Thinking flexibly around sourcing great talent, as well as options for agile working, were just some of the issues that came out of the Law Management Section HR Forum conference, held on 16 March in London.
Our director, Deborah Gray, was delighted to speak at the one-day event, which was well attended by HR professionals, as well as a smaller number of practice managers, partners, managing partners and COOs.
Presentations covered a wide array of issues including recruitment and retention, absence management, employment law and managing social media. There were also workshops focused on incentivising staff and developments in flexible working.
Deborah kicked off the day with a presentation on recruitment. We know how often law firm recruitment process can go wrong, so it was a pleasure to share our insights and experiences in the hope that law firms and their HR teams can achieve more consistent hiring success.
With an emphasis on the practical, the presentation covered the whole recruitment cycle from agreeing a hiring strategy to making an offer and integrating new team members into a firm. But an issue that seemed to really resonate with delegates was around thinking flexibly in terms of sourcing potential talent.
Sourcing top talent: Today’s recruitment challenge
We know just how quickly management divisions in law firms have grown. In 20 years we have seen management divisions in law evolve from single people (often partners) undertaking marketing or HR activities to sophisticated and fast-growing teams spanning several offices and many layers of seniority – from the most junior admin roles to board level leadership positions.
Many law firms are finding it tough to source a sufficient pool of talent from within the profession to meet all these needs. In our experience, those law firms that are successful in sourcing great talent are those that think flexibly.
So, with this in mind, here are just a few of our tips, which we shared at the conference, for sourcing the best candidates:
- Think ahead. HR and partners need to work together to agree a recruitment strategy based on the business capabilities that will be needed to achieve growth. All parties then need to commit to making the right appointments to meet those needs.
- Ensure partners are fully bought into recruitment decisions. We know of processes that have been derailed by just one partner.
- Talk to your recruiters. Their expertise is in sourcing talent – and they know what other placements have worked (and which haven’t).
- Be open-minded and imaginative with CVs. Try not to have too strong a preconceived idea of exactly who (and what qualifications) will fit the bill.
- Think beyond law. More law firms are embracing business skills that come from outside the sector – especially in areas that are still relatively new to law like project management. Embrace the opportunity to bring in new ideas and insights.
- In interviews, try to focus on opportunity not risk. As firms rapidly ramp up their business skill-sets, it is less likely that candidates will tick all the boxes. It doesn’t mean they won’t in future (and they’ll show more loyalty to a firm that supports them on their way).
- Think about your induction processes. Those who are new to law will need more support at the outset but the payback will be considerable for those who can successfully embed new talent.
A number of delegates also asked about agile working. Many firms are exploring options for allowing staff to work flexibly – whether part time, flexi-hours, working from home, or job-sharing. And while early initiatives have often been focused on lawyers, the thinking is flowing through to business services teams too.
We fully support this shift and are keen to help law firms wherever we can to support agile working models. By doing so, we believe law firms will open the doors to a wider pool of great talent. It’s more than that too, though. By listening and responding to changing employee needs, firms can gain themselves a reputation for employer excellence – which in itself helps attract more talent.
It was a privilege to speak at this event on the fast-changing challenges and opportunities in legal recruitment. We have highlighted here just a few of the issues we discussed at the conference – but do feel free to contact us if you would like to have more of a chat about any recruitment issues concerning you.