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The Wellbeing of Your Law Firm May Need Attention

It’s generally accepted that the legal profession works hard; consistently. Tight deadlines, huge caseloads and out of work hours have always been the accepted norm.

Yet the past few years have seen an explosion in the hours worked by many legal employees as the sector navigated the ups and downs of the pandemic and its concerned client base.

And it is taking its toll.

The Current Mental Health Challenges Legal Employees Are Experiencing

In a recent C.I.P.D. survey, the evidence suggests that the coronavirus pandemic heavily influences employee health and wellbeing.

The virus has and continues to disrupt due to staff absence, and in some cases, employees are suffering the after-effects of contracting the virus from long COVID. Although organisations are still committed to supporting their people, evidence suggests that activity in this area is starting to slip. A more holistic approach – based on the health risks and needs of the workforce – is much needed.

This was also confirmed by a post on Legalcheek at the end of last year that shared research from a Legal Sector Workers United (L.S.W.U.) survey, which reported that 71% of respondents agreed that their role had a negative impact on their mental health with only 14% saying it had a positive effect.

More than half of the respondents had been diagnosed with a specific condition, and almost seven out of ten described themselves as suffering from poor mental health.

The survey of 300 employees, including paralegals, solicitors, barristers, clerks, caseworkers and admin staff.

The main cause of this work-related deterioration in mental health seems to be material conditions in the workplace.

  • 219 people reported struggling to cope with long hours and overwork,
  • 122 cited pay as a key issue,
  • and 113 felt that the relentless pressure to bill and meet targets was a factor.

Shocking stats for all law firms to process, especially when the survey revealed that one in four law firms had no mental health support on offer for staff.

This comment is even more concerning as seven out of ten respondents said they would not feel comfortable asking for time off for mental health reasons and over half commented that disclosing mental health concerns would, in their experience, impede career progression.

It is no wonder that legal professionals are considering the workplace culture of their current firm versus others they could join.

So what can your law firm put in place to improve your legal team’s wellbeing? Here are several ideas.

Assess The Situation in Your Firm

Some of the larger firms we work with conduct a regular employee survey, though historically, asking your team about their wellbeing hasn’t been included.

Consider the nature of the questions you ask employees, and take proactive measures to ensure that respondents are safe from identification. Attempting to measure mental health and stigma in highly challenging environments like an overworked law firm may also skew results so that they are not representative of true employee sentiments.

This is stage one, as it is critical to know what you are dealing with first before you can implement a process to make a difference across your firm

Have Mental Health on Your Agenda

As in all areas of business, if you want an area to change, you must give it focus. I am sure your law firm has a business growth plan and ideas on succession planning, and you may be working with someone like ourselves on building your legal talent pipeline.

Your leadership team will have a strategic plan on how to take the firm forward, and in today’s business landscape, part of that needs to include looking after the wellbeing of your team.

As a first start, you can find some excellent resources on the Mental Health Foundation website here. In addition, assign a partner to the role of mental health lead in your firm. Consider engaging the help of external suppliers to help you implement an Employee Assistance Programme (E.A.P.) which is one part of a wellbeing solution.

E.A.P.s are intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. E.A.P.s generally include assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for employees and their immediate family – wherever they are in the world.

Support Managers To Coach and Lead Their Team

An easy start to improving wellbeing is to instil a coaching culture in your firm aligned with external training on mental health and wellbeing. As a manager trained in wellbeing, you can make a huge difference to your team.

Honest and open communication during regular catch-ups with your team members can help identify struggling people.

We know one law firm uses a traffic light system during conversations with green when everything is ok, amber when a few cracks appear that require help, and naturally, red for an extreme case and that individual needs support. The wellbeing plan has created multiple resources we can all now access to improve our mental health, so finally, I want to share a few examples.

 Provide Support Resources For Your Team

The way we think and listen to our thoughts can cause us to spiral out of control. It is no wonder that working with a coach proves to be a valuable support mechanism for many.

One firm we know utilises the help of an external coach, with team members having the ability to book sessions to help them navigate any stress they are experiencing.

Many of us accept that we lead busy lives, and the ability to handle overwhelm and calm can be facilitated in many ways.

Though it sounds counter-intuitive, there are several online apps that many individuals use with great success. The aptly named Headspace and Calm apps have over a hundred million users and provide access to multiple resources.

