Our unrivalled experience, expert knowledge and honest approach to legal recruitment helps provide clients and candidates with a specialised, professional service that can’t be found elsewhere.
Founded in 2002 as a dedicated agency focusing on legal recruitment for law firms across London and the regions, the agency continues to provide unsurpassed legal recruitment solutions to Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and London.
Greater London, United Kingdom
Senior Family Associate, 5 year PQE+ London, £55k - £60k plus bonus and benefits Commercial Law firm with a strong presence in North London and the West End is currently in the market to boost its Family Department. A Family Associate with 5 years PQE+ is required to run your own caseload in Private Family work with an emphasis on Ancillary Relief matters. The firm, an established firm with a reputation of flexibility and inclusion, has a wide client base both locally and in the Greater London area. Re-known for its “family” feel, this close knot team looks for like minded lawyers who are keen on a work life balance that works. The role The department is established and has recently taken on a more junior lawyer to add to the team. The current team consists of a 4 Family lawyers, supported by a trainee and support staff. You will be expected to run a caseload of range of family law issues with a wide breath of work within this area of law. You will work in tandem with the team however will have autonomy on your own clients. What they are looking for? Up to 5 years PQE with plenty of experience in Family Law Ability to work unsupervised in all areas of Family Law Client care focus Technically strong, high attention to detail and able to work under pressure What they can offer A generous bonus scheme (based on team successes and targets) Great pension scheme Social events and networking opportunities Season ticket loan and cycle to work scheme Flexible working arrangements Due to the nature of this role, our client would like to move quickly, and interviews will be commencing soon. If you’d like to find out more, or you feel you would be a good fit, please get in touch with Leilani for a confidential discussion on 0208 464 2511 or 07974 429 861, or alternatively send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Family Solicitor
Sevenoaks, United Kingdom
Senior Family Solicitor 7 years PQE +, £50-65K dep on experience Sevenoaks, Kent A Legal 500 firm with 4 offices in Kent/SE London is looking for a talented and enthusiastic solicitor with at least 7 years PQE to join their growing, specialist family team. The firm is a leading, progressive law firm providing a full range of legal services from their 4 offices serving London and the South of England. The role It is an exciting time to join the team and be an integral part of the firm’s future plans. As a senior solicitor based in their newest office in Sevenoaks, you will deal with a varied caseload with a particular emphasis on private divorce and ancillary relief matters. Your ability to deliver excellent client care and technical advice should be matched by your enthusiasm for business development. You must be confident and passionate about building an established reputation for their Family department in and up and coming office. What they are looking for At least 7 years PQE as a Family Solicitor or Legal Executive with an emphasis on private divorce and ancillary relief matters Accredited by Resolution and/or the Law Society (i.e. Family Law Panels) Passion for Family Law Excellent interpersonal and communication skills Commercial acumen Team player and collaborative skills Desire to progress in role Ability to grow and develop own client base What they can offer A competitive salary, pension and bonus structure along with a Staff Profit Related Pay Scheme Strong core values which include Honesty and Integrity, Open to change, Pursuit of excellence and Supportive of others 25 days holiday rising after 3-5 years Career progression Modern, friendly and flexible working environment with regular social events and activities If you feel you would be a good fit and would like to learn more about this opportunity, then contact Alison Banks at email@example.com or call for a confidential discussion on 0208 464 2506 or 07979 952 201.
Commercial Property Partner
London, United Kingdom
Head of Commercial Property/Partner, London Bridge, £100k+ plus bonus and benefits An exciting opportunity to head up the Commercial Property department for an industry leading firm, our client is looking to hire a new departmental head as its current leading Partner has moved into the Compliance team. The firm, who is one of the largest high street firms in the country, currently has over 25 offices across the South East and an established reputation for providing accessible, affordable, personal service to their clients. They are a firm invested in their people and actively promotes and encourages equality, diversity and inclusion. The role An already developed part of the firm, you will be tasked with driving and expanding the existing team, working alongside the Divisional Partner who has big plans for the department. The current team consists of 4 Commercial Property and Real Estate Finance solicitors, supported by trainees and legal secretaries, and you will be expected to lead and develop the team, driving forward expansion and new revenue streams. Whilst you will be expected to run a small caseload, this position is not a fee earning role. There is a real focus on management, business development, client care and team growth and progression. You will work with senior stakeholders to progress business development strategies, grow your team’s caseloads, clients and breadth of work and ensure the firm’s reputation is adhered to and upheld. What they are looking for 10 years PQE and plenty of experience in Commercial Property Advanced business development skills Previous management experience Client care focus Technically strong, high attention to detail and able to work under pressure What they can offer A generous bonus scheme (based on team successes and targets) Childcare vouchers Gym memberships Restaurant card and retail vouchers Social events and networking opportunities Season ticket loan and cycle to work scheme Travel, dental and health insurance Due to the nature of this role, our client would like to move quickly, and interviews will be commencing soon. If you’d like to find out more, or you feel you would be a good fit, please get in touch with Leilani for a confidential discussion on 0208 464 2511 or 07974 429 861, or alternatively send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
New Build Solicitor
London Bridge, United Kingdom
New Build Solicitor 3 years PQE+, £50-75k dep on exp, London Bridge A large multi sited High Street law firm with over 500 employees in London and the South is currently looking for a New Build Solicitor to join their busy London Bridge office. The firm currently has 25 offices in the SE of England with a reputation for providing accessible, affordable, personal service to their clients. They are a firm that invests in their people and promotes equality, diversity and inclusion. The role Reporting to the Partner, you will join a specialist team who are very well supported, where you will manage a busy caseload of New Build conveyancing matters. Previous experience of dealing with New Build cases is essential along with the desire to specialise in this area. What they are looking for A qualified solicitor or legal executive with ideally 3 years PQE Knowledge and experience of dealing with New Build cases i.e. reviewing and checking planning permissions, building regulation consents, checking access rights etc. An enthusiastic and hardworking attitude Target driven and ambitious individual Keen to get involved in business development What they can offer A generous starting salary and bonus Good quality residential property work The support of a large and successful law firm Inclusive company benefits Social events and networking opportunities Career progression Flexibility and inclusion If you would like to learn more about this opportunity or other opportunities in the market then contact Alison Banks at email@example.com or call for a confidential discussion on 0208 4642506 (office hours) or 07979952201 (out of office hours). LR Legal is a specialist legal recruitment agency, our enviable reputation is based on trust, integrity and doing what is right for you. We will always talk to you about your application and ask permission before sending your CV to any of our Clients. Our Consultants have the latest market knowledge at their fingertips and can offer advice and guidance on your next career move – just call us about this role or to see if we have other suitable vacancies for you. The PQE identified on this advertisement is a guide only and does not preclude applications from those with more or less PQE. LR Legal Recruitment is operating as an Employment Agency in respect of this vacancy.
Croydon, United Kingdom
Family Paralegal, £18,000 - £20,000 per annum, Croydon, Greater London Our client is a multi-sited law firm, with offices in Croydon, Medway, Blackheath and Guildford. Their lawyers deliver a first-class service across all of their departments, with the emphasis on obtaining the most favourable outcome possible for their clients. The firm is now looking to boosts its well-known family department with a Paralegal in the Croydon office. What is the role As a key member of this team, your role is to focus on childcare matters, providing support to a couple of Fee Earners in the department. The team currently consists of 21 members of staff, that includes Solicitors, Paralegals and Administrators. Main responsibilities for this role are: Take new client instructions Applying for public funding To attend the Family Justice Centre and Public Law Outline meetings To progress injunctive relief matters to their conclusion, to include carrying out advocacy duties in respect of non-defended hearings Attending court with counsel Taking instructions from clients in care cases Booking experts Drafting applications to court, including C2 and Part 25 applications Preparing court bundles Time recording Preparing and submitting claims for costs, including on-line claims Preparing events based High Cost Case Plans What you will need? Minimum requirements: Previous Paralegal/Legal Assistant experience in Family law Experience using a case management system Excellent communication skills IT literate If you would like to learn more about this opportunity or other paralegal jobs in the market then contact Matthew Heard at firstname.lastname@example.org or call for a confidential discussion on 02084642565 or 07887523228.
