The Lawyer Management: Express Solicitors
17 September 2012 | By Lucy Burton
Luiza Da Costa joined Manchester-based firm Express Solicitors as a recruitment and training manager in February this year, the first of 40 new members of staff amid a £3m expansion plan. She joined from William James Recruitment where she specialised in areas of personal injury, clinical negligence, industrial disease and law costs.
Please describe the key elements of your role
The first part of my role focuses on hiring quality staff with the relevant skills. The second part is training all employees to ensure they consistently deliver excellent levels of customer service.
How has your role changed during your time at the firm?
As part of our investment strategy, the decision was made to increase staff numbers from 80 to 120 and my role was initially focused on recruitment. Over the past four months, I’ve helped take staff numbers to 110 and my main focus now is delivering internal training and organising external training.
What impact if any are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?
Express Solicitors has decided to expand and grow in response to the changes, rather than consolidate. My role will be affected by the quality of candidates, on the market in the future, to help us grow.
What’s currently in your in-tray?
Our managing partner, James Maxey, places huge emphasis on assisting the growth of the junior lawyers. With this in mind, we support local universities by providing work experience, holiday placements and mentoring schemes. I’m currently helping to organise an employability day with Manchester Metropolitan University, which will have a lecture and workshop on how to produce the best CV for a career in law and how to perform well in interviews.
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
I’ve streamlined the training process so all recruits get the same level of training, within the same timeframe. In addition, I’ve put an application tracker in place, so we know who has applied to the firm previously, for what position and how far they went within the application process.
What are your primary ways for sourcing suppliers to the business?
Before I arrived, the firm was dealing with a large number of recruitment consultants, all on different rates, so I’ve created a list of preferred suppliers and compiled standard recruitment terms, as well as a code of conduct. It’s enabled the firm to build closer working relationships with the agencies we use, which helps them supply us with suitable people who will fit in with our culture and working environment.
What’s the management structure of your organisation?
There is a team of 10 partners headed by managing partner James Maxey and senior partner Robin Patey. They are supported by a number of key, non-solicitor, management personnel with set areas of expertise.
What are your team’s core responsibilities?
Standard HR responsibilities, but each person has their own focus, mine being training and recruitment.
Who do you report to?
Managing partner James Maxey and our human resources manager Carol Jones.
What is the most important lesson your role has taught you?
That people really are the backbone of the workplace.
When you’re responsible for adding new people into the mix, you must make sure you get the right fit for both sides.
Ours is a close knit and friendly firm, with a team that focuses on getting the best results possible for clients. It’s my responsibility to ensure we retain this ethos as we go through this period of growth.
Net profit: £3m
Average profit per equity partner: £1m
Average revenue per lawyer: £134,000
Da Costa believes that while technology has many uses, improving personal relations isn’t one of them.
“Of course technology makes the admin side of my role easier, but working in HR means that I’m dealing with people on a very personal level,” she says.
“More often than not that means it’s better to put the technology to one side and talk to them,” she reiterates.
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