A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Should I stay or should I go?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

By Michelle McColl and Maura McConnell, Co-Proprietors, In2view Recruitment

There are promising signs that the employment market is picking up in the legal sector.

According to the results of the latest ALPMA Australian Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey, an increasing number of Australian and New Zealand law firms plan to hire new staff in the next twelve months.  In Australia, this number has jumped by 20% - with 51% of firms indicating they plan to recruit new staff in the next 12 months, compared to 31% last year.

For the first time since the survey commenced, the number one HR issue identified by Australian firms was employee retention and talent management, closely followed by 'finding good staff'.

A more buoyant employment market obviously presents both an opportunity for those who are considering changing jobs and a threat to employers.

Counter Offers

As recruiters, we are seeing an increase in the number of counter offers offered to employees who have been offered a job elsewhere to encourage the staff member to stay.  Counter offers can be presented in a number of ways, such as a salary increase, promotion, opportunity to earn a bonus or other incentives/benefits.


Managing Counter Offers

If you find yourself in this position, there a number of things to consider:

Counter offers add a layer of complication to the recruitment process, and leave you wondering whether maybe you owe something to your current employer, and that maybe things will improve if you stay.

Consider why?

The first thing you should do is consider why the offer has been made by your employee.

Typically, counter offers are made because:

  • replacing you will be an expensive and time consuming exercise;

  • your employer will lose all your knowledge, experience and expertise;

  • your employer requires you to complete the project on which you are currently working;

  • your employer does not have the time and resources to re-train a replacement;

  • losing staff may reflect badly on your manager/employer.

Consider what next?

You need to consider that now your employee knows you have been considering leaving, relationships may be strained moving forward.  Following your resignation, your loyalty and commitment to the business will be in question, and you may be treated differently. 

Your employer may begin seeking a replacement, regardless of whether you stay or leave.

Also consider why you are being offered this new package now, rather than prior to your resignation?

It is also important to reflect on why you felt motivated to move in the first place.  In what ways is your new employer an improvement on your current employer?  Why do you want to work for them?  What opportunities does the new position offer that cannot be matched by your current employer?

Finally, research reveals that most people who accept a counter offer are likely to leave their job within six to 12 months in any case. 

Are you just deferring the inevitable if you accept the counter offer?

In the end, the decision will come down to what is best for you and your career moving forward.  Good luck!

Editor's Note

ALPMA 2017 Salary & HR Issues surveyIf you would like to learn more about the 2017 legal employment market, salaries offered for legal, management and administrative roles at Australian and NZ law firms, bonuses and benefits paid and the biggest HR challenges facing law firms, then purchase the 2017 ALPMA Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey Report.  This survey is available for $550 (incl GST) for ALPMA members or $2,200 (incl GST) for non-members.  If your firm participated in this research, you have received a complimentary copy of the report.

About our Guest Bloggers

Michelle McColl and Maura McConnell are the co-proprietors of In2view Recruitment, which opened its doors in 2008.  Between them, they have in excess of 40 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, gained across many industry sectors.  In2view are ALPMA SA Corporate Partners and the SA State Partner for the 2017 ALPMA Australian Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey.

To talent pool or not? That is the question!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

By Susie Rogers, Director,  Rusher Rogers HR Solutions

What is Talent Pooling?

Talent pooling is certainly one of the buzz words bandied around talent management and recruitment circles and a fundamental if you really want to be in the driver’s seat moving forward, when it comes to accessing talent for your firm.  For the first time ever it can actually be done quite effectively now that technology, networking and the way that we connect with one another has caught up with the need to know who and where the so-called talent is, but it takes commitment and an investment in time. 

You are basically talent mapping. You are identifying and targeting all the relevant candidates in the market and working out which ones you want to reach out to, start a conversation with and build a relationship with for the future, and like all good relationships it, needs to be maintained.

Why do I need to do it?

I suppose you can continue attracting new talent to your organisation by placing an advertisement at the time of the need and keep your fingers crossed in the hope that the right candidate will see your advertisement and apply. But how successful has that been in the past…honestly?  Did you just settle on the best candidate out of an ordinary bunch or did you get lucky…this time?  Most organisations also have some sort of employee referral scheme whereby current employees are incentivised to refer candidates for any open vacancy. This can be quite successful but once again it is adhoc, limited to your employee connections, the good,  the bad and the ugly,  and as such,  does not necessarily guarantee a successful match every time.

Imagine if you could guarantee a successful placement every time.  Imagine being in control of this process where you could confidently fill critical positions within your time frame and with whom you had identified,  well in advance of the recruitment need.  Going to the market would no longer be a hit and miss affair where you are forced to choose only from a group of applicants currently active in the market.  You can actually include all the talent available safe in the knowledge that you have genuinely secured the best candidate available for your role.