Family Legal Secretary
Wimbledon, United Kingdom
Family Legal Secretary/PA, up to £29,000, Wimbledon Our client is a leading South East law firm, with over 220 people working in their 7 offices throughout Surrey and South West London. The ethos of their approach to clients is to be receptive, responsive and friendly. They believe these attributes can only prosper if all employees deal with each other in a similar manner. They are proud of their reputation as a friendly firm that people enjoy working for and working with. The Family department is now looking to recruit a Legal Secretary to join their team in Wimbledon. Due to internal movements, although the role is based in Wimbledon, initially you will need to be based in the Epsom office until the end of October. What is the role The Family team in Wimbledon currently consists of 1 Partner, who is also Head of Family Law, 1 Solicitor and 1 Trainee Solicitor, as well as other support staff members. You will be providing direct support to the Partner who undertakes all aspects of divorce and family work for married, unmarried and LGBT couples whether in complex and international children disputes and financial settlements, including very high net worth cases and those involved in businesses and trusts. Main responsibilities for this role are: Preparing correspondence and documents to include transcribing digital dictation Administering filing, which will include daily filing and the opening, closing, storage and retrieval of client files in accordance with the details contained in the office manual Preparing mail and enclosures for dispatch Making appointments Provide guidance to junior and temporary secretaries when required to do so Progress client matters without fee earner supervision and in the absence of a fee earner Operating the case management system Attending clients both in person and on the telephone What you will need Minimum requirements: 2 years’ Legal Secretary experience in Family law Advanced IT skills Excellent typing skills High accuracy levels Demonstrates a pro-active approach to work with a positive attitude An excellent level of attention to client service, being able to interact well with both internal and external clients Prior knowledge of Evolution, or another case management system is preferable What they offer 25 days holiday, plus Bank Holidays Healthcare cover Contributory pension (5% from employer, 3% from employee) Life assurance (4 x annual salary) Annual bonus scheme (payable in November) Other peripheral benefits, such as Travel to Work loan scheme If you would like to learn more about this opportunity or other legal secretary jobs in the market then contact Matthew Heard at email@example.com or call for a confidential discussion on 02084642565 or 07887523228
We believe that market expertise, knowledge, trust and clear and continuous communication are the vital ingredients for a successful relationship between a candidate and consultant.
Our candidates tell us we offer great advice, support and encouragement throughout the whole process.
We will help you fully prepare for your new role at each step, from CV writing through to the interview stage, guiding you with considered career advice tailored to you.
As a legal-specific recruitment agency, we offer a bespoke recruitment service for law firms and businesses who work across a host of sectors.
Unlike other recruitment agencies, we position ourselves as an extension to your HR team, committed to understanding your firm's needs and providing you with only the best and most appropriate candidates.
We work hard to ensure the recruitment process is as effective and efficient as possible.
A day in the life of our Consultant Matt
My day begins at... 6:30 am by the loud shrill of my alarm, which has already been 'snoozed' a couple of times (yes, I am one of those people). This is quickly followed by “daddy, can we have some breakfast please?” by my 3 children (although the please is sometimes missing). After giving the little people their breakfast, it is off out for a 45-minute walk with my dog Marley. First thing I do when I reach my desk is … Look at my “to-do list” for the day that I have prepared before leaving the office the day before. In recruitment, it is very common to be pulled in many different directions during the day, so I find having a to-do list is really important. I’m responsible for … All Legal Support roles at the firm, although I do have some fantastic colleagues who will also take on some of the roles when there is too much going on. I have been known to also dabble in some technical support at the agency, but only dabbling at the moment! I also look after a roster of clients, as each client with the agency has a dedicated account manager. My favourite part of my job is… As cheesy as it sounds, I genuinely enjoy helping people secure new roles. Changing jobs is such an important/stressful part of our lives and I take great delight in being able to take some of that strain from candidates. From our initial contact about what they are looking and current vacancies, to after they start at their new firms, I just really enjoy offering support throughout the whole process (my TrustPilot reviews speak for themselves!). My least favourite part of my job is… Not being able to reach candidates and having to communicate only through email. I completely understand how difficult it is to take calls when at work but I really enjoy the human element of actually talking to candidates on the phone. But I'm flexible so I'm happy to chat in the evenings and at the weekends when it's a bit more relaxed for our candidates, and they're not rushing to take personal calls on their lunch. I finish work at … I usually finish at around 5 pm, as our Director is really keen for us to have a good work/life balance. It's because of this approach I'm more than happy to work around the candidates. And sometimes it is easier to do that after the children have gone to bed, as nothing is more guaranteed than for one of them to come in and say “DADDY!” as soon as I pick up the phone! And I will usually spend my evenings … This really does vary, but a fair amount of my weekday evenings are spent providing a taxi service to the many clubs the children go to. When I get the chance, I absolutely love spending some time down my allotment. There is nothing better for me to clear the mind of the stresses and strains of daily life than spending a couple of hours amongst the vegetables (and weeds!). My hopes for the future are… To continue to grow the legal support desk at LR Legal. When I first started here legal support was an area that we covered but did not have a dedicated desk/consultant. The ultimate aim is to grow the support desk to a level where we have a number of consultants solely supporting our clients on their paralegal, secretarial and assistant needs. To find out more about our team and what role they play in the agency, please click here.
Using a recruitment agency – why you should, and why you shouldn’t
Many candidates have misconceptions about recruitment agencies – that we are perhaps focused on the client’s needs rather than yours, that we don’t have access to all jobs or that we might try to push you into a role that isn’t the right fit for you. If you’re not sure how we could help you with your job search, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of using an agency. Why you should Support – We do this every day, and we know what it takes to find someone their perfect role. We can offer you support with your CV, guide you through the interview process and negotiate on salary and benefits on your behalf. Established relationships – We focus on client care and as a result, we have excellent relationships with the firms we partner with, meaning we know their style, culture, requirements and benefits inside out. Because we have these partnerships in place, our clients respect our expertise when recommending candidates. Speed – searching for a new job could be a full-time role in itself. We take the time to get to know you and what you’re looking for, we make sure to capture all of that information and then we will only reach out when we have a decent match for you, so it saves you time and stress. Why you shouldn’t Using your initiative – If you approach a firm directly, perhaps even one that isn’t actively advertising a role, it shows a genuine interest in the firm and many hiring managers will appreciate such a direct and forward-thinking approach. Even if they don’t have a role immediately, you will make a good impression and build a good contact base for the future. Internal referrals – The legal profession relies heavily on word of mouth and reputation for clients, and often staff recruitment is the same. Many firms encourage current staff to share live roles and will offer a referral fee for successful placements, so if you see a connection on LinkedIn promoting a vacancy at their firm, reach out to them. If you’d like to see our current roles, click here or get in touch with our team to find out how we can help you.
Hiring the right person, not just the first available
Our clients will often express the need for a role to filled quickly, and whilst we appreciate that being a person down is far from ideal, many will say urgency is of the utmost importance – willing to see not-quite-qualified candidates or those further afield with a troublesome commute. We are honest and upfront with our clients and regularly reiterate the importance of finding the right fit for the firm, rather than going with the first square peg that can be somewhat moulded to fit the round hole. Below we’ve collated the key detrimental effects hiring the wrong person can have on a business. Impact on morale A rotating door of different employees is not a good look for your external reputation, but perhaps, more importantly, it will have an impact on your remaining staff, and what you certainly don’t want is another leaver! A teammate leaving, whatever their level, is disruptive. It increases the workload for other employees in their absence, and even as their replacement gets up to speed, it could be a while before balance is restored. Now imagine having to repeat this process with several wrong starters. It’s going to lower moral, decrease productivity, escalate stress and spread dissatisfaction.By committing to finding the right replacement, you show a commitment not just to your firm and your clients, but also to your current staff. Impact on finances Recruiting is an expensive business. Even if you’ve decided not to work with an agency, and so aren’t paying set fees, there are still plenty of costs attached to the recruitment process. You may have to increase the salary to market rate to attract candidates, and pay for the role to be displayed on various job boards, and of course the cost of your HR team’s time. Organising job descriptions and updating websites, trawling through CVs and vetting potential interviewees, headhunting qualified professionals – for a generalist HR manager who doesn’t specialise in recruitment this is time-consuming and overwhelming. Your senior management team will also have to take time out of their day to interview potential employees. This all adds up and particularly so if you are wanting to hire quickly because you’re much more likely to be looking at a broader candidate pool and interviewing more people. It's better to be strict in your requirements, and eliminate these unneccessary costs. Impact on clients If your team are a person down, production of work slows, SLAs increase and ultimately, client care falls. If you are a firm who pride themselves on an efficient and personal service, this is a very real problem of having leavers. It makes sense that you want to get someone in ASAP but try to bear in mind how this will impact your clients if you get the wrong person. Better to wait and get someone who can do the job well, rather than risk work not being completed to an expected standard or client care not being completed. Clear and truthful communication with your clients is best, letting them know ahead of time the person is leaving, who their new point of contact is and give realistic timeframes to set their expectations. They are human and they would rather work with the right person, than the first one available. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
The importance of job descriptions in 2019
