How to retain legal talent within your legal department or law firm

How to retain legal talent within your legal department or law firm

By Tina De Maere  – March 14, 2024

The period between 2021 and 2023 is often called the ‘Great Resignation’, referring to the huge increase in resignation during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Belgium, this trend was mainly visible in the category of -25 year olds. In 2023, the amount of young people resigning from their jobs increased by 41% in comparison to the year before. Part of the explanation might be the war on talent: knowing that many companies are continuously looking for new talent, young people feel like there’s enough other grounds to discover, without having to be afraid that their options will soon run out.

The legal world, too, has to face these problems. Many companies and law firms experience difficulties in attracting top legal talents for their various departments. Even more challenging, however, is keeping these junior lawyers within your team once you’ve managed to hire them. Especially in the beginning of their career, lawyers will easily change jobs when they realize this would be advantageous to their professional, personal and/or financial development.

To retain these talents and discourage them from accepting one of the many job offers in their mailbox or LinkedIn-messages, it’s important to keep various elements in mind. Luckily for you, we’ve listed the most important ones below:

  • Pay your lawyers well
  • Offer opportunities for professional development
  • Create a company culture that is difficult to leave behind
  • Create a healthy work-life balance

Pay your lawyers well, because salary reflects value

First, let’s talk about money – an essential subject, though it may be difficult for some lawyers and companies to address this.

Don’t fool yourself: if you believe your team members have never received a job offer from another company or association, you’re probably wrong. Legal recruiters are always watching, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch the best legal advisors away right in front of your eyes.

One of the first things a potential candidate will scroll to in an offer, is the potential salary that could be earned at another employer. If this amount is considerably higher than their current salary, the offer naturally becomes a more tempting one.

The salary you pay your legal officers is a direct reflection of their value to you, to your team and to your company or firm. After all, your collaborators exchange their valuable time for money. For these reasons, paying your lawyers well is the first step to retaining talent within the business.

Don’t, however, assume that paying more money will automatically lead to a lower resignation rate. Instead of a higher salary, some lawyers will prefer other benefits, like a car, insurance, mileage allowance, recurrent bonuses or bonuses for negotiating certain deals, equity, loyalty bonuses etc. 

Consequently, it remains important to open a dialogue and listen to the needs and preferences of your team members. If possible, try to create personalized salary packs for every individual lawyer, while ensuring a fair balance between these packages at the same time. This is not a simple exercise, but if you want to keep your valuable legal talent with you, you shouldn’t hesitate to go the extra mile.

Offer your lawyers opportunities for professional development

Obviously, retaining legal talent is not only about money. Equally important is offering your lawyers satisfying opportunities to develop their professional competences. Not only their legal skills, but also their technical skills, soft skills and research capabilities form important parts of their professional repertoire.

Organizing trainings and additional programs (for example on legal tech) are one part of the formula. But there’s more. As a company or law firm, the key is to continue growing and reinventing yourself. Attracting new clients and interesting and/or challenging projects, implementing new tools and working methods (e.g. AI) , expanding your legal department are all means of keeping your company alive and kicking.

Once more, just like with the salary packets, creating personalized development programs might be an interesting route to follow. Providing your junior lawyers with a roadmap of their future at your department encourages them to keep working hard and achieving the proposed goals within a certain timeframe. This, too, binds lawyers to your company or law firm and may reduce quit levels.

Create a company culture that is difficult to leave behind

To discourage your lawyers from moving to another law firm or association, stimulating their financial and professional development will – although they are two important elements of the formula – most likely not be enough. One of the most important factors is creating a work environment in which your team members experience a sense of meaning and purpose.

Therefore, as stated above, attracting interesting cases and clients is essential to retaining the best legal advisors at your company. But this goes way further than the content of work. Encouraging values like diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, offering mentorships to younger team members, organizing team buildings and so on are all examples of methods that can help you create a family culture. As recently stated by Forbes: “it is tough to leave places where you belong“.

Furthermore, emphasizing the social impact of your company can also encourage people to believe in the importance of their work to others. Making regular donations to charity or offering the opportunity to do pro bono work, for instance, could perfectly fit in this drawer.

Leave your lawyers enough personal space

Last but not least, maintaining a healthy work-life balance has become an increasingly important factor for lawyers and for all employees in general. Keeping the workload at acceptable levels, but also granting the possibility to work remotely from time to time can help in creating a healthy division between the personal and professional lives of your colleagues.

Improving the personal development of your colleagues also adds to the meaningfulness your lawyers will experience in their job, since they will be more fresh and energetic during the hours they actually spend at the office.

 

In urgent need of finding a legal consultant or lawyer to fill in the gaps in your team? Find a legal freelancer today on our platform!

Looking for a permanent hire? Let’s have a chat! Contact Tina De Maere by mail at tina.demaere@limine.be or by phone (0483 66 70 14).

5 important soft skills for legal professionals and how to develop them

5 important soft skills for legal professionals and how to develop them

By Tina De Maere  – February 14, 2024

The whole world exists of tensions and contradictions: day exists only because night does, warmth exists because of coldness and sadness because of happiness. 

We’re not the ones who came up with this theory; the Greek philosopher Heraclitus did. Even though he lived in the 6th century B.C., his philosophical views still hold today and can even be transferred to the workplace.

Take, for instance, the difference between soft and hard skills. Hard skills, like one’s education and theoretical knowledge, can only be usefully applied in collaboration with a set of so-called ‘soft skills’, like time management, communication or technical competences. Without soft skills, hard skills become completely ineffective and vice versa. Just like in Heraclitus’ theorem, both ‘forces’ need each other, in this case to form a strong, communicative and well-informed legal professional.

