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Wragge & Co: Culture hub" />Career paths for young lawyers are at the top of the agenda at Midlands powerhouse Wragge & Co.
The HR team, led by director Linda Bellis, developed a career path for every single job offered at the firm following a full review three years ago. Most recently, the team introduced a new step on the career ladder for associates aiming for partnership.
“The new role is called ‘director’, and it’s for outstanding associates who want to be made a partner,” Bellis says. “It’s basically an in-between step for associates who want to make it to partnership. Some directors will become partners and some won’t.” For a firm that is based outside of London, attracting good people often means that Wragges has to go the extra mile to lure the right candidate.
Bellis, who joined the firm 18 months ago, says her biggest challenge, and indeed the big issue facing all law firms, is the scramble for the best people. “It’s very much a candidate’s market, so the war for talent is tough,” she says. “The best people are able to pick and choose where they want to go and so law firms really need to differentiate themselves in order to get the right candidates.
“That’s why the brand and culture of the firm is so important, and one thing I can say about Wragge & Co is that we really do live the brand here. A lot of firms say they do things that just don’t materialise – we do everything that we say we’re going to do. Obviously a work-life balance and competitive salaries go along with that.”
Wragges is not immune to the diversity issues affecting most law firms at the moment.
Bellis admits that the firm has some way to go before it has the diverse mix of staff it wants, but it has been doing a lot to lay the groundwork for the future. “I’m the first one to say that the figures in terms of diversity are not as good as they need to be, but diversity is an issue that we’re very conscious of,” she says. “We don’t want to be known as a white, middle-class, male-dominated workplace. “We know that, in order to attract the best people, we need people from different backgrounds. Our clients are diverse so we should be diverse as well.” In order to create a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, Wragges’ HR team has introduced a number of initiatives to restore the balance.
Every member of staff has completed a diversity training course and the firm celebrates different religious holidays and events, such as Ramadan. The firm also has a database connected to its intranet where staff can read up about different cultures, religions and beliefs.
Wragges is proactive in its approach to diversity, visiting universities and schools to promote the firm to prospective new recruits.
“The effects of initiatives like this are seen further down the track,” Bellis says. “For instance, something we do is to send out a group of black lawyers to talk to black schoolchildren. The idea is that kids can see that becoming a lawyer isn’t impossible and is something they might like to consider.
“The result of an initiative like this is not immediate, but later down the line we hope it does have an effect.”