Recruitment has changed a lot over the past few years, and reaching candidates is a whole new ball game. As an agency, we have certainly noticed a change in tides from candidates coming to us, to us having to search out the candidates. We spend much of our time headhunting for specific candidates, so whilst a job description might not be the first thing a candidate sees, it certainly still plays a key part in securing a candidate’s agreement to go forward for a position. Once we have identified a potential match, we speak to them about what they’re searching for – what they want from the environment, the work and the employer. This allows us to initially determine whether this candidate is a good match for your firm and the role you want to fill. We speak to the candidate at length about your firm, telling them about the expectations of the job and a bit more about the company. We talk about your culture, benefits, location and values, and we highlight any key selling points like career development opportunities, multiple office locations, flexible working possibilities and bonuses. Once we have a candidate interested, that is where the job description becomes of paramount importance. We regularly hear frustrations from candidates which include: the job description is vague or generic, the salary doesn’t match the expectations and it is far too long. A job description should be clear, concise and accurate. Anything other than this turns candidates off and discourages them from agreeing to move forward with their application. If we feel they are a great match, this is so disheartening when we know it could be a perfect fit. Here at LR Legal, we understand that job descriptions are a vital tool in converting interest into application, so we have a set format that we work with clients to ensure all information needed and wanted by the candidate is provided. We work with clients to get to the heart of what they want from the role, how it looks, what it offers and the employer brand of the firm. Only when we have this information, and we have transformed this into a credible, accurate and interesting job description do we begin our search for candidates, because we know we have the conversion tool we need. There is also massive benefit of an accurate job description for the client. A precise and truthful job description can help decide on a fair market-rate salary offer, shape interview questions, and even be used as evidence should an employee discrimination or unfair dismissal case be brought. Because job descriptions set expectations, requirements and benefits and will be presented as a first-time impression of the business as whole, it sets the tone for the rest of recruitment process. If you’re working with a recruitment agency who doesn’t understand their importance, unfortunately it’s likely to be a sign that they’re more interested in the fee than the firm or their candidates. If you’d like to learn more about how we tackle job descriptions, and why we put client and candidate care first, get in touch with the team. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
Why exit interviews are an important tool for your recruitment strategy
As a HR manager, a leaver comes with a lot of paperwork and expenses for their replacement, but many forget that a leaver still offers value to a company. Treating an employee with respect and decency in their last few months with you will ensure a smooth handover, credible feedback on the firm and processes and ultimately improve staff retention and firm methods. Most firms see exit interviews as a tick box exercise, and many will either not follow through with them or do anything with the feedback garnered; but it is so important to have a formal process in place for those who hand their notice in and should include an exit interview procedure, feedback options and timings to suit the employee. An exit strategy should include which activities your firm undertakes, the key questions you want answers to and how you want to conduct the exit interview – when, where and how. Be sure to use the opportunity to ask questions about the culture, management style, employee conflict or better alternative packages being offered to the leaver. All are contributions, which if used in the right way, can make your employer brand much stronger. A really powerful part of an exit process is the intel you gain on management and culture. If a pattern begins to form, with team members dispersing from the same department, for example, exercises such as anonymous feedback forms will allow you to identify patterns and issues with those departing. Anonymity allows for more honesty and gives people a different medium to communicate with the HR team. A client of ours found that upon rolling out anonymous questionnaires to leavers they were able to identify changes needed to management styles and approaches across different teams. Of course, there’s power in collecting this information, but lack of analysis will just result in powerful and helpful data sat collecting dust in drawers and inboxes. It’s important that your team sets triggers to identify trends with leavers, and that regularly examination of results takes place. Be sure to share your findings with those who can make a difference with it, and keep it at the forefront by introducing regular updates to team email blasts and manager meetings. By sharing leaver's thoughts and feelings, you allow for improvements to be made across the firm, including creating a more open culture, addressing concerns and improving benefits. This will ultimately improve the work environment for your existing employees, increasing your employee retention and employer brand. Exit interviews will also help shape your relationship with your recruitment agency. They will find the gaps between what employees expect from a role and what the role actually is, meaning improved communications on what your firm can offer, what your firm needs, how the job description should be presented and the candidate type you’re looking for. If you’re not sure where to start with your exit strategy, our team will be happy to help, just get in touch. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
A day in the life of our Director Leilani
My day begins… At around 6.30am when I get up ahead of the rest of the household and do a quick morning workout before mum duties kick in! My working day starts at about 8 am when I am on my way in. Pulling my thoughts together as to what I must get through throughout the day, focusing on meetings I have and things I need to chase up. First thing I do when I reach my desk is switch on the PC, and that gives me a good opportunity to grab my first of many coffees! I am responsible for… a fair amount which is reasonable, given I’m the Director! I’ve always been keen to manage my own desk because I would never expect my team to do a job I couldn’t. I also work closely with each of my colleagues, giving them the support they need, and of course, I manage projecting the agency as it should be seen – a client-centric focus with a hint of excitement as to what we can do. My favourite part of my job is… The human aspect. I really enjoy building relationships with both clients and candidates and learning about their aspirations for their firms and careers. I also love the nature of the unknown as to what you will discover from both sides and then putting them together. Finding someone a new role is an amazing feeling especially when it’s not part of their plan but it should have been! My least favourite part of my job is... The admin! I’m so rubbish at it but I do have a cheat with my fantastic Office Manager Gabby. We have regular catch ups and she offers constant support, which keeps my paperwork on track, freeing up my time to keep my focus on improving client relationships, team morale and working with our marketing manager on our digital presence and Business Development. I finish work at… As close to 5pm as I can because I genuinely feel that we all need a life outside work. I make sure that the agency is committed to flexible working and a strong work/life balance is kept across the entire team. Once the office is locked up, and my to-do list for the next day is sorted, and on nights where I’m not out for dinner with friends, I head home to spend my evenings with my family and beautiful Birman cats. My hopes for the future are… Ultimately, that this amazing industry finally gets the accolade that it should have. Recruitment’s reputation has always been misleading when actually we offer a great additional value and knowledge to teams across sectors and businesses. For the agency, well we have a very exciting couple of quarters coming up, but I hope we continue to excel in client and candidate care, constantly showcasing our expertise, knowledge and value. To find out more about our team and what role they play in the agency, please click here.
Interview questions you may not be prepared for, and how to prepare for them
There is no doubt that an interview is a nerve-wracking experience, particularly so in a formal setting or corporate environment, for a firm that could change your career trajectory. There are many articles available on the internet on how to prepare for an interview - all of the standard interview questions and top tips - but what happens when you’re flummoxed by something you weren’t expecting? We’ve asked our consultants what are the weirdest and most wonderful questions their candidates have been asked and what they would recommend as an answer. “What flower would you be and why?” – Matthew Heard, Legal Recruiter for support staff roles Ironically this was asked of one of my candidates as an alternative when she was struggling to answer the question “what animal would you be?” – not much easier, I’ll be honest. I assume this is a personality question, to judge team and culture fit, but it could easily also be a good opportunity for the interviewer to see how you think on your feet and how you take curveballs! If someone else had asked me that, I would have laughed and attempted a light-hearted and more humorous response, probably something about being a thorn between roses. “But what if the partner was threatening to dismiss you?” – Leilani Reader, Director This was applied as a caveat to every question my candidate was asked, and it was really quite odd. He was a highly qualified and very experienced solicitor (and a likeable person!) so this was quite indicative of the culture which seems a shame. Had it been asked only once, I would assume the question tackled morality and how to handle a difficult situation. Most teams favour someone who is fair, honest and reliable so the answer would be revealing about the person’s attitude and behaviour. I would have explained that I’d be uncomfortable with such a blatant attempt at intimidation, but ultimately it would give no reason for me to change my work quality, ethics or approach. “Do you know how a fax machine works?” – Alice Neal, Senior Legal Recruiter specialising in property This stumped me as much as it stumped my candidate. I couldn’t understand why they would ask her this unless they were planning on following it up with “can you take a look at ours? It’s broken.” I can’t even think what type of answer they were looking for – perhaps it was a question about knowledge or curiosity, or even interest in technology perhaps? It still sticks in my mind as the strangest feedback I have had from a candidate. Had it been me in the hot seat, I would have brought myself a bit of extra time by saying what an interesting question it was, and one I had not heard before, before ultimately being honest and saying no! “Are you honest?” – Alison Banks, Senior Legal Recruiter Hearing everyone else’s answers, maybe this one isn’t so strange, but this was asked of one of my candidates years ago and I always think of it. What a blunt question to throw out - I always thought it was very clear cut, and they were looking for an honest answer, but maybe it wasn’t that black and white. Honesty is so important, but we’ve all told a little white lie to save someone’s feelings or have said we’re alright to avoid an unnecessary fallout. If someone asked me if I were honest, I’d say I’m honest when it matters, but I’m never rude, so I wouldn’t say no if someone asked me if I liked their outfit or if I thought their baby was the cutest! Overall our consultants agreed, that if you were asked a tricky question, the best things to do were not to panic, to try and buy some time if you can, be honest in your response and, if you really are struggling, you can ask the interviewer to come back to the question later on. After all, they already believe you are a good fit for the role and the firm, so they want you to do well in the interview. If you are looking for a new role, and are unsure about your interview technique, please do get in touch with the team who are able to offer advice and support.