In this blog, we will explain:

– what soft skills are and why they should matter to you

– which soft skills every legal professional should necessarily learn 

– how you can acquire and develop these skills even more.

What are soft skills?

Contrary to hard skills, soft skills are abilities that don’t refer to your theoretical or technical knowledge (“what you know”), but more to your practical capabilities and own nature (“who you are”). 

Soft skills could best be described as a set of overarching character traits that essentially reveal who you are as a person. Since soft skills have little or nothing to do with your degree or educational background, they can easily be transferred from one job or domain to another.

Soft skills are of course not only important in the legal profession, but define how well your career will advance in any sector or field. 

Nonetheless, some competences are especially important for legal interim managers and consultants. In the next paragraph, we will explain why this is the case, before discussing the most prominent ones.

Why are soft skills important for legal professionals?

Whether you are a legal counsel, legal interim manager or an attorney, soft skills will always be an indispensable part of your professional repertoire. Without soft skills, your hard skills become virtually useless. 

Take, for instance, a lawyer with the highest possible degree of theoretical knowledge. How can he ever transfer this knowledge – and thus make actual use of his hard skills in practice – without a basic instinct for empathy or human communication? In this example, interpersonal capabilities form the necessary foundation for applying and developing all other capacities.

When applying for promotions as an in-house lawyer or for new assignments as a legal consultant, or when trying to become a partner at a law firm, your soft skills will also play a vital role. 

Opportunities on the legal market are always scarce and employers and clients have a wide range of options to choose from: hire an external counsel, pick someone from another department, look for a temporary solution etc. 

Competition can be harsh and when taking the final decision, rather than looking at the theoretical knowledge every legal professional has acquired in law school, employers and clients will examine if and how you’re able to put your hard skills into practice and apply your legal knowledge in particular situations. This is where your soft skills will be tested.

In conclusion: soft skills form the basis on which hard skills can be practised. 

The most important soft skills for legal professionals

1. Communication

As a legal professional, you must be able to explain your legal advice to both lawyers and the business/internal clients. When, for example, advising a company on their contract templates or their marketing strategy, you’ll have to communicate a lot with different departments like marketing, sales or HR. This also means that you’ll come into contact with people who don’t have a legal background on a regular basis.

Being able to communicate effectively and, more importantly, to explain complex legal matters to a lay audience, is thus a key skill for every legal consultant. It is the foundation on which all other soft skills are built. 

If you’ve mastered this ability, don’t forget to showcase this by using a clear and well-written resume and delivering a strong job interview. All these elements will put you in the top drawer of many a potential client.

Don’t forget that your communication skills include both your writing skills and your ability to communicate orally.

2. Negotiation 

As a lawyer or legal advisor, you’ll not only be asked to review contracts or draft them from scratch, but you’ll likely also be involved in the negotiation procedures of legal agreements. Therefore, negotiation skills also form an essential part of every legal professionals’ “soft skill repertoire”. 

In line with the previous section, negotiation skills include the ability to communicate the needs of your company or client clearly and precisely, but also the capacity to listen well and understand the desires of both your principal and those of the opposing party.Not developing your negotiation skills can be a huge drawback when applying for legal interim assignments, in-house promotions or positions at law firms. On the other hand, being able to add the successful negotiation of a high-value contract for one of your clients to your resume can be a stepping stone to other interesting freelance or permanent missions.

3. Time Management

Time management is not so much about working hard or staying late as it is about doing the right things at the right time. 

As a legal professional, you will almost exclusively come into contact with enterprises or clients that try to cope with an excessive amount of work. A textbook example would be a legal department needing to replace an employee who is pregnant or sick or who has quit the company permanently, creating an unmanageable workload for the remaining lawyers.

As a consequence, it’s important for legal interim managers and other legal advisors to possess the ability to know which tasks require an instant solution and which tasks can be tackled at a later time. Typically, you won’t be able to complete every assignment that is given to you within the expected timeframe, but this should not necessarily be a problem as long as the most important things get done first. Setting your priorities straight and feeling which problems must be solved primarily is a key skill for every legal professional.

As always, communicating well with superior management and colleagues will often be a necessary requirement to help you create a priority checklist. This once again proves why communication is such an important soft skill.

4. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills or “people skills” are an unmissable asset in today’s legal profession. People skills include the capacity to work in a team, the ability to show empathy and – once again – the capability to communicate and listen well.

As stated above, legal professionals nowadays are way more involved in the business than traditional solicitors. They have to understand the ins and outs of a company’s culture perfectly and must be able to adapt their language and advice to different recipients. Tailoring opinions to the needs, wishes and strategies of the business, too, should be a priority. That’s why teamwork, empathy and – most importantly – patience are must-haves in a business context. 

If you’re not capable of listening and showing understanding as a legal consultant, it will be impossible for you to thrive in any legal department or company.

5. Legal Tech

Last but not least, the evolutions in legal tech and artificial intelligence are inescapable and are leading to huge transformations in the legal sphere. Rather than ignoring these developments and continuing on the same path, legal advisors should embrace these new tools and learn how to use them. It’s the only way to not get left behind in the ever-growing digitalization of the legal profession.

Smart tools already exist to help lawyers and legal consultants with numerous tasks. Examples are contract review and flagging, contract drafting, legal research, litigation outcome predictors etc. Learning how these tools work and mastering their application will give you a head start in comparison to other legal freelancers or lawyers who are still getting familiar with a more digital approach to legal consultancy.

How can you acquire soft skills as a legal professional?

As a legal professional, you shouldn’t rely on your clients or employer to offer you all kinds of training programs and additional seminars. If one of your clients does offer you to join a team building or training session with the other employees, don’t hesitate to do so, but don’t expect this to happen at every assignment or company.

