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Employee survey reveals support staff dissatisfied

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Readers' comments (41)

  • Defining 'professional'

    This is NOT a comment about the worth of people in HR, PR, etc, but just to be clear, they are not professionals. The definition of a profession is job for which people have to pass particular exams. Thus accountants, doctors, lawyers and architects are professionals, because those industries have their own exams, but PRs, HRs, etc aren't.

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  • Distinguished roles

    Yes, you are right Anon, HR professionals are not in the same profession as lawyers and doctors, HR professionals generally have a wider range of skills to perform and sometimes hold the academic qualifications in excess of those required to qualify in law.

    I agree with your comments Ex senior support manager.

    It's a pity that Partners and fee earners do not have a looking glass, so that they could look in at the practice and see how it would function without the support staff.

    They would soon realise that every member of staff is as important as the next and every person within the legal environment has their own part to contribute to the profitability and morale within the firm.

    It's not just about the professional qualification or standing of a specific group of people or person, its about the skill and professionalism applied by each and every member of a team who work towards the same goal. Come on partners! work with your HR team to discourage the disparity. Promote your support staff as an integral link within the firm, respect and value them to do the job that YOU employed them to do.

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  • Defining "Professional" take 2

    Actually the definition is vocation for which advanced learning is required. I studied for 4 years for my CIPD which involved a considerable number of exams. Therefore your analysis of what is deemed to be a profession is actually incorrect, much like the rest of your views.

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  • Now now...

    What were the rest of my views? I only expressed one. And there's no need to get huffy, I did say that the post wasn't about the worth of people in HR, only the defiinitition of professional.

    Further to that particular point, the key distinction is while to be a lawyer or an architect, etc, passing the professional exam is an essential legla requirement, exams such as the CIPD are not essential to working in HR.

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  • Support Staff

    Many of the comments below (from both sides of the debate) are baffling and frankly some of them are ridiculous.

    The level of ability and effectiveness within the fee earning ranks varies as much as it does in support roles; vocational title (be it "lawyer" or "human resources" or "marketing") is no indicator of capability and it is, to my mind, a poor point of reference when evaluating an individual's contribution to a business.

    Good support services within any business are of real value to that business and although it is the fee earners that attract and keep clients paying for work from a law firm, the fee earners' ability to attract and keep clients is enhanced (but not determined) by good support services.

    Personally, I believe that the effectiveness of HR; PR and marketing (amongst others) is difficult to determine with any level of certainty, but you do know when it is failing!

    Importantly (and strangely ignored in these comments), there tends to be one (comparatively) over-paid individual "managing" such support teams, who delegates to underpaid and undervalued teams of ambitious but unmotivated individuals and in my view support teams would be far more motivated (and accordingly effective) if the salaries paid to such teams were more evenly distributed to the individuals rather than overpayment to one individual "managing" them.

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  • Clarity Matters

    What an interestingly fractious debate.

    I would like to add to the debate but, as I am surrounded by the most professional group of people I could ask for, I have no complaints. These people bring a multitude of professions to our firm in both a fee-earning and non-fee earning capacity, and we are only ever interested in attracting and retaining the best talent. At our firm, clarity matters.

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  • Arrogance is rife!

    To all the "fee-earners" out there who seem to think that they are highly qualified. Would that a degree and two years work-experience (training contract) qualified you as an accountant! Try the ACCA exams sometimes - it takes on averge 7 years to complete them.

    I think I have had enough of "professionally qualified" arrogance. I happen to have an accounting qualification AND a post graduate management qualification but consider myself no more important than the other employees within the practice.

    It is the level of skill, knowledge and application which matters (and which should be rewarded) and certainly not the ability to pass a law degree or any other examination!

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  • Re: Clarity Matters

    I take it you work in the PR team?

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  • What is a professional?

    Every firm has different people in different roles that contribute to the success of the firm overall. How many law firms could function in the 21st century without IT support, PR/marketing, HR, finance/accounts, dtp, PA's or secretarial support? Yes the fee earners bring in the business but without support they can not deliver. Maybe if more of the "professionals" realised that non-lawyers are also professional at what they do - even if it is in a non-fee earning capacity - more support staff would feel a valid integral part of a firm.

    Everyone wants to feel appreciated for what they do - fee earners please recognise that support staff are a vital part of your business and remember a simple thank you can increase engagement and satisfaction.

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  • "support" staff

    Having worked at a senior level in HR in both magic circle and less sizeable firms for over 10 years, this survey is not surprising.

    Career development is woefully lacking in the support areas where the reality is not "up or out "but out and up".

    This leads to a high turnover with the associated costs and loss of intellectual capital which no organisation should want to happen in any part of the firm.

    Although I worked very closely with the business units and sat on the management committee I felt that moving the firms in a progressive direction was like pushing water uphill.

    Everything needed to be sold to the partnership and every investment opportunity was seemingly treated as if I was taking the food off the partners' children's plate. So I left to join a bank as the HR Director, where I am treated as an equal and expected to drive HR practices and thinking to ensure the bank meets its strategic targets which I help formulate.

    There is no talk of fee generators and support, we are all bankers doing our bit to make the company successful. I wish I had made this move long ago.

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