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The 3 Most Crucial Skills To Teach Your New Legal Hires

  • November 14, 2022

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

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

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 Some other studies show that around 40% of staff members worry their skills will become outdated in today’s quickly-evolving landscape.

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

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

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

Skill 1: Goal Setting

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

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

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

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

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

Skill 2: Relationship Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skill 3: Productivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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