Career Advice

Stress is a well-known factor in the workplace and affects people in different ways depending on age, experience, and disabilities, as well as many other factors. Feeling some level of stress is normal but when it becomes overwhelming it can affect your mental and emotional wellbeing. Everyone deals with stress differently and what works for one person may not work for the next so finding methods that work for you is key.

 Here are a few points on how to help manage stress at work : -

Be active and look after your physical health

Try taking some time out to go for a short walk, jog, take some time out for you. Many people find this reduces stress and gives a clear mind. Take the breaks you are entitled to and take time away from your desk at lunch.

Work/ Life Balance

We are already beginning to see that one of the benefits of lockdown and the pandemic is that employees and employers have re-evaluated the importance of work/ life balance with many work places now offering a much more flexible approach to working from home and flexible hours. This will no doubt cut down on the likes of the stressful start of the day for many such as the commute to work, dropping kids off early and getting everyone out of the house on time.

Take time away from work whether that be in the office or from your desk at home. It is much easier now with emails on phones, laptops at home and social media to feel like you can never switch off but try to be strict with yourself and set aside some ‘me’ time without thinking about work for socialising and relaxation. Have an end of day routine to finish off the day by tidying your workspace and doing a to do list to start the next day.

Talk to your employers

If there is a problem with your workload discuss this with your manager as between you there may be a solution. Try to organise yourself to help balance your time. Keep your diary up to date and clear any emails you do not need. Overall, don’t keep it bottled up and let your employers know you are feeling stressed.

Challenge yourself

Give yourself goals and challenges outside of work. Is there a hobby you have been meaning to start, an activity you haven’t got around to doing? Develop interests and skills that you don’t use in your job to differentiate between your personal and work life.

Connect with people

Ensure you have a good support network of colleagues, friends and family. Often a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking things through with friends and family can often help to alleviate how you are feeling. Having connections with colleagues can also make your workplace feel more familiar and enjoyable.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don’t turn to alcohol, smoking, caffeine or other vices as a way of managing stress. Whilst it may help in the short term it won’t do much good for the long-term problem. Try different techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness and taking time out for a holiday.

It has always been a challenge for law firms to attract good lawyers, and this is even more difficult when a member of the team finds a new job elsewhere and hands in their notice. All of a sudden the stable team is disrupted and there is a pressing need to find a replacement lawyer.

Firms are aware that the cost of hiring a replacement person can be high, not to mention the costs associated with having a position empty for any period, resulting in a fall in revenue or an added burden on the remaining members of the team who are often reallocated work.

The firm will normally have 3 months to find a replacement due to the 3 month notice period most lawyers are required to give their employer. Even so, given the disruption and difficulty in finding a new lawyer, it is little surprise that the firm will do their best to discourage the lawyer from leaving. One option open to them is to make the person handing in their notice a counter offer. In other words; offer them a salary increase to persuade them to stay.

It is therefore important that every candidate should be prepared for the scenario from the very beginning of their job search. This is something we discuss from an early stage.

Thornton Legal find that on just about every occasion where a candidate hands their notice in, the disgruntled firm tries, sometimes successfully, to counter offer their employee and prevent them leaving.

Some candidates enter the recruitment process hoping that their current employer makes such a counter offer, for others it can be the last thing they were expecting.

Either way, the decision whether to stay or go can be a daunting one but our experience at Thornton Legal is that the vast majority of accepted counter offers ultimately fail to satisfy the candidate and they find themselves re-entering the job market a little further down the line.

Why is this and why are counter offers a tricky thing to navigate?

There are a number of factors but the common themes are:

If you’re worth it now, why did it take you to hand your notice in to force their hand?

If a person is worth the increased salary or promotion that comes with the counter offer, the firm in question really should have rewarded their employee earlier. Candidates are often flattered to receive a counter offer, but they should really be asking the question why they were undervalued for such a long time in the first place and whether their current firm is the right place for them to satisfy their ambitions in the long run.

It’s often not just about the money

Other motivating factors often play a significant factor in why candidates look elsewhere in the first place: work life balance, commute, promotion prospects, firm culture and quality of work can be lacking. Accepting a counter offer just for the money can be a temporary sticking plaster that doesn’t solve any of the other underlying issues.

Staying can cause resentment/trust/loyalty issues

It’s an understated problem that once a lawyer looks elsewhere, in the minds of their firm, even if they stay, the bonds of trust and loyalty can be broken and never fully heal. This problem is circumstance specific and doesn’t occur every time but can be an issue that rears its head and is often difficult to resolve.

