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Why you need a recruiter to get it right

Written by Libby Mizrahi (LLB) (Hons) – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Professional) Melbourne, VIC

Often we are asked about the benefit of using a recruitment agency. There are loads of recruitment agencies in Australia, which in itself can be confusing. It can be a bit like shopping in that you need to try a few before you find the one (or two) that really ‘get’ you.

With so many jobs being advertised and the horrible feeling of not being considered for the roles you apply directly for; a well-connected agent can be exactly what you need. So, how can your recruiter help you?

  • It’s what we do! We have the active positions across practice areas and industry knowledge about what’s happening in the market and potential opportunities.
  • We have long established market contacts throughout Australia and also further abroad!
  • We can support you with finding a position that is going to be the best fit for you, both career wise and personally.
  • We can help you with tailoring your resume so it has the impact you need it to.
  • We also assist with interview preparation to help you impress in an interview.
  • If you have questions that you don’t feel comfortable to ask directly we can help!
  • We can describe the culture of a firm to you to ensure that you make a fully informed decision.
  • We support you right through the initial days, weeks and months of your new role, you will always have a sounding board with us!

When people put their trust in us to help them with such an important decision in their career, it’s not something that we take lightly. Using an agent shouldn’t feel like an annoying middle person, it should instead feel like a new support network and be an excellent way of understanding the market you are tackling and increasing your chances of success.



How to resign when you change jobs

Written by April O’ Dempsey – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Support) Brisbane, QLD

People change jobs periodically these days and here are some tips you can do to make sure your resignation goes well:

Make sure you tell your supervisor first and preferably in person, but always follow up with an email. Avoid telling anyone else at the firm as news about resignations travel fast.

Make sure you give your full notice period.  You never know when you will need your supervisor/manager to be a referee for you so always leave a role on a good note.  Also, once you have resigned, make sure you use your remaining time to do the work necessary and to complete all of your tasks.

Always tell the truth as to why are you leaving and be prepared to explain your reasons for leaving.  But make sure you explain the reasons without hurting anyone’s feelings and keep it as positive as possible.  If you cannot think of any honest and positive feedback then focus on your new job and why you have accepted this.

If your employer asks you what salary you were offered, be prepared that he/she may want to match this offer or get you a higher offer.  Keep in mind your reasons for wanting to leave and that a counter offer doesn’t usually work out in the long run.

Overall, once you have resigned, it is best that you stay professional and don’t burn any bridges.

Law Firms in Australia and the Talent Vacuum

Written by Marianna Tuccia and Nicholas Brown (Legal Professional, Sydney NSW)

A talent war has been waging over the last couple of years in private practice law firms in Australia. Particularly in that very sweet spot of 2 to 6 years post admission experience.  And especially in the sought after practice areas of real estate, finance, capital markets, projects and infrastructure. Law firms are pouncing on rising stars.

This skills shortage is a result of a number of factors. In the last 24 months, the international market has re-opened its appetite for Australian qualified lawyers i.e. Asia, the Middle East, the US and the UK have successfully recruited first class talent from the major law firms in Australia. Additionally, more and more lawyers are going in-house. According to an article by Matthew Hodgkinson from Eaton Capital Partners, ten years ago only 10% of corporate lawyers were practising in-house; a stark contrast to the 35% that are working in-house now. Another factor contributing to the skills shortage is that lawyers are leaving the profession altogether and going into other fields e.g. business development, journalism, legal editing, policy and government, teaching. A worrying trend is that many lawyers are questioning whether a career in law is for them. Long hours, demanding and unrealistic clients, timesheets, the workplace hierarchy in traditional law firms are contributing to the legal profession loosing talent. These factors are also contributing to the rise in the ‘NewLaw’ firm models. Recent examples of these firms are Hive Legal, Keypoint, Nexus, Marque, Salvos Legal.

Theoretically this skills shortage should be offset by the exponential growth in the number of law graduates vis a vis the number of legal practitioners. According to a November 2015 Australian Financial Review article by Emanuel Tardos, there were approximately 15,000 law graduates in 2015, compared to 11,000 in 2011. These graduates are entering into an industry with just over 66,000 practising solicitors in Australia. Although the number of graduates has increased, this has not converted to a higher rate of employment for law graduates. Additionally, the disruption in the legal profession (which has been extraordinary in the last few years) in terms of technology ie intelligent contracts, E-contracts and E-discovery technology is equating to less and less opportunities for law graduates and newly admitted lawyers. Tasks like discovery and other low level work are being outsourced off-shore and are no longer being undertaken by law graduates.

