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Talent Growth and Engagement in Your Law Firm in 2022

  • January 25, 2022

As talent shortages continue to impact every industry and the world of work changes rapidly, many businesses are beginning to recognise a rising demand for talent growth and retention.

In law firms, competition for individuals with the right skills is fierce. What’s more, the skills required today aren’t necessarily the same as they were ten years ago.

To survive in today’s world, law firms need to ensure they’re recruiting and retaining the right balance of talented professionals. This means implementing a range of new tactics for talent acquisition and employee engagement.
Let’s consider what talent growth and engagement will mean for your law firm in 2022.

Defining the Workforce of the Future

According to a study from PWC, leaders in all industries need to act now to prepare for the future of work. Organisations will need to consider the talent they need both now and in the future and how their teams might be affected by changing legal environments.

PWC notes around a third of employees are nervous about the future and the security of their jobs, thanks to the rise of automation. To attract and retain employees, law firms must create an employer brand that demonstrates their commitment to protecting and supporting their people. A commitment to nurturing agility, adaptability, and growth will be critical.

To ensure you continue to thrive in the workplace of the future, law firms will need to adapt their hiring, engagement, and retention strategy based on:

Technology breakthroughs: AI, automation, and other disruptive technologies are advancing quickly, even in the legal landscape. While these tools can help to reduce repetitive work for employees, they need to be seen as a supplement, not a replacement.

Demographic shifts: The world’s ageing population affects business models, talent ambitions, and reskilling strategies. All workers will need to learn new skills, and law firms must prepare for new demographics.

Notably, the strategies embraced by today’s law firms need to attract new talent as much as possible while engaging and supporting existing teams. A balanced talent attraction and retention plan will be the key to ongoing growth, with engaged employees performing 202% better than their counterparts. Here are some of the best ways to get started.

1.    Build Your Employer Brand

A strong employer brand will be crucial to attracting skilled legal professionals in the future. Today’s legal talent has a huge variety of employment options to choose from. If you want to hire the best people, you need to demonstrate you’re committed to offering a great working experience.
Start by asking yourself what kind of employer brand makes the most sense for your firm.

  • Do you want to present yourself as a company that puts its employees and people first?
  • Are you committed to innovation and team development?
  • What’s your stance on diversity and inclusion, ethics, and eco-friendliness?

Today’s teams are specifically looking for employer brands offering:

  • Flexibility: Opportunities to work on various cases, exciting new technology, and flexible working schedules (remote and hybrid working).
  • Empathy: Employers who care about the wellbeing and growth of their employees, including regular investments in upskilling.
  • Development: Employees will want to see you’re invested in their future, which may mean you need to offer regular training opportunities.

2.    Prioritise Employee Engagement

Finding the right people for talent growth is only the first step of building a successful law firm in the years ahead. Once you bring the right people onto your team, the next step is keeping them invested, engaged, and dedicated to your brand.

Identifying the drivers of employee engagement as early as possible will help you reduce your risk of losing crucial staff members. For instance, some employees will need access to increased levels of learning and development to stay invested in their role. Others will need ongoing feedback from business leaders to ensure they feel appreciated.

Businesses today need to offer their employees more than just a job. According to a study from Deloitte, 42% of staff seeking new opportunities feel like they didn’t get a chance to do meaningful work in their old roles. To ensure engagement:

    1. Strengthen communication

Great communication is the key to building workplace relationships and engagement. Your team members should feel connected to the rest of your staff, regardless of whether they’re in the office or not.

    1. Establish a clear vision

Share the values of your business with your legal professionals and let them know how they’re making a positive impact on the world. Make sure your firm stands for something your professionals care about.

    1. Create a feedback loop

Provide your legal staff with feedback and guidance to help them become better at their roles and show them you appreciate their work. At the same time, allow your teams to provide feedback on how your firm can improve.

3.    Access the Right Support

Finally, the rising complexity of the hiring landscape is making it more difficult for firms to find and retain employees independently. To access and retain the best talent in this new landscape, you’ll need help from a specialist legal recruitment partner who knows how to navigate the field.

An experienced legal recruitment team will be able to help you develop comprehensive talent pipelines, so you’re never left without essential skills for too long. The right team can show you how to create a new onboarding and recruitment strategy for remote legal professionals and develop your employer brand to attract more people.

Your legal hiring team can also significantly reduce the time involved in sourcing employees for business growth, helping you to filter through potential staff to find the people you need.

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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Hybrid, Home, and Hub Working in 2022 – What Does The Future Hold?

  • January 15, 2022

The world of work has undeniably changed during the last two years. Flexible working opportunities, including work from home, hybrid work, and hub (office) working, are rapidly becoming the new norm.

Consider this alongside the new flexible working bill revealed in June 2021, and work environments might change beyond recognition for firms across the legal sector.

The flexible working bill introduces several considerations for firms in search of talent for 2022. That means evaluating working practices for the legal industry, including if and how people return to the office.

Employers will be required to offer flexible arrangements in employment contracts and explain what work schedules are available when advertising job vacancies.

While the data suggests that employees who work in the professional and commercial sectors, such as law, can be just as efficient in a flexible working environment, the right talent growth strategies will still need to be in place to ensure a firm’s ongoing success.

Fail to provide the right working opportunities, and you could risk losing current staff while having your hiring offers rejected.
As a first start, let’s clarify the various working opportunities we are talking about here.

Defining Flexible Working Models

To ensure you’re prepared to welcome the new age of work, you’ll first need to understand what different flexible working modes entail.

    1. Homeworking

Otherwise known as remote working, home working involves allowing employees to work from home or remotely consistently in their role. This may include having video conferences with clients, fellow team members, and other departments for legal professionals.

    1. Hybrid working

Hybrid working combines home working with time in the office. It involves employees coming into the office and working remotely when their role allows.
Hybrid working has been available in many firms over the last few years, with partners working from home one day a week.
This is now changing, and even though employers and employees have enjoyed the benefits of working from home, the pandemic has also highlighted the wellbeing and connection needs of everyone. Many people find that a few days in the office helps boost their mood whilst improving collaboration.

    1. Hub working

Hub working often refers to situations where a specific legal team work together as a resource to each other to improve collaboration and communication. One partner may work in an office in Preston, the other in Carlisle and another from home on the outskirts of Leeds.
The move to flexible working is likely to see this style of approach becoming more prevalent.

For most legal companies, the hybrid working method is likely to be the preferred option for both partners and employees.

Approximately 70% of employees want flexible working options to continue, while 65% require more time with teams. In the legal sector, collaboration in-person and interactions with clients may require staff to be present in the office at least part-time.

Is the Hybrid Working Model Suitable for Legal Sector?