The best way to continuously improve your soft skills is by actively looking for your own ways to do so. Try registering for webinars and soft (and hard) skill trainings, keep yourself up to date by reading articles or other contributions and maybe even listen to a podcast once in a while. Keeping your eyes and ears open is, in general, a great method of attaining any form of self-improvement.

The most important tip we can give, however, is to try and learn from colleagues, friends, clients and other people you frequently come into contact with. Soft skills are mostly acquired by looking at other people and learning from their behaviour or attitude. It is not always possible to give textbook examples of how to communicate well or how to improve time management skills. Many character traits like empathy, communication and even time management are often mastered by simply mimicking other people’s habits. 

Maybe one of your colleagues has found a good way of creating a priority checklist? Or maybe one of your friends knows how your body posture can help you indicate that you’re open to listen and understand the concerns of your interlocutor? There are infinite ways of improving your soft skills, but the key is the same as always: communicate well, and you’ll go a very long way.
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The advantages and disadvantages of internal and external hiring for lawyers and legal counsels

The advantages and disadvantages of internal and external hiring for lawyers and legal counsels

By Tina De Maere  – December 21, 2023

If your legal department is trying to fill in an open vacancy, it can choose one of two things: either, it can hire an employee internally (i.e. someone who already works for the company), or it can engage a lawyer or legal counsel from outside (a so-called ‘external hire’). Both options have their advantages and drawbacks. 

In this article, we provide you with an overview of the potential benefits and downsides of internal and external hiring for legal departments.

 

Hiring lawyers internally: rewarding loyalty, but creating competition

 

Pros of hiring legal counsels internally: lower costs and retaining talent

The first option your legal department has, is promoting someone from their own team. This can be an employee who has been working for the company for many years, but it’s equally possible to offer a permanent contract to a freelance legal consultant who has been advising your department on an interim basis. Lastly, you could even consider hiring an employee or consultant from another branch or department, if they meet the right qualifications.

Choosing this path obviously has different advantages. First of all, recruitment costs will be lower. Instead of setting up an entire campaign, you can create an internal job posting that only employees of your company or branch have access to. Usually, an internal recruitment process will also take less time than its external counterpart.

A third advantage is that employees will feel rewarded for their loyalty to your company. Promoting one of your team members proves that you value their contributions to your department, which might motivate other counsels to keep delivering the same high-quality advice to your branch. Additionally, hiring internally is a perfect instance of ‘reaping what you sow’. By starting off with an internal vacancy, you give yourself the opportunity to keep the talent that you raised within the business, instead of seeing great potential leave to other companies.

Lastly, internal vacancies have the benefit of familiarity. This goes two ways: on the one hand, you won’t have to do a thorough background check on the applicants, because the position is only open to people you already work with. You know their skills, have access to their performance records and you’re up-to-date on their history at the company, which leaves you with way more precise information to decide whether a candidate would be a good fit for the position they’re applying for.

On the other hand, all applicants are already familiar with your company’s culture and working methods, which means they will need less time to adjust to a new function than an outsider will.

 

Cons of internal legal hiring: jealousy and recreating a gap

It is only evident that internal job postings also have their downsides.

First of all, a new job opening might create an unhealthy competition and jealousy between the workers of your legal department. It is very likely that different employees will apply for the same position, but obviously, only one of them will get the promotion at the end of the day. Not everyone takes their losses gracefully, unfortunately, and such applicants might feel discouraged to keep working hard if they sense that they won’t receive any chance for a promotion within a reasonable amount of time. Maybe, they will even consider leaving your company to try their luck elsewhere.

Another problem is that, by hiring one of your own legal advisors, you immediately create a new vacancy, namely the previous position that your new hire was holding. This is like trying to fill a gap by digging a new hole; in essence, you’re just moving the problem from one place to another. 

Therefore, it is important to already have a solution in mind for this problem that will inevitably pose itself, for instance by planning beforehand how you’ll divide the extra workload between the remaining team members that didn’t get promoted or by already knowing who you’re going to employ to fill in the newly created gap.

 

Hiring lawyers externally: new talent comes at a price

 

Pro’s: new talent, fresh ideas

The second option your legal department has, is engaging someone from outside of the company. In this article, we’re primarily focusing on permanent contracts, but hiring an interim legal consultant might be a good temporary solution for businesses who experience difficulties in finding a new permanent employee.

A first advantage of an external hire is the input of fresh ideas. A new legal counsel will be able to transfer experiences, knowhow and working methods from their previous company to your legal department. This can only be an enrichment for your own employees and improve their creativity and quality of work. An external hire could even help organize seminars and events to teach their skills to other members of the legal team.

Secondly, external hiring is a way of broadening your scope. If you’re trying to fill in an open position, but only look for candidates within your own legal division or company, you might miss some great talent that’s out there on the market, waiting for a new opportunity to arise. Giving outsiders a chance to apply for your job openings helps you expand your team and create growth. The problem encountered previously with internal hiring, namely creating a new gap to fill, immediately becomes irrelevant when choosing an external applicant.

Lastly, the problem of unhealthy competition and jealousy between your own counsels also seems eliminated, since no-one on your legal team gets a shot at the job.

 

Cons: expensive hiring campaigns and time-consuming background checks and training programs

Naturally, the previous benefit could also be seen as a drawback. Since none of your internal legal advisors will get a chance to apply, they might feel insulted or discouraged because their work doesn’t seem valuable enough to their employer. Even if your legal department would combine the two methods of internal and external hiring, it remains possible that your own legal counsels won’t get picked, which can lead to discontent, quiet quitting and resignation.