Develop Your Action Plan

Finally, improving the well being of your team is about taking action. We have shared several ideas and resources here.

In addition, the way many people worked remotely during the pandemic helped their work-life balance and wellbeing. We have written posts about the value of hybrid working here and, most recently, the move to a four-day working week here.

All of these ideas can be used to help your team improve their well being – although obviously need to be carefully considered alongside business strategy and key objectives.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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How to Handle Challenging Workplace Conversations

  • December 30, 2019

Challenging workplace conversations are an inevitable part of the role of senior legal professionals.

Whether it’s a case of letting your Solicitor know they are not going to be considered for promotion this year, or a disciplinary meeting with a Fee Earner whose attitude has slipped recently, sometimes you will need to have a difficult conversation with a colleague.

In this article, we look at the steps you can take to ensure you are well prepared for challenging conversations, so that you can handle them in a calm and considered manner to achieve positive results.

Tackle the Issue

Nobody likes conflict.

It’s tempting to steer away from awkward discussions – but if you don’t deal with a situation, it can soon escalate into something much more severe. And that can damage your team and even your law firm.

Moreover, difficult conversations must be handled with competence. This ensures that the individual can learn from the experience and take away insights into their behaviour or the reasons behind a decision.

Set Aside Time

If you need to have a challenging conversation, it’s wise not to be tempted to catch them for a quick chat in the corridor. That can appear unprofessional, and it doesn’t show commitment to your team.

Instead, give the individual your undivided attention. Arrange a private meeting and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to discuss the issue.

Plan What You Want to Say

Firstly, when planning your conversation, it’s crucial to nail down precisely what you want to say.

Consider the main points you want to make in the meeting and the key issues you need to address. Additionally, make sure you have all the facts and relevant documentation to hand.

Base your conversation on behaviour, NOT your judgements about an individual’s actions too.

When you are sure of what you want to say, you then need to think about how you’re going to say it.

Choose How You Will Address the Issue

It’s crucial to choose your words carefully; they will make all the difference as to how your comments are received.

For example, if you need to reprimand one of your Legal Secretaries for their weak team performance, you could explain how it affects everyone else in the team by holding up the information they need; and how that then impacts on productivity across the law firm as a whole.

Explain how by playing a more collaborative role, they can ensure that procedures are timely, creating more positivity across the whole team and creating stronger bonds.

Stick to the Facts

This is an important meeting, so there’s little point in spending time skirting around the main issue with small talk. Getting straight to the point is critical – and the chances are the person you are talking to already knows the fundamental premise for this meeting and will also want to deal with the issue.

If you are referring to behaviour, it’s vital you stick to the facts. So, give specific examples so the person can recognise where they went wrong, or why something is or is not going to happen.

Stay Professional

Resorting to accusations, or becoming emotional, will not help you handle a challenging conversation well.

So, it’s vital to remain professional and keep on track. Be direct and aim to deal with the matter using impersonal and positive language wherever possible.

Removing personality from the conversation will enable you to stay focused and able to bring the discussion to a favourable outcome. This will allow you and your team member to move forward positively, without becoming emotional.

Show Empathy

Of course, while remaining professional is paramount, that doesn’t mean you’re not human. A good leader shows empathy – it demonstrates you are an understanding and compassionate leader who wants the best for your team.

Whether you are dealing with a disappointed legal executive who hasn’t made the grade to senior level, or a disruptive colleague, your conversation should demonstrate understanding and empathy.

For example, your disengaged litigation solicitor may have problems outside of the office, or be suffering from stress with a large caseload – and while that may not excuse their behaviour, it’s essential to give them the chance to tell you their side of the story.

Be Willing to Listen

In addition to showing empathy, active listening is a critical part of leadership. So, be prepared to allow time for the individual to respond to what you are saying and listen to their comments.

If someone is disappointed in finding out they have not been put forward for promotion, they may want to discuss with you the reasons why or find out what their options are going forward.

On the other hand, if it’s a disciplinary, or a conversation about behaviour or output, the individual may want to tell their side of the story. Remember, you may not have all the facts to hand in an issue, despite your preparation, so allow them to speak and put their point across.

Provide Solutions

A challenging conversation isn’t just about airing our grievances or giving bad news – it needs to be constructive.

