behaviour.

Of course, we’re all only human, so feedback can never be entirely objective.

It’s crucial, though, to focus on delivering all feedback in a way that minimises the chances of the recipient feeling threatened or defensive and allows them to take on board comments (good and bad) and see them as drivers to inspire learning and development.

This will enable individuals to grow and flourish in their legal career and will allow you to develop a legal team who perform at the top of their game.

Initiating Feedback

Asking for feedback unprompted shows that a team member is more likely to accept it as a positive and learn from it.

These are the employees who are more likely to advance in their legal career. Conversely, it’s often the case that those who never ask for feedback are less open and likely to be more defensive if they feel challenged in their behaviour.

If you have team members who actively seek your feedback, then be prepared to provide constructive comment to help them.

And don’t forget, asking for feedback yourself shows excellent leadership qualities – after all, no-one’s perfect!

Feedback, either informally requested or as part of a formal review process, can provide an excellent platform for improving performance.

Instilling a culture of feedback in your law firm and seeing it as positive will enable you to remain aligned to overall goals, help create strategies for the firm, develop services, improve relationships and achieve success.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move to grow your legal team, 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.

Share This Post

banner image

How To Build Your Legal Talent Pipeline This Year

  • February 25, 2019

How to build a talent pipeline for your legal practice is a question many of our consultants are asked.

Logical when you consider that developing your team and the talent within your organisation will be key to your growth this year.

What Is A Talent Pipeline?

Contrary to what you might expect to read on a legal recruitment website, building a talent pipeline involves developing your current employees in addition to recruiting legal talent to ‘plug’ skill or experience gaps or fill your expansion needs.

Both will be critical for your success.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Business Strategy

The first question to inform your talent pipeline is focused on your current business growth strategy.

Are you planning to move into a new geography or perhaps offer a different aspect of your service?

You might have focused on business services such as property or corporate and commercial law and now want to expand into home and family; perhaps even consider wealth management.

The question is, do you have the capability in these areas currently or do you need to bring in a director or consultant to build a new vertical and/or develop new fee earners who are keen to move?

Considering these questions, how will you now plan your recruitment and within what time frame?

As a legal recruitment company with twenty years experience, we notice that many clients when they first come to us haven’t thought through their long term plan.

Remember to factor in budget and time to hire to hit your growth goals and be prepared for people leaving, which will produce gaps which need to be filled.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Your Current Team And Their Development

In today’s current legal market and depending on the size of your firm it’s unlikely that you will be overstaffed with employees, ready, willing and able to be developed into a different role.

However, if you have a robust training and performance development process, it is more than possible that members of your current team will be able to move into different roles. Depending on your timelines it may be viable that some members of staff can develop to fill your growth gaps over the next one to three years.

Remember in today’s workplace; Millennials rule and are increasing in numbers across the globe. Something they deem key in their work is the opportunity to be developed. Therefore factor this into your talent development strategy and your future recruitment plans too.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Your Employer Brand

We have recently carried out research with candidates on why they choose to work with certain clients and not others.

Employer branding, culture and approach were giving as three influencing factors. One candidate even shared a story how after she came out of the interview she had been overwhelmed, in a positive way, by the  ‘feel’ of the organisation and their approach and was ‘keeping everything crossed’ that they made her an offer.

This isn’t an uncommon story, and the impact of your employer brand is more critical than ever. If you would like to know more about this important strategy we have written a complimentary report which you can download here.

A strong employer brand showcases the values and company culture in your organisation – all essential for attracting talent to your legal organisation and engaging your current staff.

More than 59% of managers say that branding is one of the critical components of their HR strategy.

While there are many different definitions for “employer branding” depending on whom you ask, they all mostly say the same thing. Your brand is the way that ‘potential new legal team members’ in the business world perceive you, and your opportunity to showcase what makes you unique.

Otherwise known as an “Employer Value Proposition”, your brand can help both you and your legal recruitment partner truly attract talent to your organisation while ensuring that you fill your team full of people who share the same values.

For more insight into Employer Value Propositions click here to understand how they can help give you stand out when recruiting in competitive markets, particularly post-pandemic.

Building A Legal Talent Pipeline: Using A Specialist Legal Recruiter

The majority of clients we work with here at Clayton Legal come to us to help them build their talent pipeline because they have neither the time or connections to do the job as well as they would like.

Recruiting is our job; unlike most law firms who have to attract and work with clients, develop their fee earners and growing teams and then, as the business dictates recruit new members of the legal team.

