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- Specialism: Legal
- Sector: Public Sector
- Office: Manchester
Type a day in the life of sellick from Sufia Yazdjerd
Are you a public sector lawyer and wondering what skills you should be concentrating on in order to be a success in the 21st Century? Chelsey Newsom, Manager and legal recruitment expert gives us some insight into the skills her clients often look for in local government lawyers. She offers her advice on what skills clients should be looking for in candidates, what skills candidates should be developing and how local government can ensure they are attracting and retaining the best legal talent on the market. The legal recruitment market is constantly evolving which can be challenging for candidates trying to keep up. As a result the role of a lawyer in any sector is becoming increasingly difficult and my legal clients are constantly looking for candidates with niche skillsets that have relevant and adaptable soft skills. As we move further into the 21st century this need will only grow, and lawyers will need to ensure their skills and knowledge are up-to-date. In this blog I look at some of the skills that are currently in highest demand, and how I think the role of the lawyer will continue to evolve. It is very evident that local government are under constant financial pressures, especially as there is little clarity on where organisations funding will come from in 2020. Candidates therefore need to be able to adapt to certain surroundings and find innovative ways that they can continue to the service they provide. Local government lawyers need to be versatile and flexible to be able to manage the changes happening in the sector such as shared services, alternative business structures (ABS) and the implementation of new technology across the sector. Skills in demand with local government As local authorities move towards new structures such as shared services and ABS and adopt a way of working similar to that in private practice, they require their lawyers to be able to undertake a range of skills. As a result we have seen an increase in the need for the following skills when recruiting to local authorities across the UK: Client care skills – the ability to manage several clients at one time and build a rapport is becoming essential for any candidate looking to secure a legal role within local government. As pressure increases, lawyers need to be able to work with multiple clients, and effectively manage their expectations whilst delivering the highest level of service. For that reason we often look for legal candidates that have experience in, or show skills in stakeholder management. Technology – technology is constantly changing with the legal sector, and as a result candidates need to be able to learn new systems and adapt. The ability to record key information on case management systems with little to no legal support is often required in local government, therefore efficient typing skills and the ability to confidently use different platforms is essential. Candidates also need to be able to adapt to new technology as and when it is introduced. As the sector continues to evolve, and more technology is introduced to local government, this will become an even more important skillset to have. Niche and specialised skills within a set legal field – generally lawyers will specialise in a key area of law, so having expert insights and knowledge of your chosen sector is essential. Our clients are also often asking for candidates that have very specific skills, so it is important to know what niche skills may be important within your chosen sector. For example, there has been a significant increase in childcare lawyers with strong advocacy skills and an increase in CPO and development experience within planning and property roles. Experience within more than one area of law – candidates who are able to gain experience in multiple areas of law will always be in high demand. We have seen a significant change in the market where the demand for litigation lawyers does not just require housing or civil but clients needing lawyers to be versatile so that they are able to pick up any level or type of work in small teams such as districts or boroughs. There is also a greater need for candidates to be able to conduct advocacy in more than one area of litigation to enable a cost saving exercise to try and reduce spend to external barristers or practice. We have also recently seen a rise in the need for regeneration lawyers, but clients are asking that these candidates possess skills in project experience and knowledge within property, planning and contracts. This gives lawyers with experience in any of these areas an opportunity to develop further and gain work in a different area of law. Adapting skills to remain successful within local government It is not always skills that lawyers need to think about to remain successful in local government. Legal professionals should also be aware of the market, adapt and look at where their skills may be transferable. For example, many local authorities still struggle to recruit for childcare, property, planning and contract positions both on a permanent and on a locum basis. These areas of law are in constant high demand within the market and commercial roles are always in competition with private practice and in-house roles that offer a more competitive salary. There is also a real need for skilled regeneration lawyers. This is a relatively new area of law for local government, and a skill that is increasingly in high demand. There may be lawyers already in local government that have the skillset to deliver these projects, so it is worthwhile considering these roles and looking as to whether your skills are transferable. Local government hiring managers should rethink their approach to recruitment Client retention is also very difficult, especially within the public sector. Within the areas of law that are most difficult to recruit to, clients often focus too much on experience and post qualified experience (PQE), however this is limiting the talent pool available to them. I would strongly advise local authorities to consider those with less PQE as these candidates can be an investment in the long-term and it may be that these skills can be developed which will ultimately lead to a highly skilled lawyer that is committed to the organisation. Finally, if local government organisations want to attract, train and retain future legal talent, they need to invest time in the candidates they employ. Many legal candidates we work with have the right soft skills, but without adequate training within a key area or organisation they cannot grow or flourish. To further discuss the skills you need to be a successful lawyer in the 21st century or for assistance with your recruitment strategy please contact me on 0161 834 1642 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, browse our latest roles here.
