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Best Hiring Practice in the Legal Sector

We have recently been through an enormously challenging time as a nation but despite that, the legal sector has emerged relatively strong and many firms are actively recruiting and expanding their businesses. It remains a candidates' market where the people firms want are often in short supply.

To meet their hiring challenges, law firms need to evolve the way they think about recruitment taking a more holistic view of what they offer and in turn, want from an employee. In this article, we consider three key elements a firm should consider when looking to successfully recruit and expand its team.  If a firm understands and focuses on these factors we believe they are more likely to make a successful hire.

Understand exactly what you Want your Recruitment To Deliver

According to Harvard Business School, an outstanding business recruitment strategy lies in knowing your specific hiring challenges. When a business grows quicker than expected, or an industry sees an increase in demand and success, hiring successfully can become difficult due to increased competition and the desire to get someone to "fill the gap".

To compete effectively, law firms should implement a hiring strategy underpinned by a realistic assessment of their specific needs and hiring challenges, an understanding of how their employment offer compares to the competition and a process by which they can quickly and effectively identify potential recruits and take them through the recruitment process. 

Alexia Lamoureux, International Legal Recruitment Consultant, recognises the importance of a firm properly understanding how they are perceived in the market so that they can attract the right people: 

“As a recruiter, I need to fully understand my client’s unique hiring challenges. When explaining a role to someone, I do not want to be surprised by the candidate knowing things I don't about the firm I'm representing.

"I need to be able to answer any question the candidate might have and be able to position my answer in a way that will sell the opportunity to the candidate.  However, just as importantly, a full understanding of what the client wants and offers helps me to evaluate potential candidates quickly allowing me to eliminate people who won't be right without wasting a client's valuable time. 

"The questions I often have to address can range from issues relating to the reputation of the firm through to the culture in a particular office or why people have left the business. As a recruiter, as long as I fully understand the benefits and challenges of a role, I'm able to map the market and identify the best people to help my clients achieve the right result.”

Ensure your Offer is Competitive 

The competition to find and retain talent has increased massively as working attitudes have shifted and workplaces have moved to virtual and hybrid configurations. This, tied in with the success of the legal sector during the pandemic, has meant that there are potential new recruitment challenges. 

As the demands of those seeking new roles have changed, so too has what law firms are prepared to offer to recruit the right individual. This is not just an issue of money but rather the total package in terms of work practices, non-financial benefits and culture.

Legal Recruitment Consultant Madeline Amer recognises candidates' expectations have changed when it comes to moving between roles identifying some of the most important factors potential candidates are now looking for when considering a new role:

“Candidates' expectations of what they should receive in return for doing a good job are constantly changing in line with societal trends, technology, and aspirations. The most significant and much-reported change has been a hybrid approach to work and the workplace, candidates often expect the flexibility of being able to work either from home or in an office."

This creates challenges for firms as they seek to train, build a team culture and be productive but it also creates new opportunities as the talent pool is often much larger if a firm is not restricted to a particular geographical location. 

In addition, many firms are now offering significant benefits such as medical health insurance, increased holiday allowances among others. A firm needs to recognise that these benefits have significant value and while salary is normally the first consideration for most candidates, these can help swing the people in their direction.

The key thing for a law firm to understand when recruiting is what they are and are not prepared to do to hire a new employee. A firm needs to be comfortable that through a degree of change to their normal way of doing things they might be able to attract the perfect candidate that would not have considered them previously. 

Consider Attitude As Well as IQ

According to research, there has been a rise in attitude being a considerably more significant predictor of success than IQ. Alongside this, the use of psychometric testing has increasingly been used to good effect within the hiring process. It is certain that academic prowess or experience should not be the only thing a recruiter considers when looking to hire. 

The right attitude and approach is often the difference between an employee that performs adequately and one that shines. However, when it comes to hiring the right person this should not be valued more than the knowledge and experience to do the job well, both attitude and ability should be viewed as equally important. 

Principal Legal Recruitment Consultant Gary Mullen has an interesting take on this issue, he believes that:

“Attitude has always been regarded highly in the legal world, however, I don't think that many firms consider attitude as being more important than intelligence.

"In the industry, there are many examples of Lawyers who didn’t go to a red-brick or a stellar university who are recognised as leaders in their area of law because they are driven to be great. I am also told by certain firms that they don’t always look for candidates to provide ‘the right answer’ to a question in an interview, instead, they look at how the candidate goes about trying to find the answer. The belief in those firms being that you can’t teach people how to approach a problem but you can give them the resources to find the right answer.

“It's my belief that intellect and attitude should go hand in hand, ultimately, the right person should be chosen for the value they can bring to a firm rather than the school they attended.” 

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