So, finally, concluding your conversation should show the individual the ‘What next?’ steps.

Your meeting should have covered situations and behaviour, how to move on from that and clearly indicate that a line has been drawn.

No-one wants to think something like this will hang over them, so ending your discussion on a positive note will enable you both to move forward successfully.

Your conversation should enable them to understand that you are investing in their future by helping them be the best they can be.

Creating a positive scenario as the outcome for change provides psychological safety for the individual, enabling them to see a goal they can work towards and helping them understand the point of the conversation is to achieve a way forward.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Is Your Overworked and Stressed Legal Team Damaging Your Firm’s Success?

  • December 26, 2019

Workplace stress is damaging to both the health of the individual and their everyday effectiveness in your law firm.

The Law Gazette recently published research indicating that lawyers are the second most stressed professionals in the UK: a whopping 93.5 per cent experience workplace stress and reporting feeling regularly overworked, exhausted and anxious.

93.5%. Just take a moment to let that figure sink in.

Feeling overworked and stressed tires your brain, preventing you from applying 100 per cent to the job in hand – and can eventually damage the success of your law firm.

So, what are the signs to look for, to prevent overwork and stress in your legal team?

In this article, we’ll examine four of the main stressors that can result in poor performance, burn out and damage to the firm’s position and revenue – and how you can combat them.

Stress Factor 1: Too Much Work

Problem: Even if you enjoy your legal job, you’re more likely to make mistakes when you’re overly busy or tired. The stress of having more work than you can cope with leads to performance drop-off. We all love to think we can multitask effectively, but research shows conclusively that we are terrible at it.

Low morale is often a tell-tale sign that all is not well with your legal team – overworked employees feeling less engaged and may become withdrawn from their colleagues.

Additionally, having too many cases on your desk makes it easier to lose sight of the bigger picture. Stress can accelerate at an alarming rate into burn out, as colleagues tear through their to-do lists to accomplish all the tasks that face them.

Solution: Avoiding burn out is paramount for the success of your legal team. Understanding individuals work patterns – such as when their productivity levels are highest, will help you focus on who works best and when.

Additionally, taking regular breaks can help with goal reactivation. So, encourage your team to regularly step away for ten or fifteen minutes and refocus, re-energise and say mindful of their objectives.

Make sure your team are fully trained to cope with the work they are being asked to do – it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fact that team members may be struggling with new duties and procedures.

Finally, I would recommend operating an open-door policy, or at least time when you are available for your team to talk to you about any concerns they have. Support (more on this coming up) is critical in enabling you to keep an overall picture of the mental wellbeing of your legal team, and for them to feel they have the understanding and support of their manager.

Stress Factor 2: Long Hours

Problem: In the legal world, professionals often put in long hours: from working late to finish case notes, responding to emails at all hours, and willingly working additional hours over weekends when the need arises – legal professionals are committed to their job.

But are you guilty of developing a culture where this has become the norm in your firm? When Senior Solicitors and Managing Partners put in the hours, additional work often cascades down to junior staff, creating a culture of overwork for everyone.

It’s not uncommon for senior professionals to be driven by ambition, pride, a desire to prove they’re important, or an overdeveloped sense of duty. And while some drivers can be positive, others are not.

Research suggests that more input does not necessarily mean more output.

Studies have found that overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems including impaired sleep, excessive drinking, depression, heart disease and impaired memory – and while these are disastrous for the individual, they are also terrible for your firm in terms of absenteeism, higher turnover and lower productivity rates.

Solution: Take a step back for a moment and think about your drivers for working longer hours. Are they psychological? Or are they a necessity?

If you can, try to reduce the hours your legal teamwork, so that they can at least go home early on some nights of the week.

Perhaps you need to think about hiring additional employees to ease the strain on your team?

Stress Factor 3: Lack of Support

Problem: If your legal team don’t feel supported by Senior Solicitors and Managing Partners, there will be a dive in productivity: fact.

It could be that your team are not enjoying a good office culture with regular and transparent communication on issues.

Lack of support often manifests in a dearth of communication. I often hear candidates complain that the hard work they do disappears into a void with senior colleagues and is never seen again, without explanation.

Holding up the system can cause a real headache for those in your legal team who are eager to progress a case – they want things to move quickly and are motivated to do an excellent job for the client. So, when files become bottlenecked, it can cause stress to those waiting for an answer before they can advance further.

