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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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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 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.


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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