A better experience for you...and your candidates

Moving to a more proactive talent acquisition model makes sense, but not only that, it’s a better experience for the candidate. Take time to consider the candidate experience using a more reactive model.  Assuming that the ideal candidate even sees your advertisement, let alone applies for your role, they are lining up with every other Tom, Dick or Harry, whether suited or not, waiting for you to work your way through the screening process.  Sometimes this experience is not a good one for the candidate which may impact negatively on your firm’s brand.  Sometimes by the time you have gone through the process, the right candidate has already moved on, perhaps to another more proactive firm.

 A more proactive model means that you have already established a relationship with targeted candidates. You know them and they know you.  There is a professional understanding of what they bring to the table and they understand the opportunity that your firm represents to them.  They are not treated as just another applicant but a highly valued prospect, potently worthy of your firm’s future investment.

How to resource this?

This approach of course needs to be resourced. Many firms may already have some sort of database of potential candidates, but that potential talent needs to be nurtured and kept focused on your firm.  You need to keep track of their movements and know what is happening in their world and be aware of what is influencing their decisions. You need to position your firm as the firm of choice so that when the right opportunity comes along they are already on board.  

This of course is what an agency does.  A recruitment agencies value is only as good as the talent that they have access to.  The same talent with whom they have already established a relationship of trust and have developed an understanding of the skills and experience that they bring to the table.  This is what you pay an agency for, i.e. access to talent and the nurturing of that talent for your firm, long term.  It is not just about placing an advertisement online on your behalf and hoping that the right candidate applies…you can do that yourself. 

These are the questions that you need to ask of your agency and/or HR Business Partner:
What is your sourcing strategy? How have you resourced this strategy internally?  How do you secure talent?  How do you nurture and develop these relationships? Do you provide talent mapping and talent management services?  If not, why not?

Editor's Note

Is developing a strong talent pool a critical issue for your firm? Then let us know! The ALPMA Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey aims to identify the critical HR issues facing law firms and benchmark salaries paid for more than 70 roles at law firms – and it is now open for participation by all Australian and New Zealand law firms until 31 March .  The Australian survey is generously supported by Rusher Rogers, while the NZ survey is supported by McLeod Duminy.  Participating firms will receive the comprehensive report for free.  Find out more.

About Our Guest Blogger

Susie Rogers

Susie Rogers is a recruitment specialist with almost 18 years at the helm leading an experienced team at Rusher Rogers HR Solutions, 12 years of which has focused on recruiting and finding talent for the legal sector. 

Established in 1996, Rusher Rogers HR Solutions has invested almost 18 years developing a comprehensive candidate network using a complex, robust and successful sourcing strategy to identify and manage that talent network, placing them in the best position to find the talent when its needed.


Law Firms Tightly Control Salary Costs

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

by Anthony Bleasdale, ALPMA President

The 2014 ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey results were released this week. More than 230 firms from across Australia and New Zealand responded to the survey, generously sharing salary details for more than 70 legal, management and administrative roles at law firms, their employment conditions, recruitment and salary increase intentions and their key HR challenges for the year ahead. 

From my perspective, there are three key take-away's from this research:

1. Law firms are maintaining tight control on salaries

  • Year-on-year, salaries paid across virtually all roles – legal, management and administrative - have remained flat (with some notable declines for some legal roles in WA).
  • The number of firms intending to pay above CPI salary increases continues to decline. Only a third of the 230 participating firms were planning pay increases above the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This percentage is down 15 percent from the 2013 results (where 48 percent of firms planned increases above CPI) and 20 percent from 2012 (where 53 percent of firms planned increases above CPI). 

  • Most firms (40.5  percent of respondents)  expect to pay only CPI adjusted salary increases.

  • 22 percent of respondent firms are planning partial wage freezes with some individual pay increases below CPI - while 4.5 percent of respondents (all from firms with less than 75 staff) expect a total wage freeze at their firm.
Salaries make up a significant proportion of overhead costs, so it is prudent for firms to carefully manage these costs. 
This tight wages control is also a reflection of what has been happening in the broader Australian market, where wage growth fell below inflation and plunged to its lowest in 17 years.   The recent Australian Bureau of Statistics wage growth figures show wages rose just 2.6 per cent in the past year.  This is the weakest growth since records began in 1997 and falls well behind the consumer price index, which rose 2.9 per cent over the same period.

2. Recruitment demand remains steady 

Meanwhile, demand for law firm staff remains steady year-on-year, with most firms (80 percent) likely to be in the market for lawyers/solicitors next financial year, with 56 percent likely to recruit secretarial staff and a further 36 percent likely to recruit paralegals and 28% administrative staff.  
This has scarcely moved from last year. Opportunities remain flat for executive and managerial staff at law firms, with few firms likely to be in the market for these roles in the coming year. These roles are tightly held, with churn predominantly caused by firm restructuring.