The rise of technology has facilitated a rapid transition to flexible working for many professional service and commercial organisations. E-signatures and contract management tools online allow a lot of the back-end work carried out by legal professionals to happen outside of the office.

Legal employees often feel comfortable working in a hybrid environment, as it allows them to split their time between the office, and the home environment, where they can have more quiet and focus. A recent Thomson Reuters survey reveals that 63% of legal professionals want to work flexible hours now, compared to only 22% pre-pandemic.

Notably, the desire for flexible work doesn’t lead to a decline in job commitment. Lawyers in the U.K. previously worked an average of 10 hours per day on weekdays and now express a desire to work up to 10.1 hours with flexible schedules.

Are There Benefits to New Working Styles?

Working from home, in a hybrid environment, or even as part of a flexible hub appears to have several benefits for today’s legal professionals. With fewer long commutes to worry about, time is saved in getting to and from the office and increased productivity has been documented consistently throughout the last two years.

On top of this, many studies are beginning to indicate hybrid and remote working can positively impact employee engagement satisfaction too.

The ability to work flexibly is something many legal job seekers have as a criterion before considering accepting an offer from a new employer. According to the Microsoft global work trends study, 40% of the worldwide workforce is now thinking about leaving their jobs in exchange for a career with more flexible options.

How to Implement New Work Styles

To ensure your firm stays ahead of the latest trends, it’s critical to start looking at flexible working options that make the most sense for your team. Consider which roles are suitable for hybrid, remote, and hub work and which might require a more traditional schedule.

Hybrid working has multiple benefits, but it can be challenging if not planned correctly. For most firms, the introduction of hybrid working will require a culture shift alongside new working methods.

We can learn lessons from working from home during the pandemic; however, hybrid working will make greater demands of managers and firms on an ongoing basis.

People working in a distributed environment can easily suffer from feelings of isolation and disengagement. There’s also the additional concern of cyber security and compliance to think about when team members are working online from multiple environments.

Employers will need to:

  • Consider their options: Look at the different working styles available and which ones are reasonably suited to your current employees.
  • Provide training: Ensure legal professionals have the tools and training they need to continue providing excellent service in a remote or hybrid environment.
  • Invest in constant optimisation: Use feedback from team members to constantly improve the hybrid or remote working strategy.

The recruiting team at Clayton Legal has been working with many law firms to adapt their talent search and job specifications in line with increased demand from job seekers for flexible working.

If you would like a conversation about how we can support your particular firm, do get in touch.

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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Virtual Legal Hiring Is Here to Stay: Are You Prepared?

  • November 24, 2021

Virtual hiring using video technology, for at least some of the recruiting process, isn’t new. Many organisations have used video screening since Skype first landed on our desktops back in 2003.

The use of video technology increased in popularity as pressure around time to recruit became a challenge, especially during the initial screening phase.

Over the last twenty years, reliable video has improved so much that many recruitment organisations, Clayton legal included, started to use video to enhance the recruiting process for both candidates and clients.

However, virtual hiring only became commonplace across multiple sectors during the Covid 19 global pandemic.

Last year according to a report by Gartner involving over 300 HR leaders, 86% of organisations conducted virtual interviews to fill their vacancies, and current evidence suggests virtual hiring is here to stay.

Now, however, the virtual hiring experience is rapidly emerging as a “new normal” for businesses and candidates.

Onrec, the respected recruitment resource website, recently shared data that revealed more than half of employers would continue to incorporate video interviews into their recruitment process.

In this workplace climate, both legal job seekers and employers are under increasing pressure to adapt or risk missing out on that potential new role or team member.

So today, let us look at the many benefits of virtual hiring and, importantly, what you need to consider to make this an effective hiring process for your firm.

 

The Multiple Benefits of the Virtual Hiring Trend

While the concept of continual virtual hiring may be daunting for some, the benefits are significant.

Virtual hiring accelerated as a needs-driven response to the pandemic, and consequently, its many benefits have become more visible; here are a few you might not have considered.

 

Visual Impact

Communication happens at many levels. Written prose is level one, and visual media is level three. The impact of hearing and watching someone speak is different to reading their CV. As human beings, our communication and effect are improved when we use our visual and auditory capabilities.

Albert Mehrabian is a psychology professor from UCLA known for his pioneering work in non-verbal communication, in other words, body language.

He identified the 7-38-55% communication rule. Fundamentally an individuals body language and communication ability has more impact than the words they are communicating. Not surprising then that video interviewing is so effective in helping you identify individuals ideal for your legal role.

 

Hiring Speed

Virtual hiring equals speed; 45% of recruiters revealed that video interviews helped speed up their process.

Video screening doesn’t need to be live video either. A candidate can record a video and send it to their recruiter for onward transmission and first screening by the hiring manager in question.

A win for everyone.

The candidate can record a video and put their best foot forward; deleting any stutters and stalls until they record a video they are happy will represent what they have to offer to their potential new firm.

At the same time, the hiring manager can watch the video when they have a gap in their diary. The initial screening interviews to create a shortlist can then take place in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. Vital timesaving for a hiring manager who is probably already juggling a high caseload.

With time to recruit as an important metric for many firms, virtual hiring suddenly makes absolute financial sense.

 

Decision Making and Carbon Footprints

Video interviewing means more people can be involved in the process from multiple locations; no more waiting around for a decision from a senior partner in London who can’t get to the interview because a court date was changed.

As I write this, many of us have been gripped by the COP26 conference in Glasgow. Yes, climate change and carbon footprints are real, and consistent actions like minimising travel will make a difference.

 

Preparing for the Virtual Hiring Revolution

Both legal professionals AND firms will also need to continue to navigate the age of virtual interviewing.

Video technology and the skill to present and interview effectively are critical.

Video tech and software have developed significantly over the last three years. The majority of the legal profession are now familiar with Zoom and M.S. teams as a medium to conduct interviews. Yet still, a challenge for many is using these applications to best effect.

Let me share a few obvious examples that are easy to forget.

Remember, someone is going to be looking at what is or isn’t behind you. Only last week, I was distracted by a member of parliament and their book collection during a BBC interview.

This should not be an issue anymore, with virtual backgrounds being freely available.

As a client, if you have a glass-walled office, remember seeing people walking past is distracting for a candidate ‘trying’ to answer your questions.

Agreeing on a standard video interviewing procedure for your team that you also share with your recruiting partner will avoid the classic mistakes we have all seen shared online.

Invest in a good camera and microphone and use them.

The connection between human beings is key in the interview process. Make sure you know exactly where the camera aperture is and look into it. It is most off-putting when you are staring down at a screen instead of into a camera, which is the same for all parties concerned.

Being good on video is a skill, and luckily one you can develop- practise does make perfect.

