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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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