Solution: Check your processes, reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of individual stages – is everyone contributing in a timely fashion or is there a bottleneck? Can processes be made smoother and therefore, quicker to implement? Can you give autonomy in some sectors?

Of course, If everyone involved is critical to the process and working hard, it could be that some things take time and can’t be rushed. In which case, communicate this to your team, so they understand.

Stress Factor 4: Employee Turnover

Problem: Does your legal team have a high turnover rate?

A stressful working environment can result in your law firm having a more difficult time attracting and keeping high-quality talent.

And staff retention problems can quickly impact even the most hard-working legal team. Not only in an increase in workload for individuals who have to cover missing team members, but on the firm itself.

A constant need to hire and train new employees can see your law firm veer away from its mission and vision. This can negatively impact your employer brand in the marketplace if productivity and standards begin to drop, and clients may start to look to other law firms.

Additionally, employee turnover has a direct impact on company revenue and profitability. The time and associated costs of having to seek new employees, interview, review applications, hire and onboard can see your law firms’ turnover rates plummet.

Solution: By retaining employees, law firms can provide a higher calibre team that positively affect the bottom line. Lower turnover rates can be achieved by improving your firm’s company culture; providing training and upskilling opportunities, rewarding employees for good work, offering a clear career pathway and creating a culture of trust.


Stress management is necessary to ensure you keep your legal team focused, driven and happy – and your firm profitable.

If you see signs that your team is faltering under heavy caseloads or other factors that can lead to problems, it’s wise to tackle the situation immediately. By looking at the source of the stress objectively, you can work towards identifying solutions.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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The 9 Ways a Diverse Workplace Will Enable Your Legal Team to Thrive

  • November 3, 2019

Before we look at ways to build a diverse workplace for your legal team, it’s worth thinking about what exactly we mean by a ‘diverse workplace’. There are so many buzz words around at the moment that it’s hard to know what they all mean – and if they communicate the same thing to everyone.

The ‘company culture’ that diversity and inclusion bring have gained momentum as de rigour in the world of work for candidates looking for employment. A recent workplace study found that 56% of employees valued a good company culture fit over salary.

Workplace diversity means employing people with a wide range of diverse characteristics. These could include age, gender, race, religion, cultural background, language, sexual orientation, education, ability, etc…the list goes on.

But it’s not just a fad – there are tangible benefits from offering a diverse workplace in the form of achieving higher productivity and profits for those who embrace workplace diversity in their law firm. And workplace diversity was one of the key trends last year – with no signs of stopping as we head towards 2020.

So, how will building a diverse workplace for your legal team encourage them to flourish? Here are 9 ways diversity can help your law firm achieve success:

1. Increases Creativity

Diversity is one of the critical ingredients for creativity. Diverse solutions come from having multiple options that are provided when you have a group of individuals with different thought patterns, world views and ideas.

In your legal team, having employees who are all very similar in terms of mindset and life experience inevitably leads to a smaller viewpoint overall.

Conversely, harnessing the personal creativity-diversity techniques of a group of people who recognise that everything can be viewed in multiple ways can lead to the generation of more creative ideas. If your Fee Earners and Solicitors come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, they will inevitably have a wider pot of knowledge from which to draw fresh ideas and solutions.

2. Allows Different Perspectives

Different perspectives are beneficial when it comes to strategic planning.

The ability to see things from alternative points of view will allow your firm to better judge which direction it should take in goal planning. Having varied options, and a clear idea of results from those options will enable your firm to decide which is the best route to take to achieve the required overall result.

3. Makes Problem-Solving Easier

Again, the scope provided by a diverse team makes it quicker to problem-solve. Because different individuals think in different ways, it’s possible to quickly come up with various potential solutions to a problem, from which a final decision can be made.

This Harvard Business Review report confirms that diverse teams solve problems faster than cognitively similar groups.

4. Encourages Innovation

A melting pot of novel world views can open doors to innovation. It can be inspiring to be part of a group that sees things in a different way and can come up with creative innovation that otherwise may not have been considered. The ability to think outside the box and from a different angle can enable diversity of ideas to come to light.