Every social platform allows you to upload videos. LinkedIn will allow you to upload a video straight from your phone, provided it is less than ten minutes in length.

As a hiring manager, share videos about your team, firm and culture and the good work you are doing; you will be surprised how confident you can become.

As a candidate, It is easy to profile yourself ahead of an interview by uploading a video that profiles what you have to offer an employer. The latest platform to embrace this phenomenon is Tik Tok, with younger job seekers posting their ‘Careertok’ C.V.s.

Being proficient in communicating with video isn’t only for candidates; it’s critical for your brand, too; let me explain.

 

Is Your Employer Brand Compatible With Virtual Hiring?

In an environment where much of the recruitment journey is now happening online, employer brands are more valuable than ever. Legal firms will need to ensure they have a presence on the right industry forums, social media channels, and other platforms to attract the right candidates.

It doesn’t stop there.

More than ever, in a skill short market, legal candidates choose the companies they want to work with. Fact: Your culture and flexibility could now be the deciding factor.

Earlier, we talked about communicating well with video. The question now is how can you share your culture throughout the virtual hiring process?

Having freely available culture videos on your website, as themuse shares here, demonstrate your inclusivity and work environment.

Another idea is to provide a virtual experience during, before or after the virtual interview.

What about a Zoom coffee catch up with different departments or an office walkthrough?

Technology really does make anything possible.

 

What’s Next?

The legal industry is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for both our legal clients and jobseekers.

Contact the Clayton Legal team today if you would like support to develop your legal recruitment strategy or job search in the virtual age.

 

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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The War for Talent: Tips on How to Succeed in a Candidate Drought

  • June 25, 2021

The job market in 2020 was undeniably challenging with across-the-board hiring freezes, redundancies, and re-structures that hit many professional sectors; Legal being no exception. And, whilst much has been documented about the inferred bounce-back this year (ourselves included with our Regional Analysis of Private Practice Vacancies back in April), the still-present backdrop of the global pandemic, and ongoing economic support measures such as the Job Retention Scheme masking the true impact of COVID on the sector, it’s clear that it’s not plain sailing just yet for those in the hiring seat.

The legal market in hiring terms is certainly buoyant as we near the second half of 2021 following a real step-change in vacancies advertised from February when volumes far surpassed the hiring activity of 2019. Yet, the wide range of choice for Candidates – real golden opportunities across all practice areas – is coupled with market uncertainty and jobseekers that are cautious about a move in the current climate. Whilst this competitive landscape certainly creates strategic organisational challenges, there are steps that Firms can take to ensure they tap into active and passive talent pools and focus firmly on their retention strategies to ensure their existing talent is not being lost to competitors.

Don’t discount the cost of employee retention

While there is certainly a renewed appetite for hiring and recruitment of new talent across the sector, it goes without saying that Firms should keep a keen eye on staff retention and attrition particularly those operating in practice areas or regions that have a short supply of qualified professionals. We highlighted only last year how firms can retain their talent during a skills shortage, and whilst generally speaking we’re not seeing illimitable job-hopping (at the moment at least), the commercial cost of losing A-grade employees can be significant as well as impacting team productivity, and the loss of knowledge and skill from the business. To rely solely on recruitment would be unwise; instead, concomitantly focusing on employee engagement, remuneration and rewards, clear progression, and staff development as part of a wider retention strategy is essential in the current climate.

Be aware that your reputation (and brand) will precede you

A strong employer brand undoubtedly aids recruitment strategies to attract top-tier candidates, especially in competitive markets where a candidate may have multiple opportunities, and offers, on the table. Jobseekers will always be mindful of your brand, market position and reputation as well as prestige amongst their professional networks.

Employees, perhaps more so in the last decade, are engaged by laser-sharp Corporate and Social Responsibility programmes that give the organisation (and their work) purpose, a sense of worth and impact on the wider society – so it’s imperative that jobs advertised go above and beyond the basic role profile. Successful hiring campaigns should focus on what the candidate can expect as an employee of that business – there should be an element of ‘selling’ the benefits, the culture, and the development opportunities available.

Savvy jobseekers will no doubt do their research and lift the bonnet on the inner workings of your Firm – so ensuring your employer brand is reflected well across review sites (Glassdoor, Google Reviews) and across your own social channels will help to bring advocates within your existing workforce to the fore, and really add to the credibility and authenticity of your brand. Directing jobseekers to internal success stories and case studies on your site, or a vibrant ‘Work for Us’ section will really help to bring the role to life and give creative insight that allows candidates to visualise themselves working for you and being part of the fabric of your business.

Don’t discount re-train contracts

We often speak to candidates who are considering a move to another branch of law. And, whether that catalyst is redundancy, a change in personal circumstances or because of a prolonged career break – we do advise that it is indeed possible – although not always easy or straightforward.

It is often par for the course that Partners and Hiring Managers will primarily look to attract candidates with proven track records, specific sector-experience, and demonstrable evidence of suitability for the role – but offering re-train opportunities if you are able could really open the door to candidates that are a great fit culturally, and willing to upskill.

At a recent panel event organized by Legal Cheek and The University of Law (ULaw), attendees heard from Lawyers who had made the leap into the sector from other industries altogether, illustrating that certain skills and strengths are transferrable especially across professional services.

The onus may not necessarily be on the end Hirer to provide or run the retraining course – organisations such as CLT (Central Law Training) offer conversion courses and certification for practitioners wishing to change specialisms so as hirers, being receptive to candidate profiles that indicate more recent training, or discernible industry knowledge could pay dividends.

Casting the net wider…consider home/remote/hybrid options

The pandemic has certainly brought about a lot of change for the legal sector, not least the urgent acceleration in technical solutions to support homeworking en masse. And, after arguably a shaky start, the sector has on the whole embraced the advancement of systems development to support everything from case load management to internal communications channels to drive business forward across a fragmented workforce.

We are still, even over 15 months on from the first national lockdown, inundated with headlines focused on what the perceived ‘end’ to the pandemic will look like, especially on how (and where) we work. Hybrid working certainly seems to dominate and seen by many as the most likely future state across many professional sectors. In a recent survey we conducted within our networks, nearly 70% stated a preference for hybrid once restrictions are lifted, although only three quarters of these respondents predict that this will actually be the case. Interestingly 8% of respondents envisage working exclusively from home. We are already seeing a marked increase in home- and hybrid-contracts being offered, especially for Firms who are looking potentially outside of their locality or where options may have already been exhausted. Whilst this solution may not work for every business and does come with much-documented challenges on a longer-term basis, it does mean that traditional recruitment based on commutability is cast aside and can really open up opportunities to a much bigger pool of legal professionals.