3. 'Finding good people’ remains the key HR challenge for law firms

Interestingly, despite the flat recruitment market, law firms continue to rate "finding good people" as their number one HR challenge for the third year in a row, followed by managing performance and employee retention/talent management.

Susie Rogers, from Rusher Rogers Recruiting observed that she thinks many firms miss out on quality candidates because they are too rigid in specifying specific skills and experience they require, rejecting good candidates at resume stage, and do not spending enough time exploring a potential employee’s attitude.   You can read more about this in her 
recent post - Want to Find Good People - Look Past Their Resume

‘Managing partner communication and staff management skills’ (#4)  and ‘ability to drive change’ (#5) have moved firmly onto the agenda at law firms, with these issues moving into the top five most important HR issues for law firms the first time, replacing ‘developing organisational leadership capability’ and ‘effective social media useage’ in 2013.

And for the future?

Few firms seem to be planning on investing in non-legal roles (like marketing, business development or IT) to support their scaled down growth ambitions.  This is despite many firms reporting last year that business development and technology where the two areas earmarked for investment to help firms adjust to the changing legal landscape. 

The strong focus on controlling costs at law firms was also a key finding of the recent ALPMA/Crowe Horwath Financial Performance Benchmarking Study, conducted with Crowe Horwath, which found that firms were effectively managing their cash flow and costs - and sacrificing their growth ambitions - in order to protect partner profitability. 

While the industry's current cost management obsession has protected profitability for now, I don't believe this is a sustainable strategy in an industry that is undergoing transformation on many fronts.  Firms need to focus equal effort on strategies that will help them (and all their staff) thrive and prosper in the changing legal landscape.  

Editor's Note

The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey is the most comprehensive, independent report on salaries for all roles at law firms in Australia and New Zealand. It provides a detailed review of salaries paid for 74 roles within legal firms, spanning legal professionals, executive, management and administrative staff categories at law firms, and differing levels of seniority and experience for each category. Other information provided includes anticipated salary movements, recruitment plans, employment benefits, bonuses, staff employment arrangements and the key HR challenges facing law firms in 2014.  

The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey Report is provided free of charge to all participating firms. Non-participating firms can purchase a copy for $550 (ALPMA members) or $2,200 (non-members).
ALPMA will be presenting the key findings from the report at a webinar on Thursday June 5 from 1pm (AEST). Register here

About our Guest Blogger

Anthony Bleasdale in the President of the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA), the peak membership association for law firm leaders and managers in Australasia.  ALPMA provides an authoritative voice on issues relevant to legal practice management.

ALPMA delivers a comprehensive professional learning and development program for members, which includes regular practice management seminars across Australia and New Zealand, the annual ALPMA Summit, webinars and live-streamed events, online resources and a legal industry research program

Want to find good people? Look past their resume!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

by Susie Rogers, Director, Rusher Rogers

'Finding good staff' remains the number one HR challenge identified by Australasian law firms in the recent ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey, yet law firms continue miss out on fantastic candidates because they place too much emphasis on resumes - and not enough on attitude.

It can be very frustrating as a recruiter getting your clients to understand that a candidate’s resume is just part of the story, not the whole story.  In this day and age where technology is relied upon to complete at least the first round of candidate selection, unless your resume is optimised with the right key words or very talented front line staff can ascertain a candidates motivation by reading a resume, then the best candidates will often get missed. 

Attitude vs the 'Right' Experience

I have heard all the objections when decisions to meet a candidate are based on only reading a resume….’ but they don’t have the ‘right’ level of experience’, or ‘they haven’t worked in our sector before’.   And then so many people get caught up in wanting X amount of years’ experience, in either industry sector, or the discipline…ever heard of ‘transferable skills’?  I even believe that some would choose years of experience over attitude. 

Consider this; is it not better to have a candidate with a better attitude, in preference to a candidate with the ideal number of years’ experience but with a poor attitude?  You will have potentially missed out on securing the better candidate just because you are focused on X years of experience. Take those blinkers off, as a great attitude will make a better hire every time.

My old boss used to say; ‘a resume doesn’t have arms and legs Susie, it cannot get up and walk and talk’, and she was so on the money.  A resume is just a part of the story; it’s what lies beneath that you need to get to the bottom of. Things like finding out what behaviours drive a candidate’s motivation, what their values are and whether those same values match those of your organisation.  You won’t find this on a resume and it is one of, if not one of the most important factors in selecting the right people for your organisation. Attitude.

It’s the Iceberg theory.  You need to know what lies beneath the waterline and that’s where recruitment gets tricky because you have to spend the time and actually meet or at least talk to the candidates to try and understand what makes them tick.  Reading a resume alone will not reveal this information.  So don’t just rely on this to decide whether a candidate is the right one or not. 