Another problem with external hiring is the fact that your legal department will have to spend a lot of money and time on hiring campaigns. To make sure you won’t miss out on the perfect candidate, you’ll need to:

  • Broaden your network;
  • Organise online searches;
  • Create job postings and ad campaigns for your open position(s);
  • Conduct many interviews;
  • Execute thorough checks on applicant’s professional backgrounds;
  • Organise regular status meetings;
  • Test the legal skills and knowledge of potential candidates;
  • Determine whether an applicant would be a good fit in your legal team

Last but not least, engaging someone from outside of your company also means you’ll spend a lot of time on training programs and onboarding periods to familiarise your new legal counsel with the company’s culture, structure and working methods. If the onboarding doesn’t run smoothly, it can have a negative impact on the rest of your collaboration.

 

Conclusion: finding a balance within the needs and preferences of your legal department

 

Both internal and external hiring have their own respective advantages and disadvantages. The method you should choose largely depends on the constellation of your own legal department. For instance: if you feel that the perfect candidate can be found within your legal team, and you can quickly find a solution for the work that will be left behind, internal hiring might be the way to go. If, on the other hand, you sense that none of your team members would be a good fit and a better candidate can be found somewhere else, external hiring might be your best shot.

In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance between the preferences and needs of your legal branch.

Of course, combining both methods is also an option, for example by promoting one of your internal lawyers and hiring an external legal counsel for the position that becomes available in doing so, or by accepting applications from both internal employees and external candidates for the same position. 

Be aware, though, that in this case not only the benefits, but the drawbacks of both routes will be combined too. Giving your own employees a chance to apply for a better position, but then choosing one of the external applicants, might lead to even more discontent and discouragement. On top of that, you’ll need to spend even more time on research, campaigns, interviews and everything else.

Ready to find your perfect candidate? Limine has got your back! Register now on our platform and connect with the best legal advisors today!

Catch them young? The differences between a junior, senior and expert legal consultant

Catch them young? The differences between a junior, senior and expert legal consultant

By Tina De Maere  – November 29, 2023

Legal departments often struggle with many questions when deciding to hire a new legal profile. Which part of our budget can we allocate? Do we want an interim consultant or a permanent employee? And of course: what kind of profile are we looking for?

The first hurdle to cross, therefore, is defining the function and the responsibilities of the new potential employee or consultant. This means that your legal department, often with the help of HR, has to decide whether to hire a junior, senior or expert profile. But what exactly are the differences between these types of lawyers?

Junior: quick learners with fresh ideas

A junior lawyer is usually someone with 0 to 5 years of experience in the legal profession. This experience can be gained either as an attorney or a freelancer or in-house as a legal counsel. Some junior lawyers have already acquired some experience as a freelance legal consultant, others prefer to broaden their expertise in a permanent function first, before making the next step in their career and becoming independent legal advisors.

The most obvious advantage of hiring a junior counsel is the fact that they usually ask for a lower salary. In return, they will require more guidance and training than a senior lawyer. 

This, however, should not be a downside. Junior consultants are quick learners and bring fresh and new ideas to the table. If a legal department accompanies its newbees well, supports them in their journey, appreciates their work and rewards them accordingly, chances are great that they will deliver much needed added value in time and stay loyal to your company or department. Who knows, they might even consider signing a permanent contract and becoming your next valuable employee…

A disadvantage might be that young people don’t always immediately know what they want in life. This might increase their risk of job hopping and leaving companies quickly in the first years of their career. For temporary assignments, however, this should pose any problems, since few consultants will terminate their contracts early when they are concluded for a limited amount of time.

Senior: solid base and quick return

Senior lawyers are legal consultants or counsels with at least 5 years of experience. Just like juniors, they may have gained this experience in a permanent function, but many senior consultants prefer working as independent professionals. 

The biggest advantage of working with senior advisors is their autonomy. Unlike junior counsels, senior advisors don’t need much training and guidance. Usually, they are able to produce advice without having to ask many questions. They are operational from day 1 and can even lead complex projects as legal interim managers using their experience acquired in previous positions.

Next to that, senior consultants can transfer their expertise and methods from previous employers or clients to your company. They have a solid base and deliver quick returns. They can provide new insights, deliver legal and strategic advice and even train other employees or consultants in their own legal niche. These trainings don’t necessarily need to be limited to the legal department.

The biggest downsides of working with senior consultants are their price tag and their availability. Because many senior legal consultants work for different clients at the same time, they will generally not be available every day of the week. And if they work on a full-time contract, this will only be for a limited amount of time.

Naturally, you could consider hiring a senior counsel on a permanent basis. However, this would mean you would have to pay a higher salary for an undetermined period. On top of that, their severance will also be higher in case of downsizing.

Expert: problem-solver for highly specialized projects

Last but not least, experts are lawyers who have gained decades of experience in their own legal niche. They often possess highly specialized knowledge in very specific fields of law (for instance a business lawyer who has worked for different financial institutions during their career or an IP lawyer who has worked on patent cases his entire life). 

It is mainly useful to hire these types of profiles for very specific questions or complex projects in highly specialized legal domains. Experts work almost exclusively on interim or freelance assignments, but can provide the best advice faster than any other lawyer could. 

Obviously, legal experts are the most expensive kind, but their advice will always be top notch, flawless and on time.Ready to find the perfect legal consultant for your interim or permanent vacancy? Register now on https://platform.limine.be/ and find your ideal candidate today!