Have you recently started a new legal job and wondered what the etiquette is during your probationary period? To get yourself noticed in the right way and to help you pass your probation, we have put together a list of do’s and don’ts. Rayhaneh Tehrani, Manager and specialist legal recruiter at Sellick Partnership, gives her advice on your probationary period, and what to do when you start a new role. When you start in a new role you may be subject to a probationary period. This is a mutual agreement between you and your employer for a specific period of time, typically between 1-6 months. Your employer may set out some specific targets for you during this time and will assess your overall performance in your new role. However, probationary periods are not just for the employer. It also allows you to terminate your contract of employment without having to abide by the usual lengthy notice period, should the role or business not be right for you. Generally your probationary period is a time in which there is lots of invaluable support and training provided by your employer, to help you to develop and meet the expectations of the role. Therefore this time should be seen as a benefit rather than something to be feared. Do's during your probationary period Although you do not need to ensure you do absolutely everything on this list, making sure you adhere to just a few of these will help you to make a great first impression. Have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities: before you start on your first day, go back through the job description you were given during the interview stage and remind yourself of your daily duties. Usually you will be given an induction schedule for your first few weeks, so make sure you fully understand everything and are aware of the tasks you will be required to undertake. Sit down with your line manager to discuss the expectations set: once you have received your induction schedule and had time to go through each of your activities, pencil some time in with your manager. Make sure your schedule and probationary period expectations are approved and agreed to by both parties in writing. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how the company works: take a look at the company’s website, including their Vision, Mission and Values. Find out what their internal structure is and who the stakeholders are that you will be working with. Knowledge is power, so the more that you know the better it will reflect on you. Depending on your role, you may want to spend some time getting to know your customer/client base: If your role does not require communicating with customers and clients, then make sure you spend some time getting to know internal stakeholders within the business you work for. Introducing yourself will show that you have taken the initiative and will also help you to forge long-term relationships. Remember, always be yourself and be open and honest. Ensure you are actively listening and engaging with your new team: it is very easy to sit and listen to all the information being given, but do not be afraid to ask questions and get to know your new colleagues. The more you interact with everyone, the more comfortable you will feel to ask questions. By understanding how your team works, the easier it will be to work in sync with your new team. If you are not sure about something, ask for help: it is better to ask questions in the early stages. This will also show that you are pro-active and taking an interest in how the business works. Take responsibility: if you do make any errors or mistakes then hold your hands up – people will appreciate your honesty. It is only human to make mistakes, and no one will expect you to be perfect, especially in your first few weeks in a new business. Keep track of any achievements you make during your probationary period: this will help to document the work you have done and allows you to show your manager what you have learned. Don'ts during your probationary period If you want to ensure you pass your probationary period with flying colours, make sure you do not do any of the following points. It could damage your reputation and also prevent you from passing your probationary period. Try not take any holidays during your probationary period: unless it was pre-agreed before you accepted the role. You may have been asked if you had any holidays booked during the interview stage, which is the best time to let your new management know about any commitments you have already agreed to. If you have not mentioned this until your first day, you risk missing out on important training days which may have already been booked in for you. Never turn up late for work: if you are going to be late due to things out of your control e.g. trains being delayed or cancelled, then make sure you inform your manager and team in plenty of time. Never come back late from your lunch break: try not to take excessive breaks throughout the day. This is not to say you cannot take 5 minutes away from your desk, but do not take too many breaks that may be deemed excessive. Try not to get involved in any conflict with stakeholders: if anything does occur, remain neutral and if you are really unsure, speak with your line manager. Avoid gossiping: getting involved in any office gossip will look bad on you, and you could end up with a bad reputation with senior stakeholders, including your manager. These points will not guarantee you pass your probationary period but they will certainly help you along the way. If you need any advice then please don't hesitate to contact us on 0161 834 1642. Still searching for your dream job? Search all our latest jobs here.