The importance of communication in recruitment
I recently spoke to a candidate who had asked me to call her as she was leaving the office at 7:30 pm. This seemed to be the norm, and she was unable to speak at all during the day due to her busy caseload and packed diary. This is not an uncommon occurrence for me when I’m discussing potential opportunities with candidates. My working hours have moved to accommodate this new trend, as I find myself having catch ups and talking about roles well into the evening or at weekends when candidates can speak freely about what they are looking for next. The way people are finding new jobs has changed massively over the last 10 years since I started out as a recruiter. In 2009, where job boards ruled the roost, the process seemed to move much more quickly, and clients often seemed to make decisions based on a first interview. Candidates would use lunch breaks to chat to agencies and spend weekends looking for roles online. As the world has developed, and technology has changed processes, time spent communicating one-on-one has become much more valuable. For me, this means making sure the time and types of communication I use work for my clients and candidates. It’s no good trying to speak to someone who can’t talk at work or calling a client who is in a meeting. As an agency, we pride ourselves on putting the clients and candidates first, so it’s key to speak when it works for them. It is also part of my job to be clear with my clients about time limits, expectations, and resources, so it’s important to talk to them as soon as possible about the role they want to recruit for. Only by having a frank and open channel of communication, can I successfully place the right candidate for them. With clients, I advise them to let me know as soon as they are thinking about recruiting for a role, and I try to get some time in the diary to have a discussion about what the firm wants and needs, and what it can offer new recruits. If a phone call doesn’t suffice, I will send an email outlining everything I need and explain the importance. Only when I have a clear idea of what my client needs can I deliver it. For candidates, I am flexible and honest, and always timely. I’ve heard too many horror stories about how frustrating it is for candidates to not hear back for such a long time if it all. I want them to know, as an agency, we operate differently. We always try to accommodate people and will always treat them as an individual and with respect. If you didn’t get the job, we’ll be the ones to let you know. Similarly, we want to be the ones delivering the good news if you did. That’s the best part of our job! In 2009, communication may have been quicker but I’m doubtful that it was better. By putting so much focus on getting to know both my candidates and clients, it allows me to build a relationship that works for us both. It is a relationship built on trust, transparency, honesty and clarity. And by putting that effort into the relationship, by being peers, and colleagues and partners in this, they might just find it in their hearts to pick up the phone at 1 pm on a Wednesday when I need them to. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
LGBT+ and the legal sector.
Diversity in the working world focuses on fighting discrimination to allow everyone to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace. The legal sector, despite leading legal change for equality, is often viewed as old-fashioned and restrictive, meaning LGBT+ employees can feel unseen or unacknowledged. As the Pride celebrations continue to spread colour across our capital this weekend, promoting diversity and inclusion across all walks of life, we thought it would be a good time to champion the law firms and organisations who are working towards true equality in the sector. Stonewall’s 2019 list of Top 100 Employers In Stonewall’s 2019 list of Top 100 Employers, it was a law firm that was named most inclusive employer in the UK. The list, built from the Workplace Equality Index, evidence-based submissions and employee feedback, named Pinsent Masons as their number 1 employer, and a further sixteen City law firms secured places in this year’s list, including Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (2), Baker McKenzie (10), Dentons (15) and Travers Smith (25).This is a monumental shift and promotes the legal sector as a considerable profession to a wider audience whilst showcasing a movement towards real inclusion across many firms. #Legal Pride As part of this year’s pride parades, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Bar Council, and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) will be marching as #LegalPride. Under the banner 'All are equal under the law', they will march in London, Manchester and Leeds to highlight the work of lawyers to defend LGBT+ rights and to recognise the LGBT+ community’s contribution to the legal sector. #LegalPride is in association with the Chancery Bar, BLAGG, the Law Society Junior Lawyers Division, FreeBar, the Interlaw Diversity Forum, and the CILEx LGBT Specialist Reference Group. A very public show of support for the legal sector’s LGBT+ community, 2018’s #LegalPride involvement was a huge success and leaders are hopeful this year’s involvement will be equally as positive. The InterLaw Diversity Forum The InterLaw Diversity Forum is a volunteer-run organisation, and was established in 2008 “in response to a need for an organisation to address LGBT in the London legal sector”. Since its inception, it has expanded beyond LGBT+ to encompass all strands of diversity and inclusion, including Race & Ethnicity (BAME), Disability, Gender, and social mobility, with a particular focus on cultural change in the workplace and 'multiple identities'/intersectionality. A big player in changing traditional views of the legal profession as being predominantly, male, middle-class and white, the InterLaw Diversity Forum currently has more than 5,500 members and supporters from 215 law firms and chambers, and from 280 corporates and financial institutions. The Law Society LGBT+ Lawyers Division The Law Society LGBT+ Lawyers Division is a community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) lawyers and allies. They provide an opportunity for LGBT+ solicitors to have their voice heard and their members work across private practice and in-house within corporate, public sector and not-for-profit organisations. They focus on bringing people together to share best practice and providing ad-hoc peer support and help LGBT+ solicitors to overcome isolation, address current issues and challenges in a supportive environment, delivering key news, regulatory and management information and bring together services that are relevant to their audience. They also champion successes of the community, holding events and celebrations to make the LGBT+ community recognised and visible in the wider legal profession. Compared to statistics presented in 2009, the legal sector has a much more positive sentiment in its promotion and inclusion of the LGBT+ community in 2019, but there is still a way to go. As bigger firms invest in the time and effort to ensure they have the relevant policies, awareness and indeed culture to be truly inclusive, smaller firms may be falling behind. Often heralded as an “additional tick box”, harbouring an inclusive and diverse environment is not at the top of every Partner’s priority list, but indeed it should be. Any firm failing to take action and introduce, and actively promote, an inclusive and diverse culture will find itself having to recruit from a reduced talent pool, risk a drop-in productivity and profit, and will reduce its appeal to new clients. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
How open plan offices can benefit the legal sector
The 2018 CBRE Law in London report stated; ‘Of the firms surveyed, 67% remain in primarily or entirely cellular configured offices. The remainder have an open plan configuration with 7% adopting activity-based working to respond to the differing work environments required by lawyers.’ As we embark on an office move at the end of the month and as more companies, including law firms, are moving towards a more agile working space, we thought we’d share the top reasons why an open plan office space could work for your firm. A physical manifestation of a modern approach Here at LR legal we pride ourselves on being forward-thinking, embracing new processes and technologies to improve the way we work and working collaboratively as a team, so it would make no sense if our office space was dated, boxed off and dark. Our new office space, whilst it has quieter areas to take phone calls, have confidential talks and hold meetings, it is well lit, airy, people can easily work together and it embodies our modern style of working. A team atmosphere and a collaborative approach Sharing knowledge, discussing ideas and offering support is all much easier when you can physically see and engage with other team members. Having everyone in the same space encourages a sense of camaraderie and from a manager’s perspective, it allows an insight into how the team work best, and to be able to acknowledge any struggles or problems the team may have. Attracting and retaining talent The presentation of your office speaks volumes about how you treat your staff, and an applicant will be looking for clues of how they may be treated as an employee when they come to interview with you as a candidate. A clean, open environment of teams working together can be much more appealing than people squirrelled away in small walled offices, working alone and in silence. A modern approach to office set-up also indicates a firm that is flexible, current and developing – all positive signs to the millennial generation your firm wants to attract. Better budget spend A particularly obvious point but an important one to make, ultimately an open plan office set up saves you space, which reduces your rent costs and saves the firm money, funds which can be better used for business development or on client care and retention. Of course, these are all on the caveat that your company culture allows for an open plan environment. Some firms will have solicitors who enjoy working in relative silence and would resent having that taken away from them. Perhaps your firm deals with highly sensitive matters which require a secluded space for advice to be given, either in person or on the phone. You should also be conscious that some employees are actively working towards their own office and wouldn’t like to be kept in the main office space once they’ve reached Partner level. These are important and valid points which are just the start of long journey to move towards a more accessible, open working space, but as firms develop and grow, a journey worth starting sooner rather than later. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
Why locum work could be for you
It may come under many guises – locum, contract, temporary, fixed-term, interim – but temporary work has always been and continues to be, a prevalent part of the legal recruitment world. Perhaps an ever-increasing number of fixed-term roles, with appealing hourly rates and the promise of interesting and varied daily work, has you questioning whether a move from permanent to temporary employment could be for you. We’ve pulled together a list of things to consider ahead of making your decision. Are you the right fit? To be able to hit the ground running in a new environment, whilst ensuring you bond with an existing team, establish yourself as a trusted and responsible advisor and understand a company’s dynamic and processes quickly and efficiently, takes a particular type of person. To be a successful locum, you should be confident, a people’s person, know how to read a room and situations and be able to handle a delicate balance between existing processes and advice and introducing new or improved ideas. Are you experienced enough? Many of the locum roles we handle for our clients require candidates to have considerable PQE and have notable expertise to be able to support the void they are being drafted in to fill. Locum roles often tend to be solutions to staffing issues, to help fight newly discovered fires or to deal with complex issues not currently being handled correctly in the firm or business. To hiring managers, PQE equals quality (although that may not always be the case!) and people are more willing to trust those who have 5+ years of experience. Are you willing to travel? It is optimistic to think contracts will always be within a comfortable distance of your home. Realistically, roles will be varied in both type and location, and so it is important that you have a clear understanding of what your ideal position is and how far you are willing to go for it. Perhaps you have family or friends you could stay with for further afield work, or you have the capacity to work at home, after spending a few days in the office. Whatever the solution, be aware that there may be travel commitments if you want to regularly take on new work. Are you willing to lose your stability? Financially and emotionally, working contracts can be a struggle. There is never a guarantee of an extension or a new role, and so there is a possibility you may have periods where you are out of work whilst waiting on a new role, or indeed you may not know about an extension of a contract until the very last minute. If you are someone who craves the steadiness of a regular income and being able to plan in advance, then perhaps you are better suited to a permanent role. Needless to say, there are many benefits to moving to locum roles. The flexibility is unparalleled as you effectively become your own boss deciding on location, times and roles, an increase in pay is obviously appealing, and the exposure to different areas of law and experience gained is unmatched by permanent positions. If you are interested in working interim jobs in either the private or public sector, get in touch to register with the agency and we can discuss our current roles with you.