The impact of AI on legal departments: why legal professionals shouldn’t fear for their jobs

The impact of AI on legal departments: why legal professionals shouldn't fear for their jobs

By Tina De Maere  – October 14, 2023

The recent rise of artificial intelligence has already created a lasting impact on all layers of our human society. Just like other spheres, the legal profession, too, will continue to feel the ever-growing influence of algorithms, smart tools and AI on a wide range of tasks and operations.

As a consequence, some attorneys and corporate lawyers with a sharp future vision have already started fearing for their job. They suspect that, in the coming years, AI will take over more and more day-to-day tasks autonomously until human interference has become redundant.

Is this true? Is this the right way of thinking? Should attorneys, legal interim managers and other business lawyers really be afraid to lose their jobs? As explained below, there are many tasks in which AI can assist: reviewing documents, doing legal research, analyzing case-law… However, the strength of these so-called ‘smart tools’ is to reduce the hours that are usually spent on repetitive, time-consuming assignments. The goal, therefore, is not to replace lawyers or legal freelancers, but to help them allocate time and resources more efficiently.

In the next paragraphs, we will give some examples of tasks in which AI can play a crucial role as a time-saver, cost-reducer and automator.

Automated review of legal documents

In many businesses, a lot of time is still wasted on the mere review of similar contracts. Even if most companies nowadays have adopted all sorts of templates for different kinds of commercial and other contracts, the adoption of an agreement is a highly time-consuming process. Therefore, some companies and law firms have started using or creating smart tools to help them speed up this procedure. 

Because these AI systems can process huge amounts of information in no time, they can analyze legal documents way quicker than humans. In doing so, they can:

  • review contracts and flag potentially high-risk clauses;

  • indicate inconsistent language or unclear phrases and help in increasing the readability of a contract or an opinion; 

  • check for compliance with certain legal standards, norms and statutes.

Some companies have even created tools that can produce contracts starting from a premade template or even from scratch. These software programs will then, after certain parameters have been filled in, tailor a general contract to the specific preferences or needs of a client or a supplier.

At the same time, the interference of a human lawyer is still needed to actually perform the proposed tasks, like modifying certain clauses, adopting a more comprehensive language and accepting or refusing the changes proposed by the AI tool. Close collaboration between AI and humans is therefore still a necessary condition to ensure a smooth contracting process.

Prediction of (court) case outcomes

For some businesses, litigation is another money slurping machine that takes away many resources. Especially in Belgium, court cases are expensive, very time-consuming and never guarantee a great outcome for any of the parties. Part of the problem is that many companies don’t have a clear view on the alternatives and often dive head-first into legal proceedings, while other means regularly offer better solutions for both parties.

To remedy these shortcomings, AI systems have been created to predict the outcome of potential court cases. Based on the facts of a particular case and earlier judgments of the court or judge at hand, it will make an accurate prediction of the decision that would be made. This helps companies to broaden their scope and look for other solutions, like mediation, arbitration or settlement.

Legal Research

For legal research, too, software exists to help you find the right cases, precedents, statutes or other legal sources. These AI tools automatically keep you up-to-date on the newest case law and legislation, propose similar sources to the ones you’re looking for and scan millions of documents in a matter of seconds to make sure you don’t miss out on any text or phrase that might be relevant to you or your case.

A platform like Legidex is an excellent example of this kind of software.

Legal Recruitment

Last not but least, AI can also assist companies and law firms during their recruitment processes. Based on the preferences and needs of the business, AI tools can propose the best candidates for legal interim assignments or permanent positions.

A platform like Limine does exactly that: it combines unique technology with personal human input from legal professionals creating the perfect match between companies and lawyers.

Ready to connect with all top-tier candidates for your open positions? Create your free account now and find new legal talent today!

 

How to deliver a perfect job interview as a freelance legal consultant

How to deliver a perfect job interview as a freelance legal consultant

By Tina De Maere  – September 14, 2023

To haul in your dream job as a freelance legal consultant, you need two things: an impressive CV and a splashing job interview. Ultimately, the main goal is always to show that you, and no one else, is the perfect fit for the job or assignment you’re applying for.

For tips on writing a convincing resume, click here. For tips on leaving a sensational impression during an interview, read on!

Come prepared

The worst thing you can do at a job interview is not show up. The second worst thing you can do, is arrive unprepared. This immediately gives the impression that you’re not that interested or motivated for the assignment you’re applying for. Therefore, you should try to collect at least a minimum amount of information about the company or the client you want to work for. 

Some questions you could ask yourself:

  • In which sector are they active? 

  • Who are their main competitors? 

  • What is their history and their mission statement? 

  • What are their main goals for the future?

  • What were the last business results? Annual turnover, change of CEO?

  • How can I prove that the company needs me for this specific assignment?

Additionally, you can gather some financial information about the company on the website of the CBE. Go the extra mile and look up the recent exposure in the press. Maybe there’s an interesting article published in De Tijd/L’Echo or Trends/Tendances?

Being prepared, yes, but don’t overprepare yourself either. If you’ve studied all possible questions and answers by heart, this might impede the smooth flow of the conversation. Give yourself the opportunity to showcase your sharpness and clarity of mind as well; in any case, these are essential qualities for a legal interim manager!

Your resume is not self-explanatory

Don’t forget that most employers and clients value a good job interview just as much as a compelling resume. Even if you have a world class CV, a poor interview can ruin your chances of being picked for a job. Therefore, remain honest and open while answering questions about your professional history. Again: it’s all about showing that you are the perfect fit. A good match on a more personal level will certainly put you higher on the ranking – especially for longer assignments.

At the same time, it’s always a good idea to prepare some questions yourself (or make them up during the conversation). This proves legitimate interest and motivation in the company and helps in building the trust of your interlocutor.

