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This week is Thornton Legal’s sixth anniversary, and it’s come around in the blink of an eye. I am also 43 years old tomorrow. Happy birthday to both of us!
It’s fair to say that Thornton Legal is faring better than I am.
There have been tough times (we thought Brexit would cause us problems, then COVID came along!), and episodes of self-doubt (recruitment is mainly disappointment mixed with a magical smattering of success), but Nick and I can honestly say that the past six years have been a huge success.
As a business, I think we fly under the radar. Self-promotion doesn’t come easy to use so you won’t find us humble bragging on social media (after all today’s rooster is tomorrow’s feather duster!), but I will say we have a very heathy business and one Nick and I are proud to have started on the few quid we had saved and the desire to make it work.
We have a lot to be thankful for. A lovely office, fantastic staff and a loyal and constantly growing client base.
In the last few years, we’ve successfully juggled our business responsibilities with hectic home lives. We have two children each all under five, so we are very thankful for the flexibility Thornton Legal gives us. This flexibility to manage our home and personal lives is embedded in our culture, with our team benefitting from it as well.
But, of course, this isn’t it for Thornton Legal. While years zero – six can be stamped ‘success’ and filed away we now have the next six years to focus on and there’s lots we want to achieve in that time.
2022 is set to be a further challenging year for the UK. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID is an unwanted distraction for all law firms, and the business community generally.
In spite of this, there is absolutely cause for optimism. The legal industry has again proved to be impressively resilient, and we want to continue to grow our business by providing a quality recruitment experience to clients and candidates.
We also want to ensure that working for Thornton Legal continues to be fun, flexible and rewarding.
On behalf of me and Nick, thanks to the Thornton Legal team, our families, clients, candidates and numerous other people who have helped us along the way.
Have an excellent 2022.
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Congratulations to Tim Batchelor, who has recently been promoted to Senior Consultant at Thornton Legal.
Tim joined the business in September 2019 and primarily covers the market in Manchester, dealing with commercial roles for a number of the UK’s Top 100 Law Firms.
He previously worked as a headhunter in London specialising in pensions law before relocating to Chester where he was an accomplished garden designer.
Tim has been a great addition to the team at Thornton Legal where he has put his experience of proactive, targeted recruitment into action.
In spite of the Covid pandemic of the last 12 months, Tim has made great strides establishing himself in what is a tough market and has made a number of excellent recent placements including:
- Insolvency Partner – Brabners
- Senior Employment Associate – DWF
- Senior Corporate Associate – Freeths
- Private Client Principal Associate – Weightmans
- Private Client Associate – Gateley
When I met up with the Senior Partner of a large regional practice before Christmas, he described Tim as one of the best, most diligent recruiters he had dealt with.
Both Joe and I have been delighted with what Tim has achieved in such a short period of time. His dedication in leaving no stone unturned in getting results for his clients has made us both up our game! Notwithstanding his valuable contribution to the business in a recruitment sense, his cheerful and good-natured characteristics have been a big boost to morale in a challenging 12 months.
We are all looking forward to seeing what Tim will achieve once the market picks up over the summer and beyond. He deserves all of the success that will undoubtedly come his way!
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The last blog I wrote was in July when I reflected upon recruitment in lockdown and the tentative plans for the remainder of 2020. 3 months further down the line feels like the right amount time to consider again where we are up to as a business and what the market looks like.
I said at the time that I felt that law firms (and legal recruiters) were beginning to come out of hibernation with the country starting to open up again during the summer months.
I am pleased to report that a large number of our client firms took sensible and proportionate decisions to protect their businesses and have come out of the other side relatively unscathed.
Firms with already good IT infrastructures in place were able to transition quickly to home working and a significant number continue to work almost exclusively from home. With the furlough scheme ending at the end of the month, it does appear that many firms have made strategic redundancies, particularly insofar as office based support staff are concerned and the majority of firms bringing a large proportion of furloughed solicitors back to work in some capacity.