Does the salary increase price you out of a future move?

Staying at a firm for a big pay rise whilst useful in the short term can affect a lawyer’s position in the job market further down the line. Hefty hikes in salary can put candidates in an artificially high position that they find difficult to justify when they eventually look to move and can put some potential employers off.

Thornton Legal are at hand at every stage of the process when it comes to providing clear, pragmatic and focused advice to lawyers entering the job market. We are only too happy to speak out of hours to candidates on a confidential basis and give them sensible advice, tailored to their individual circumstances.

If you are a lawyer that would like to explore the job market in the North West, Yorkshire or Midlands, we would be only too happy to help.

Work can be challenging at the best of times. Situations can make even the most positive amongst us feel down occasionally Feeling stressed in the workplace can make us underperform and can also affect other aspects of our lives. So, we have had a good chat in the office at Thornton Legal and come up with some ideas which we think can make you happier at work and improve your well-being.

In no particular order they include:

Having a positive mind set

Things at work don’t always go according to plan. It is important to remember that we are all trying our best and after all.. we are human, so make mistakes.

It is too easy for our brains to look at the negative of the situation. If you find yourself feeling down, turn the whole thing around and think what the positives are instead.

Talk to someone about how you are feeling

This is really important. If you are stressed about something and you can’t see a resolution, talk to a trusted colleague or your boss. It is amazing how someone else’s perspective can make you see things in a different way. Ask for their advice; how would they handle the problem. It is always easier to fix someone else issues than your own it seems.

Take a break

Sitting at a desk and looking at a screen all day is far from natural behaviour for humans.. Get up, have a walk outside in the fresh air and get some natural light. Taking some breaths of fresh air will clear your mind and calm down any negative thoughts you are having. If you go out into a green space, the very action will have a calming effect on you.

Find time for treats

This one is really important in these post Covid times when we have been prevented from doing some of the things that give us a mental uplift. Bring your favourite food to work for lunch or pop out to buy your favourite style of coffee, just the way you like it from your favourite coffee shop. Or tea! We have found that it is the little things which give us the most pleasure.

Don’t get involved in office politics

This never ends well. If someone is having a moan about something, it is guaranteed to bring your own mood down. So do your best to avoid engaging. Smile and think about something positive instead.

Have some exercise

It is amazing how taking some exercise can lift your mood. When we sit at a desk experiencing stressful situations there is nowhere for the stress hormones we create to go. This adds to the situation and often makes it worse. So, our main tip to feeling happier in the office is to get some exercise. Something you enjoy preferably. With lighter evenings this gets easier. Getting your body moving will create endorphins, which make you feel happier. It will also take your mind off the focused issues which easily accumulate after a day in the office, give you a chance to reflect on whether these issues are actually important, how you could re-frame them to make a positive outcome, and whether they matter at all.

We think that by adding some of (or all) of our ideas to your day will help you to feel more positive, happier and enjoy the time you spend at work.

If you have any other ideas on how to be happier at work, please let us know. We are always here to support our clients and candidates and would like to hear your thoughts.

All the best from us all at Thornton Legal!

Starting a new job can be challenging at the best of times, however, due to the Corona virus pandemic, many people will be working from home and having no face-to-face contact with new colleagues.

The chances are that your new employer’s onboarding process was not designed with you working remotely from home in mind, therefore you will have to be proactive in getting used to the new culture, way of working and new colleagues. So how do you go about being successful and making a good first impression?

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

Schedule a lot of brief check-ins with colleagues

One of the hardest things in a new role is getting used to the company’s unique culture. This is normally made up of unspoken goals and norms which are picked up from everyday interactions with colleagues. Hearing conversations and having discussions about what people are working on will normally allow you to understand what activities are valued and what styles of work are favoured, therefore putting you in a good light with your colleagues and managers.

Under normal circumstances these interactions are a natural part of being in an office. So what to do now that you are starting from scratch at home? The answer is that you will have to be very proactive and manufacture these interactions.

Reach out to new colleagues and set up 10–15-minute one-on-one discussions to introduce yourself, ask questions about what they are working on; so they can describe their work to you and so that you can ask questions about your current projects. These can be by telephone or over Teams or Zoom (or other video conferencing platforms) and can be held regularly. These mimic the short, informal interactions that you’d normally have in person.

Rapidly assemble your mentoring team

You will need people around you who can help and mentor you. Ordinarily these relationships would develop over time. However, when you start working for a company remotely, you will need to identify people to play these roles for you as quickly as possible.