Finding the right people for your firm

Here are just some of the clues to look out for when identifying the right people for your organisation:
  • Look for transferable skills: How critical is it that the candidate has worked in the same role, in the same sector/team/practice group?

  • Look for patterns: Stability is one. While there could be some perfectly plausible reasons for short-term tenure of employment, the obvious being contract work as the only option available to the candidate at the time OR a pattern of not making it through the probationary period on the other hand.

  • Watch for unexplained gaps in work history. There could be a myriad of reasons, all perfectly acceptable, for unexplained gaps in work history, OR is it inability, desire or commitment to securing employment.

  • Look for logical patterns in their work choices. Does their resume demonstrate a logical progression in the employment choices that they have made or is it all over the place. Alternatively have they plateaued and stayed in the same holding pattern for a while moving from one competitive employer to the next but in the same role.

  • Speak to people. It’s amazing how much you can pick up by just talking to people. You will get a sense of their attitude, their enthusiasm for the role, their personality and whether they are worthwhile meeting face-to-face.
All these elements will start to give you clues about what a candidate is all about but their resume is just the very first step in assessing whether a candidate is right for a position or not.  A resume will provide a list of experience and qualifications, the ‘facts’ to date.  It’s the other stuff that you need to know that a resume will not tell you.  So spend the time and talk to candidates to make a full assessment rather than purely dismissing people on the strength or weakness of a piece of paper.  

Above all, place yourself in the shoes of that person and treat them in the same way you, yourself would like to be treated if you were looking for a job.  A fact often forgotten.

Editor's Note:

The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Australasian Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey identifies the critical HR issues facing law firms and benchmarks salaries paid for more than 70 roles at law firms across Australia and New Zealand. The full results from the 2014 survey are available for purchase from Thursday 29 May. Find out more.

ALPMA will be presenting the key findings from the report, and discussing strategies to 'find good people'  at a webinar on Thursday June 5 from 1pm (AEST). Register here.  

About Our Guest Blogger

Susie RogersSusie Rogers is a recruitment specialist with almost 18 years at the helm leading an experienced team at Rusher Rogers Recruiting, 11 years of which has focused on recruiting and finding talent for the legal sector. 

Established in 1996, Rusher Rogers Recruiting has invested almost 18 years developing a comprehensive candidate network using a complex, robust and successful sourcing strategy to identify and manage that talent network, placing them in the best position to find the talent when its needed.

What is the best approach to recruitment for law firms?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By Susie Rogers, Director, Rusher Rogers Recruiting

Technology is a great leveller and nowhere is it more apparent than in recruitment.  The ‘mystery’ of what recruitment agencies have done for years has been dispelled forever as disruptive technology has opened up the opportunity for all to reach potential candidates and develop their own candidate databases.  This, together with the proliferation of in-house recruitment teams focused on securing talent, is there a role for a traditional recruitment agency to play as we enter this brave new world?

In-house vs Outsourced Recruiting

I guess the question is whether to outsource or not?  

There is a lot to be said for taking this function in-house.  The do-it-yourself approach, where recruitment is a part of your remit, may be so because your needs are adhoc or your budget or resources are limited .  Each time you reach into the employment market you have a different experience, sometimes successful, sometimes a challenge.  And where do you your start?  Are job boards the best place to advertise anymore or do you search on LinkedIn?  And how do you manage your brand throughout this process?  So many questions, and of course this all takes valuable time out of an already busy day.  

For those firms that have a team of dedicated HR/recruitment professionals focused on identifying and securing talent, an in-house recruitment model sounds appealing and there are savings to be made on reducing agency spend.  The only thing is though, what happens when there is no longer a need to recruit?  Is the in-house recruiting team a bit of a one-trick-pony?  Do you run the risk of having highly paid recruiters on your permanent head count, while they sit on the bench waiting for the next recruitment drive?  Contractors I hear you say, but how do you stop your IP walking out the door, perhaps to your competitor, when their contract concludes?  

One of the disadvantages of an in-house model is the time it takes to manage an end-to-end recruitment assignment whilst doing your day job.  Another is that you only have one brand to spruik. Does your brand attract the people you want?  See my previous post on ‘Have you got your house in order?’ 

The obvious advantage of outsourcing your recruitment need is greater access to candidates. Partnering with a trusted recruitment agency can be worth its weight in gold as   more and more, recruitment agencies  shift their focus from the traditional model of being principally client focused to predominantly candidate focused, with a common mantra, if we have the candidates, the clients will come. 