Whilst reporting around ways of working rumble on, including a leak from Whitehall on a new Government flexible working taskforce that is considering legislation to make homeworking a default option, business lobby groups have argued that it is ultimately down to the firms themselves to decide where that work is done. Whatever the outcome, the work-from-home guidance is likely to end next month, and businesses will be left with three choices – ‘home, hybrid, or hub’ – a mantra coined by Lloyds Banking Group who have shared their model and how they believe it will allow their people to work more effectively. Whilst there are some business owners that ultimately may wish to return to ‘normal’, casting the net wider by reviewing the feasibility of home- and hybrid- contracts may be a wise commercial move – especially as, put simply, it is what many employees want.

Make them an offer that’s hard to refuse

We see time and time again the recruitment process fall down at the final hurdle – when the interviews have taken place, the Candidate ticks all of the boxes in relation to the role, and the offer is put together…. only it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Taking time to consider an offer that is compelling is vital, although equally it’s important that the individual in question is not left waiting unduly; particularly if there are other Firms, (your competitors) in the side lines also vying for attention.

The Financial Reporter recently recounted research conducted by analytics company, Visier where over half of financial employees in the UK are reported to be actively looking for a new role in the next 6 months. And, akin to the sector research we conduct each year in our Salary Survey, the reasons for moving are mirrored to those we see amongst legal professionals – namely a role that addresses work/life balance, progression and career development opportunities, training and upskilling programs, and fair remuneration. It is also good practice to review salaries and wider benefits packages across your own competitors for benchmarking purposes. After all, what may seem like a compelling offer may turn out to be a damp squib if some due diligence on market rates isn’t conducted at regular intervals.

Only this week, HR Professionals from Forbes Human Resources Council defined what makes a successful job offer including the following pointers:

  1. Start conversations around salary early so no one is left guessing.
  2. Be transparent about things like bonuses, benefits, and compensation.
  3. Build a relationship throughout the hiring process – building trust and having open and honest conversations from the get-go.
  4. Don’t compete solely on ‘the package’ – a holistic employee experience that is instilled in the culture is more of a focus than ever. Highlight this wherever possible.
  5. Do be open to special requests – understanding what is important to candidates and listening to the ‘whys’ is good practice and may offer competitive edge if taken on board.

For more detailed advice on how to make an irresistible offer, we’ve created an easy-to-follow guide – read HERE.

Don’t panic hire

Hiring during a skills shortage can sometimes instigate rushed or knee-jerk reactions particularly when recruitment projects have been running on longer than anticipated, and especially when the unfilled role is impacting the bottom line. Once hiring budgets have been approved and the job specifications are written and published, there is often, in our experience, an element of urgency to move through the process – yet moving too quickly and not taking due care and attention with a thorough review of candidate profiles can be costly in the long term.

In a survey from People Management, some 39% of hiring managers realized that they had made the wrong decision within two weeks of the new recruit starting. What they may not be aware of however is that in most cases* the true cost to the business of this decision is roughly 3.5 times their annual salary – which in the current climate will be difficult to absorb.

Working with recruitment specialists will allow Firms to enhance their search capabilities to get the right ‘fit’ first time, every time. With the rapid acceleration of video platforms and tech to support the likes of virtual onboarding, candidate screening, assessments and shortlisting can be further enriched and really add value to what can be a complex and difficult process. Being resolute around what type of individual or individuals are right for your business is still imperative and moving away from this or making compromises to get the role filled quicker may come back to bite you.

(Earlier this year we launched our True Cost of Hiring Calculator where you can quickly review and analyse the commercial cost of your recent hires, leavers, and financial impact of getting it wrong. It is well worth a look to inform and mitigate any further risks in your recruitment process).

Don’t go it alone – enlist the help of experts

Utilising a sector-specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start with your hiring campaigns – furnishing you not only with market insight and that helicopter view of the hiring landscape, but the inside track on movement and access to talent pools of active and passive legal professionals.

At Clayton Legal, our consultants can offer practical, honest advice on the fillability of roles, salary benchmarking and insight into requirements and drivers of jobseekers in the current climate.

Experienced, qualified legal professionals are often time-short and as such are increasingly approaching agencies to represent them in the market rather than go-it-alone. Skilled in ‘selling’ your Firm and elevating your roles through strategic marketing – it makes absolute commercial sense to bring in the experts when the hiring landscape remains complex, and the candidate, at least for now, is King.

It is certainly clear from conversations that we have daily with Law Firms across the country that many are actively rethinking their talent strategies at all stages of the employee lifecycle – to attract, engage and retain skilled professionals in a highly competitive job market.

If you are actively searching for legal talent, we’d love to speak to you. Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can enhance your hiring strategy.

What’s Next?

The legal industry is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for both our legal clients and jobseekers.

Contact the Clayton Legal team today if you would like support to develop your legal recruitment strategy or job search in the virtual age.

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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What Skills Gap Do You Have In Your Post-Furlough Legal Team?

  • October 12, 2020

As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme officially comes to an end in September 2021, many legal practices will already have an idea of about who will be returning to their team full time and others who may not be after furlough.

There are many reasons why there may be skills gaps in your legal team right now, whether COVID-19 plays a part or not.

The Redundancy Problem

27% of UK employers are expected to make job cuts due to coronavirus, and while the UK legal sector is generally more resilient than other industries, some firms have had to make cuts.

Giles Murphy, head of professional practice at accountant Smith & Williamson said in the FT recently, “as the full impact of the economy hits firms, activity levels are likely to fall and firms will need fewer staff. At that point the expensive ones might be at risk”.

Is your firm thinking about making redundancies? It is critical that if you do, you do not leave yourself with skills gaps in any areas. At the end of this article is a guide to help you recognise if you are at risk of leaving yourself with critical skills gaps.

Expansion, Creating New Skill Gaps

For every firm that has had to make redundancies, there are others that are expanding their products, services and even specialisms. Rapid growth since the end of lockdown in property, family and employment cases has meant that some firms are struggling to get through their work with the teams they have.

Despite the headlines, some firms within the UK legal sector are performing better than ever. The Global Legal Post reported that some law firms are having their ‘best year ever’ with the UK legal sector records its second-strongest July on record.

This expansion is another way that skills gaps can appear. You might be having a record-breaking year but do you have the right amount of staff with the right skills in place to be able to capitalise on this?

Retraining Your Current Employees

Currently, there is a big demand for staff and low supply – in the areas that are booming since Covid. Property, Family, and Employment Law have all seen a drastic increase in the need for their services, which is set to be the case for the foreseeable. It might be time to consider retraining some of your current team in areas which you’re struggling to find employees. Retraining is a great way to utilise your current team and can help you avoid redundancies. Speak to your team to find out which areas any of them would like to retrain in – now is the perfect time to put this plan into action.

Digital Skills Gaps

It has proven essential for law firms to adapt digitally to our new remote world.