Why your culture is the most important perk to offer
Currently, there are almost 4,000 registered firms in the UK. These range from sole practitioners on high streets to massive firms with thousands of employees in the heart of the city. Needless to say, there is endless competition for clients but perhaps more importantly, also for staff. Your solicitors are your biggest advocates. They showcase the firm’s knowledge, capabilities, success and client care. Decent teams make for returning clients. So how do you attract the best legal professionals to your firm? By offering them what no one else can. Most job offers include similar incentives these days - a competitive salary, a decent bonus contribution, standard holidays. And whilst these are critical to enticing decent staff (you won’t get gold on a bronze offering), but if you’re not offering incredible work opportunities to your newest recruit, it’s important you are showcasing your firm’s culture and values to attract top talent. Let’s start with millennial expectation. As jargon fuelled as it sounds, the next generation of workers are expecting so much more than a salary from their workplace. If you’re not offering a dynamic, innovative workplace that treats workers as adults and respects their qualified opinions, you will be losing out on a whole host of brilliant employees to competitors who are willing to give them that creative workspace and professional freedom. It sets you apart from the crowd. Legal firms are seen as a very traditional sector, so if you’re leading the way with remote and flexible working to allow for work/life balance, cutting edge technology to ease stress and complication, a dog-friendly office to make for a happier environment, a strong social scene to support team building or onsite gym, cafeteria and a modern open working space to make healthy living accessible, these are the things you should be showcasing to candidates. A good working culture reduces staff turnover. Staff who feel valued, challenged and respected are much more likely to stay with their firms for longer, passionate employees are much more productive and a happy workforce become good firm advocates and are more likely to refer both future employees and potential clients to your firm, even if they have left. It sets the tone for those coming into the firm and working with it. A culture dictates actions, values, approach and policies. It should shape every action, from Partners down to support staff. If you create a positive, compassionate and encouraging culture, it is felt and adhered to by new members of the team and is reflected in the work delivered to clients. By building an authentic, content culture where employees thrive, where employee’s welfare, happiness and development are openly encouraged and celebrated, you show you are a firm worth joining and the money you invest in building a company culture, whether that be through training, hires, perks and developments, you’ll see a return on through staff attraction, engagement, retention, productivity and deliverables. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
What value can a temp add to your team?
Temporary workers can often be seen as an unnecessary expense, both financially in terms of time. Why take on someone, to teach them how to do the role and successfully integrate them into the team with minimal disruption, for them to leave when the project is completed or the workload has lessened? In reality, a temp could be an excellent short-term addition to your team with high worth. Here are a few reasons why. A happier workforce Often when there is a gap to fill in workloads, there are two options: get someone in or use current staff and stretch their time, skills and patience to fill the void. Needless to say, employing a temporary team member will keep stress levels to a minimum and ensure work is done properly and well. Those short on time and loyalty are more likely to produce work of the minimum quality, by employing a temp to help carry the weight of busy periods you show your staff you care about their contribution and wellbeing. A fresh look Temporary workers have worked across a variety of business setups and sectors. They have a rare knowledge on a variety of processes and operations and as such can offer real insight and value to your departments, helping to improve ways of working, for both the firm and the staff. They can help implement new processes, improving work output and staff morale. A potential full-time hire Temporary workers can often lead to valuable, permanent members of the team if the fit is right. Bringing a temp in on a “working interview” is an ideal way to see work quality, team fit and firm suitability before offering a contract. A paralegal on a temp contract could be the perfect applicant for your training contract. It’s an effective way to get to know a potential team member. A cost-effective way of working It is understandable that you may scoff at the idea of a temp actually saving you costs, but they do. The ability to have extra hands on deck when needed, without increasing your firm’s overheads in the long run and the flexibility to bring on already-trained, knowledgeable professionals means you will save on training, HR and long-term payroll expenses. If you’re struggling to find a permanent member of staff for a particular team, or your team is struggling with a seasonal increase in cases, then temporary support could be a solution worth exploring. Speak to our team today to find out how locum and temporary staff can help your firm. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
Case Study – How we supported an experienced legal secretary to find her dream role
Valerie, an experienced Private Client legal secretary, first started talking with our legal support consultant Matthew in the Spring of 2017. She had taken the difficult decision to leave her previous position due to increasing frustrations and was taking her time to find a role she could commit to. Matt discovered her CV on a popular job board and got in touch for a chat to find out exactly what she was looking for, and ultimately, if he could help. “Valerie was such an interesting candidate to work with. She was brilliant – qualified, experienced and with a high technical capability, and she knew exactly what she wanted from her next firm.” Matt explains, “It meant I had a clear direction about what sort of placement she was looking for.” Matt summarised Valerie using our bespoke profiling criteria, listing her strengths, her career aspirations and began to match her with potential clients. When we have a candidate, we will always let our clients know about a good match, even if there isn’t a live vacancy, because we want them to know we’re always on the lookout for them. “Pretty shortly after starting to work together, I realised that Valerie was an excellent fit for one of our clients, so I reached out to our partner at this particular firm, and lo and behold, his secretary was retiring and so the recruitment process was due to start soon.” Matt set up an interview, and after a short and speedy process, Valerie was offered the role to start ASAP and was even able to complete a thorough handover with the person retiring to ensure a smooth transition. When we caught up with Valerie to see how she was getting on, she could not have been happier with her new job. “From the beginning, I felt like I belonged, and everyone made me very welcome. I can honestly say that despite having a staff of only 17, everyone gets on so well and we all have a laugh. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the partners from the secretaries/admin staff as we all muck in and laugh together. I work hard but I get rewarded. If I start early, they are happy for me to leave early. My mother has been into the office. Staff take children into the office if childcare is a problem. Customers bring their dogs in - which is always a treat! I frequently hear the words "We appreciate what you do", "We like your work" "Thank you" and "Please". The Partner I work for is a delight and, for the first time in a very long time, I enjoy going into work.“ If you’re looking for a new role, whatever that role may be, get in touch to see how we can help.
When is the right time to move on?