Recruitment wise, we have seen a flurry of activity in a number of different disciplines such as residential conveyancing, private client, family, litigation and insolvency. Corporate, commercial and to some extend real estate remain subdued with some firms conducting redundancy exercises across those practice areas.
A common theme amongst candidates has been a reluctance to consider moving firms in the absence of push factors such as redundancy, reduced workload or uncertainty over their firm’s financial viability.
It has been interesting speaking to candidates on how their employers dealt with COVID and the implications on work practices, furlough and issue of communication within the workplace.
I think it is fair to say that there has been a broad spectrum of experience with some feeling as though their firms dealt with the challenges posed in a positive, fair and communicative way particularly when it came to furlough, working from home, temporary pay cuts and restrictions on bonuses. Others have been critical of how their firms have dealt with these challenging issues with a number feeling as if they were excluded from the conversation with ideas and strategy being poorly communicated. We have seen a number of candidates approach us from the latter category feeling disgruntled and assessing their options in the marketplace.
The general consensus from the lawyers that we speak to on the issue of home working is that the initial novelty off spending all of their working week at home has worn off and a move towards a hybrid model involving flexible working and the proportion of the week spent in an office environment seems to be preferable for the majority.
I think that it's fair to say that our own experience at Thornton Legal falls into the same category.
From our own perspective, Joe and I are delighted to have welcomed back our consultants from furlough In August and are reasonably optimistic that's baring any further disastrous lockdowns to the extent that we saw in March, the market will continue to pick up for the remainder of the year. We are relieved that the rather grim forecast we made in April was only temporary with a large number of firms stepping up their recruitment activity in strategic areas.
All the remains is to wish you all the very best for the remainder of 2020 and will post another, hopefully positive, blog on the state of the market towards the end of the year. All the very best and stay safe.
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With Christmas just around the corner and 2019 drawing to a cold conclusion, I thought I would write up my thoughts on another year here at Thornton Legal.
It does feel as though I was talking about Brexit 12 months ago, anticipating the whole thing concluding during the course of 2019. However, here we are in December and the same thorny issue has provided a spectral backdrop to yet another recruitment year.
I must say that in spite of the political and economic uncertainty, the legal profession, from a recruitment perspective, has proven to be a durable and indefatigable beast.
Lawyers and law firms seem to have risen to the challenge and aside from a fairly flat residential conveyancing market, recruitment into the North West and Yorkshire has been busy.
Almost all the commercial practice areas have been active and the competition for talent across the region has been fierce.
We are seeing areas such as employment, commercial litigation, pensions and banking really thriving whilst at the same time seeing a plateauing of recruitment into sectors such as real estate and other property focused areas.
We have had some comings and goings at Thornton Legal which have kept us on our toes. September saw us recruit, Tim, our first senior hire concentrating solely on the Manchester commercial market from Associate level upwards.
Tim was originally a niche legal recruiter specialising in the pensions market in London but the lure of Chester and an escape from the rat race saw him approach us on account or our location and reputation in the market! He has only been with the business for a matter of months but has made his first placement (a Senior Associate Corporate lawyer) and is making great progress in raising our profile in a competitive and ruthless Manchester market.
Talking of incomings (or is it outgoings), my business partner Joe and his wife (Jo) saw the birth of his second child, Gus, in October, so it’s been a busy old year for us all on a personal and a professional level.
One of the great things about Thornton Legal is the diversity of clients we recruit for. We enjoy working for large multi-national business in Manchester or Leeds every bit as much as to we our high street clients in Chester or Southport.
I am pleased to be able to say that it has been a record-breaking year for the business both in terms of the number of candidate placements but also the number of new clients that we have managed to do work on behalf of.
Congratulations to Laura Kate who joined us 14 months ago and has become our highest billing consultant in 2019 whilst at the same time juggling 3 children under the age of 10!
2019 also saw us host or sponsor several successful events for organisations such as Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division, Cheshire and North Wales Junior Lawyers Division, Cheshire Law Society and Cheshire & North Wales Resolution. We got to meet some great lawyers, had fun along the way and made strong connections for the future.