Sheffield based personal injury firm Irwin Mitchell recently identified 100 roles which were potentially at risk because of digital changes that the pandemic caused.

Have you introduced new software or technology to allow employees to manage work from home? And if so, are you confident that all employees are proficient in the skills needed to work efficiently from home?

With a potential new lockdown on the way and the government guidelines asking employees who can, to work from home – are you digitally prepared for employees to work remotely for the foreseeable?

We have covered the topic of our digital adaption in a separate blog, with tips for other businesses, which you can read here.

So finally, let’s look at how to perform a skills gap analysis in your law firm.

How to Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis

For many legal practices, restructuring, rather than redundancies, are causing skills gaps. And not the kind of restructuring that we usually hear about; instead, it’s a true type of restructuring caused by the enormous changes to the world since Covid.

A change in working practices, shifting business models, unprecedented cases – all of these have increased the need to have the right skills in the right place in your legal team.

So how do you find out if and where you have skills gaps?

Here is the three-step process.

Step 1 – Identify the skills needed in your practice (both now and in the future)

Due to Covid, have you or are you planning on expanding into a new specialism, or have you been dealing with an increased workload in certain areas?

Think about the future trends of work – are there skills that are becoming more prevalent such as digital skills? Are there currently employees taking on extra duties to cover a vacancy or new tasks that keep emerging? Are you aware of any new positions you will need to create?

You should end up with a list of the key skills your legal practice needs, and the different roles that your firm needs to continue to manage your cases.

Step 2 – Pinpoint existing skills

You might be waiting until the end of the year to conduct performance reviews but right now, after furlough and before the end of the year is the perfect time to conduct a skills audit.

For each employee, determine the skills they possess in regards to the roles needed in your company.

You may find that you have a team who all possess similar skills, but there is a lack of individuals with the skills you need to drive your business forwards, like the aforementioned digital skills or training in certain specialisms.

Step 3 – Determine where the gaps are

Finally, you will know the skills and roles you need in your firm, and you know what you currently have; the gaps are where you need to bring in new talent.

There may be gaps in places you didn’t expect. For example, your team might be coping with remote technology right now but lack the skills to do so long-term.

Finally

If there are critical gaps in your legal team, and you need to make a plan to bridge these gaps, we can help.

Call us on 01772 or send us an email here. We will work with you to help you find options for your gaps and can provide help for restructuring and recruitment in your law 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 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 Hidden Costs of Hiring Legal Roles in a Post-Covid Market

  • September 14, 2020

The U.K. legal sector is going through a period of change as it recovers from the disruption caused by the Coronavirus.

It is one industry that was significantly affected by the pandemic, as initial restrictions caused property, conveyancing, and family law to come to a standstill.

Initially, there was a concern that the legal sector was going to take considerable time to recover; in reality, the opposite has happened.

At the start of the pandemic, it was feared that legal roles in the housing sector were under threat, but in a surprising U-turn, July 2020 was the busiest month for property in a decade.

With such an unpredictable few months ahead of us, what legal employers must focus on now is ensuring they’ve got the right talent in place for critical roles.

Despite the pandemic, growth in the sector has been constant. This has created several recruiting problems for employers.

Today, we look at the current recruiting problems legal employers are facing and what they can do to overcome them.

The Current Recruitment Process is Not Sustainable

Legal employers looking to recruit now are discovering an increased number of candidates applying for each role.

This Independent article states that the job which received the most applicants on a well-known CV site last month was a paralegal role, which attracted 4,228 applicants.

Having this number of candidates to sift through is not a sustainable recruitment method – let me explain why.

Your options are limited when you have so many applicants for a single position – how can you make a truly informed recruiting decision without looking through every single application? But if you don’t look through each application, you could be missing out on the best candidate.

It’s a catch-22 situation.

If you don’t have a dedicated H.R. or internal recruitment department, which many legal firms don’t, especially in the wake of Covid, time spent recruiting is time spent not focusing on your regular tasks and your firm’s billings.

The average recruitment process in the U.K. takes 28 days – that’s almost a month spent on recruiting. And with added Covid challenges such as some firms conducting interviews via video, or social distancing making the process longer, it is currently an even more time-consuming task for employers.

As you can see, any legal employer looking to recruit in-house right now are faced with numerous challenges.

And with a sea of candidates all with different backgrounds and motivations – it takes some delicate interpersonal skills to assess if each one would be ‘right’ for your firm.

Finding the ‘Right’ Legal Candidate Instead of the ‘Right Now’ Candidate

Despite the recent success and resilience in the post-Covid legal sector, the pandemic’s disruption has unsettled people in terms of their lives and their careers.

There has been a lot of movement in the job market, both out of necessity and out of choice.

When you post a legal job and get many great applicants, there is no way of knowing what their future plans might be.

Most candidates will tell you that they plan to stay at your company for a long time, but this is not necessarily the truth.

Legal employees who believe their jobs might be under threat are looking to safeguard themselves; speculatively applying for new roles that they think are ‘safer’.

Only a few months ago, conveyancing came to a standstill, and there was talk of legal firms reducing their property departments in line with what was predicted to be a slowing down on the housing market – paradoxically, these jobs are in more demand than ever. So it’s hard to predict where legal candidates are focusing their career aspirations, due to the unprecedented way the sector is changing.

A specialist recruiter will ascertain what a candidate’s honest career plans are. This way they will only match candidates to roles which suit them for the long-term.

When you recruit in-house, you must take each candidate on face value.

You run the risk of hiring a great candidate only to have them leave shortly afterwards for a different role. The cost of this happening is estimated to be in the thousands.

Let’s look in more detail at the ‘true’ cost of hiring.

How Much Does the ‘Wrong’ Hire Cost?

A recent study by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that 85% of H.R. decision-makers stated that their company had hired someone who wasn’t right for the job.

The truth is that making the wrong legal hire can cost three times the cost of the individual’s salary; for a legal role with a salary of £42,000, this could be up to £132,000.

It can be, at first, difficult to understand why hiring the wrong individual can cost your business so much because the real cost is hidden.

As a busy business owner, it is impossible to see day-to-day how the true cost of the wrong hire can be impacting your business.

Here are some of the ways the cost of a bad hire stacks up.

  • Paying to re-advertise the job.
  • The time spent assessing C.V.s and conducting interviews; it is always longer than you think.
  • The cost of training a new hire – even internal training costs in time (and thus, revenue).
  • It can take up to half a year for a new employee to settle into their role and start adding to your bottom line – this is not something you want to have to do twice in a year.
  • If you can’t find the right hire for several weeks or months, members of your current team will be covering extra duties, watering down the value they would usually be adding in their role.
  • Employing someone who doesn’t fit in with your firm’s culture can cause H.R. issues between employees and can cause demotivation in your current team, which again will impact morale, productivity and consequently, revenue.
  • If you make the ‘wrong’ hire, but they stay with your firm for several months, they can become disengaged; disengaged employees are thought to cost the U.K. between £52-£70 billion per year in lost productivity.

