Helen joined Chadwick Nott earlier this year and she recruits lawyers of all levels across the North of England. A key focus for Helen is to grow the Chadwick Nott business in Yorkshire, an area she has worked for many years and where she has strong connections.
Describe your role at Chadwick Nott.
Based in Manchester I work in our 5 strong North team, recruiting across the North of England including Yorkshire. My clients include law firms of all shapes and sizes from specialist boutique firms to high street practices, as well as regional, national and international firms. I advise lawyers working in all legal disciplines from paralegal level through to partners. I have had particular experience of recruiting for commercial roles, but I also work on private client positions including family, wills & probate and residential property.
My current objective is to increase business within Yorkshire. I am working with many of my long standing clients in Leeds and further afield, but aim to grow the Chadwick Nott client base in the region.
What key skills have you developed in your recruitment career?
Active listening is a vital skill. When speaking to lawyers, I find that it is crucial to actively listen from the very first point of contact. Changing jobs is one of the biggest and often most difficult decisions for anyone to make. I take the time to listen to what is being said to get the full picture of their current circumstances and their motivations behind any move. This assists in developing rapport, which in turn helps people to have trust and confidence in me. No two lawyers are the same, everyone has different requirements and abilities – hence matching the right person to the right role is vital. The aim is to avoid surprises in the recruitment process so when/if an offer is made, it is likely to be the right one for both parties.
Being fully ‘prepped’. Time is precious so I ensure that I understand a client brief at the outset. When taking an instruction, I gather information on the company culture, and where possible the characteristics of their ideal candidates as well as the basics such as working hours, salary and benefits.
Being open and honest. A highly regarded and trusted recruitment consultant will provide a "consultative" service to clients and candidates alike – this includes providing them with factual market information or being a sensible sounding board for their current requirement or situation.
Proactive approach. Over the years I have developed a network of long-term client relationships. I take a pro-active approach and enjoy going that extra mile to personally call and update them on progress. Some clients prefer email and less frequent communication so I adapt to each individual client. For me, recruitment is not a ‘tick box’ exercise, I understand that a new role being created or introducing a new member is a major decision, therefore I work hard at finding the ‘right fit’ for everyone.
Describe some of the challenges in your role.
There are challenges in every job but when working with individuals, there are of course many unpredictable things that can happen (especially in the current, incalculable market). However the way that you deal with any situation can make a huge difference. My approach is always to be prepared, adaptable and try to communicate well with all parties involved.
The market has been tough this year and there is a shortage of candidates of the right calibre to meet client demand. Therefore managing client expectations and helping HR/Recruitment professionals manage partner expectations has been testing. Some law firms are waiting for a more stable market so are putting some recruitment on hold, so it is not even a perfect market for lawyers actively looking for a role. However legal recruitment has not come to a stop!
What do you enjoy about your role?
Being in recruitment, I can take advantage of the best of both worlds. It is like running my own business, but with the support of my peers and other business functions, such as administration, marketing and compliance, who make the process more effective and efficient.
Whether working with an NQ solicitor or senior individual, I always get a real sense of achievement and joy when they secure their ideal job. It is genuinely heart-warming and there have been quite a few emotional moments over the years. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I regularly get referrals from my candidates which is very rewarding.
What do you look for in a candidate?
- Commercial awareness - any candidate applying to a law firm should have an understanding of the firm, the services they provide, their objectives/plans and go that little step extra to understand the culture (I can/do obviously help my candidates but they can check out the firms website thoroughly , their CSR approach and their diversity objectives etc).
- A thorough understanding of a job they have applied for – e.g. examples from your professional and even personal life to match requirements of the job.
- Confidence and good communication skills are key – I work closely with lawyers on these.
Why should a lawyer move to the Yorkshire region?
Leeds is Yorkshire's largest city and is a very strong, well-known legal hub. It includes law firms of all sizes although its legal market is dominated by the so-called 'Big Six':- Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs and Walker Morris. With healthcare, digital, manufacturing and financial sectors all booming, law firm clients are both large and emerging players, as well as businesses from all sectors. And let’s not forget Sheffield, Hull and York offering a variety of well-known law firms with exciting opportunities.
With an incredible amount of history, Yorkshire is renowned for its beautiful landscapes – castles/churches, city skylines or national parks. It is also the proud home of some of the UK’s finest restaurants and pubs - no other county in England (outside of London) has as many Michelin-starred restaurants as Yorkshire.
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