Daily I speak to candidates who have decided the time has come to move on. It is never an easy choice and takes determination and courage to take that step. There are so many reasons why people decide to move on to a new role, which cannot be condensed into one blog, but a predominant influencing factor that we see time and time again is taking a needed career step. A newly qualified solicitor or legal executive could conclude their training at a firm that is unable to offer them a new position and therefore are forced to seek a new role. Normally, trainee contracts are highly sought after and perhaps you have taken a role with a firm that isn’t quite the right fit? If you are about to qualify, now is the time to think about what your 5-year career plan is, and considering the type of firms and departments you want to work in. If you’re in a firm that doesn’t match your needs or expectations, then the end of a training contract is a great time to start looking at the market. Of course, progression isn’t just for the newly qualified solicitors. A mid-level lawyer could feel undervalued and underpaid for work they are producing, particularly so if they have been in the same role for a while, with a lack of progression or promotion. At mid-level, it’s important that you are carving out the career path you need to be able to achieve your professional goals. Are you aiming to be made Partner by 40? It’s important that the firm is offering you a clear route, with signposted steps. Are you in a role that specialises in your chosen field? If not, maybe now is the time to move towards a more niche firm. Movement amongst senior lawyers isn’t unheard of but is much rarer because of the moves made in earlier careers. However, if you have not been offered the opportunity for Partnership or to become a Director, or perhaps you don’t agree with the way the firm is operating or the direction the firm is moving in then that is going to cause friction. Not being able to join the conversation or influence change can be a major factor in considering moving on. And of course, there is a multitude of external factors that may be swaying you to look for a new role: The location of the office may be unmanageable for you any longer. Perhaps your train timetable is making the commute too long, or your recent house move has made the distance too difficult. This is a reasonable justification for wanting to look for a new role. You may have realised that your salary is low compared to similar size firms, or your peers who are doing a similar role. It is rational to be expected to be paid fairly for the work you do, and not feeling valued can quickly lead to feeling resentful and unhappy in your role. If this is the only reason you are looking to move on, is it worth having the conversation with your superiors? If you are finding the work restrictive or unchallenging and are unable to take anything more complex or stimulating, this could be a clear indication that you have reached your maximum potential in a role. This is probably the strongest single reason I would encourage a candidate to begin their search for a new role. Being stimulated and interested in your work is so important to your mental health and career progression. To be able to successfully and authentically promote your firm, you must have belief in your Senior Management Team. If there are conflicts in approaches and different views on priorities, then not being able to stay with the firm is a fair decision to reach. There is nothing more infuriating that losing billing time to the failings of an IT system. It is entirely reasonable for you to expect decent and modern technology to be able to do the job to the best of your ability. It is a common talking point with clients Lack of flexibility is a common and re-occurring reason my candidates move. The ability to work from home, to condense or reduce hours and to be able to work to core hours is so important when you have other priorities outside of the workplace. This could be a passion or hobby, family commitments or a commitment to yourself and having your own time. Whatever reason you want flexibility, it is reasonable to request and look for a role that matches your needs. If you’re currently unsure about your next career step, or want to discuss the current market and live opportunities in further detail, do get in touch and I’ll be happy to have a confidential chat.
What does flexible working mean to you?
Last month, we put together a blog post, focussing on the implementation of a flexi-working policy, however, following on from conversations with our clients, it has become evident that flexible working means different things to different people. A small insight into our agency – our flexible working policy allows staff to take half an hour in the morning to attend a school meeting and work it back when they can. It means a change in hours to accommodate for a difficult commute. It is the ability to work from home when having a bad mental health day. Our policy is inclusive, open and agile. It is there for everybody and anybody. As we discussed in our last flexi-working blog post, it is important to define what you mean when you advertise a role as flexible, and be able to answer questions truthfully and in-depth should the candidate query it at interview stage. It’s important for both you and the candidate to have a clear understanding about what your flexible working policy is from the start. It helps you both decide if they are a right fit for your firm culturally and in the long term. We have summarised a few key terms covered by the umbrella of flexible working to give you food for thought when outlining your policy. Remote working – Commonly referred to as working from home, remote working means an employee can work away from the office for an agreed time, perhaps one day a week or adhoc depending on childcare. There are implications involved in working away from the office, which will involve the support of your IT and Data Protection teams, so ensure the systems are in place and stable before you agree to remote working. Part time working – Most commonly overlooked, part time working is still considered a flexi-working request. It allows staff to accommodate their responsibilities and hobbies outside of the work place by working less hours over the week. Part time working is considered anything less than 32 hours a week. Condensed hours – Also referred to as compressed hours, this is often requested to enable the employee to have more free time but with no detriment to their work load or salary. Condensed hours are an employee’s ability to work full time hours into longer days, so for example, 70 hours worked in 9 days, allowing the employee to take 10th working day off. Core hours – The base of most company-wide flexible working policies, core hours are determined by the employer, and employees are expected to adhere to them and choose to make up the rest of their hours how they like. Many modern companies employ this tactic, allowing staff to work when they are at their most productive. Job-sharing – A fairly new introduction to the flexi-working family, job sharing allows two people to split a full-time role, agreeing hours and responsibilities between themselves. This is a slightly trickier request, and communication between job-sharers really is key, to ensure the role runs smoothly and nothing gets lost in translation. With over 77% of British workers now saying that the opportunity to work flexibly will determine their next job move, now really is the time to consider, determine and promote your flexible working policy. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
The benefits of benefits
Recent research estimates that by 2025 75% of the UK workforce will be millennials, and with that, comes a change in what employees want from their workplace. We often find that our clients focus on the more standard benefits – a competitive salary, a pension contribution and a yearly bonus, but with the changing face of the workforce, and the unsteady economic environment, what can you add to your offer if you can’t budge on the basics? What is considered a benefit can be individual to the employee, however we’ve broken them down into broader categories and highlighted the benefits of introducing them into your workplace. Balance Your employees are people with commitments, hobbies, friends and loved ones away from the office. Supporting them to find a healthy balance between work and home is a clear route to high staff morale, retention and attraction. Supporting a work/life balance can come in a myriad of ways – do you offer free gym classes or subsidised gym membership for training purposes? What about flexi-working to allow staff to leave early to get to book clubs or language classes? Affording your staff the ability to be themselves will make them feel much more accepted in your firm, more loyal to you and ultimately offers them something they may not find elsewhere. Social The importance of good working relationships cannot be understated when it comes to staff employment and engagement. A supportive network in the work place is a regularly cited reason as to why an individual would stay in their job, so be sure to consider what social benefits you’re offering. Are you encouraging coffee breaks amongst colleagues? Is there Friday night drinks or monthly social events that the firm put on? What about team building activities and CSR initiatives? All of these things lend themselves to an excellent benefits list and would be attractive to someone looking for a more socially inclusive environment. Family The majority of employees have someone who is dependent on them, whether that is financial support for elderly parents, having younger children, supporting vulnerable siblings, spending time with loved ones – the list can be endless. Family is often an important part of a person’s life, so are you offering benefits that accommodate this? Again, this could be reflected in your flexi-working policy, but you can also offer a free counselling service, or childcare vouchers. Even being flexible in your approach to holiday requests could make the difference for a parent with a sick child. Be conscious that all of these could be considered a benefit, and a powerful one at that. Financial Financial may seem to be an odd category to include because surely salary, pension and bonus are part of the financial benefits package? They are, but there’s also so much more to include. Anything your firm offers that reduces the financial burden on an employee should absolutely be shouted from the rooftops. Private medical care? Great. Interest-free season ticket loan? Wonderful. Employee Referral Scheme? Let your employees know! Identifying these additional financial aids can be used to brilliantly highlight the actual remuneration package on offer, and sway a candidate to your firm. Ultimately, everyone offers a salary and often the market rate is similar across the board, so the additional benefits you can offer a candidate is likely to attract, and retain, the best talent. If you’re struggling to recognise and promote your benefits list, speak to one of our team who will be able to help you identify, correlate and present your benefits in the right way. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help your firm.
The importance of a recruitment budget
As the new financial year approaches, many heads of departments are finalising their budget spend for 2019 – 2020. Our Director Leilani Reader looks at the necessity of including recruitment agency costs in budget forecasting. Cost Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to say spending money will save you money, this is true when it comes to recruitment. The expertise of an agency means they are efficient and well-versed at identifying well-matched candidates. They perhaps even have the right candidate waiting in the wings. By engaging an agency as soon as your hiring needs become evident, you will also be saving any HR function time, resource and energy that can be better spent elsewhere. Time-to-hire Inexperienced and poorly managed handling of recruitment can cause an inevitable delay in getting the right person for the job. By electing to use a recruitment agency, especially an agency that is concentrated on your sector, you’ll be cutting your recruitment time down and you’ll be much more likely to fill the role with the right candidate quickly. Accountability Any agency worthy of your money will have a myriad of ways in which they can show ROI on your agency spend. Agreed SLAs, a key account manager for your roles, bi-weekly updates and valid and valuable metrics that can be measured are all ways in which your recruitment agency can show that they are looking for, and eventually producing, your new hire. Having such focused accountability in a generalist HR team is much more difficult. Quality candidates Of course you can try to reduce costs by asking an in-house team to lead a recruitment drive, however, the likelihood is your shortlist of potential employees will be much vaguer, less targeted and ultimately, it could end up wasting your time interviewing people who aren’t a right fit. An agency will be able to dig beneath the surface to really understand what you want from your next recruit – a good culture fit, technical experience, management capabilities – and then speak to candidates who fit the bill. Agencies have also spent time building good relationships with passive candidates, so they are in a position to approach people who may not be actively looking for a new job. When looking to budget for recruitment, be sure to do adequate research on agencies. Our agency, for example, specialises in supporting the legal sector across London and the South East and therefore we would not be a good fit for a media company recruiting in a northern city. Be sure the agency you work with has the knowledge, skill and capabilities to help deliver the right candidate for you. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help your firm.