There is so much to think about when making a recruiting decision for your legal firm, and as you can see, there are plenty of circumstances where making the wrong hire can be incredibly costly for your business too.

But sometimes, the pressure of having a vacancy can lead legal employers to make a hire they suspect are not exactly right for the job, but they feel employing this individual is their only option.

Thankfully, there is another option – working with a legal recruiter for a fee which is much lower than the cost of making the ‘wrong’ hire – to recruit the right individual the first time around.

Working with a Legal Recruiter

Recruiting your next legal employee is about much more than sorting through C.V.s and conducting interviews.

We are currently in the most business-critical period in a generation, your hiring decisions and the dynamics of your team have never been more important. You must make the right hire, and thankfully the legal candidate market is buoyant right now.

We can help you hone your recruitment process and find the perfect candidate for the needs of your legal firm.

Get in touch with us here with the details of your legal vacancy, and we will get back to you with information about the ‘right’ candidates.

How Can We Help?

Here at Clayton Legal, we have multiple clients looking for skilled and ambitious candidates like you. For a confidential conversation about your legal career goals and your next move, please get in contact with one of our team here.

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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Strategic Business Planning for Your Legal Practice Post-Covid

  • July 25, 2020

Business disruption is something that was once a little-discussed clause in contracts and insurance documents; now, it has become the main focus of legal matters in the UK since the pandemic.

As businesses acted quickly to protect their assets after the first ripples of the disruption caused by the pandemic, this has now given way to a recovery stage, in which we now find ourselves.

The challenges businesses are facing right now as a result of the pandemic can be narrowed down to a few areas. It is these areas where legal firms will need to focus their efforts to take advantage of the fluctuating workloads, and adapting to clients’ needs to cement a trusted business partnership.

Today we look at the picture that is emerging from the legal sector; where firms are struggling to meet demand, and which areas are still on hold due to the pandemic.

First let’s look at the main challenges facing businesses right now, which is impacting on the legal sector.

Pandemic Problems

Many businesses, as I’m sure you’re aware, have had to suspend or heavily restrict their operations.

Even now, four months after the start of lockdown in the UK, estate agents are nowhere near back to normal in terms of sales and lettings, with social distancing proving a problem for showing prospective customers around properties.

Other businesses are facing cashflow problems, struggles with contractual obligations and having to look at restructuring. We already see an increase in litigation in certain areas, as the full effects of Covid-19 on businesses come to light.

We are also observing an increase in legal cases being brought against the government, for their reaction to Covid-19. For example, the Independent Workers Union are suing the government for ‘failure to provide Covid-19 support for precarious workers’, and a number of cases involving individuals bringing legal action due to deaths from Covid.

We can expect to see a host of precedents being set in the legal cases emerging from the unique pandemic situation.

New Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

Despite efforts by the UK government to protect businesses from going under, the picture that is emerging is that sadly, there will be some businesses that do not survive the pandemic.

Businesses who have failed to make it through the recent troubling time will now be seeking help with insolvency and all associated legislation.

To help businesses with their unexpected closures, there is a new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill which came into effect on 26th June 2020.

The measures in this act aim to relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and allow them to focus their efforts on continuing to operate during a period of insolvency, to take urgent steps to restructure, seek new investment or evade immediate creditor action.

Virus-Related Litigation

Once businesses have made headway in deciding where they stand on contracts that were created pre-Covid, we can expect that there will be a wave of litigation to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

Insurance companies are currently locked in a battle with their clients in the aftermath of Covid over what constituted ‘business interruption’ as many contracts didn’t explicitly mention government-imposed closures. Clients believed that this should have been covered, insurers stated otherwise.

The Financial Conduct Authority has started proceedings with eight insurers and 17 of their clients over the wording of their insurance policies. Many companies have been unable to claim in some cases tens of thousands of pounds over the dispute of whether the government-induced lockdown was covered in their policies – highlighting the importance of wording in legally binding contracts.

Does the wording of your contracts need looking at to ensure they are pandemic-proof?

When Temporary Housing Laws Expire

The unprecedented mortgage holidays and blocks on tenancy evictions are shortly to come to an end, which will increase activity in property legislation which has been stagnant since the UK lockdown was imposed.

Real Estate Litigation vacancies fell by 53% in April. Still, with mortgage holidays ending in October and rent evictions frozen until the end of August, we can expect to see a sharp increase in these areas as the full effects of Covid are exposed.

Recent data found that 13% of renters have fallen behind with their payments, compared to around 4% before the pandemic. This means a potential increase in rent evictions of up to a third.

As courts are still operating in a socially-distanced way, court cases can expect to take longer, as the waiting time for court dates is prolonged. As this is the case in other areas of law, we can expect drawn-out proceedings for the time being. Perhaps once courtrooms return to normal, the legal sector will be over the worst of its disruptions and things can carry on in relative ‘normality’.

Planning and Restructuring

Looking at the direction in which the legal sector is going, is it time to look at where you need to make changes to your legal practice?

If so, we can help.

We are currently working with law firms in the North West to help them secure the best talent to ensure their practice can offer what the market is looking for.

Restructuring is going to be vital for firms as businesses everywhere look to salvage jobs and avoid another deep recession.

If you’re looking for insolvency or dispute and litigation experts, get in touch with us today. We will put you in touch with the best available talent right now, to future proof your practice.

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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The Legal Sector Bounce Back After Covid (and What it Means for Your Law Firm)

  • June 29, 2020

Despite the recent upheaval, the UK legal sector is faring well in comparison to the economy as a whole.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that revenue in the sector only fell by 4.7% from March to April, compared with the 20% the rest of the economy has suffered.

This is welcome news in a period which has been hounded by a degree of anxiety and uncertainty.

This ‘surprisingly positive’ news indicates that UK law firms will not have to fully employ temporary working measures to the degree that was predicted during the worst of the lockdown. Many firms are managing better than they expected, and they are now bringing staff back from furlough and redundancies have not been needed.

We still have a while to go before the full extent of the impact of Covid-19 is realised, but these figures are representative of a tentative optimism emerging in some industries, including the legal sector.

There will, of course, be some changes to the way law firms operate in the UK, which will impact teams, revenue, and entire organisations. But where there are losers, there must also be winners – today we look at where the challenges and opportunities are starting to emerge in our sector.

Residential Property

Despite most specialisms coping well with the recent upheaval, the most affected area is property law. The unprecedented ban on house moves which was in place during the lockdown slowed this specialism to an almost standstill.