The truth is that any candidate worth their salt will not place all their eggs in the one basket, preferring to explore market opportunities from the safety and relative anonymity of a representative organisation, in other words, a recruitment agency.  So your relationship with a recruitment agency has never been more important.  Taking the time to work with your agency in-order that they understand your firm, your culture and the behaviours of what makes up a high performance employee are some of the building blocks needed for a successful relationship.  This, together with a shared forecast of when and what you’re likely to need will place you in the best position to get the right candidates for your firm, when you want them.

While the recruitment landscape has irreversibly changed as technology has opened up greater access to candidates to all like never before, there is a place for all.  The exciting thing is that you will see even better value and a broader suite of services coming out of smart agency recruiters as they respond to the demands of this changing landscape.  Partner with one of these and your firm will stand to benefit.

Editor's Note

Is recruitment a critical issue for your firm? Then let us know! The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Australasian Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey aims to identify the critical HR issues facing law firms and benchmark salaries paid for more than 70 roles at law firms across the region.  The survey is open for participation by all Australasian law firms until Wednesday 30 April and participating firms will receive the comprehensive report for free.  Find out more.

About Our Guest Blogger

Susie Rogers
Susie Rogers is a recruitment specialist with almost 18 years at the helm leading an experienced team at Rusher Rogers Recruiting, 11 years of which has focused on recruiting and finding talent for the legal sector. 

Established in 1996, Rusher Rogers Recruiting has invested almost 18 years developing a comprehensive candidate network using a complex, robust and successful sourcing strategy to identify and manage that talent network, placing them in the best position to find the talent when its needed.

How well can your firm answer these tricky questions?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

by Alistair Marshall, Partner, Julian Midwinter & Associates

We are nearly 100 days into 2014, and that makes it a good time for you to address some of those difficult questions that people like me enjoy challenging law firm leaders and managers with - before the year gets completely away from you.  

So sit down with the key players in your organization, and see how well you can answer the following tricky questions that will highlight your achievements and/or shortfalls this year to date.

Tricky questions your firm needs to answer

1. Do we have a marketing problem?

Do enough of our  prospective clients know:

  • Who we are?
  • What the result is of what we do?
  • What types of clients we do it for?
How do we convey our expertise to our target audience?

2. Do we have a business development problem?

What is our biggest business development challenge? Do we get plenty of new leads and opportunities to meet potential new clients, but somehow this rarely translates in to new revenue streams? How are we dealing with it?  Do we dedicate sufficient non-billable time each week to business development activities?  Do we outsource to an external source of help?  How long have we had the problem? Are we improving or getting worse at this increasingly more important side to our work?  What have we done to address it? (Maybe very little as yet - I am a lawyer, not a salesman, right?!)  Are we hoping that if we ignore it, the problem will go away?  Do we avoid business development tasks because they are outside our comfort zone?  Do we leave it up to our Marketing Department staff to attract new clients? How is it impacting the organization?  Are there reduced revenues or drawings? 

3. Do we have competitive issues?

Have we recently lost a large client to a competitor?  Have low cost new entrants started to affect our local market?  

4. Do we have people issues?

Is it becoming increasingly difficult to attract the best staff or lateral hires? What is it costing us? If it continues, what will the effect on the business be?  Could we lose key staff to competitor firms?  Are there underperforming staff, practice areas or suppliers that need attention?  How do we know?

5. How can we improve our productivity and performance?

Would we have to further reduce costs across the board?  Where do we want to be next year, or in three years’ time?  What do we need to do now to ensure that happens?  Do we measure all the necessary Key Performance Indicators? 

6. What should we do more (and less) of?

What are we good at and should we do more of?  Do we focus on key areas and be seen as experts in a field where we can charge a premium?  What are we poor at and must stop doing?  What will we do differently tomorrow to ensure we hit our financial and lifestyle goals?  To paraphrase an adage, if you continue to do the same things over and over again, why should you expect different results?

Do not under estimate the importance of identifying and then addressing these issues.  Experience tells me that the winners will create a written action plan with numbered tasks assigned to specific individuals to be achieved within a given timescale. Let me know how you get on.  If you need help in how to overcome some of the challenges here, all you have to do is ask.

About our Guest Blogger

Alistair MarshallAlistair Marshall is a partner at Julian Midwinter & Associates.  After running a successful consulting business in the UK, Alistair relocated to Australia in 2013 to help professional firms attract new clients and win more new business. As a business development expert, he has worked with leading law firms, accountants, banks and household-name corporates for more than twenty years.  

His specialty is implementing simple, achievable, and cost-effective business solutions to small practices through to large regional and national firms.  His track record demonstrates consistent results in achieving double digit growth in new client instructions.  He has authored three books on the subject of sales and marketing, the most recent entitled “The Complete Business Development Guide for Professional Firms”.

Professional Development - The Key to Shaping Your Career

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

by Genevieve Walter, HR Manager, Law In Order

Career development plans are a great way to structure your future in a strategic way.  They are sometimes referred to as ‘Professional Development Plans’ (at Law In Order we call them PDPs). By taking the time to consider where you want to get to, you are effectively creating your own roadmap to success.