Agency news - A catch up with Alice
Last week we celebrated a well-deserved promotion within our team. Alice Neal, who has been with the agency for over 5 years, has been promoted to a Senior Legal Recruiter, helping our clients find the right legal professionals for their property teams. We caught up with Alice to discuss her new role, how recruitment has changed since she started and where she sees the agency in the future... How does it feel being promoted? Feels good! I’m really pleased. How long have you been with LR legal? Over 5 years now, probably closer to 5 and a half … time flies. What were you doing before? Before moving into legal, I worked in Travel Recruitment which was certainly different, and before that, I was self-employed for a couple of years. I’ve definitely found my niche here though. I find the property sector so interesting. How has recruitment changed? There are so many more agencies now than when I first started, so there’s much more competition when attracting candidates and clients. I also find that because of technology, a personal relationship with a candidate is much more important. It’s so easy to see candidates as a number in a database, but I like to get to know candidates as a person. It also makes finding them the ideal role that much easier. What do you like most about your role? As cliché as it sounds, I love it when I am able to find a perfect match between a candidate and client. What is your biggest challenge? I often find that time is my biggest issue. Because we only put forward candidates that are a good match for the role, often their enthusiasm can be dampened if it takes a while for firms to get back to me – from interview through to offer – and because these candidates have other opportunities, they need to be snapped up quickly. So pushing firms for a quick turnaround can be a challenge! What advice would you give to candidates looking for a new role? Sit down and think about what you want from your next role, have a clear idea about the type of firm you want to work in, be patient (your perfect role is worth waiting for) and stay in touch. What’s the best advice you can give to a client to attract top talent? Have a clear idea about the type of candidate you want to work with you and tailor the recruitment process to them – avoid generic job descriptions and interview questions. Almost equally importantly, if you feel they are right, be quick to offer. High-quality candidates do not stay on the market for long, and there’s nothing more frustrating than to make an offer and find they’ve accepted something else. Where do you see the agency in the next 5 years? It’s a really exciting time for the agency as we’re continuing to expand, so I see us being bigger and better than ever! We now have a real focus on delivering a high level of client and candidate care, so I think in 5 years we’ll be leading the market in that area. And as always, using our expertise and experience to guide and help our clients and candidates.
"They said she couldn’t, so she did" - a morning with WLAM
Last week, we were lucky enough to sponsor Women Lawyers and Mother’s London breakfast seminar, “they said she couldn’t, so she did” event, at the Slater and Gordon’s Chancery Lane office. Attended by a cross-section of over 30 female solicitors, the panel was home to some incredible speakers, including Hannah Beko, a former residential property lawyer, and now a life coach/strategist and founder of Authentically Speaking; Caroline Flanagan, an inspirational speaker, powerful coach, author and business owner and Yasmin Sheikh, a former lawyer and founder of Diverse Matters, a consultancy in diversity issues that specialises in disability/health conditions (both visible and non-visible) in the workplace. The morning was jam-packed with valuable insight and advice from career-driven women who have experienced their own challenges and conflicts in their various roles. Below, we have summarised some of the key takeaways to share with you. “Be more of a meerkat and less of an ostrich.” A summary of how to handle the unknown from Caroline Flanagan. Author of How to Babyproof Your Career, she explained that often as women, we know challenges are on the horizon, and we can plan for the known unknown. “We know what those changes look like, we are just unsure of how they’re going to play out. So, like a meerkat, keep your head above the parapet, plan ahead and be on the lookout for changes”. “Short term discomfort over long term resentment.” Yasmin Sheikh, Founder of Diverse Matters, a coach, trainer and inspirational TEDx speaker, spoke of the importance of being authentic to yourself when overcoming challenges and increasing resilience. Yasmin spoke with passion about the importance of being true to yourself because being genuine allows you to believe in yourself, which translates as confidence to others. Having a difficult conversation is not pleasant for anyone but dealing with conflict quickly to stop it developing from uncomfortable to resentful is key for a happy and unified working environment. “Define what success and balance means to YOU.” Everyone has a different benchmark for success. For one, it may be a promotion to partner before their 40th birthday, for another it could be being trusted to handle a complex and detailed case. Hannah Beko clarified that defining your own standards is key for your own happiness because only you know what it means. And if you know what you’re aiming for, it is much easier to establish your route to get there. The event was kindly hosted by Slater & Gordon, and we heard from two incredible female solicitors in their employment team, who had some great tips on finding a balance between personal and professional commitments and how to handle a busy career with a busy life. Women Lawyers and Mothers was founded by Cynthia Jakes as a non-profit network that supports, inspires and empowers mothers in the legal industry, and to create a community for women lawyers and mothers that supports them in both their career progression and handling the everyday experiences of life as a working mother in law. You can find out more about the organisation here. And if you’re struggling to find a balance – LR Legal are trusted recruiters, working across London and the South East to place legal professionals in their ideal roles. Get in touch with the team for a confidential chat about your next career move.
2019 - Year of the flexi-working policy?
Flexi-working, working from home, condensed hours – whatever you want to call it, the discussion of shifting away from typical office working hours, and indeed office-bound working, is quite the prevalent discussion for HR professionals coming into 2019. Traditionally, the concept of moving away from the 9-to-5 might not have worked in the legal industry, but with the rise of technology, the possibility of job-sharing, and part-time hours becoming much more normalised, why can’t flexi-working work for your firm? The most important thing to ensure is that the firm continues to run as normal, and so, to keep disruption to a minimum, deliver clear communications to staff, and keep set boundaries; your first step is to put a flexi-working strategy, policy and usage guidelines in place. Keep it free from jargon, make it clear and accessible and ensure your staff knows of its existence. When getting the documentation together, it is the firm’s opportunity to set clear limitations and opportunities. For example, one of our clients have a “Monday Meetings” rule, meaning those working remotely must try to be available for meetings on this day. It allows for expectations to be managed and kept. It is also important that your firm understands flexi-working doesn’t just encompass where staff work, from but also includes when and how. Creative types might be better in a busy creative environment of like-minded individuals, so will opt to use co-working spaces in the late afternoon, whereas more analytical team members appreciate the tranquillity of their own home at 6 AM before the day begins. Make sure your policy covers this. There is, of course, a myriad of ways flexi-working requests might present themselves. Be sure to save yourself a lot of admin and hassle, by being clear in your policy about how staff request alternative shift patterns, change of working place or condensed hours. You may come up against Partners who say flexi-working gives all the benefits to staff and none to the firm, and it’s important to point out the flaws in this argument earlier on. If you can implement a decent flexi-working policy well, the benefits are never-ending. Internally, you can expect better performance from staff members, higher morale and a strong sense of loyalty to the firm who sees them as a person. Externally, a flexi-working policy works as a great USP when attracting top talent and opens your market share of candidates. If you allow for job-sharing or remote working, older candidates with a wealth of experience may be interested, or you may appeal to a working parent that needs to do the school run but is happy to log on after the bedtime ritual for a couple of hours. If you need support and advice with your flexi-working policy, get in touch with the team who will be happy to talk you through any ideas you have, and be able to guide you on policy implementation. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
The changing face of mental health in law firms
Conversations around mental health are growing in momentum. Organisations working to increase awareness of mental health issues across the workforce is up from 31 per cent in 2016 to 51 per cent in 2018, and set to grow further in 2019. Whilst steps have been taken by the legal sector to improve their reputation for mental health support, law firms are often seen as traditional in their principles, and a seemingly unsupportive culture can often discourage people from joining the industry. We’ve put together a short blog highlighting the promising steps being taken by firms all over the South East, and why the conversation around mental health in the legal profession is changing. Mental Health First Aid training Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a recently recognised training course that teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue. MHFA will teach the nominated person to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening. Slaughter and May were one of the first firms to introduce the scheme in 2017, but others have now followed suit, with many firms introducing a variety of mental health initiatives, encouraging the destigmatising of it. An incredibly positive step allowing for conversations to be started amongst colleagues. LawCare LawCare is a charity, set up to promote and support good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community. It offers a staffed helpline, a range of useful resources and teaching materials and in-house training if needed. The charity encourages firms to work alongside them to improve understanding and empathy to those with mental health issues and work with HR and L&D departments to reduce the stigma. Their plethora of materials offers a great starting place for anyone who wants to learn more about dealing with or supporting mental health problems in the workplace. Virtual GPs It is not unknown that the NHS struggle to fulfil mental health appointments quickly, with some patients waiting up to 6 months in some parts of the country for their referrals for talking therapies. A big benefit being rolled out across law firms is free or subsidised access to “virtual” GPs, through an app on a mobile or a website on a desktop. It allows a staff member to have an initial appointment, get the necessary referrals and the doctor may even be able to make a diagnosis and give prescriptions. Needless to say, a sooner appointment eases a lot of worries, and investment from the firm in this sort of benefit shows staff members that the firm cares for their wellbeing. The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce Founded in 2016 and initiated by the Law Society in partnership with other legal organisations to promote mental health best practice and support in the legal sector; Its aim is to create a culture of good mental health for City workers, and to share best practices and increase mental health understanding. As the taskforce involves many senior workers across a selection of professions, it promotes a positive culture, cultivating change from the top. It is heartening to see such positive steps being taken across the industry since 2016. However, with LawCare still receiving their highest volumes of calls from concerned legal professionals and ongoing issues around changing an established culture that doesn’t look as favourably on illnesses you cannot see, there is still work to be done. We look forward to further improvement and inclusion across the industry in time for 2020's #TimeToTalk day. LR Legal is a bespoke recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
