Employee survey reveals support staff dissatisfied

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  • Support Roles and Engagement...

    Very good to see a survey including all members of firms (legal and non-legal) and to see the differences...

    Two of the biggest issues surrounding non-legal / support staff engagement are; Firstly, engagement from the top partnership is usually only ever via the absolute head of support functions (directors/heads of) etc - other senior managers, the ones who often do the actual work, are often ignored and under valued/paid and end up leaving.

    Secondly, strategic planning between support functions is often not joined up - whilst such teams work together on actual work, too often planning is done vertically in isolation, leading to politics, duplication and lack of efficiency and engagement. And too often it's the same 'absolute heads' who are the ones playing politics.

    Another crucial issue is the way many firms treat the overhead model of support teams i.e. they are an expense and a cost to the firm.

    However because such overheads are not re-charged to legal teams in many firms, the work of support functions (even discrete projects) is seen as 'zero cost' and there is a grab for support resource by legal teams.

    This leads to static/reduced budget but increased demand, a situation that leads to de-moralised support staff.

    Until partners can understand the difference between true operational overhead and projects which are investments, and can demonstrate ROI then this situation will continue.

    There are many, many senior support people who are as professional as lawyers (and as qualified as such), but whom are not respected merely because they are not lawyers and because they are not 'top of the tree' in a particular support function.

    For such professionals to not be engaged with due respect for their expertise in their own fields must surely be one of the main causes for the feelings of undervaluation.

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  • Come on...

    With a few significant exceptions, support staff have no less respect than they deserve, and it is only due to the generosity of firms in the first place by giving them such big salaries relative to their merits that they get ideas above their station.

    HR is NOT a profession like being a lawyer, an architect or a doctor, and though people in HR might call themselves professionals, it's frankly a bit of a joke.

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  • Anon - where are you?

    Many of us would be grateful if Anon would tell us which firm he works at (I bet it's a 'he'), so that we can avoid it like the plague.

    Whilst his pre-historic attitudes are fading (particularly in the bigger firms) there are two many like him about. Many HR people I've worked with in law firms (no, I don't work in HR) are first rate managers - and add far more value to the business than partners who believe they are superiour. Come the revolution......

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  • Anon - uninsightful much?

    Comment directed to Anon - that was the most uninsightful comment in relation to HR professionals, I am almost embarrassed for you - do you have an inferiority complex?

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  • Support roles and engagement

    Do we know of many other business sectors that would pay 'such big salaries relative to their merits' and then be so utterly contemptuous of their investment?

    Surely Anons policy is to hire support staff because of a perceived business requirement. Any well-run business operates based on a structure, which utilises skills that are seen to add value, skills that the Fee Earning element may not possess.

    Many firms, particularly the smaller ones, have fairly rudimentary measures where the bottom line fees are all important. Analysing the costs associated with generating these fees is rarely given anything like as much attention.

    Many support staff find that leadership and direction are lacking and have little idea how they contribute to the overall plan, often leaving them bemused as they watch what is going on around them. So, the survey does not make for pleasant reading for some Managing Partners.

    The worrying thing is that to some these findings will come as a surprise.

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  • Value

    First of all to the shallow self conceited lawyer 'Anon' (1st comment) you clearly have no understanding whatever what support staff do. how do you think financial statements get published at month end or year end or even closer to home how you would get paid every month if someone didnt sit down to process the payroll!! i think most lawyers need a reall business education

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  • Call this a survey?

    Oh come on...11 firms are hardly representative of the legal profession as a whole. How many hundred of firms are there? And to say "The best will get partnership. It can only be for those of the very highest calibre.” misses the point that a vast number of lawyers don't want partnership at all.

    Money isn't all in life regardless of what partners the end of the day, you can't take it with you and you can't get back time you DIDN'T spend with friends, family and enjoying the one life you get!

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  • Anon is wrong

    Anon - as an ex-lawyer from a top 10 firm who now works in HR I can assure you that many of the people I have worked with in HR are a lot more professional than some of the lawyers I dealt with.

    Indeed, much of the work that gets done in HR is more challenging and stressful than that on the fee earning side. Your view is both outdated and inaccurate - get over yourself!

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  • Dark ages

    I am disappointed but not surprised that the last comment was posted. It is indicative of the mentality that prevails in law firms no matter what the website puff says.

    The fact that it is easier than ever now to become a lawyer makes a mockery of the 'profession' point - it is not the elitist career most within it think. Most 'lawyers' would struggle to tie their own shoelaces, let alone qualify as a doctor. In fact, without the HR professionals and support staff most lawyers would have been sued or worse due to dubious or non-existant people management skills.

    Whatever is said discrimination is still rife within the industry, and the last rather bigoted post proves that.

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  • Tuppence worth

    HR people: you might have a point about the comment below, but the really basic spelling and grammatical mistakes in your posts do slightly undermine your point about being highly skilled professionals.

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