They are not just a great opportunity for you to focus your energy in a constructive way; the PDP also provides you with a record of your achievements so that when you are ready to make your next career move, you are already armed with a detailed list of your successes. 

You can use the PDP to record training courses you have attended and learning outcomes, and most importantly, document when things go wrong.  Detailing what you learn from those situations when things ‘hit the fan’, allows you to show that you have taken ownership and you can evidence what you would do differently in a similar situation.

How to create your own career development plan

1. Set goals

The first step is to work out what your goals are – what do you want to achieve over the next 12 months? 3 years? 5 years?  If you want a more senior role, what experience do you need and how can you get it?  You should also consider the key strengths that got you to where you are now and what the areas are that you need to develop further. 

2. Review the options

Once you have the goals in place, you can then establish what is going to be the best way of achieving them.  Do your research.  What options are available to you now and what do you have to plan or prepare for?  What changes do you need to make to get to where you want to be?

3. Construct an action plan – write it down

Putting it down on paper provides clarity and also establishes commitment.  Ensure you set deadlines in order to keep yourself on track and be really specific about what success looks and feels like.  The PDP should be a living document that is regularly updated.  Regular meetings to assess progress also help to keep people on track.

4. Be Flexible

It is important to prepare for the fact that life is unpredictable and things don’t always go to plan.  Have contingencies in place, roll with the punches and don’t take your eyes off the prize – which is ultimately your long term goal.

5. Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid to seek constructive feedback from people in more senior positions, it can help you to gain a different perspective and also help to build a positive relationship with key people within the organisation or firm that you work in. If you ask specific questions, rather than just asking for general feedback, it will help the person responding to provide you with some useful advice.  

6. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor, usually someone outside of your firm, can help to give you an unbiased perspective without agenda. A mentor should be someone that you trust who can provide you with the benefit of their experience and wisdom.  Look for someone who is already where you want to be and find out how they got there.

7. Develop relationships

Developing relationships is a key ingredient when it comes to progressing your career.  Always treat your colleagues in a positive, respectful way – you never know who will be asked their opinion when you are being considered for a promotion.  It is also important to remain authentic, people can sense when you aren’t being genuine and no-one likes a crawler.  If others ask you for help, be generous with your time, by helping others you will often find that you’re learning something too.

8. Network

If you see a networking opportunity – take it.  Being an active participant in ALPMA, attend alumni events, CLEs, even writing blogs(!) is a great way to make a name for yourself and to establish a reputation within the industry. Use social networking tools like LinkedIn to make connections with people and ensure you keep your profile up to date.

9. Go for it!

Stop procrastinating and start focussing on your future.  Achieving your goals will rely on your hard work and dedication.  The first step to success is making a plan of action – that is the easy part.  Having a clear direction will help to guide the energy generated by your passion to succeed.

Tips for Managers

If you’re not already helping your staff to draft their own development plans, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to not only guide your junior employees but also to build loyalty – people want to work for organisations that care about them and are willing to invest in their career development.   Setting goals collaboratively with your staff can also help you, as a manager, to discover better ways to motivate and engage them.  If you know where your team want to be in five years you can work on creating opportunities for them within the business, so they aren’t looking for them outside of your organisation.

Editor's Note

Is professional development a critical issue for your firm? Then let us know! The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Australasian Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey aims to identify the critical HR issues facing law firms and benchmark salaries paid for more than 70 roles at law firms across the region.  The survey is now open for participation by all Australasian law firms, and participating firms will receive the comprehensive report for free. Click here for more information.

About Our Guest Blogger

Genevieve Walter is the Human Resources Manager at Law In Order, a National Corporate Partner and long-term supporter of ALPMA. Established in 1999, Law In Order is a leading supplier of document processing services to the Australian legal industry, providing specialised technology solutions to over 1,300 law firms, corporations and government agencies nationally.

Genevieve has worked in Human Resources for over 13 years in both the public and private sectors and has a Masters degree in Employment Studies and Human Resources Management. 

Genevieve is originally from the UK and is looking forward to finally becoming an Australian citizen this year.

Invest the Time in Your Talent Management Strategy

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

by Susie Rogers, Director, Rusher Rogers Recruiting

Tired of being on the back foot when it comes to identifying and managing talent?  Do the following comments sound familiar as the first reaction to recruitment at your firm?

"Oh no here we go again, let hope that we will be successful this time."
"This is going to cost us a fortune." 
"Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the right person is looking this time".