Additionally, in an environment where diversity and inclusion are nurtured, it’s likely that individuals are more inclined to voice their ideas without fear of reprisal or ridicule. For example, junior members of the firm such as your Legal Secretary or new Personal Injury Assistant are more enabled to come forward with ideas if they believe they will be listened to and encouraged to contribute.

In a forward-thinking legal workplace, you are more likely to achieve innovation through group participation – you never know what ideas your team may hit upon!

5. Engages Employees

The link between diversity and engagement is an obvious one. Where employees experience inclusivity they automatically feel engaged and loyal to their firm.

A law firm that has engaged employees will benefit from a strong team with shared values. Along with diverse and inclusive traits comes a nimble and agile team who can turn things around quickly, achieving more in less time and with access to multiple possible solutions – driving your firm forwards.

6. Improves Company Reputation

Your Employer Brand is how you are perceived by the outside world. To ensure your law firm is seen in a positive light as knowledgeable, reliable and at the top of your game, it’s essential to ensure that your employer brand is truly reflecting your worth and achievements.

Having happy and motivated employees helps your law firm retain its status and reputation. In addition to the better service they will inevitably provide your clients, their online chat and information – formal and informal – alongside word of mouth and personal recommendation to friends and family, will help position you as the go-to firm.

7. Achieves Better Retention

A law firm who offer a diverse and inclusive workplace is going to make their employees feel valued and appreciated as individuals. Happiness in work leads to better retention levels, with staff showing loyalty to a fair employer and staying with them to build their career. Employee turnover can be costly, so investing in your diverse team is pivotal in achieving better retention rates.

8. Attracts New Talent

Ultimately, a law firm with a great reputation for diversity and inclusion, who has engaged employees, good profit margins, innovative ideas, a superb reputation and high retention levels is bound to attract new talent to want to work there.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you…

9. Increases Profits

McKinsey & Co found that where companies had more diverse teams, they also performed better financially.

Diverse teams are better able to win new talent to the firm. This, in turn, helps to improve client service, employee satisfaction and make decision-making faster.

All this gives a forward-thinking, diverse law firm an advantage over competitors and enables them to achieve more profit as a result: a cycle of increasing returns.


Bringing a mix of skills and experiences to the workplace is good for business, providing an admirable company culture for your law firm. It’s worth noting that this starts at the top, too. Diversity at senior level is more likely to introduce new product innovations than are those with homogeneous “top teams.”

In the millennial age, offering diversity and a great company culture means harbouring an environment where all employees are respected and valued, where there is a vision shared and worked towards by everyone, and where communication, transparency and teamwork are paramount.

While I’m not suggesting that achieving excellent diversity across your law firm will be easy, it’s something to consider working towards. The benefits are multiple, and your employees will thank you for it – as will your Senior Partners when they see the benefits reflected in the firm’s reputation and profit margins.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to build a better working environment for your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, the transition can be smoother and quicker.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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How to Handle The Legal Employee Who Isn’t a Team Player

  • November 1, 2019

In the legal world, as everywhere, teams come in all shapes and sizes. Getting the right people into your legal team can be challenging. When you onboard, you are looking for a good team ‘fit’ – attitude as well as aptitude to do the job.

For the most part, if you have followed due process when onboarding, your team should ‘gel’ well and work collaboratively.

But what happens when one of your employees isn’t a team player?

For example, you have a new, big client. You want your top team to work together on a case this client has given you. It will involve much collaboration, sharing out the tasks, visiting the client, days in court, etc. Everyone is excited to be part of this.

Your Compliance and Risk Manager will handle the case review and ensure call listening is carried out; your corporate paralegal will review all documentation, maintain the files and attend meetings; even the graduate trainee is looking forward to experiencing being part of an exciting case.

But your new Corporate Solicitor, who is in a pivotal role, is not engaging with the project at all. In fact, they are looking distinctly as though they wish they were somewhere else.

Are they just not team players, or is it something else?

The Pitfalls of Not Engaging Your Team

It’s a fact that people grow your law firm. If one or more of your team are disengaged, it will affect productivity and performance across the whole team.

Collaborative working may not be top of the priority list for everyone, but the job of a team is to move the firm forward to success. The bottom line is that it is part of everyone’s job description – and that means working together.

TEAM – the rather cheesy acronym of Together Everyone Achieves More, does ring true. Handling a member of your team who doesn’t believe that collaboration and communication are the way forward can be a major challenge and one that you need to address – quickly.

