The next generation of North East professional services talent: how can firms stand out from the crowd?

People sit at the core of every business. Providing opportunities for your staff to develop new skills and expertise and creating a workplace culture that allows them to truly thrive, is the key to safeguarding the future prosperity of your business. The rewards of this investment in your workforce speak for themselves.

Weightmans were recently recognised as a top tier firm in 22 different practice areas across the prestigious Legal500 and Chambers directories. 153 of our lawyers from every different level within the firm were mentioned by name in the rankings, as testament to their exceptional work and talent.

There are a few key areas where firms can stand out from the crowd, and ensure potential recruits know they are joining somewhere they can learn, develop and enjoy an inclusive and dynamic working environment.

1. Offer a choice of routes to entry

Routes into the job market are more varied than ever, and the legal sector needs to keep pace with the variety of pathways open to the next generation of school leavers and graduates.

We are proud of Weightmans’ pioneering Apprenticeship Academy, which allows school leavers to qualify as a solicitor and gain a law degree while working. We recently welcomed our first cohort who will spend the next six years working alongside experts from across the business, learning the ropes, before obtaining an LLB in Law and Legal Practice, as well as completing their Solicitor Qualifying Exams (SQE).

Weightmans also offers a graduate solicitor apprenticeship, for new graduates who are yet to complete their LPC, as well as the traditional LPC and training contract route.

By offering multiple recruitment options, you open up the largest possible talent pool, which in turns ensures that you welcome the strongest new recruits to your team.

2. Champion diversity and inclusion

The current generation of graduates and school leavers is more aware of diversity and inclusion, and how the corporate world fulfils its own commitments, than any generation that has gone before.

Firms need to take proactive steps to demonstrate that equality and inclusion sit at the heart of their values. At Weightmans, we have a diversity and inclusion steering committee, which manages our action plans across four key strands of BAME, LGBTQ+, disability and mental wellbeing, and gender.

We are proud signatories of the Mindful Business Charter, the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, and the Law Society’s Women in Law Pledge. We have also trained 50 of our employees as Mental Health First Aiders.

When candidates scope out prospective employers, those with the strongest and most obvious commitment to ensuring equal opportunity will be the ones that stand out from the crowd and appeal most to the next generation of talent.

3. Focus on development

You’ve recruited the best talent available, but how do you retain them – and more importantly, how can you support their development in a way that is both professionally rewarding and commercially beneficial?

The opportunity to progress and be recognised for doing so is the most important part of any employee experience in professional services. Delivered well, training and skills programmes can drive high levels of staff engagement and loyalty as well as service.

It’s critical to focus on the future – what skills, knowledge and expertise will be required to help your firm evolve and remain at the cutting edge of legal practice? At Weightmans, we are committed to providing opportunities for our lawyers to learn more about every function within the business, not just their own practice area. This includes everything from finance and HR to technology.

Broader, commercial experience helps the firm to remain agile, fit for the future and to better understand the pressures faced by our clients. Instilling commercial awareness in our people also enables us to provide outstanding levels of service.

The legal sector has undergone rapid and profound change in recent years. Unprecedented advances in technology, a shifting regulatory landscape, and evolving career expectations for the next generation of professionals means that now (more than ever), competing for talent is a significant challenge. Firms investing in the legal sector and planning for growth must be ready to compete.

Chris Graham is a partner at Weightmans LLP

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Weightmans .

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