Focus on relevant information

When talking about your past experiences as a legal consultant, it remains important to focus on the information that is relevant to the assignment you’re applying for. Try to highlight specific qualities or skills you gained in previous jobs that you can transfer to your potential new client or employer. 

This does not only include your expertise in certain legal practice areas. Equally important are your soft skills. For instance, when applying for a short term assignment, indicate that you’re a fast thinker, a quick learner and don’t need much time to be operational. When applying for longer assignments, it might be a good idea to focus on your reputation as a trustworthy companion. Obviously, clients don’t like consultants who quit after a month or two!

In general, when talking about legal interim assignments, clients like to hear about your communication skills, your ability to deliver strategic advice and your ability to translate complex legal information into clear and understandable opinions.

Last but not least: suit up!

It seems obvious, but it’s impossible not to mention this last tip: dress nicely! The first impression is always the most important one, and you only get a single chance to make one. Research has proven that this impression is mostly based on your physical appearance. Therefore, there’s only one thing left to do: suit up!

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From layout to payout: how to write a resume that impresses every client

From layout to payout: how to write a resume that impresses every client

By Tina De Maere  – August 18, 2023

A clear and well-written resume is the first important step to put yourself in the top drawer of a new potential employer or client. Nonetheless, we noticed that quite a number of CV’s of legal consultants are too vague, too generic, lack structure and overview and aren’t as aesthetically appealing as they could or should be.. if you want to haul in more interesting contracts with top-tier clients, that is.


To help you drastically improve your chances of collecting new assignments as a freelance legal consultant or a new challenge as an in-house legal counsel, here are some more tips on how to write a convincing resume and nail that job!

 

Highlighting relevant experience

The first thing you should do when writing a resume is think about your target audience. Who is the information that you’re providing, addressed to? When applying for interim assignments, you’ll need to highlight different skills than when applying for a job at a multinational.

After all, most businesses don’t really care for your academic publications or the courses you followed during your master’s degree program. Instead, try focusing on the practical skills you learned at previous employers or during earlier assignments as a legal consultant. 

Sometimes, it might even be a great idea to tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for. For instance, you could emphasize relevant experience in a specific sector, expertise in a certain legal practice area, relevant management experience etc. Try to show the company that you’ve read about them and use this knowledge to your advantage. In the end, it’s all about proving that YOU are the perfect fit!

Some other questions that clients often want an answer to:

  • What positions did you hold at your previous companies? Did you form part of a team? Or did you manage a certain department?
  • What skills did you learn? Examples could be time management, adapting to new environments, managing a team, working under pressure, familiarizing with new legal domains etc.
  • Which legal practice areas formed your main area of expertise? Don’t hesitate to give enough details here. For example, if you were mainly focussing on contract drafting and negotiating, which types of contracts did you become most familiar with (for instance distribution agreements, leasing, sla’s, dpa’s…)?
  • If you received any recommendations or references from previous clients, colleagues or employers, be sure to attach them to your resume as well.

In general, when applying for interim assignments, companies like to hear you’re a quick learner, a good communicator and have no problems accommodating yourself to new environments.

 

From layout to payout

Next, the design of your resume is almost as important as its content. A sloppy layout immediately gives the impression that you don’t care for precision or order. However, this is exactly what a legal interim manager should be good at: translating complex knowledge into clear and understandable texts. Therefore, you should certainly keep these next tips into account when writing your resume:

  • Use a clear and readable font (e.g. Verdana 12). Highlighting the most important parts of your text in bold or coloured letters can increase readability;
  • Write in a chronological order. Start off with your most recent positions and explain what you did and what you learned. If you don’t have experience as a freelance legal consultant yet, write about your experience as an attorney or other legal functions you held. Info about your education or personal interests should come at the end of your resume;
  • Don’t forget to put your personal contact information in the header, so the company can contact you if they’re interested in commencing a collaboration!

Lastly, you can always contact an expert in graphic design to help you along. 

 

Leave out irrelevant information 

The last tip is quite simple: don’t mention any info that isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying for. Most businesses don’t care for research you published, mandates you held, cases you plead as an attorney or courses you taught or followed in the past. Instead, they want to know where you worked, what you did and what your strengths are. All the rest is superfluous. 

On the other hand, don’t blur any information and don’t leave any parts of your resume undisclosed.  This gives the impression that there are important parts of your professional life that you don’t want to share.

In short: be to the point! It’s better to have a brief resume than a CV of more than 10 pages which doesn’t focus on the information necessary for businesses to make a well-considered choice.

 

Need some more tips? Check out our other blog on writing an amazing resume.


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Michael Kopec: ‘The human appreciation you get as a legal interim manager is invaluable’

Michael Kopec: 'The human appreciation you get as a legal interim manager is invaluable'

By Tina De Maere  – June 13, 2023

 

Many lawyers and in-house counsels who are looking for a new challenge, hesitate to make the switch to a career as a legal interim consultant. Numerous questions pop up in their mind: What exactly does the legal interim profession entail? How does a job as a legal freelancer differ from a job in a law firm or a permanent position in a company? And should I worry if I’m short of assignments for a while?

 

Limine had a chat with Michael Kopec, currently working as a legal interim manager at Euroclear, about his experiences as an independent consultant. Together with him, we tried to find an answer to all those pressing questions.

 

‘As an interim manager, you always know: “the next few months, I will have to be firing on all cylinders.”‘

 

You are currently working as a legal interim manager at Euroclear. How has that assignment worked out so far?

‘Incredibly well. I am quite busy, but that also makes it really enjoyable. As an interim manager, you always know: “in the next few months, I will have to be firing on all cylinders”. But the team at Euroclear has given me a warm welcome which makes it a very nice atmosphere to work in. Moreover, my current client is very flexible in their home office policy, which makes the combination with my family life all the easier.’

