Opinion: In the hiring line

The trouble with recruitment – especially for in-house counsel – is that it is always driven by a need and that need is generally going to be that you have too much work for the current resources. So how do you manage a significant recruitment while doing the day job?

Well, you have to make time for the recruitment process: if that means blocking out an afternoon a week in your hectic diary (and not cancelling it), then do it.

If you prevaricate, you’ll find that the goodwill you have garnered by telling the business that you are recruiting and that their work will soon be done quicker, cheaper or better, will disappear and you’ll be criticised for not doing the work properly. Your HR department will focus on other jobs where the department head is willing to prepare a job description and look at the CVs when received.

So you have to find time, just like you have to find time for all of the other administrative tasks that, as head of the department, fall onto your desk – such as paying law firms’ invoices, meeting up to discuss their performance at the end of a transaction and analysing budget variances.

A significant recruitment also raises questions as to how the size of the recruitment will affect the culture of the department, the dynamics of the individuals already there and whether a new hire will come in with their own external relationships and if so, how that will impact on your panel. All these issues need to be thought of at the beginning but also by reference to the personalities of those you are interviewing.

Oh, and then you have the work itself. Here, you have to prioritise, but don’t let the quality of your advice disappear. Instead, agree with the business what their priorities are and what they really need from you – and when. Then manage their expectations.

You will find they will be reasonable, especially if they can see the benefits. Problems arise when you fail to deliver what has been agreed. And in this context, don’t ignore individuals or emails: they may not be as senior as you but they may have as loud a voice in their department head’s ear as you.

Finally – and hopefully – the individuals join. But the work isn’t over. They have to be integrated and have to understand the business and internal processes. So it is unlikely they will hit the ground running on day one, despite your best intentions and what you tell them in the interview. This has to be explained to the business and managed by you.

All in all, recruitment is not the easy-win solution that it may appear to be to the chief executive, but long term it has significant benefits for you and the company.

This article is the second instalment of a two part series. To read the first article click here.

Dominic Bacon is global head of legal and compliance at CMC Markets