Matthew Claughton, Managing Director of Olliers Solicitors, Manchester Legal Awards Crime Team of the Year 2016 identifies five steps that Olliers have taken to create a happy law firm:
- Flexibility. At Olliers we are not reliant on all staff being present in the office between 9 and 5. All requests for flexibility are considered and as a consequence 60% of our staff work flexibly in terms of hours or agile/remote working. We listen to all requests for flexibility to see what work practice best meets both the employee’s needs and needs of the firm.
- Communication. We are very open about our plans for the future. Our business plan is available for all and regular office meetings are used to communicate short and medium term objectives with a view to keeping all employees in the loop, reminding them of how central they are to the firms thinking.
- Feedback. We try to recognise success and achievements with positive and immediate feedback. If problems arise we like to address issues in a timely manner. At Director level we are keen to receive feedback, both positive and negative and we actively encourage staff at all levels to participate in this process.
- Career Development. We encourage the team, whether lawyers or support staff, to be ambitious in their aspirations. We have abandoned the SRA’s CPD regime and are early adopters of the Continuing Competence Scheme. Our lawyers are encouraged to look at where they see their careers over the next three years and each quarter we look at progress in achieving objectives, for example through web content, blog items, course presentation, promotions through social media or traditional CPD hours.
- Build a team. From the office junior up everyone is part of the Olliers team. All are encouraged to participate in the activities of the firm. We have high levels of engagement in our Corporate Social Responsibility activities. Similarly all staff regard themselves as Brand Ambassadors within the context of our social media policies. Regular social events are arranged.
Whilst the day to day challenges of legal work may be immensely stressful we find that by paying attention to the key points above, we have achieved a happy and fulfilled workforce in what are extremely challenging times for criminal defence practitioners.