 

Is your family the main reason why you decided to switch to a career as a legal interim manager?

‘There were several reasons for that choice. Firstly, it was important for me to gain experience in different legal niches and to expand my professional network. In addition, I also wanted to have more freedom in deciding on my own time management. As an employee, you work fixed hours and have fixed holidays; as a self-employed person, you have more freedom to decide on your own agenda.

 

However, I don’t necessarily work less now than I did as a lawyer. But compared to my period as an attorney, the time I spend on my job is more defined now. My client knows that I am available for 40 hours a week and in principle it stops there. Of course, I am flexible when needed and I will do everything that is required to get the job done, but as a business lawyer you really are occupied with your job 24/7. Thankfully, that is less the case now. That way, I can also free up more time for my family.’

 

‘As a legal interim manager, you have to take into account the impact of your advice on the business’

 

What do you think is the biggest difference between working in the legal profession and working as a legal interim manager? 

‘It might surprise you, but in itself, the two are not that different from each other. The core of your work is the same: providing high-quality and pragmatic legal advice. The biggest difference is that, as a legal interim manager, you usually work for one company at the time and you get to know the organisation much better that way. Therefore, you have to adapt your advice to that specific context.

 

As a legal interim consultant, you are more closely involved in the economic and strategic decisions of the company you are working for. Unlike lawyers, you will be able to acquire some additional background information during internal meetings and discussions which you can then take into account in your advice. 

 

Working in close collaboration with finance and business teams also allows you to further develop your business acumen which then helps you in translating business needs in sound legal contracts.

 

What is the biggest difference between a legal interim consultant and a permanent in-house lawyer?

‘Both are part of the company, but the biggest advantage is that, as a consultant, you’re not involved in the internal politics of the business. People are always very keen on welcoming you, considering that you are an external force helping them to solve a particular problem (absorbing extra workload, replacing a long-term absentee…). That way, you can focus on what really matters. The appreciation you get for your work is therefore enormous.’

 

‘A smooth start of your collaboration largely depends on good onboarding’

 

Do you have any tips for companies who are considering hiring a legal interim manager?

‘I think a smooth start of your collaboration largely depends on good onboarding. A legal interim manager entering a new company has to get used to everything: a new environment, new people, new IT systems, new methods, etc. A good onboarding process is therefore crucial.

 

The aim should be to make the interim manager feel part of the organisation right away: involve your interim manager in meetings from day one, integrate them into the team, etc. 

 

A textbook example of a solid start would be that, a few weeks after the legal interim manager has started, internal people are asking their questions without noticing any difference between the interim manager and the permanent members of the legal team.

 

’Of course, you also have to open yourself up as a legal interim manager. A good collaboration always depends on goodwill from both sides.’

 

‘The cooperation with Limine went very smoothly’

 

How do you generally find new assignments?

‘It depends. Sometimes I find assignments directly through my own network, sometimes through intermediaries. My last assignment was one I found through Limine. That collaboration went very smoothly. Within three days following my first contact, I had found a new assignment and concluded the contract. This is a very fast lead time. 

 

Getting clarity about your future quickly is important for freelancers, because they always live in some kind of uncertainty, or at least a little bit. When your contract expires, you don’t know beforehand when you will find another assignment that suits you.’

 

Would you recommend a career as a legal interim to other lawyers?

‘That depends on your character. Do you want stability and solid ground under your feet? Then I don’t think doing interim assignments is something you should go for. But do you like regularly ending up in new environments, getting to know new people, learning about new legal matters? Then definitely, yes!

 

Do you have any final tips for colleagues who have just made the switch to the legal interim world?

‘Don’t panic. Sometimes, it can take a while before you find your first assignment, but once the ball starts rolling, things will happen almost automatically. Often, you don’t know whether your assignment will be extended and what you will do next. I found that really challenging the first time, but you shouldn’t worry too much about that either. Life doesn’t stop when you’re not working for a month or two.

 

In the end, that feeling of uncertainty is worth it all, because the human appreciation you get as a legal interim manager is invaluable. People sometimes struggle with that, but receiving appreciation from colleagues for your work is incredibly important. As a legal interim manager, you are considered an added value and that really is an indescribable feeling.’





Why your company needs its own in-house legal department

Why your company needs its own in-house legal department

By Tina De Maere  – May 11, 2023

Many companies tend to spend as little money as possible on their legal issues. Seeing legal departments as merely a cost center, businesses prefer to outsource their legal work to law firms. But is this always the most optimal approach?

 

Not only do attorneys eat a large part of your budget; often, they also don’t possess the business-oriented attitude you can find in a company lawyer. For many companies, therefore, better solutions exist for solving their legal matters.

 

In this blog, we explain why your company needs its own in-house legal department!

 

Company lawyer vs. law firm: prevent vs. cure

 

There are mainly two ways of tackling legal problems: either, you can try to prevent these problems from arising, or either you can try to solve a problem once it has presented itself. This distinction lies at the heart of the difference between company counsels and law firms. While the latter are mostly focussed on curing complications, the former will utilize the opposite approach.

 

Law firms and attorneys are specialists in analyzing legal problems. Their expertise and added value mainly lies in formulating complex legal reasonings, mediating, solving disputes outside of court and, if necessary, instigating legal proceedings and pleading before a court or tribunal. 

 

Corporate counsels, on the other hand, are experts in analyzing risks and preventing legal problems from occurring in the first place. Their expertise often consists of negotiating and re-writing contracts, advising and educating colleagues and peers on legislation and strategy, communicating with other departments etc. The focus of an in-house legal team is collaborating with the business partners to find effective, efficient solutions.