On a SCR/Charity front, we have sponsored fantastic organisations such as Wirral Foodbank, Wirral St John’s Hospice, Clatterbridge Big Lego Brick Hospital and Tam O’Shanter Farm. Please do click on the link for details or our chosen Charites, they do great work on the Wirral, where a number of our team live.
Joe and I are proud at what we have achieved with the business inside 4 years and are already excited at what 2020 might have to offer. For the next week or so we must navigate the relentless nature of the pre-Christmas madness before shutting the offices on 23rd December to give both us and our team a well-earned break.
So, to our fantastic client and candidates from all the team at Thornton Legal, have a very merry Christmas a suitably reflective New Year and see you all in 2020!
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Tell us a bit about your background?
I come from a sales background, initially in fine art in Central London where I worked with one of the leading art galleries selling art and sculpture, then later in Legal Headhunting in The City of London.
Why the move into legal recruitment?
I enjoyed the interaction with people when I was selling fine art and got real satisfaction from working with them to help choose art that meant something personal which fulfilled an emotional need.
I decided that working one-to-one directly with individuals during their career progression could be a satisfying move for me. I liked the fact that my efforts and activities would lead directly to lawyers getting better jobs that then allowed them to progress their career, and that I was assisting them and the law firm at the same time.
Why did you choose Thornton Legal?
I recognised that Thornton Legal had existing relationships with law firms that I could leverage from, giving me the opportunity to build on those relationships, making deeper connections and really understanding those law firms properly. I wanted to have long-lasting working relationships with law firms rather than short transactions with many who I didn’t know well.
What desk are you looking after?
I am responsible for developing the qualified Manchester market, from Associate level to Partner.
How have your first few weeks been?
Really good actually, I’ve been surprised by how quickly I got back into recruitment after sometime away (I ran my own business for 3 and a half years creating the planting for gardens – I worked at Kew Gardens and I’m a qualified Plantsman).
What do you enjoy about being a recruitment consultant?
Giving people opportunities in their career progression that they didn’t know existed, introducing them to new employers, putting them together and making them both understand how they can help one another in their aims. Then having everyone happy that I introduced them in the 1st place.
What food couldn’t you live without?
Eggs, especially poached ones and scrambled, oh and smoked salmon…
What box set are you watching right now?
I ‘ve just finished the latest series of The Crown on Netflix.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Making a new garden, thinking about making it and reading about other people’s gardens. I like cycling too, but not up hills!
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I think I have an addiction to drinking tea.
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It has been 1 year since I joined Thornton Legal and I can genuinely say it has sped by! As the saying goes “time flies when you are having fun!”.
After 3 years with my last employer (my first role within recruitment), it is daunting making a move and something I thought long and hard over. However, it was by far the best decision that I made and I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Thornton Legal. I settled into things quickly having worked with both my directors Joe and Nick previously and haven’t looked back. They have provided a lot of support while giving me autonomy to get on with the job, and having access to their expertise has been invaluable – Joe and Nick already had a great reputation across the legal market and there is loads of scope for further growth.
I mainly recruit for Solicitors and Paralegals across Chester and Cheshire as well as handling some paralegal roles across Merseyside. It has been great to built up relationships with a lot of new clients that I didn’t work with previously as well as continuing some existing relationships.
No day is really the same which is why I enjoy recruitment so much. I also like a challenge which I guess is a good thing as things do not always run smoothly! A first for me in my recruitment career this year was a Senior Solicitor accepting a job and not showing up for her first day without telling myself or the client (it has happened before with junior candidates but never anyone of this level!).
The highs have outweighed the lows with lots of happy legal professionals placed in new roles. It has been great to see candidates come to me off the back of referrals from both clients and candidates I have previously worked with. My favourite placement has been an NQ Solicitor into her dream firm after meeting at a networking event over a cocktail.
The past year has been very rewarding for me personally as well as for Thornton Legal as a whole and I am looking forward to what 2020 has in store. But first, I am celebrating my first year with Thornton Legal with a weekend abroad with some friends and the last bit of summer for 2019!