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Employee survey reveals support staff dissatisfied

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  • Lawyers and others

    Lawyers may sometimes be smug, lacking in social skills and/or totally clueless about anything except the law, but for all that, they do in general tend to be reasonably clever.

    For all the skills that other teams might have, that intellectual level is rarely matched.by HR teams across the board, and certainly not by PR teams, despite the presence of the odd very clever person. And please note that in saying this, I am not a lawyer myself.

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  • (H)andbrake on the (R)est of us

    I can only comment based on my relatively short time in the profession (3 years) but I fail to understand how HR 'adds value' to working in a law firm. My contact with them has involved:

    1) Annual box ticking meeting

    HR Q: Are you happy in your role? A: Not really.

    HR Q: What would improve your job satisfaction?
    A: Doing less DD, more responsibility

    HR Q: Have you discussed this with the partners?
    A:Yes

    HR: Right well that's probably the best route to improve things then.

    Me Q: So why am I talking to you about all this then?

    HR A: Well I have this form to fill in...

    2) HR fielding enquiries about my benefits (pension, leave etc)

    3) The admin involved in hiring and firing (obviously the partners make the actual decisions)

    4) When there was an investigation into misconduct at my firm HR managed to mess it up and it was put into the hands of, guess who? The partners.

    How do those roles constitute a profession?

    If I am missing a whole raft of duties that fill HR execs' days then please enlighten me. As far as I can see they add little other than an admim function, with all significant decisions being taken by partners.

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  • here we go

    One of the attractions about working within a large City law firm is that the very best lawyers you meet and work alongside are intelligent, structure their arguments well, respect the quality of your own arguments and are often willing to take advice on topics they know nothing about. The worst can be bullying thugs. You get both types and all shades inbetween in most firms.

    Since there are normally more calls on a support person's time than there are hours in the day, you are more inclined to devote more time and energy helping those lawyers that you get on with than those whose behaviour would get them thrown out of nursery school.

    As a result, most lawyers get the support they deserve - the true professionals get high quality support, while the Neanderthals get their prejudices reinforced.

    As for the money, it is the partners that demand they recruit the best people available and/or have a good understanding of the legal sector and its foibles. The candidates also have to be suitably robust to survive in a law firm environment. These people don't grow on trees, and know their market worth.

    Also, for many, working for a law firm is not the sexiest role in the world. Imagine the conversation at a party: "So, what do you do?" "I work in IT for a law firm." Social death on so many levels...

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  • Revolution anyone?

    I work in a "support" function and do find it frustrating. First mistake law firms made was calling the function support. I've come from commercial organisations where there is no "support" function - everyone works for the business and wants the business to succeed.

    Secondly, I don't know about the other support areas but I certainly know in marketing and business development law firms are around 8 years behind what most commercial companies are doing. The fact of the matter is, until lawyers realise they're not very good at running businesses and leave it to non fee-earning "support" staff they're never going to be. Revolution anyone?

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  • Handbrake on the rest

    Value: in one year... 7 negotiated arbitrations saving the partners emabarrasment in the courts and some net 800k worth of tribunal / barristers fees let alone any awards. 1.2M worth of rentention costs saved byt he introduction of better HR practice. Factored up to gross fees needed to be earned = 6.3M. Top biller in the firm 5M. Wish I had got the same pay as the top biller. Reduced admins costs by process reengineering by 1.6M, billing worth 3M. Thus ROI on my cost =
    100x. Average fee earner ROI = 2.6.

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  • HR, PR and attitudes

    And thus the debate rumbles on. There seems to be a division, albeit superficial, between lawyers, HR, PR, and indeed the rest of the world.

    What is sad about the whole debate is that a lot of the comments smack of petty playground rivalries and, to be quite frank, I pity the people who have to work alongside some of the bigoted dinosaurs who have sent deliberately inflammatory replies to this thread.

    Clearly, what is apparent above pretty much everything else (judging by the replies below) is that some lawyers have a very big chip on their shoulder with an inferiority complex to match.

    If you have to justify who you are and what you do, then you must surely be suffering from a degree of personal dissatisfaction. Perhaps a psychoanalyst might trace it back to rejection at childhood, or always being last in the school sports day. Whatever the cause, I think it is important to note the outcome of the survey which has been undertaken.

    Clearly, in some quarters, there are people who are dissatisfied, disengaged and unhappy in their day-to-day working lives. These can be lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Surely we all have a collective responsibility to ensure that our peers, wherever we work, are as happy as they can be. To say otherwise would be churlish, inhumane and extremely damaging to any business, whether it is professional, non-professional, legal or non-legal.

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  • Professionals

    I am sorry to upset the people who have posted but there are only 3 professions - medicine, accounting and law.

    If you are an accountant working in a law firm you are obviously still a professional but I am afraid to say that the traditional view of 'professionals' would not include any other jobs/vocations or indeed HR workers.

    That is not to say that those people are not hugely valuable to a firm because they are but they are not professionals in the traditional sense of the word.

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  • From the dark side...

    I work in BD and have to side with the 'professionals' here – to suggest that what we do really provides genuine added value to a company is a huge overstatement. None of my colleagues have particularly strong academic backgrounds and, as mentioned below, the 'professional' qualifications they claim to have or are studying for don't stand up to the scrutiny or calibre of an ACCA – they are mere peripheral add-ons that try and give some legitimacy to the communications sector as a whole.

    If my colleagues genuinely wanted to work in communications, then they would go agency-side and work in an environment where it is a pure, dedicated service – but as someone touched upon already, like myself they are only here because the salaries are slightly higher than at other companies and industries.

    The fact that very, very few have any knowledge of or background in law testifies to this. The contribution of my department is valued, but only in the sense that someone needs to book a table for an awards dinner, get a marketing document printed off, and cut and paste the same pitch content from one document to another ad nauseum.

    If you possess common sense and basic administration skills then congratulations, but you don't need – or really have the clout to demand – some sort of respect for it.

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  • Between the lines

    So the subtext of this debate is that "professionals" only recognise "professionals" and that everybody else is mere flotsam and jetsam. Some of the pompous views on this page vindicate the notion that whilst lawyers may make very good lawyers, they do not necessarily make good businessmen. It's interesting that the three "professions" of medicine, accounting and law all require the same amoebic personality level.

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  • Oh please

    Oh please: have you ever MET someone in HR?

    Lawyers can be bad, but HR teams are typically - though not always - filled with robotic jobs-worths, each with all the initiative and warmth of a cash machine.

    PRs are generally a bit better but are as thick as cold porridge, while accountants are a lot brighter than both but... well, you all know what they say about accountants already.

    I'm no great fan of lawyers, but honestly - pots and kettles! EVERY business hates HR!

    The post room - that's where the real stars shine.

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