Requests for help are likely to involve emails and asking your new colleagues who they would suggest when you have your frequent interactions (see above). You will need someone who knows how things in the firm are done and can help you navigate the variety of procedures that will make your life simple. Things like how to submit expenses, apply for holiday and accessing equipment.

The second person you will need is a mentor. They will be someone who is well connected throughout the firm and will be happy to introduce you to the people you will need to know. Having these people early on will definitely help you settle in and feel like you belong there as well as making your life simpler. However, you can reach out to other people who may fit the roles better over time as you get to know the firm.

 Announce yourself as new

Under normal circumstances you’ll get noticed as a new face in an office and people will introduce themselves When you start a new role remotely, this isn’t going to happen. One would hope that your new manager will introduce you to the team. However, this might happen during a virtual meeting when you are presented amongst a lot of different faces on a screen- not ideal.

This means that again you will need to be proactive in announcing yourself as a new person in the office. Request a moment at the beginning of a team virtual meeting to introduce yourself, then follow it up by sending brief emails to people in the team. The aim here is to let people know that you are new and need help to get started. Everyone will want to welcome you, so give them an excuse by making the first move!

Ask for help

It is difficult for colleagues to pick up on quizzical faces and confused looks when you are having a virtual meeting. They may not know that you are struggling to keep up. These would get picked up in an office when people are in close proximity. So, as a general rule, when there is something you need; say so.

You will be surprised by how willing your colleagues will be to help. After all, they were new to the firm once and remember what it was like. So don’t wait for offers of help; just ask!

Keep a diary

When you’re in an office, it’s easy to take care of problems as they arise. You can often just get up from your desk and find someone to help you solve it. When you’re working at home, if you send a quick email asking for an answer, the request may get lost in the business of the day. And if it’s a small issue, you may even forget to follow up.

So, a really good tip here is to keep a diary. Make notes during and at the end of the day of what you need to know. Write down the tasks you accomplished and also the obstacles you faced. If there are particular issues that are still unresolved, highlight them to discuss with your boss or your friendly mentors in your next meeting with them. Ask them their perspective. In this way you will also get an idea of how the organisation works and thinks. You will fit into the culture more quickly- all making you feel comfortable and settling in.

All these ideas will allow you to be proactive and feel in control of what is never an easy task- starting in a new job in a new firm, made doubly difficult by working remotely.

We wish you the best of luck in your new role! Remember, just ask us if you need a hand.

 

Whether you are working in private practice or in-house, getting noticed can be a challenge particularly in the larger organisations. Even if you are regularly delivering quality work, it may not be spotted as other solicitors vie for recognition as well.   

Here are some Thornton Legal tips to get noticed:

Be visible

Sometimes being good at your job just isn’t enough to get spotted. Get in involved in office events so colleagues and Partners get to know you over and above your day to day work. These include CSR, regular socials, networking events etc

Refine your interpersonal skills

As you climb the career ladder you will interact with a wider network of professionals and you’ll need to be able to work with them all effectively. Strong communication skills aren’t just needed for technical legal cases, just also for explaining information to clients and external contacts. The more people who know and rate you, the better chance you have of word getting back to the key decision markers at your firm.

Do more than your job description

To get spotted you need to go over and above the call of duty sometimes. Don’t go overboard as you’ll never get your own work done, but stepping up to help otherwise with their work, projects, events etc will put you on the path to progression as you mix with others your firm, including the decision makers.

Be client focused

From the early stages of your legal career you should be thinking about how you own network of clients and refers who give you work but also business to other practice areas. Building a following is one of the best, if not the best way of getting noticed, promoted and financially rewarded. Having good clients doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and investment. What is your firm doing well, what can be done better, how can the service be improved and how can client’s costs be reduced?

Become an expert in business

A law firm is a business after all! Solicitors who understand their client’s goals will always be highly regarded by Partners. Show them that you understand business clients demands for better value for money spent, and don’t be afraid to make suggestion that respect traditions but that also show you have a grasp of what the future of the legal progression looks like. These may include alternative billing structures, new approaches to managing client relationships or different recruitment strategies.

Use these tips to improve your profile in the office as well as in the legal community. Get involved in non fee earning activities, work on your communication skills, go over and above sometimes, build your own following of clients and become an expert in your client’s business. Before you know it, you’ll be Managing Partner!

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Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs across the North West, Yorkshire and Midlands. We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today on 0151 307 5757 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.

Have you recently started a new job?