After a good number of years recruiting across a broad range of industry sectors,  I have have learnt that there is a right way to go about attracting and recruiting talent and a wrong way.  The minority that get it right can afford to be smug because they know where their next hire is coming from.  Most firms however (like yours?) prefer to cross the bridge only when they come to it.  This approach places you and your firm in a position of having to select from the limited pool of candidates that are available to you only at that moment in time.  

What you need to do is adopt the right approach that puts you a position where you know where to get the right people for your organisation at the time when you need them.  The solution is simple - but requires a little planning and investment in time.   

A. Get your house in order

First, you need to get your house in order, and here are 7 ground rules to cover off:
  1. Be honest with who you are as a firm, know what is your brand in the market place
  2. Know who your competition is
  3. Know where you want to go as a firm
  4. Know what you have to offer future employees
  5. Be clear on your firm’s values and understand your culture
  6. Understand and profile what makes a high performing staff member and use that formula 
  7. Have a clear idea of where future needs will be and when you will need those resources.

B. Develop your future talent pool

Assuming that you have the above building blocks in place, it’s time for planning and building your future talent pool and the information you need to do so has never been more accessible.  With professional online networking tools like LinkedIn, you do not even need to leave your desk.  

It does require an investment in time to build your talent communities for the future if you are going to make this work. 

As well- known recruitment commentator Greg Savage of the Savage Report reminds us “everyone one is a candidate”, not just those who are currently looking to move, or whom are currently available.  

Building a pool of likely contacts, building relationships of understanding will allow you to identify if there is any synergy or alignment and therefore a possible future together. The quantum shift for an organisation is to move from a reactive/transactional strategy, to a pro-active/strategic approach to talent attraction.  Networking is key and should be an ongoing function of any forward thinking firm so that if you have the right offering in place and you have put in the time to develop a relationship with your future talent then everything should fall into place. 

This can be done in-house or by partnering with a supplier who can manage that for you, but whatever you decide is the best way to tackle it, it will take some time to identify, nurture and build rapport with your future employees which is why the above seven points need to be settled and agreed upon with a caste-iron commitment to upholding those standards in order to be best placed to attract and keep the future talent you need for your firm.

C. Go Digital

Finally, Ted Elliot, CEO of recruitment ATS system, Jobscience has some wise words worth sharing about recruitment and building talent communities in the future:

“Firstly all recruiters, veterans or newbies, must change their mindset around digital. If you are not a digital native, you must become a digital convert and a digital advocate, because smart use of technology will be a given for great recruiters. 

You need to become a skilled ‘e-sourcer’ able to find talent electronically. Sure, LinkedIn, but much more than that.
Winners in recruitment will take the long-term view on social media. They will invest time and energy in building their personal brand via Twitter and LinkedIn and blogging.

Tomorrow’s recruiter will be part of ‘Generation C’.  That will have nothing to do with when you were born. Rather, it will mean you are a natural connector, a networker, a relationship builder, online and offline.

In an era of massive talent shortages, which I guarantee you are on their way, every recruiter will need to be a ‘Talent Magnet’. And the best way to achieve that is both old school and unfashionable. Consistent, sincere, and ongoing candidate service. That is the real differentiator.”

Editor's Note:

Is talent management a critical issue for your firm? Then let us know! The ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Australasian Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey aims to identify the critical HR issues facing law firms and benchmark salaries paid for more than 70 roles at law firms across the region.  The survey is now open for participation by all Australasian law firms, and participating firms will receive the comprehensive report for free.  Click here for more information.

About Our Guest Blogger

Susie RogersSusie Rogers is a recruitment specialist with almost 18 years at the helm leading an experienced team at Rusher Rogers Recruiting, 11 years of which has focused on recruiting and finding talent for the legal sector. 

Established in 1996, Rusher Rogers Recruiting has invested almost 18 years developing a comprehensive candidate network using a complex, robust and successful sourcing strategy to identify and manage that talent network, placing them in the best position to find the talent when its needed.

Tips for Managing Salary Review Time

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

by Stephanie Banks-Smith, Consultant, Legal People

That time of year for most firms is creeping up once again – salary review time! Some Managers dread this busy time of year;

Australian dollars ensuring their staff are contented, being engaged, motivated and fulfilled in their role.  The Gallup Q12 Meta-Analysis conducted in 2012, involved 1.4 million employees, worldwide, industry wide confirmed that “employee engagement consistently affects key performance outcomes, regardless of organisation, industry or country.” If an employee is not engaged, this obviously affects their performance.
A performance review should not come as a surprise for your staff. They should be aware of how they are tracking performance wise. Throughout the year management should conduct informal discussions with their staff regarding their performance. Salary review time is not the time to spring any surprises regarding their performance or new information on your staff.
Here are a few pointers which may assist those new to the industry, or those who are new to management and conducting salary reviews:

Be prepared

Do your research and understand the market value of your staff.  If you’re not sure what your staff are worth, speak with a trusted specialist recruiter that place candidates in these roles frequently. Ensure your salaries are in line with other firms of a similar size. You probably don’t want your quality staff walking to the firm down the road for a few extra dollars per year. The ALPMA Legal Industry Salary Survey provides detailed salary information for more than 60 roles in a law firm, broken down by state and by size.  Decide how you want your firm's compensation strategy to compare when benchmarked to like firms.  

