There’s been a lot of discussion about the so-called ‘Great Resignation’. I’m not sure about you, but it’s not something we’ve experienced at Littles. However, it does provide a crucial reminder.

How often have you heard senior people in organisations say that “people are the most important part of any company”, but then maybe act in a way that indicates they don’t…?

It’s cliched, but it holds true – people are the most important part of a business, and that includes law firms. Fortunately, the legal industry is modernising. At Littles, where we have embraced (very good) legal tech, we value our Littles team above all else when it comes to providing exceptional service to clients. That’s because a bot isn’t a community leader. Software won’t map out the strategy for a client’s case. An automation isn’t by a client’s side, advocating for them at settlement conferences.

Legal tech provides an opportunity to do more with less. But if you have too many gaps in key roles, that can snowball pretty quickly into a crisis.

At Littles, we certainly don’t take our people for granted – whether they are our existing team members, or prospective staff.

Over more than thirty years in the law, I’ve seen how firms respond (or can respond) to almost every set of economic conditions going. While COVID and its side effects (no pun intended) have thrown a curveball for all of us, there are some fundamental steps that firms can take to ensure that you’re on the front foot when it comes to people and culture.

#1 Make sure your existing employees want to be there: over the last couple of years, we’ve increasingly seen people reconsider and reset their priorities when it comes to work-life balance. Employees still want to do meaningful work, and feel like they are making a difference – but maybe they want to work from home, work flexible hours, take up a hobby, take on a new or expanded role in the firm, or all of the above. Keeping them happy, engaged and empowered can require some thinking outside of the box.

#2 Be explicit about what your business is all about: if you’re recruiting, you want to recruit the right people for your business. We are very clear on Littles website about Littles’ values, and the skills, capabilities and experience we are seeking from prospective employees. No, scratch “very clear”. We are explicit, and we double down on this during interviews. Even if you’re facing skills shortages, you don’t want to hire someone who isn’t right for your firm.

#3 Decentralise hiring: ensure that hiring is done at the right level. Empower your staff to identify, interview and engage new staff. If you don’t trust them to do this, chances are you’re not sure if they’ve ‘bought in’ to your firm’s strategy (which hopefully exists). On that note, our experience is that existing staff are the best route to new staff. Encourage and reward them for leveraging off their networks.

#4 Compelling bonuses and remuneration scheme: identify in detail what benefits you’re offering (or able to offer) to staff – both financial and non-financial. Littles has long had some of the most generous arrangements going – but they’re designed to attract and retain a particular lawyer. (We want everyone who comes on board to be gunning for partnership, and unlike other firms, at Littles it’s a real and meaningful possibility.)

#5 Interview quickly and be ready to make an offer at the end of the interview: if they check out on paper, have an offer ready to go – so if they smash the interview, you can ask them to come on board then and there. Again, this is another reason to empower staff to take an active role in hiring, rather than making them jump through a labyrinthine HR framework to get approval.

#6 Legal tech: I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to make sure that you’re focusing your effort on client-centric roles. If you’re not using, or actively assessing your options to automate repetitive, process-driven, mundane tasks – you should.

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