By: 13 March 2024
Attracting and retaining talent: 5 key lessons from Yorkshire Legal Webinar

Legal experts from Yorkshire gathered online last week to talk about attracting and retaining talent in the legal profession.  

The Yorkshire Legal Webinar, sponsored by Yorkshire Legal Jobs, gave experts a chance to share insights and best practices, and field questions from the live audience. 

The panel was hosted by Thrive Law founder and managing partner, Jodie Hill, and featured insights from managing partner of Lupton Fawcett, James Richardson; talent manager for Clarion Solicitors, Nadia Hemmings; and founder and CEO of Harper James, Toby Harper.

The full Yorkshire Legal Webinar is now available to watch on-demand

 

Here are five key takeaways from the session: 

 

1) Listening to your team is key

“I think it’s really important that we hear what staff want because we can often assume what people need,” Jodie Hill, from Thrive Law, said.  

If you don’t, you might waste time and cash on stuff they don’t really want: “It’s really good [to get] thoughts from individuals on an EDI committee and beyond that, from younger generations. We can actually waste so much time and money on things we assume everybody wants, and that’s not helpful for them.” 

Further, the panellists pointed out that people’s needs change as they enter different life stages.  

Toby Harper commented, “You’d only implement something if you could see that people would value it – whether that’s people [who are already] here or whether it would be a tool for attracting other people.” 

“It isn’t just about talking to existing employees,” countered Nadia Hemmings, from Clarion Solicitors, “it’s also listening to the wider market. If you want to attract people, it’s about listening to what people don’t like about where they currently are.” 

Management shouldn’t shy away from feedback from brand-new employees either, continued Jodie: “There’s no better information from a new starter than about your processes, right? Because they’re fresh eyes.” 

 

2) Be flexible with work, when it works

Toby Harper of Harper James highlighted the need for flexibility across different life stages. His firm offers a policy called ‘flexibility without judgement’. This means that “90% of our people currently work flexible; 39% work part-time,” Harper said.  

Ultimately, this contributes to a family-oriented culture. “Working parents need flexibility both in terms of where they work and when,” added Harper. 

However, it’s not an approach that will work for everyone. Nadia Hemmings, talent manager at Clarion Solicitors, was quick to point out that: “It depends on what people want, though. Not everybody fits every law firm. [Clarion has] grown quickly but we’re a Leeds-based law firm … we do, for the vast majority of our people, have an expectation that they will be in the office for a couple of days a week. 

“It is a true hybrid model. If you are set up as a remote business, that is a very different proposition to if you’re a business that was five days in an office and then now is navigating a new [remote] world,” added Hemmings. 

Harper agreed, commenting, “I couldn’t agree with you more Nadia. If you look at our values, it’s a self-selecting process. People who would be attracted to you and to James’s firm wouldn’t be attracted to our firm, because they’re looking for something different.” 

“Both models work but it depends on what you’re setting your stall out to attract. A lot of people in our firm like to be in the office for some of the time,” commented James Richardson, from Lupton Fawcett, “It’s part of the culture, and people want it.” 

 

3) Customisation over one-size-fits-all

A recurring theme across the insights shared was the shift away from a one-size-fits-all approach towards benefits and initiatives.  

Speakers emphasised the need for tailored solutions that cater to the diverse needs and preferences of employees.  

“Obviously, in law today, you recognise the diversity of the people who join you,” said James Richardson of Lupton Fawcett, whose firm has introduced a menopause policy and improved maternity and paternity leave provision.  

It’s also about recognising that employees’ needs change over time. As Nadia Hemmings from Clarion Solicitors puts it, “They might have different requirements to what they had five years ago when they weren’t in that stage of life.  

“Our medical cover includes preventative screenings for men and women … and we do financial advice that might support our younger employees. 

“Our Return To Work Coaching is something we offer our maternity leavers. We have 90% retention rates of women that have gone on maternity leave.” 

 

4) Onboarding sets the tone

The panellists were clear about getting new starters introduced to company culture quickly and supporting them throughout. 

“Onboarding starts the day the offer is made,” Nadia Hemmings from Clarion Solicitors pointed out. “It’s not given the attention sometimes that it should have.” 

People in legal professions can often have long notice periods at their roles, often lasting three to six months. This can have a knock-on effect on maintaining a new starter’s interest and excitement about their new role. 

“It’s very important because people need to be valued and they need to feel wanted,” said James Richardson, of Lupton Lawcett, “and it’s very important that you get that part absolutely bang-on.” 

 

5) Make sure everyone’s on the same page

The panellists were clear that not every law firm will appeal to every kind of legal professional.  

As James Richardson put it, “We’re not comparing apples with apples when we talk about the types of people joining [Harper James] and the type of people joining Clarion or Lupton Fawcett.” 

“I know the type of people that will fit the firm and I know the type of people I want. Someone might be a fantastic lawyer but, well, how well will they fit into our values? Our culture? What we’re trying to achieve?” 

Jodie Hill of Thrive Law agreed: “Ultimately, you don’t want to be doing hundreds of interviews for people who are like, Oh, I didn’t realise that’s what you stood for. If you can get the right people attracted at the initial stage, it’s going to save you loads of time, and they’re more likely to stay.” 

 

Loved these takeaways? The full Yorkshire Legal Webinar is now available to watch on-demand.

For updates on upcoming Yorkshire Legal Webinar series, make sure you’re subscribed to the Yorkshire Legal News weekly newsletter. You can sign up for free at the foot of this page. 

 

Image: Thrive Law founder and managing partner, Jodie Hill; managing partner of Lupton Fawcett, James Richardson; talent manager for Clarion Solicitors, Nadia Hemmings; and founder and CEO of Harper James, Toby Harper.
Emma Cockings
Emma is the content editor for Yorkshire Legal News. Emma is an experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury law for a major firm. She has attended and reported on numerous high-profile legal events in Yorkshire.