So, what are the best ways to deal with your legal employee who just won’t join in?

Look for Hidden Reasons

As Stephen Covey advised, “Seek first to understand”.

It’s easy to leap to conclusions about other people who aren’t playing the way you want. You could dismiss your new solicitor as just lazy or being deliberately awkward in their unwillingness to work with the team.

But maybe there’s something else?

It could be that they don’t believe they have the necessary skills for the project in hand, or that they have a personal problem at home that no one at work is aware of.

They are only human – and problems can manifest in many ways.

So, check-in with them and give them the opportunity to explain if there’s a problem that’s stopping them from getting involved.

Check Your Communication is Clear

Make sure you are clear with your instructions and communications.

Is it possible that the individual has misinterpreted your intentions? Have you been clear?

Especially if you have more than one disengaged member of the team, it could be that you need to communicate your intentions more clearly.

So, make sure your expectations are transparent so that each individual knows exactly what their role is and what is expected of them.


It can often be the case that an employee feels disengaged because they don’t believe they are being listened to. So, consider talking less, and allowing them to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas.

By practising active listening, you will gain valuable insight into what makes them tick, and where the root cause of their disengagement lies.

You will also empower them, and they will be much more likely to see themselves as part of the bigger picture with a role to play. By engaging them in this way, you can also encourage feedback and offer support.

Acknowledge Their Work

Do you remember the last time a senior member of staff said ‘thank you’ to you for a job well done?

Receiving praise and acknowledgement is a sure-fire way to instil a sense of passion and willingness to do more in an individual employee.

The ‘win’ doesn’t have to be major; it could simply be a thank you for staying late to help finish a case or write up a report. But it indicates your appreciation of the employee and the part they play in your law firm.

Offer Development Opportunities

Whatever job role you have, sometimes the daily grind can seem just that. Let’s be honest, we all have moments where we feel bored at work; stuck in the same routine every day.

Mixing it up, where possible, will reignite enthusiasm in your team. So, send your Paralegal out to visit clients with a Solicitor, or allow your Legal Secretary to work on an extra project where they have autonomy.

Coaching or mentoring is a great way to get individuals involved and build up their confidence and skills.

By offering opportunities, either official training and development or just something a bit different in the daily workload will help re-engage disinterested employees.

Embrace Inclusivity

Inclusivity into a team and the law firm as a whole will ensure that each individual can see how they fit into the overall aspirations of the firm and make them feel that they are contributing to its success.

As part of that inclusivity, it’s crucial to ensure that all staff are kept in the loop with the firm’s news – whether that’s good or bad.

Good news will, of course, help engage and inspire, but not so good news is also important. Delivering bad news is never easy. But sweeping it under the carpet is a source of frustration for many employees – it can lead to a feeling of being kept in the dark by employers (and consequently a feeling of not being important) as well as leading to the rumour mills springing into action.

So, deal with news, whatever kind it is, by engaging your team, so you can all move forward together.

Be Aware of Social Styles

Finally, remember not everyone absorbs information in the same way.

The way individuals interact is known as their preferred ‘social style’, a phrase coined by David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1960s. It explores how people behave in social (or work) situations to ascertain how to predict managerial, leadership and sales performance and therefore how managers can get the best out of their team.

Spending time with your team will enable you to understand how each member prefers to interact and contribute. You can then use that information to moderate your behaviour towards them, making them feel more comfortable to make their contribution.

So, bear in mind that a disengaged employee isn’t a lost cause.

By utilising one of two of the suggestions in this article, you can help foster a culture of inclusivity where individuals are inspired, encouraged and motivated because they feel part of a bigger team and can see the role they play in contributing to growing your law firm’s success.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Is Your Feedback Worthwhile to Your Legal Team?

  • October 1, 2019

Feedback is something of a controversial subject.

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

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

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

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

Feedback is a Skill

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

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

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

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

Feedback is a Constant Process

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

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

Feedback is a Two-way Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feedback Provides Opportunity

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

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

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

Feedback Addresses Specifics

Feedback should be delivered with respect – always.

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

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

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

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

Feedback Enables Growth

Remember, feedback isn’t just about the negatives.

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

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

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

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

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

Initiating Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move to grow your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

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

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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