A challenge for an already time-pressed individual.

Though it is great to recruit from within, it’s also key to bring in new ideas and perspectives from key hires who might have a different portfolio of experience and results.

Finding these individuals in a skill short market takes time.

Though we would always encourage building a network and leveraging your existing contacts and old law school connections, this doesn’t always produce the results you want.

For instance, James who you have met at various social law gatherings may have a high profile, however, might not have the detailed attributes your role description indicates is pivotal.

This is why working with an experienced recruitment company in the legal sector will make all the difference in building your talent pipeline.

Utilising all these different ideas and suggestions in your legal practice will enable you to start the process of building a strong legal talent pipeline this year.

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 3,000 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.

Share This Post

banner image

How to make an irresistible offer to legal candidates

  • August 9, 2018

You want to be sure that your offer is irresistible enough to candidates that they bite, first time. So how can you do it? It’s not all about money. In fact, our recent legal salary survey showed that two-thirds (66%) of respondents offer flexible working – second only to the more traditional pension contribution.

This guide gives you the lowdown on how to handle the offer stage and ensure your firm employs the best talent.

Communication

A phone call will give you another chance to speak with the candidate and allows you to make an initial verbal offer. Gauge their response; if they’re cagey it could be a sign they have eggs in other baskets. If they seem pleased and verbally accept you can feel reassured that it’s the right time to make a written offer.

Speed

Sixty-seven per cent of law firms believe that a legal skills shortage is likely to hamper their growth. In a climate where the demand for legal professionals outstrips supply, you might want to think about making an offer sooner rather than later. Of course, it’s important that you weigh up your options and allow space to think about who is the best fit. Just don’t leave the candidate dangling for too long – they may just be snapped up by a competitor!

Many employers, whether in the legal profession or otherwise, stipulate how long the offer of employment stands for. A week is usual, although you may wish to adjust this as per your firm’s circumstances. If a candidate hasn’t accepted within seven days, it could well signal that they weren’t as bought in as you’d hoped.

Use employer branding to your advantage

Treat your employees – and potential employees – as you would your clients. Demonstrate why it’s so good to work with you and what other staff have gained, both professionally and personally, from working for your firm. Not only will a strong employer brand attract candidates to you, it will help encourage them to accept your offer, and will also help to retain them once they come on board. Our guide offers law firms in-depth insight into employer branding.

Dodge the minefield of counter offers

You’ve found an outstanding candidate, made an offer and are eagerly awaiting them to return their signed contract. What you get in return is a counter offer. Maybe the candidate has had more money offered by their employer, or a competitor. Maybe they’re requesting a more extensive benefits package. Counter offers aren’t the end of the world and can be very revealing about what’s important to and motivates the candidate you’re interested in.

But don’t get drawn into a bidding war. You may win the battle, although candidate indecision raises flags, and begs the question of whether they are playing two parties off for their own gain – in which case they perhaps aren’t the best fit for your practice. A trusted recruitment partner can sift through the candidates to highlight the best fit in terms of motives during the initial screening process, and save you the trouble of a counter offer later on.

Counter offers in the legal profession are an incredibly common occurrence; try as you might – or your recruitment partner for that matter – it’s not always possible to avoid the situation. A combination of factors, such as Brexit and a shortage of skilled legal professionals makes for an uncertain job market. The bad news for employers is that uncertainty breeds caution as legal professionals choose to stick with what they know rather than go out on a limb. On the up side, treat your existing staff well and you may find that an uncertain climate helps you retain talent.

Non-starters

It’s frustrating, although try not to let it faze you and remember that life happens. Give the benefit of the doubt to the candidate and – maddening though it may be – resist the urge to go in guns blazing if someone doesn’t show as there may be a simple explanation. And keep your employer brand in mind: if the candidate has a bad experience they’ll tell their network and that might make recruitment difficult in future.

The best offer

All stages of the recruitment process require careful thought and planning, and none more so than the offer stage. This crucial final hurdle to placing the right candidate decides the success of the whole operation.

If you’re in need of some support in navigating this, download our latest guide – or while at any – stage of your recruitment process why not contact Clayton Legal, either online using our call scheduling service or contact form.

Alternatively, you can phone us on 01772 259 121 – we’d be happy to help you seal the deal with promising candidates.

And if you do find yourself in the position of having to deal with a counter offer, you may find our blog ‘How to handle a counter offer situation’ helpful.

You may also like to download our latest report on trends in law: The 7 critical recruitment trends in law that will impact your talent pipeline in 2019.

Share This Post