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The secret to attracting and retaining top talent


The recruitment process for lawyers and law firms is challenging from either side of the interview desk.

It’s a competitive and packed market. Graduates are on the hunt for training contracts all over the country, and choosing the correct law firm makes a difference to their future career.

Yet law firms also have the hard job of trying to recruit the best graduates from the pool of talent that this industry has to offer.

In these turbulent times, compounded by Brexit, there are feelings of uncertainty across all industries. Law firms are no exception, and for most, it is essential to employ the best candidates to see them through the challenging years to come.

But this isn’t an easy task. As Thomson Reuters recently stated:

‘How can a firm ensure it is an appealing choice among candidates? Can a firm afford to rely merely on its reputation? Perhaps a big salary will be enough to attract the best – or, alternatively, are there other factors at play which carry more weight than ever before?’

Law firms need to recognise and reflect on their workplace culture if they want to be strong enough to attract – and retain – the best.

Steele Raymond is regarded as one of the leading law firms in the south of England. This is supported by not only the quality of their work but also recognised by the leading independent guide for the legal profession, the Legal 500.

For the past 14 years, they have received the number one ranking from the guide in their core principle practise areas for the Dorset and South Wiltshire regions.

Although a Dorset-based firm, they have a broad national reach in the areas of work that they do. The full service law firm acts for clients with interests throughout the United Kingdom, in Europe, North America and the Far East among other areas – most of their work is focussed around businesses and individuals in the south of England.

But what has Steele Raymond had to do to attract new talent, and to stand apart from its competitor law firms?

Tim Stone, Chairman and Leader of the Company and Commercial team, discusses the lengths that the Bournemouth-based firm has gone to ensure that they sustain their leading reputation.

“We understand the importance of improving our brand visibility within our region. We have a fantastic team, headed by Business Development Director, Lee Taylor, that has concentrated in promoting and ensuring the consistency of our brand.”

“Our offices are modern as we are very aware that the working environment absolutely affects prospective lawyers – it should feel like their home from home. Lawyers in large London or other leading regional law firms are used to certain working conditions and environments, robust modern IT solutions and other added extras. Why should we be any different? We want people to work in a class leading environment – with all the benefits of living in this beautiful part of the world.”

“Steele Raymond has enjoyed consistent and sustained organic growth in recent years – by identifying the leading lawyers in their fields and recruiting them.”

“The numbers speak for themselves – the staff headcount at the firm, over the past 5 years, has grown from 65 to over 100.”

“This organic growth and the strategic changes alike have attracted both strongly qualified lawyers and trainees.”

Steele Raymond’s methodology and approach towards recruiting and selecting trainees proving successful.

The trainee recruitment process

Steele Raymond invite applicants that would like to become a solicitor annually to apply for the trainee recruitment programme via their website. There is then a trainee recruitment selection day, where the candidates are shortlisted to 12. This consists of presentation exercises, written exercises, and watching closely how they interact in various team tasks. They are then shortlisted for interview with partners. If chosen, the new trainees begin a rigorous two-year training process with the firm.

But what qualities are important to Steele Raymond?

The partners are careful who they recruit; they choose those that have the personality and drive that fits in with their existing work culture – and who want to represent what Steele Raymond passionately believes is at its very heart a service industry.

Tim Stone comments:

“We draw analogies from other service industries; those that are well-versed in caring for their customers – hospitality and catering, automotive and the best of retail – and we try to learn from what makes them excel at customer service. We all have the mindset of ‘we’re here to serve’.

“We’ve created an environment where we look after our clients from the very moment they arrive. Our client services operations team is drawn from people who come from leading service industries; they welcome every client who arrives at our offices and make them great coffee! Simple things, but ones that set the tone right from the start. The experience that our clients receive, how they are treated every time they visit – these touches are extremely important. Yes, we are ultimately helping clients with their legal issues, but we also want them to feel comfortable, relaxed and at ease.”

The growing reputation of the firm isn’t just reserved for graduates and trainees. Steele Raymond continues to appoint into very senior positions – within the past couple of years for example the firm has recruited leading solicitors now heading the firm’s employment and family teams. This quality organic growth is helping to ensure that the firm continues to build a strong team of very highly skilled and experienced advisers.

As Tim explains:

“The firm has developed tremendously in recent years and this comes down to the quality of our people and the loyal support which our clients give us.  As partners, we are responsible for building a sustainable business that can be passed from one generation to the next. At the heart of that is a culture that rewards hard work and dedication and constantly seeks to help people improve and move upwards through the organisation.

“As we have grown we have recognised the huge benefits of employing professional support staff in the areas of client services, IT, accounts, business development and operations. These individuals have made such a difference in releasing us to do what we trained and have a passion for, serving and looking after our clients.”

For further information and advice please contact Tim Stone on 01202 294 566 or [email protected].


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