But the pandemic didn’t stop people from wanting to move house – those customers still exist. It is about finding a way to help these individuals, to keep in contact with prospective buyers about where they are with deposits, mortgages and selling their current homes.

Likewise, the government imposed restrictions on evictions due to missed rent payments due to Covid-19, but this protection for tenants ends in September. From then, we can expect to see an increase in all aspects of property law, especially surrounding evictions and tenancy disputes. The unfortunate consequences of Covid-19 are yet to be realised for many individuals who will sadly have to make alternative living arrangements, both renters and homeowners will feel the impact as the year progresses.

Commercial Property

The commercial property sector is also in a state of uncertainty, with months of closed shops, retailers are struggling to pay rents for the quarter. One estimate suggests that only around 15 per cent of retailers are in a position to pay commercial landlords after almost three months with no income.

And this problem is not confined to smaller businesses. Retail giant Intu, who owns the Trafford Centre, have warned they might have to close malls if they cannot reach an agreement with lenders.

As the commercial rent situation threatens to become a problem, the British Property Federation has advised any businesses unable to pay their quarterly rent to speak to their landlord as soon as possible.

Similar to residential property, the next few months are going to be pivotal for commercial property contracts, with the closure of businesses, evictions and sales a distinct possibility. After the current ‘dry period’, in the next few months we will see a significant increase in the need for commercial property legal services.

Merger and Acquisition

One area which has seen an increase which we can expect to continue is in merger and acquisition.

Global law firm White & Case recently published results of their M&A survey, which found that 86 per cent of firms expect an increase in this area. The findings revealed that 50 per cent of dealmakers said they plan to ‘lean in’ to any downturn.

Traditional bankruptcy, restructuring, and cases relating to sovereign debt are expected to rise in the coming months.

How the Industry is Bouncing Back

The ONS figures I mentioned earlier, while not representative of every UK law firm, indicate a promising future ahead.

The unexpected positive figures mean that many law firms can bring employees back from furlough earlier than expected, and will reduce the fear of redundancy worries.

Because of the speed with which the pandemic hit, there was initial concern over reductions across all legal specialisms, potentially resulting in many redundancies.

But the legal sector’s worst fears appear not to have materialised. Our industry has already fared well, and a recent Reuters poll found that a quick recovery of the economy as a whole can also be expected, lessening redundancy fears even further.

Law firms who have maintained excellent customer service and market awareness, and practising adaptability, are the ones who will come out of this crisis stronger.

Rob Millard, of Cambridge Strategy Group, said that firms must look forward to next year in their planning –

“Concessions such as VAT and partner tax deferrals are helping short term cash flow, but those will end in Q1 2021,” he said. “The need to look longer term and pivot to digital delivery of those services, or finding other value propositions to offer to clients, has never been more acute.”

Next Steps

Planning for the future is easy when you have a dynamic legal team who share the same goal and understand each other and the needs of the business inherently.

If you need to recruit individuals into your legal team who will strengthen your business to prepare for what the rest of the year, and beyond, will bring, we can help.

Get in touch with us today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here to find out about how we can help find you find the talent you need to succeed.

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 Practice After Lockdown – Preparing For the New Norm

  • June 10, 2020

June 3rd 2020 is set to be the date when most non-essential workplaces start opening up after almost three-months of lockdown imposed by the UK government in March this year.

The lockdown has affected all businesses and individuals differently. Some of the candidates we work with tell us that they have enjoyed working from home and have never been more productive. Others have felt out of place and can’t wait to get back to the office. Whatever your personal opinions on lockdown have been, the one truth we can’t ignore is that legal workplaces are going to be different spaces as employees return to work.

Aside from the social distancing measures, the 10-week break from the ‘old’ way of working has paved the way for a new concept of working altogether.

Your legal practice is going to be a different place as you return – in this article; we explore how to prepare for the ‘new norm’.

Practical Changes

The first thing Senior Partners on your HR team must do before inviting employees back is to ensure your workplace is compliant with new workplace safety guidelines. The guidance for offices can be found here, and includes how to set-up socially distanced offices, who should return to work and who should remain at home and logical cleaning guidance too.

In a recent Forbes article on working after lockdown, one theory included the idea that workplaces will get ‘better’. In that, there will be more of a focus on collaboration, learning and socialisation, as we bring the parts of home working that were successful back into our workspaces with us to create a ‘workplace of the future’.

Of course, every legal practice will look different as teams return, based on the size of your office and your team. If you have a small office where it is possible to socially distance, you might be welcoming everyone back as soon as possible. For larger offices where people are happy to continue working from home, up to half of the team may continue working in this way.

After consulting the government guidance, you must decide what is possible in terms of space and cost, what works best for your team and find a solution which works for everyone.

For firms where a significant proportion of the workplace are going to continue working from home, how can you achieve this long-term? Let us take a look at legal digital needs.

A Digital Landscape

While many practices did all they could to allow employees to continue working on cases seamlessly from home, the truth is that many firms were not equipped with the right tools to let employees do this successfully.

Writing for Legal Futures recently, barrister Ross Birbeck highlighted how practices need to update their systems to allow for successful remote working on a more permanent scale.

Interestingly, he points out that much of the change needs to come in the form of simple tech. He states, “It is notable that the technologies being picked up most are not the heavyweight, hi-tech solutions to industry-specific problems, but simple tools for everyday tasks: video conferencing for remote meetings, and PDF software for analysing documents on a laptop. We are going to see those tools become deeply integrated into the practice of law.”

Many firms have employees who are still shielding (either themselves or living with family members who are). Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, there will be legal employees in law firms everywhere who will be remote working for several months at least.

Do your employees have everything they need? In the rush to open your practice again, remember that remote employees will continue to need the right level of support, as well as employees who are returning.

Essential points to monitor include –

  • Ensure documents and emails remain available to remote and returning employees.
  • Ensure video conferencing remains available to all employees (including software and webcams/microphones if the hardware is being moved between homes and offices).
  • Ensure remote employees can access online versions of your legal documents and have Esign capabilities.
  • Avoid storing sensitive information at employee’s homes – aim to bring all confidential data back into the workplace as soon as possible.

Physical alterations are not going to be the only changes your legal team will have to get used to. A significant part of how things will change is the psychology of coming back to work in a practice with a different, possibly separated team.

Finally, let’s explore how legal managers and Senior Partners can ensure their employees are emotionally supported to prepare for the ‘new norm’.

Managing and Supporting an Altered Team

A blog I was reading on Law.com recently noted: “top lawyers are sure of one thing: working practices will never return to the way they were before COVID-19”. This is true of the way the virus has changed our physical landscape, but also how it will have affected your team psychologically.