The four Cs of building a positive company culture
Culture feels like somewhat of a buzzword right now, being bandied around a lot but not much understanding behind its purpose. Our Managing Director Leilani Reader thinks about how to build a positive corporate culture in four achievable steps. Community The very definition of culture is ‘the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society’, so you can’t build a culture without thinking about who your community is. You want to promote teamwork, collaboration and support, so focus on the people first, would be my advice. Ensure your staff feel valued, supported and at home in your firm. The community will build itself. Continuity Whether you’re an established firm or a fairly new addition to the high street, your firm cannot successfully implement a great culture based on ad hoc activity and one-off drink receptions. Build it into your people strategy, if you don’t have one, expand on your HR Strategy. Be sure to continuously review your culture, be continuous in your approach to your culture and continuously promote it. Conviction Own your culture, live it and make it clear to both those joining the firm and those outside of your firm what your values are. Insincerity shows and if you are trying to present a culture that isn’t a true reflection of your firm, it won’t reflect well on you in the marketplace. Candidates talk, and competitors watch, so be sure that you are authentic. Creativity How do you make your culture stand out? Now you’ve built it, defined it and owned it, how do you make it different to everyone else’s? At this stage, I’d draw inspiration from the other 3 c’s. What would your community feel comfortable with and loyalty for? What can you do continuously? And what can you throw yourself behind with conviction? For example, we had a client that had concerns over the lack of time away from the screen for their department. After some consideration of their community and what could be done continually, we suggested implementing internal walking meetings, allowing colleagues to get away from their desk, outside for a change of scenery and some fresh air and fresh ideas. It has been highly successful so far because it addressed the 4 Cs. We have noticed considerable growth in candidates focusing on the culture of a firm as much as the benefits offered, so your culture is becoming an increasingly important asset when attracting top talent. Make sure you’re getting it right. LR Legal is a bespoke legal recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive legal recruitment service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
The changing face of the legal secretary role
There is no denying that a legal secretary plays a vital role to a law firm and, in particular, the fee-earners they support, but with technology, automation and artificial intelligence making more administrative tasks much easier, where can the legal secretary role develop? Our Legal Support Consultant Matthew Heard discusses the possibilities. A more personal focus Whilst some may question the future of such a role, the worth a secretary offers to their fee earners is invaluable. They are often responsible for a multitude of tasks that creates for a seamless client experience. They are personable, responsive, organised and are focussed on using their initiative and problem-solving. All qualities that are needed to successfully support solicitors and their clients. So could it be that in the future, as the legal secretary role becomes more redundant, in its place is a personal assistant role that encompasses the legal secretary duties? A more technical focus It is often found, across a multitude of different types of firms, legal secretaries are often trusted to carry out work that wouldn’t be out of place on a paralegal’s desk. If a legal secretary is working in a boutique firm or supports a fee-earner that works in a niche market, their knowledge and capabilities can be extensive. Many secretaries are already client facing due to their involvement in following up calls, liaising with them over paperwork and greeting them when they arrive at the office, so it would not be out of place for them to take an active part in meetings or be a go-to contact point for clients. Is that a possible route for legal secretary roles in the future? A more marketing/BD focus As the marketplace becomes more saturated, client focus needs to be more prevalent than ever before for legal firms, and many are starting to implement client care strategies. Legal secretaries currently support most marketing and BD efforts, from pulling together pitch information to supporting the running of events. In smaller firms mostly, legal secretaries can be an incredible asset to marketing efforts, and so in the face of automation for administrative purposes, surely the manpower would be better spent focusing on client acquisition and retention? If you’re not sure how to develop the secretarial roles in your firm, we are happy to provide market insight and support, or if you are looking for a very specific type of candidate for your department, we have a great candidate pool of legal secretaries looking for their next role. LR Legal is a bespoke legal recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive legal recruitment service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
UK Recruiters Strategy Report – what are candidates looking for?
Glassdoor have recently released their new UK Recruiters Strategy Report, which reviews top UK recruiting statistics and includes survey data from both employers and job seekers in the UK. Whilst not exclusive to the legal sector, and indeed the stats would probably be higher if it were, the findings make for interesting reading to anyone responsible for their firm’s employment activities. Reviews matter When looking to accept a role, 4 in 5 job seekers will diligently research the company making the offer. This includes both internal and external reviews, so it’s unlikely a good placement in the Legal 500 will secure you your candidate of choice. Potential employees are likely to check Roll on Friday, Glassdoor and even mainstream press such as The Guardian. 84% of people believe a company’s reputation is an important factor when deciding on a job offer, so be sure that you have a strategy to tackle your employer brand, and it’s reflected across all of these outlets. Progression and development are key Career opportunities were listed in the top 5 things that attract UK-based candidates, and not only that, if employees don’t feel challenged in their role in the first year, there is a 1% higher chance that these employees will leave the company looking for their next role. Having development frameworks in place for staff, clear and transparent responsibility and salary bandings and regular reviews are all the more likely to incentivise your staff and encourage them to develop and, ultimately, stay. With the average replacement cost for a team-leaver being 33% of their salary, that is money that could be much better spent on the professional development of your team. Make sure you’re asking the right questions 76% of hiring decision-makers believe that finding the right quality of candidate is their biggest challenge, so with that being said, make sure you’re asking the right questions at every stage. Even gateway questions at CV application level can ensure the candidates being sent to you are the right ones. Be clear with what you want from a potential employee, divert from generic competency questions that can easily be rehearsed, and be sure to focus on questions specific to the role and candidate. We recently posted about the importance of relevant interview questions, which you can read more about here. LR Legal is a bespoke legal recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive legal recruitment service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.
Asking the right questions to find the right candidate
With Google providing a never-ending supply of resource to interviewees, for managers and HR professionals it is becoming increasingly difficult to get to know the candidate and not a pre-rehearsed, LinkedIn-approved version, particularly so if the standard competency-based questions are asked. To get an insight into the candidate, it’s important to ask the right questions. Below we’ve outlined several key questions that will cut through the jargon and let you learn about the person you’re talking to. “Talk me through your processes for…” Asking for a detailed approach to a specific process allows you to learn about your candidate’s thought process and how they approach tasks and consider their impact. It will also give you a good indication of how they will work in your current team set up. “It’s really important to understand how someone operates, especially if they’re in a support role, such as a legal secretary,” Matthew Heard, our Legal Support Consultant, advises. “If they have three partners all needing support, it’s good to know about they would tackle difficult tasks or prioritise workloads.” “What’s the most niche or complicated thing you know about? Can you summarise it into an elevator pitch?” Most candidates’ minds will go to a work-related topic, and that’s great if you’re a specialist firm looking to recruit a solicitor for a dedicated sector, but you may also learn a lot about a potential employee’s communication skills and style, their passion for their subject topic and their character. Alison Banks, our Senior Legal Consultant, says, “I specialise in family law and this question really helps me understand a candidate’s knowledge and if they have the experience and technical expertise needed for the role I’m recruiting for.” “What have you learned about yourself from your previous roles?” This question gives some of the power back to the interviewee, and in a way will make them feel more comfortable, but it will give you a great insight into how the candidate operates, and their style of working; whether that be that they enjoy autonomy or working as part of a wider team, whether they prefer rigid schedules or if they excel when given less than clear instructions. It is also a good time to take stock of their body language and facial expressions when asked this question, it’s unlikely to be one they were expecting. “Can you see how you would develop this role?” More often than not, candidates will arrive at the interview with pre-prepared questions to ask you relating to the firm or the job they’ve applied for, so with this question, you put the emphasis back on them – what do they want from their role with you, where they see themselves developing in your firm and how they will evolve the role. It shows you what sort of career path the interviewee is looking to take, whether they have considered how long they plan to stay with the firm and where they see themselves. From this information, you can start to forecast where this person will fit in the long term for your business. “This question really can be the deciding factor between candidates,” Francesca Butcher, Legal Consultant, muses. “Ideally, depending on your job specification, you want someone who will grow with the role. This is the candidate’s opportunity to show their suitability to the role and your firm.” There are many questions to ask a candidate that may not be in the standard set of interview rules, but by using this line of questioning you are more likely to get an authentic, truthful and insightful response from the person you’re interviewing, and with that understanding, you will be able to find the right fit for your role. LR Legal is a bespoke legal recruitment agency, offering a comprehensive legal recruitment service for law firms and businesses, across all sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.