Successful legal recruitment: How to run a successful recruitment process

Written by: Sarah Smith
Published on: 11 Sep 2020


Successful legal recruitment: How to run a successful recruitment process

Before the pandemic the legal recruitment market was incredibly competitive. In a recent Hays research report 89% of legal recruiters had experienced a skills shortage during 2019, with 80% having difficulty hiring permanent staff, risking the ability of the firm to deliver projects.

Despite the initial heavy impact on recruitment, the UK market is already showing green shoots of recovery, with data from LinkedIn showing the legal market experience the strongest rebound in hiring.

With confidence high, this could be the ideal opportunity to hire legal talent without compromising on the skills needed to survive and move forward. However, this is not to time to be complacent. Failure to carry out an efficient, well-organised and seamless recruitment process can cost firms from hiring the candidates they need and add to your workload.

Essential steps to run a successful legal recruitment process

We’ve put together an eight-step guide to help you run a streamlined, candidate focused recruitment process to give you a better chance of getting the right candidate over the line and keep your existing lawyers happy.

Who are you looking for and what do you need?

Be clear about the skills you need to bring into your firm. Write a clear brief and ensure your job description and job specification are up to date with the skills and attitudes you need to fulfill your planned business activity.

For tips when drafting your job descriptions or writing a job specification take a look at the Gazette Jobs Insight page or speak to your Law Society recruitment account manager.

Implement a time frame and stick to it.

Identify when you need your successful candidate to start and set aside the time you need to meet that date. If you are replacing an outgoing lawyer, time your recruitment process so you can have your ideal candidate in place to start with as little gap between as possible. Remember you are operating in a competitive marketplace – once you find attractive candidates, you’ll need to act fast.

Ensuring everyone in your recruitment process appreciates the value of recruiting the right candidate can ultimately save you time, money and avoid costly mistakes.

Reach your ideal candidates

You need to reach the right audience to ensure your opportunity will be seen by the right people. There are several jobs boards serving the UK legal market. Be sure you select a platform where your recruitment ads will be seen by the largest selection of candidates with the skills and experience you need.

Broaden your recruitment search with the Law Society.

No one reaches a larger legal audience in the UK. Traffic to our jobs board is significantly greater than any other. Remember over 70% of the recruitment market are not actively looking for a new role but are open to move for the right opportunity. Our diverse, expert content enables you to reach those ideal candidates who are not actively seeking a new role.

Speak to one of our dedicated recruitment account managers to see how the Law Society can help you to broaden your search and find the right legal talent for your firm.

Create clear and concise recruitment ads

You don’t want to waste your valuable time sifting through the CV’s of candidates who haven’t got the skills or experience you need. Be clear about what you are looking for.

In a competitive marketplace you need your advert to stand out and appeal to your ideal candidates.

Be concise. Job hunting can be very time consuming. Active job seekers may be put off by long winded adverts and passive job seekers often simply haven’t got the time, or desire, to read long winded job ads or to be searching for new roles.

Sell the role and your firm. Be upfront and clear about remuneration and other benefits of the role. Flexible working and location can often be as equally appealing as salary levels.

Take a look at our Top Tips for writing an effective recruitment ad

Shortlisting your ideal candidates

As soon as you see a CV that meets your needs act fast. Arrange to meet them as soon as possible. Don’t forget you are competing with other recruiters. A fast response will make your ideal candidates feel wanted and will help you make a strong first impression. Be realistic about the skills and experience you need. Separate out the ‘must haves’ from the ‘nice to haves’.

The interview

Remember a job interview is a two-way process. It’s a good bet that strong candidates will have a number of other opportunities in the pipeline. Make sure you stand out from your competition and sell the role and your firm.

If you offer flexible working, a great bonus scheme, or opportunities for progression be sure to talk about these things in detail. Talking about the challenging work they could be involved in and the client base they could work with could prove to be what sets you apart and puts you ahead of competing recruiters.

Don’t discuss salary at this stage.

Tailor your questions to your candidate’s CV and the skills, aptitudes and experience you are looking for. Set out a clear criteria for assessing the skills you are looking for.

Ensure you give timely feedback

Candidates have given up their valuable time to prepare and participate in your interview. Failing to provide constructive feedback will not only be perceived as rude, it reflects badly on your firm and can be costly for future recruiting. Providing a poor experience to candidates can give you a bad reputation. Remember the legal market can be a small and talkative world. Future ideal candidates may be put off by colleagues or friends who have had a poor experience.

Timely feedback is also essential for candidates you wish to progress with. Be sure to pass on positive feedback fast. Make sure you keep the momentum going and arrange that second-round interview as soon as possible.

Make your attractive offer

Act fast and make your offer attractive. You can run the risk of setting off on the wrong foot if your offer and negotiations give the impression you are ‘trying to get one over them’. If you have been upfront with salary and other wider benefits you shouldn’t need to go back and forward too much at this stage.

Don’t let your ideal candidate slip through your fingers

Once your candidate has accepted your offer, make sure you keep in touch with them during their notice period. Inviting them to team drinks and any other events is a great way to begin integrating them into your team.

Don’t forget, your candidate is still a very valuable asset in the legal recruitment market and at risk of being poached from under your nose.  

Reach a large, diverse audience of legal talent and find the right fit for your firm.

For more top tips and advice or to discuss your current legal recruitment needs, contact your Law Society recruitment account manager today – 

Request a call back, call 020 8049 4000 or email

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