Employee survey reveals support staff dissatisfied

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  • Bad form

    Its not really suprising that the support teams are feeling bad is it? The main thrust of these comments seems to be that no-one but the lawyers add true value and therefore there's no point worrying about back office functions being engaged.

    But look at it this way, what if none of those support staff were there, and lawyers had to do it all themselves? Things would grind to a halt pretty quickly and we'd see hissy fits left right and centre. So clearly they add something. And whatever work it is that people are doing, they'll do it better if they feel valued and engaged.

    Perhaps those with a negative experience of these departments, might find they perform better when they're treated better...

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  • Bravo Laurence

    Well said.

    HR are nothing but chip wearing form fillers, generally.

    The odd good one here and there, but generally they're bitter that their lives didn't turn out quite as well as they wanted, and that they don't get a payslip nearly as fat as those nasty lawyers.

    Post Room superstars? Most definintely. I've recruited a number of very able, dedicated and intelligent people from the ranks of the post room. One of them will shortly be qualifying.

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  • From the dark side...

    "Things would grind to a halt pretty quickly and we'd see hissy fits left right and centre."

    Really? Some of the biggest firms in the world have been around for over 100 years, the majority of that time without BD or HR departments. I think 'self-importance' can be added to the list of support staff flaws!

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  • The most unsung roles?

    Not much mention of in-house software developers and programmers who enable lawyers to make 10 times as much money without doing any extra work. I wonder who gets the reward for it? Most people don't even know that they exist!

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  • IT

    Yeah, I'd stick up for IT, or at least against HR: at least the IT team actually DO something...

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  • Support staff

    I don't have anything bad to say about any other of the support teams, but HR have been at best mediocre, at worst a real pain at each of the five businesses I've worked for.

    When it comes to making a hire, they insert themselves quite unnecessarily and unhelpfully in every decision, always trying to justify their existence, yet when on the few things where their help is actually called for, such as over payroll questions, they are inflexible, obstructive and the very opposite of the 'can do' attitude.

    I still have faith that in some businesses, HR can be a positive help, but everywhere I have worked so far they have been resented by decision-makers and junior staff alike.

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  • Alternatives to partnership

    Given the (increased?) difficulties of getting into the equity tier at most firms, surprisingly few have done much when it comes to creating real alternatives.

    I think if you suggested to many managing partners that they are ready to callously chuck away the lawyers who they aren't planning to make partner when they get older they would recoil in horror, yet are doing this inadvertently by not creating anywhere for those lawyers to go within the firm.

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  • Business Professionals - Emperor's New Coat

    having worked in the 'support' function of several law firms, as well as big corporates, i can't say I have any respect for the so-called 'business/marketing professionals' at all.

    One simple fact: genuine marketing professionals understand their market and the product they are selling.

    But I have yet met a legal marketing person who has any clue about what lawyers do, nor the products/market segmentation of their clients. So much for the oft-repeated mantra: cross-selling........

    Don;t even talk to me about their qualification! If these people are any good, they'll be in real marketing organisations, e.g. Procter and Gamble, where they are on the front line.

    Let's be brutally honest, they are no more than glorified events or pitch-printing people (some of them are very good at it though and these are essential functions).

    My experience so far is that many of them are protected by some senior partners of the firms (perhaps they started off as their secretaries years ago), hence nobody dares check/question their effectiveness/value fopr money.

    One Silver Circle firm I know has had at least 1 business support person leaving every month (out of a total around 40) for over 2 years! Can you imagine any serious commercial organisation allowing that kind of costs to be incurred for so long - e.g. the recruitment agency fees?

    Not to mention a no. of bullying complaints within the department... Yet both the marketing and HR director continue to be at the end of the day, lawyers can only blame themselves for allowing this kind of emperor-new-coat to exit

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  • mandy

    i think perhaps the accoutning function and IT should be separated from the BD function, in terms of value adding.

    The former know what they are doing, their ability has been measured by external/objective qualifications, and i can't imagine how any law firm can function without them.
    Also they don't have a chip on their shoulder, i.e. they don't have to justify why they exist.

    But BD is totally different: while they are important in putting pitches together, arranging clients' functions, especially the large ones and generally making sure fee earners can concentrate on their work, and managing directory submission, there is nothing that a competent admin secretray can't do.

    Whether they are professionals or not is a moot point, as long as they stop talking about 'helping partners cross sell' or 'to be involved in client facing'! these are way out of their depth! and stop pretending they are marketing profrosessionlas (which by definition means they have to actually know the markets).

    I know one banking function in a city firm whose BD manager and a BD exec. haven't beeen replaced for about a year. While it's not convenient, the department hasn't collaped and certainly the fee income hasn't gone down.

    Now isn't that saying something in itself! (And it is not the only department I know which is in the same situation!)

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  • I have worked in the legal professional for over a decade and have worked with some of the top brass of the legal world. I am not a solicitor although do fee earn and in addition bring in new business leads in excess of 100 per month!

    I feel the need to have my say in relation to ANON's comments see above ..........

    He says support staff have no less respect that 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.

    What a w****r! I'm sorry [not really] but if you are going to make such comments at least have the balls to tell us who you are.

    Let me tell you the support staff at most of the firms I have worked for over the last decade would have gobbled you up and spat you out! Furthermore most of them would probably be better at the job than ANON! Which probably explains his/her issue.

    Another important fact this idiot wants to learn is that no matter how clever he thinks he may be THERE IS NO I IN TEAM. The support staff are the very backbone of most firms and the HR Managers who run the firms have to deal with those such as ANON everyday, its them that I feel sorry for not the ANONs of this world who seem to have issues spilling over from the days of their articles or training contracts having to do too many ad hoc duties/make too much tea or have to ask people like me for advice.

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