As with many sectors, legal firms are recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion and are taking steps to ensure they appeal to a wide and diverse talent pool. In this blog, Catherine Wasilewski, Senior Consultant and legal recruitment expert celebrates Pride Month and takes a look at the steps legal firms are taking to ensure they are inclusive and welcoming to LGBT+ candidates. Diversity and inclusion is quite rightly a hot topic across all sectors and I have noticed that there is a particular focus on the legal sector currently. If your LinkedIn feed is anything like my own, you will see countless posts about diversity initiatives and events that legal firms are involved in to actively promote better equality in the sector, which is fantastic to see. Typically law firms have a historic reputation of being home to white, straight privileged males; however, these days the reality is much different. The latest Annual Statistics Survey (2017) from the Law Society shows that women currently outnumber the number of men that hold practising certificates. The study also revealed an increase in representation from those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. In honour of Pride Month however, we wanted to focus on looking at what the legal community is doing to represent the LGBT+ community, and what still needs to be done in this area to promote true inclusion across the legal sector. Legal firms amongst the most inclusive workplaces in the UK A number of initiatives now exist across the legal community that are encouraging firms to take a look at their attitudes towards their LGBT+ employees and colleagues, and also provide LGBT+ lawyers with specific platforms to network and share ideas. For example, on a firm level, the majority of multi-office firms now have committees dedicated to analysing their approach to diversity and inclusion, with many also having their own internal LGBT+ networks, both of which are great steps forward to ensuring true equality across the sector. It is also great to see a number of legal firms going above and beyond, and showcasing their commitment to the LGBT+ community externally as well as internally. This year 16 law firms were represented in Stonewall’s annual list of the top LGBT+ inclusive organisation to work for, with numbers 1 and 2 being legal practices for the first time. At a higher level, the Law Society also has its own dedicated LGBT+ Lawyers Division where LGBT+ lawyers and those in support – referred to as LGBT+ allies – can become members of. This group provides a forum to address challenges and issues LGBT+ lawyers may be facing within the legal sector as well as the opportunity to meet likeminded people within a supportive environment. Legal firms across the UK are acknowledging the importance of diversity It is also positive to see that diversity initiatives are not just London focused, as these things can tend to be. Outside of the capital organisations, such as The Law Society, Bar Council and CILEX are representing the LGBT+ legal community at Pride events across the country. Regional initiatives such as LawLink – the diversity network that has recently been set up in Manchester – also exist and will be hugely important moving forward. There is still work to do This success however does not mean that the fight against LGBT+ discrimination within law is over – far from it. It is still a conversation that needs to be consistently had, and there are still issues and questions to be raised. For example, I have noticed that the success stories we see are usually about the bigger, national and international firms – those that are under greater scrutiny and have bigger resources – however it is important that those at smaller high street practices are not forgotten about and are given the same support and resources. Smaller firms should look at larger organisations and think about what they can physically do to support LGBT+ lawyers within their firms, and in doing so they will also become a much more attractive option for diverse candidates at all levels. Inclusion is just as important as diversity It is also important for legal firms to remember that diversity does not necessarily mean inclusion, and businesses that want to attract a diverse workforce need to ensure they have a truly inclusive culture as well. Diversity and inclusion are separate issues and go hand-in-hand. Even if the number of LGBT+ solicitors continues to rise, whilst this increases diversity, it does not necessarily mean that those individuals will feel secure about how their sexuality may be perceived at work. This is something legal firms need to think about, and adapt to ensure they build a culture where minorities can thrive and that they appeal to a diverse range of candidates. The fight for inclusivity and equal treatment across all sectors is an ongoing struggle, and one that requires constant scrutiny if we are ever to achieve true equality. If you would like more advice on building an inclusive workplace, you can check out our Employer Resources section. Alternatively, if you want to discuss your next legal job opportunity and are looking for an LGBT+ friendly employer, take a look at our blog or get in touch with me or the legal recruitment team today to discuss your needs.