Throughout 2019, many of my law firm clients have frequently asked this ‘million dollar’ question.
During the year we have yet again seen an increasing number of jobs registered and fewer candidates on the market. The reasons for this include:
- The economy. Despite the uncertainty over Brexit and the General Election next month, we are still seeing many law firms being stretched with growing work volumes and client instructions increasing. However lawyers are being cautious in these times of change and insecurity, so are not actively looking.
- Back in 2008-2012 (recession / tough market conditions), law firms deferred and / or reduced the number of training contracts they offered. This coupled with far lower NQ retention rates over these years has led to a knock-on effect of there being an acute shortage of solicitors of a certain level in this busy market.
So what do we advise?
- First and foremost, look at your own staff retention. Pay your employees what they are worth. If you’re not sure what this is, please contact us for a copy of our salary survey and do chat to us for market information. Talk to your lawyers and see what matters to them. Flexible / agile working remains a hot topic and one which candidates often discuss with us when registering. This is key at all levels, from millennials looking to work in different ways to individuals looking for agile working due to childcare commitments. Remember, it isn’t just working parents that want a work / life balance and flexibility - this can be for any number of reasons such as health appointments, household repairs and voluntary / charity work.
- Job description – a job spec goes a long way to get candidates to apply to a firm. In the current market, an individual in a sought-after discipline has numerous jobs to consider and is selective as to which firms they decide to go forward to. I have seen multiple occasions where candidates have said no applying to firms without a job spec, as they don’t know exactly what the vacancy is / there is a perception that firms don’t have budget sign off or commitment to recruiting.
- Everyone is busy! For Partners looking to recruit, we know you are busy but remember your target candidates are busy too. Make time for interviews – consider offering out of hours appointments and informal coffees rather than a formal interview. Have a transparent interview process from the start. Tell us how many stages there will be, the format and whether there are tests. The more information we can give to candidates, the easier it is for them to visualise the process and timescales involved.
- CVs – depending on level of PQE, these are not as necessary as they used to be. Most candidates have profiles on their firm’s website and LinkedIn. If an individual is dipping their toe in the water to see what is out there, it is very likely they won’t have had a chance to prepare a CV. If you are keen to recruit an in-demand solicitor, it may be necessary to agree to meet someone having only seen an outline profile rather than a traditional comprehensive CV.
- Salary – do offer the best salary you can rather than spending days negotiating and possibly losing the initial impetus and impact of your attractive package.
- Team fit – remember it is important for candidates to meet the team and see what people are like. Team meets or drinks can really make the difference and can highlight your firm’s positive culture.
- Help us to help you – we need to know why you are the best place to work, who your clients are, team structure, salary range on offer, flexible working opportunities and promotion prospects. We need to know you. We can’t sell your firm and your role properly if we don’t have this information.
- Finally, don’t forget to work with us throughout the recruitment process, which doesn’t end once the contract has been signed. Once an individual has accepted a role, as their soon-to-be new employer, keep in touch with them through social meet-ups with the team, emails and calls informing them of events they are invited to. Make them feel part of your firm before their employment begins. We obviously keep in touch with candidates during their notice period, but 3 months is a long time and in this market, counter offers from their current firm are commonplace.
Recruitment is not an exact science and of course we are dealing with people, all with their own personalities and their own agendas. However, where we are seeing great recruitment success stories are usually when a law firm has incorporated a combination of these above factors into their recruitment process.
For more information on making your recruitment as effective as possible and discussing how Chadwick Nott may be able to help you find the right people, please contact Kate Sinclair at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 200 5578.