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WINNER: Pinsent Masons

For several years The Lawyer’s HR and Diversity Awards have highlighted the key developments in the industry, so it is not surprising that the HR Team of the Year category was one of the most over-subscribed. Pinsent Masons’ HR team takes first place for its work on the firm’s merger with McGrigors, which was conducted while the team was itself going through a restructure that ultimately resulted in eight voluntary redundancies.

The team was responsible not only for forming a team of advocates to sell the merger to staff in both legacy firms, but also for the practical HR aspects of the merger. A representative from each legacy firm was assigned to deal with each task associated with the merger, including Tupe transfers and devising new HR policies for the merged entity.

While it was undergoing its own restructure, the team also oversaw a wider restructure of the business support function to eliminate duplicate roles. Of the 47 redundancies made, over 85 per cent were voluntary. The firm also avoided unfair dismissal claims.

Since the merger, HR director Jonathan Bond has spent time engaging with staff in the HR team and more widely, resulting in positive comments from partners and recruiters. The judges said the programme was “well thought through” and the firm’s submission demonstrated a “proactive approach” to the merger.

About Portus Consulting

Portus, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is an award-winning and forward-thinking employee-benefit consultancy that enjoys a remarkable 98.5 per cent client retention rate. We pride ourselves on our market knowledge and on delivering services in a proactive, innovative and highly personable way.

We have a client base to be proud of. We work with more than 150 corporate clients ranging from medium-sized enterprises to global multinationals. We have particular expertise in the legal sector and currently work with more than 60 major law firms.

In 2010, we took our knowledge of online flexible benefits and reward and developed an affiliated business, Portus Online, to focus on those areas.

To find out more please visit our website or call Sue Gregory on 01926 331396.

For more information please contact Tracy Brown.

2ND: Baker & McKenzie

Baker & McKenzie’s HR team, headed by director Martin Blackburn, has introduced initiatives such as unconscious bias training and identified 65 partners who have become coaches for fee-earners. Every associate is assigned a coach. The associate career model was also overhauled to reduce the chargeout levels and look more closely at merit. The new model allows associates to leapfrog a level if they show enough talent. Bakers’ emphasis on associates has led to an increase in retention levels and substantial cost savings, with a notable improvement in retention of associates with high appraisal ratings. The firm has also focused on training at graduate and associate level, as well as diversity. Measures put in place by the HR team have resulted in more applicants for training contracts but better screening at an early stage to save fee-earner time.

3RD: Olswang

Olswang’s HR team, headed by global director of HR Ffion Griffith, has introduced unconscious bias training for the board and all partners. Last year the firm created a diversity and inclusion function, appointing a specialist to be responsible for this area. Olswang’s management board adopted a three-year diversity and inclusion strategy, with the initial focus on gender and ethnicity. Other innovations include a more generous maternity policy for all staff, introducing maternity coaching to women and sessions via Olswang’s family network on issues such as nutrition. The sessions are aimed at a wider group than just parents, for instance staff who care for elderly relatives. Olswang has also been examining its recruitment policies and last year set up an online applicant tracking system to manage its recruitment more effectively, both in terms of candidates and recruitment agencies. One judge said: “Developing consistent international policies for flexible working is a good step, and hard to achieve across countries and cultures.”