Identifying talent within the legal sector

Identifying talent within the legal sector

01/04/2018 - Amanda Potter
Last week, we presented ‘The Psychology of Talent’ at the Law Society. It wasn’t the best of starts to the day, with the so called ‘Beast from the East’ causing disruption across the week, with snow and blizzard conditions across the country. Despite these treacherous conditions, the room quickly filled up with HR professionals, many of which had previously been lawyers.


As with many organisations that we work with, the concepts that were introduced during the session surrounding talent and potential had not previously been considered. Although there are key issues facing the legal sector currently, they had not considered how to build a talent strategy to overcome challenges that they are facing.


This may be a gap for such firms, due to the extreme time constraints and the widely used ‘6-minute units’ they are measured against, meaning personal development is often thought to be time wasting. Therefore, how can a firm engage this new firm and stay in line with new trends?


The legal sector is changing, similarly with other industries, with the effect of technology changing the way in which people work, as well as the hiring process. The importance of having a social media presence and advertising jobs through this platform is becoming increasingly important, especially for entry level jobs. Skills required now and in the future may also be different due to these changing trends, so an agile solution is needed to identify individuals who can work to these new requirements.


As the legal sector is a traditional sector, employees in the past have entered at graduate level and trained up in the same firm until becoming a partner. This is useful as the cost of hiring is high. But this trend is changing. Graduates need to be engaged at entry level in order to stay on and be clear on their progression within the business. Therefore the time and money benefits of developing a clear talent strategy is clear, hiring an individual who is the ‘BEST’ fit for the organisation and role, increasing motivation at work and increasing retention. This not only helps the firms in the short term but also when considering succession planning, which may a problem the legal sector is soon faced with due to younger people not staying within this sector due to alternative careers and moving between roles across their careers.


In order to engage the workplace, it may be useful for the workplace to consider diversity, particularly at more senior levels where there is a distinct lack of gender diversity. The benefits are clear and we have previously explored the importance of diversity of thought. Organisations in the top 15% are more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means (McKinsey Report, 2015). Additionally, in our latest research, Women in the Boardroom, we interviewed 44 women at CEO to CEO-2 level and found that 60% identified instances where they had overcome obstacles on their path to success.


Therefore, it is important to increase the conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion especially when reaching more senior levels, in order to increase organisational output.


In thinking of emerging trends, firms can recruit individuals whose skills are not only relevant to the current climate, but who will be versatile in the future. Having a clear model of potential will help them to identify the individuals best suited to the role and increase their retention.


Written by Abigail Sainty.


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