Legal Support teams are crucial to the effective running of any Law firm. Often operating as the ‘caretakers’ in the firm it is important to ensure they also feel valued and appreciated, especially as a lot of what they do often goes unnoticed.
The first thing that is important to understand about support staff is that their motivations are sometimes different to legal professionals. They are the backbone of a firm and often the softer touch in what can be a very serious environment. Their drivers are likely to be personal based, focusing on the impact they can have on partners and teams, wanting to feel valued in a team and recognized for their efforts.
Good legal support staff are invaluable to a firm's culture and the effective operation of a team. High performing legal support staff are those that are methodical, have good attention to detail, pragmatic, loyal and willing to go the extra mile to ensure things are running effectively for their teams.
Like many sectors Covid has had a huge impact on the flexibility available to Legal Support teams. Previously a strict 8.30am – 5pm role with scheduled breaks, firms were forced to revaluate how the lawyer-support relationship would work remotely. Emerging from lockdown, legal support staff now value a hybrid working model, this might mean they have one day a week to work from home, or flexibility in their working hours. This helps reduce their commute, allows for greater autotomy in how they manage the work day and their own workloads, and enables a way of working with less interruptions throughout the day. Further, the way Partners and teams communicated with their support teams was forced to change while in lockdown, resulting in scheduled calls or task based apps being used as the communication channels rather than Adhoc communication.
With firms returning to in office work we encourage leaders to consider fresh ways to structure support teams, and not fall back on what has always been done in order to retain good legal support staff. Using lockdown as a forced experiment it’s clear that support teams can remain productive if offered the flexibility previously not available to them, and in order to retain and attract talented teams this is going to become a crucial aspect in recruitment. We are hearing from our candidates that they are looking for roles with flexible hours, at least one working from home day a week, life benefits like health insurance and gym memberships, ‘run your own day’ flexibility to take breaks on their own timelines, and more structured salary and performance reviews.
Employers are looking at other ways to offer remuneration to support teams through salary increases, paid parking, flexible hours and recognition for going above and beyond in the form of vouchers and time in lieu.
If you are looking to hire in the Legal Support space contact Simone to help you find the best talent in the market.