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WINNER: Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell has been developing its talent management programme since 2009 ahead of the introduction of the Legal Services Bill. The process saw the introduction of a partner promotions process, a leadership academy and a talent matrix. The partner promotions and talent matrix are respond to the specific needs of the firm, ensuring flexibility but also a consistency of approach when assessing the requirements and capabilities of current and future leaders.

The leadership academy is a partnership between Irwin Mitchell, the University of Law and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to enable effective and focused skills development.

As a result of the programme, Irwin Mitchell has improved its partner promotion path and estimates it has saved more than £700,000 through internal promotions in the past three years.

The HR team worked closely with the university to develop the programme, examining the skills needed to reach appropriate partner levels and aligning them with partner competencies. A three-day MBA-style programme for full equity partners was also introduced. The talent matrix helps the firm create a profile for each partner, assessing their ability to develop and assisting Irwin Mitchell in its succession planning. The matrix is also designed to identify gaps in the firm’s offering.

Judges said the promotions process was “impressively organised” and “exciting”. One added: “This is a great innovation, recognising that tomorrow’s market won’t only be made up of law firms employing qualified lawyers but law firms will face competition from ABSs and non-lawyers. This plan allows the firm to meet that challenge head-on.”

About Frazer Jones

Frazer Jones is one of the world's most distinctive Human Resources recruitment brands recruiting across the entire HR spectrum including generalist HR, Learning, Development, Talent, OD, Recruitment, Employee/Industrial Relations, HR Systems, Change and Reward. With offices in London, Düsseldorf, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne we have the largest global reach of any niche specialist HR recruitment consultancy and as such work on both contingent and search hires across the globe. Our international reach and local expertise provide us with the perfect platform to advise our law firm clients on hiring, HR trends and news, as well as identifying talent from all over the world.

2ND: Hogan Lovells

Since the merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells, the firm has designed a series of development programmes to identify, develop and retain lawyers through to partnership. The programme starts at senior associate level and continues for the next three years. It involves coaching, planning and 360-degree feedback and partner review processes and is intended to be a global system including a peer network. Senior partners are actively engaged and involved in designing the various elements.

The scheme has played a key strategic role in establishing the culture of Hogan Lovells post-combination. Partners believe it has strengthened peer group interaction on a global basis.

Judges commended the firm’s efforts to build a worldwide team, noting this presents particular challenges. “Creating global initiatives will help Hogan Lovells to create a single team and, from this, a single client experience,” said one judge.

3RD: Reed Smith

Reed Smith has spent the past year enhancing its engagement survey and expanding its engagement programme to offices in Europe. The survey was rolled out successfully in London, and then to Munich after a rebrand. Response rates increased by 22 per cent for support staff and 2 per cent for fee-earners from the previous year and Munich had a response rate of 69 per cent. The firm also changed its internal communications and now sends regular bulletins on engagement to all staff.

The emphasis on engagement also saw the introduction of an engagement committee comprised of nominated representatives that meets regularly, with the aim of driving the implementation of action plans and sharing best practice. The firm says its focus on engagement has cut staff turnover rates and as a result saved money. The judging panel thought Reed Smith had demonstrated a “comprehensive” programme.