Then this will be very familiar with you, as will the bewildering situation you have found yourself in.. beginning a new job in a new company.

This can be an exciting as well as nerve wracking experience and will depend upon your own attitude to finding a new job and how smoothly the recruitment process was carried out.

In the last few weeks you have either applied for a job directly, or been approached by a recruiter, re-written your CV (and wondered if it is good enough), attended interviews (whilst trying to work out whether they like you) and been through the wait of hearing whether you have got the job.. all nerve wracking enough in themselves; now you actually have to sit at your desk and do the job you have been hired for.

I myself have recently joined Thornton Legal and can relate to this process of wondering whether you are doing the right thing and succeeding.

So here are some tips to help get you off to a flying start in your new role; perhaps some you have thought of and others you haven’t.

The first 3 months can be vital to your success in the company. It is an opportunity to position yourself, offer a fresh perspective, make a positive impact to your fellow colleagues and bosses and build a platform for continuing success. To do this, it pays to have a clear strategy in mind.

The first month

Learn about your new company: To succeed in your recent interviews you will have conducted research about the company to demonstrate your understanding. You now need to take this opportunity to learn as much as possible about your new employer, understanding what their aims and objectives are and how your role fits into this. This way you will get a better understanding of the culture and brand, to successfully do your work.

So..Read the website, staff bio’s, blogs, social media, reports, anything you can find.

Ask questions: Sometimes asking questions is the best way to learn and it is always good to portray that you are curious and interested in understanding your new role and responsibilities. But try not to ask the same question more than twice! However, be certain to make sure you understand something if you don’t initially. You may feel that you can’t ask a question later on as you gave the impression that you understood!

Take notes, a lot of notes: You will be bombarded with a load of new information making it almost impossible to remember everything! Colleagues names, job roles, important company information etc. The best way to remember, is to write it down in a notebook, or on the notes of your smart phone.

Sit with your boss and learn what is expected: Set clear expectations so you know what your boss expects from you and what they want you to accomplish in a specific time scale. This is where setting targets can be very valuable. You will then have something to work towards which gives you personal satisfaction as they are achieved. This is important in giving you confidence in your new role, as well as a psychological boost when targets are achieved.

Get to know your colleagues: Building strong relationships with your colleagues is a good way to feel comfortable in your new role and feel part of the team. Especially gaining valuable insight into the company culture. Maybe set up getting-to-know meetings, especially with those who know your work area well and can offer support and knowledge.  If you take an interest in your colleagues from an early stage, it will make those down times more enjoyable when you can have something to talk about other that work. It will also make asking those obvious questions easier to ask.

Second month

Now that you have learnt, asked questions, listened and written notes, you should now understand the company and your role itself and be ready to show what you can do.

Professional development: It is important to know what value you can add to the company, so it is time to take responsibility for your own development and seek out new learning opportunities. Small steps you can take are attending meetings, training courses, reading industry news or familiarising yourself with their content management systems. You may also like to read around your subject area, understand who the competition are and how you can stand out.

Your ideas: Try to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes but now is a good time to reveal your ideas in line with the company’s objectives. Portray those key skills you used in your interview to sell yourself, whether that was as a problem solver, a strategic thinker or a creative mind.  Take the opportunity to show what can you do, even if you think it’s only minor, as it still might make a positive difference. Being proactive at this point will make your bosses think that you know what you are doing and that you do not need to be micro-managed.

Volunteer: Take this opportunity to volunteer for any extra work, for example charity work the company are involved in. It will show your eagerness to take on more responsibilities, along with giving you the chance to build on your network. However, don’t take on more responsibilities if you are unable to focus fully on the role you were originally employed to do.   

Third month

Mentor: Seek out a mentor within the company that you respect professionally. Having a mentor can help grow your network, improve performance and help you up the career ladder more quickly. Having someone as a sounding board who will listen to you impartially is important. Being able to have the reassurance that you are working in the right way and achieving the correct goals will give you the confidence to move on to the next level of your development.

Three-month review: Request a three-month review with your manager if one has not already been scheduled. This is your chance to gain feedback about how you are doing in your role, what you are doing right and what you could do differently. Any major issues ought to have been covered before the review, so there shouldn’t to be any surprises. It gives you the opportunity to present your accomplishments to date and any new challenges you would like to implement. The three-month review is an ideal time to review objectives and development goals and put new ones in place. It is also an opportunity to re-align your objectives and focus on what you need to achieve in order to be successful in you new role.

At the end of your 3 months you should be confident in your new role and be ready to start making decisions and taking action. Good luck!