Reinventing recruitment processes and work experience programs for legal professionals

Legal professionals find themselves having to adapt to a new virtual work environment

The legal sector is undergoing a series of changes, and law firms recruitment is one of the areas being impacted. Given that the selection and retention of talent is key to a firm’s success in the legal sector, legal professionals are currently having to adapt to the new virtual workplace environment.

At IE Law School, we have collated the experiences of various global firms to highlight the best work experience programs taking place at an international level. With the aim of exploring the effectiveness of the online recruitment and selection process, we recently brought together Robert Millard, Director of the Cambridge Strategy Group in London, Marie Murphy, Student Recruitment Manager at EY UK, and Emma Stevens, Senior Recruitment Manager at Linklaters in London.

It is important to point out that, as in Spain, law firms in England are a vital part of the training requisites for law students looking to access the regulated legal profession. With regards to how to get work experience in a law firm, some of the topics generating the most interest are: access to different platforms, communicating with candidates, and managing law graduates’ expectations.

During the debate at IE University, Marie Murphy of EY UK highlighted the responsibility that employers have towards graduates, and sent them a message of support, explaining that her organization is expending great effort to guarantee a beneficial experience for students.

Law firms recruitment

Some of the key features governing the effectiveness of the online recruitment and selection process are innovation and removing the pressure of adapting to these new platforms, as well as encouraging participants to experiment with different technologies. EY also highlights the benefits of being able to share uncertainties as well as ideas with its biggest competitors, i.e. the Big Four.

Over at Linklaters in London, Emma Stevens pointed out the importance of effective communication and how the firm has prioritized transparency and warmth in their communications with students. She also pointed out the importance of access and technology from a socioeconomic perspective, and of offering the necessary support for students right from the first moment of contact.

In terms of how work experience is structured, she suggests reinventing structures entirely and introducing diverse activities which offer students the opportunity to understand their skills and interact with each other. Finally, she pointed out the importance of internal communication with mentors and partners, noting that this allows the firm to transmit a message of support for the students’ professional futures—even amid the complexity of changes in the legal sector and  completing training and work experience programs online.

Changes in the legal sector – a new environment

Law students and graduates who are now in the process of recruitment or participating in work experience programs are faced with a new way of working at a moment that the effectiveness of the online recruitment and selection process is critical for their professional careers. Law firms, companies and institutions that recruit talent from law school faculties are making a great effort to adapt to this new environment. Some are taking advantage of this opportunity to reinvent their law firm recruitment and work experience processes, incorporating digital tools that could be beneficial in the long term.

IE Law School, as part of its efforts to train the best legal talent, is also implementing a new training model based around “liquid learning.” This educational experience transcends typical teaching methodologies and platforms, combining in-person and digital learning environments so that students researching how to get work experience in a law firm can obtain high-quality training which addresses changes in the legal sector, regardless of where they are in the world or their personal and professional circumstances.

Shows the picture of the author Soledad AtienzaSoledad Atienza is the Dean of IE Law School and has an extensive academic experience and a global vision of legal education. Dr. Atienza was previously Vice-Dean of International Relations at IE Law School, as well as Director of the law degree program at IE University. Prior to that, she practiced at the leading Spanish law firm Pérez-Llorca. Her expertise includes the areas of comparative law and legal teaching methods. She earned her Ph.D in Social Sciences from IE University and an Executive MBA degree from IE Business School. She also holds a law degree from the CEU San Pablo University in Spain and a Certificate in European Studies from the European Institute of the University of Saarland (Germany), and was a visiting student at Cornell University in New York. Soledad Atienza is Senior Advisor to the Academic and Professional Development Committee of the IBA (International Bar Association), where she is co-chair of the project “Blueprint on global legal education” and is co-director of the Pérez-Llorca / IE Chair of Business Law. She is author of Enseñar Derecho. ¿Puede servirnos la experiencia de Estados Unidos? (Teaching Law: Can the U.S. experience help us?), published in Spain in 2014.

Note: The views expressed by the author of this paper are completely personal and do not represent the position of any affiliated institution.