 

In conclusion, a company lawyer will try to curb legal risks and prevent your company from getting into trouble, while law firms will mostly appear in the process when legal problems have already arisen. 

 

The advantages of an in-house legal advisor

 

Nevertheless, not all law firms limit themselves to this approach. Some attorneys do in fact provide precautionary legal advice, acting more as an external legal advisor than as an attorney-at-law in those cases. Where, then, lies the difference between this type of lawyers and corporate legal counsels?

 

The major point here is that, in contrast to an attorney, an internal legal counsel is an integral part of your business. Company lawyers find themselves in a constant interchange with all other departments (marketing, finance, procurement etc.). Because of this mutual interdependence, legal counsels cannot only give legal, but also strategic and operational advice. Thanks to their proactive and business-oriented mindset, they can help your company move forward way beyond their legal competences.

 

External advisors, on the other hand, can’t offer this kind of hands-on approach. Because they don’t possess all the necessary information and because they don’t have the same interconnectedness, they cannot provide the same ‘all-in’ advice as a permanent legal counsel.

 

Another interesting advantage is that an in-house lawyer in a permanent role will be at your disposal full-time. Being on the payroll, they fall under the authority of their employer. They can answer urgent questions, do research, attend last-minute meetings etc. Law firms and external advisors, who often work for multiple clients at the same time, will not always be able to offer the same flexibility.

 

A provisional solution: legal interim management

 

If hiring an extra employee might be too big of a step for your business, a temporary solution might be to hire a legal interim manager. Legal interim managers offer the same services as in-house counsels, but on a temporary basis. They can be hired for full-time or part-time assignments. 

 

The strengths of an interim manager are that they adapt very quickly to new environments and are operational in no-time. Next to that, you won’t be charged by a full team of expensive attorneys, but only for the services provided by this particular consultant.

 

If the collaboration with an interim consultant runs smoothly, you could consider hiring them on a permanent basis after the assignment takes an end. From that point on, you can start creating your own in-house legal department!


Ready to hire a freelance counsel or permanent in-house lawyer? Contact us and find out how we can help your business!





How to attract new legal talent as a law firm

How to attract new legal talent as a law firm

By Tina De Maere  – April 18, 2023

Attracting new attorneys remains a difficult task for all law firms. In recent years, the number of available quality legal talent has become more and more limited. In consequence, law firms are experiencing more and more difficulties in reaching the right candidates for their open positions.

In the past, most law firms didn’t need to worry about attracting new legal talent. The best profiles would always find their way to them without needing any prior incentive. Those days are long gone now. Even for the biggest offices, it remains a challenge to fill in all open vacancies.

In this blog, we hand out some tips on attracting top legal talent for your business!

 

1. Create a brand

 

One thing you should absolutely do as a law firm is to try and create a strong online presence. The first thing that a lawyer who is looking for a new opportunity will do, is start looking for open vacancies on the internet. Posting your job description on your own website, but also on other pages, like LinkedIn, LexGo, etc. is a good start.

 

Of course, this strategy won’t suffice for a long time. To make sure your vacancies reach the right people, you have to make sure these people know who you are first. In other words: you need to create a brand. But how do you build such a strong reputation?

 

First of all, you should create a fashionable website and post blogs on different topics on a regular basis. It can also be useful to share videos in which your associates explain what you do and what it is like to work for your law firm. Posting and sharing your own content (and others’) on social media platforms like LinkedIn will give your business an enormous boost.

 

Secondly, make sure your law office is mentioned on other websites as well. You can ensure this by starting collaborations with other law firms or companies and agree to mutually support each other’s content. Being mentioned on websites like LexGo or even in the news might also help you increase your status.

 

Ultimately, the goal is to create a brand with a trustworthy reputation. Once people start to see your name and logo appear more and more often, they’ll be more likely to believe the status of your law firm as a good place to work. In consequence, potential candidates will be more inclined to apply for your open vacancies.

 

Need help in creating an online presence? Contact us for more info!

 

2. Think about your company culture

 

Another important factor to take into account is your company culture. Paying your associates a reasonable salary is one thing, but this will be far from sufficient to attract new attorneys-at-law.

 

According to recent data, between 15% and 30% of all employees suffer or have suffered from burn-out symptoms. This once again shows why mental health has become such an important subject in recent years. Therefore, respecting the work-life balance of your associates, being flexible in your home office policy and maybe even appointing a mental health officer might all be elements which can make your office more attractive for potential talent.

 

Additionally, it’s important to make your colleagues feel valued. Especially for young associates or new starters, in-depth guidance and mentorship are key values when searching for a first or new opportunity. Constructive feedback, practical tips and a chance to grow, personally as well as professionally, are all factors that can make your law firm stand out from the crowd.

 

To sum up, every law firm should try to create an environment in which all associates sense that their work is appreciated. This will automatically make your office more attractive to potential candidates.

 

3. Innovation is the key to a successful business

 

Last but not least, implementing technological innovations in all parts of your office can help you in convincing talent to join your firm.

 

Traditionally, the legal profession has always been a slow-moving and old-fashioned machine. Many of the things that lawyers are still doing manually can be automated, resulting in faster, more streamlined processes, more efficient and precise work and time savings. Some examples:

 

  • automation of contract drafting
  • document review
  • recruitment of legal talent

 

Many law firms have created their own tools to tackle these problems.

 

At Limine, we’ve found our own way as well. Thanks to our combination of technology and human guidance, we’ve discovered the perfect way to assist law firms in attracting their ideal candidate. Interested in a possible collaboration? Contact us and find out what we can do for your business!