Provide continuous feedback

Effective managers should discuss both positive and negative performance and areas of improvement regularly throughout the year. Ensure the contents of the review are a reemphasis of previous discussions throughout the year.

No surprises!

When conducting a salary review, the employee should not have any surprises; do not bring anything new to the table, whether that is positive or negative information. 

Be clear & concise

Employees should know exactly what is expected of their performance. Document a job plan and goals for the next 12 months. An employee cannot be successful in their role if it is not clear what is expected of them. Having a clear goal will also encourage and motivate the employee to go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Have a positive approach

As a Manager, don’t do all of the talking or turn the review into a lecture, this won’t be effective and your employee will walk away feeling disheartened and less motivated to exceed your expectations. Always prepare for a performance review. The clearer you are with examples and key pointers, the more effective the review will be and hopefully your employee will walk away feeling more positive and motivated about their role.

Consider other rewards & benefits 

What other rewards and benefits do you have in place? For some employees it’s not all about the dollars. Does your firm offer unique benefits or rewards? An example may be additional paid training, providing extra annual leave or the option to purchase additional annual leave, providing breakfast for your staff daily. Sometimes it’s the smaller things that keep staff engaged and happier overall. 

Be ready for negotiations

An employee may feel they have added extra value to the organisation, or achieved more than the person sitting next to them. Be prepared for this, as you may have to go back to the drawing board if you feel you may lose a star employee who feels undervalued.

Editor's Note:

The 2013 ALPMA Legal Industry Salary Survey, proudly sponsored by Legal People,  is now open for participation by Australasian law firms.  The ALPMA Salary Survey provides a comprehensive review of salaries paid across more than 60 positions at legal firms in Australasia and collects detailed information on employments benefits offered across the industry, the mix of part-time, contract, casual and full-time workers employed at law firms, plus bonuses, anticipated salary increases and recruitment intentions for the next 12 months. Read the media releaseFind out more about participating.

About our Guest Blogger

Stephanie Banks-SmithStephanie Banks-Smith is a recruitment consultant at Legal People, a leading, highly reputable specialist legal recruitment service provider located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Legal People was one of the first established legal specialist recruitment agencies in Australia celebrating its 40th anniversary in December 2013.  Stephanie's primary focus is the placement of legal support and generalist office staff.  She has established strong relationships with clients and candidates alike, forming the basis of a highly successful career in legal recruitment.  
Stephanie mainly assists private practice law firms of all sizes with their legal support needs ranging from the office entry level assistant, legal secretaries, law clerks/paralegals in all areas of law.

Merry Christmas from ALPMA

Monday, December 24, 2012

By ALPMA National President, Warrick McLean

On behalf of ALPMA, I would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and say a very big thank you for your support of ALPMA during 2012.

2012 has been a busy and successful year for ALPMA.  Our achievements this year include:
  • achieved record attendance at our monthly lunch-time professional learning and development seminars AND at our webinars - and made these available on-demand to members who couldn't attend in person in ACCESS ALPMA, our member-only resource centre
  • attracted 200 delegates from Australia and New Zealand to the hugely successful 2012 ALPMA National Summit in Brisbane (and completely selling out the Trade Exhibition)
  • rolled out the ALPMA HR Workshops in March nationally for the first time to more than 140 delegates in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide & Sydney
  • continued our strong membership growth across the country and overseas - if you haven't joined up, now is the time to become a member!
  • refreshed the ALPMA website making it easy to navigate and share.
  • launched the ALPMA Blog: A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers - providing practical advice and tips on a range of diverse subjects close to the hearts of managers in the legal industry
  • Expanded our social media presence, growing the ALPMA LinkedIn Group to 918 members (and counting!), more than doubling our number of followers on Twitter, creating our Facebook page to share news and photos from ALPMA events, and establishing a presence on Google+
  • Successfully completed the annual ALPMA Legal Industry Salary Survey, and recently launched the 3rd annual ALPMA Financial Performance Benchmarking Study and Hot Issues in HR Survey, offering free participation in all this industry research to every legal firm in Australasia.
We simply could not have achieved all of this without the great support from our members, partners and subscribers 2013 promises to be an even bigger year - and we are very much looking forward to continuously improving on the way we deliver on our promise to members and the broader legal practice management community.   I would welcome any feedback you might have on how we could serve you better in 2013.

Have a great Christmas and here's to a successful and prosperous New Year!

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