Have you considered a HR career within law?

Author Tara Hogan
April 3, 2023

After a few tumultuous years where we have seen headlines centred around the pandemic, a looming recession and layoffs, it has become increasingly evident how critical the HR team, in any organisation, is in helping a firm to prepare for the future.

A sector in which we see a HR career being particularly rewarding, both personally and professionally, is within law firms, where HR teams tend to be lean and yet impactful. Our legal clients who have built strong HR functions have been able to accelerate growth, increase headcount, open new offices and/or leverage alternative resourcing models such as Peerpoint and Axiom. They have also created a more cohesive working culture which has been made possible through the increased investment in Centre of Excellence positions over recent years – from introducing diversity and inclusion, benefits and wellbeing, reward and learning and development teams.

The structure of a law firm is what makes it unique to many other industries. Traditionally, law firms have partnership structures which means a group of individuals, typically senior lawyers, have equity in the firm and a vested personal interest in the company. This structure has now taken on a variation of forms, however what remains the same is Partner generally have different priorities and ways of working. From a HR perspective, this means the ability to be flexible and influence is key!

For experienced HR professionals

  • The stakeholders you collaborate with, namely the Partners and legal professionals, hold decision-making power with fewer bureaucratic hurdles than large multinational corporations. As a result, there is greater potential to influence change, shape policies and take the lead in implementing initiatives related to HR.
  • HR teams in law firms generally tend to be smaller in size, resulting in more opportunities to engage with stakeholders and offer consultative guidance.
  • As a business partner, it is important to navigate a varied range of practice groups and corporate functions, adopting a comprehensive perspective rather than being confined to a specific business area.

For entry level HR professionals

  • The exposure you gain across the full HR spectrum from the get-go gives you strong foundations to continue your career in HR.
  • The ability to build strong stakeholder management and communication skills is crucial for fostering personal connections and ensuring employee engagement, especially in the face of evolving work arrangements such as hybrid work.
  • To be an effective HR professional within a law firm, it’s important to cultivate discretion. This is because you’ll be tasked with handling sensitive matters such as partner compensation, medical concerns, paths to partnership and trainee programs.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail are pivotal skills required to be a lawyer which means as their HR team, these are equally valuable skills to establish credibility and influence change.

Overall, it is evident that the HR’s influence on the law firm’s strategy and direction is becoming increasingly crucial to the success of the firm.

If you are considering the next step in your career and want to have a confidential chat about whether an international law firm might be the right next move for you, please get in touch with Tara Hogan. Alternatively, if you’re a Head of HR or HR Director, please get in touch with Charlotte Matthew.

Our Frazer Jones Asia team would love to hear from you – please feel free to connect with them if you would like to get in touch!

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