The two most significant ways you will have to deal with change are in the way your team has been separated, and the way your practice may have to adapt to the market going forwards.

Practically, to keep afloat in the legal arena, you might have to re-train, or cross-skill your employees to form new teams in areas where there are opportunities. In which areas are you expecting there to be increased and reduced demand? Do you have the ability to train staff to meet changing demand?

It will be beneficial to have a focus on upskilling and re-training your employees as soon as you can.

Mentally, returning to work when your workplace, your role and your team look very different can be unsettling for many employees. It is now that you must be aware of how the change has affected your team and offer robust support.

Things to consider when supporting your team over the coming weeks and months include –

  • Be a transparent and accessible leader at all times – your team need to know they can rely on you and that you are honest about the goals of the company.
  • Acknowledge the changed working landscape and consistently ask employees if they are coping well with new systems and processes. Do not expect that all employees will easily adapt to significant changes – it will be more challenging for some.
  • Help your employees find new purpose and meaning in their role – this is especially important if their role or the sub-team they are used to will now be different.

Despite the recent upheaval, your practice can come out stronger with careful planning and consideration for each team member and the business as a whole.

Finally

Clayton Legal has produced a short report on how law firms can prepare for the post-pandemic industry which covers the issues touched upon in this blog in more detail, plus market research on where to focus your efforts as we move forwards.

You can download the report here.

If your recruitment needs have changed recently and you need a conversation about locating legal talent to help your practice survive through the coming months, we can help.

Get in touch with us on 01772 259 121 or contact us here to discuss your legal recruitment needs.

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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4 Strategies to Help Manage the Impact of COVID-19 On Your Law Firm

  • March 28, 2020

There can’t be many – if any – individuals left who haven’t in some way had their lives disrupted by Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s also known.

Commercial organisations such as law firms are continuing to strive to keep up with the challenges the outbreak has presented. But as it spreads, many are finding their clients impacted by the virus, as well as the ability of their solicitors to carry out work. One London firm temporarily closed its office after a potential case of Coronavirus recently, and another international law firm has confirmed its employees will be working remotely wherever possible.

The problem for many law firms is that legal work requires a degree of team effort. And although many solicitors can do some of their work remotely, the usual pace will drop if teams are not together at the firm. Also, litigation, which requires a physical presence in court, is becoming increasingly hazardous – not only for the solicitors involved but their clients, the witnesses, experts, judges and court staff.

In light of this situation, what steps can your law firm take to minimise disruption?

In this article, I offer four simple strategies to help reduce the impact of Covid-19 on your law firm to ensure you mitigate risk, protect your employees and support your customers.

1. Nerve-Centre Management

In such unusual circumstances, when it’s easy to panic, a calm and focused leadership is crucial. Therefore, your first step should be to surround yourself with other senior partners or business managers who can help diffuse any panic. A thorough, clear action plan is critical to help you plan and execute strategies to manage the challenges going forward over the next few months.

The management team should be in alignment on the methods you are implementing to cope with challenges that may arise. Integration is paramount, and a transparent communication system between partners and the wider legal team is crucial to ensure not only employee buy-in but that your team continues to place trust in your leadership ability and understands the processes in the action plan.

2. Protect the Workforce

The safety of your employees is paramount. Therefore, strategies such as staggered work times and social distancing will help to keep your legal team healthy and stress-free. This will enable you to continue operating during the outbreak with as little disruption as possible.

You may wish to introduce additional, short term policies such as flexitime, initiate help for employees to work at home, and provide onsite guidelines for those still coming into the workplace.

Measures to consider include:

Remote Working

Where it is possible and practical, you may decide to encourage employees to work remotely, especially if they are in an at-risk group. Providing the necessary equipment, they will need such as laptops, cameras for online meetings and other work-related items will not only reduce the stress of individuals but will allow them to perform as well from their external base as they would in the office.

Be mindful to keep in touch regularly. In essence, this will allow you to monitor productivity but also, and as importantly, it will permit you to check up on the mental health of your employees and ensure they are not feeling isolated.

Additionally, providing a schedule of activity will help them focus and stay motivated. It will also serve to clarify responsibilities so that everyone knows what is expected of them.

Office Working

Ensure there are systems in place to minimise risk for your employees in the office. Discourage physical contact including handshaking, and provide hand gels, reminders about good handwashing practices and ensure surfaces such as door handles, handrails, tables and desks are disinfected regularly.

Postpone internal team meetings, or hold them virtually to minimise exposure.

Remember also to be sensitive to external factors over which your employees have no control. For example, as and when schools and nurseries close, there will be some inevitable flexibility required to enable parents to cope with childminding duties. Additionally, some older children coming home for the Easter holidays may not be able to return to university. So, understanding and empathy are called for, and it’s wise to have a contingency plan in place in case you find yourself short-staffed at any point.

3. External Engagement

Also of importance is external engagement – ensure you keep your stakeholders and clients safe by:

Minimising Face to Face Contact

Routine conversations between solicitors and clients can take place via Skype, Zoom or telephone calls to minimise direct contact.

Using Video Testimony

Currently, an emergency bill is about to be pushed through parliament here in the UK. This bill includes a provision that in several stages of a dispute, video testimony will be allowed in civil (and criminal) courts to minimise the current risk of contracting the virus.

Keeping in Touch

It’s also good practice to communicate with your customers regularly to keep them up to date. Fact-based updates and electronic (or paper-based) communications covering how to contact your firm, what to do if they have a case coming up and other relevant advice, will keep levels of trust high in your firm’s capability to handle the challenge.

Be transparent with your clients. After all, this situation is affecting everyone, and they will appreciate your honesty. Clear communication guarantees an empathic response:

Harvard Business Review advises: “When customers are separated from the work that’s being done behind the scenes to serve them, they appreciate the service less, and then they value the service less.”

These actions will also help confirm you as a law firm that clients can rely on in times of disruption and position you as a calm authority.

Avoiding Unnecessary Travel and Events

It’s wise to steer clear of conferences and other law-related events, although most are likely to be cancelled anyway. Similarly, avoid business travel and encourage your team to do the same.

4. Plan for the Long-Term

Although the situation in China seems to be improving, the ripple effect of this pandemic is set to last for some time yet.

Therefore, an immediate response is vital, and many law firms are pursuing initial coping strategies to ensure the best outcome for both employees and clients, in so far as is possible in the short term.

But it’s important to remember long term responses – McKinsey report that there could be other repercussions such as financial implications and shifting industry structures. So, it’s essential to ensure your management team are dedicating some time to planning responses that focus on possible long-term requirements.

We currently do not know the outcome of this virus. However, what is clear is that those law firms who act now to protect their employees and customers, address challenges and help mitigate damage in whatever way they can, will be better placed to cope successfully and come out of the other side stronger.

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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