The question becomes how do law firms overcome this skills gap, particularly at the 2 to 6 years post admission experience level? What can they do to secure that rising star over their competitor? How does a law firm win the talent war?

Trite as it may sound, but retaining your existing talent is just as important as ‘acquiring’ new talent. Managing Partners of the top tier law firms rely on their brand reputation in order to recruit and retain talent.  In a October 2016 article in Lawyers Weekly, Ashurst’s head of HR Asia-Pacific, Richard Knox said that the firm’s key point of difference that allows it to attract and retain talent, is that the “firm is well positioned as one of only a couple of truly integrated global firms that brings to the Australian market a full service offering, with a premium client list that sets us apart from much of our competition … The firm provides them the opportunity to work on clients and matters at the very top end of the market in a supportive and flexible environment. We have found our staff really engage with that proposition.” The efforts of King & Wood Mallesons are different. Newly appointed Global Managing Partner Sue Kench said that, among other initiatives, they had “Design Week – a week with speaker forums, workshops, hackathons and events all focused around designing the firm for the future”.

It is interesting to see what other professional services firms are doing to win the war on talent. In KPMG’s report “Being the Best: Inside the intelligent finance function, Talent Management – Playing for keeps” the financial services industry are facing similar issues. With regards to retaining talent, under the heading ‘Engage and Retain’, their advice is to manage performance through 360 degree feedback, and reward innovative strategy. Moreover, KPMG prides open and honest communication in order to make sure that their talent feels valued.

It is, therefore, of vital importance that law firms put talent management at the top of their strategic agenda. Law firms need to work hard to improve their recruitment and retention strategies if that gap in skills is to ever be overcome. The question “Why would a talented lawyer want to work here?” must always be at the forefront of every Partner’s mind. If the answer is not compelling, then more thought needs to given to the improvement of the firm’s workplace culture and practices.

Extensive training strategies, internal learning and development programmes as well as more on the job training by Partners will also assist in overcoming the skills gap. In some instances, the answer to overcoming the skills shortage may be right on your doorstep – retrain the underutilised and under-challenged lawyers already in your law firm. Additionally, law firms need to think creatively and outside the box when undergoing the recruitment process. If that wish list cannot be entirely fulfilled then time and resources need to be spent to upskill candidates.  On the job training by Partners and more Senior Lawyers ought to come into play more often than is presently occurring. You just never know how much a candidate will develop and grow into the role within 6 to 12 months’ time.

The war on talent will only intensify. Quality lawyers only want to work at quality law firms – law firms that are emulate agility, cultural cohesion, diversity, open communication and true collaboration. Law firms that do not emulate such qualities will eventually fold.

What to do when it’s time to look for a new job? These 5 steps can make a big difference to the outcomes

Written by Erin Horan – Legal Support Consultant (Temp)

1. Perfect your CV

Your CV is your first impression so make it count.

  • Keep it short – 2 pages is enough. The reality of today’s job market is recruiters and HR can receive up to 100 applications for 1 position, so most don’t have time to read 10 page CVs.
  • Highlight the important stuff – its fine to include your hobbies and volunteer experience, but make sure the most relevant stuff – like your work experience and education – is at the top and is the most detailed.
  • Spell check! There’s nothing worse than opening a CV to find it riddled with red squiggly lines. Triple check your CV to make sure there are no mistakes with spelling or dates.

2. Get interview ready

Interviewing is a skill, it’s not something we’re born knowing how to do, and there are a few things you can do to put your best foot forward.

  • Dress to impress!
  • Take your CV with you.
  • Be prepared to answer competency based questions such as “what motivates you?” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • Be prepared with some questions of your own such as “what is the reason for the vacancy?” and “what is the culture of the company?”
  • Have a breath mint before you arrive

3. Know why you’re looking and what you’re looking for

Take some time to think about exactly what you want to do next. “I’ll just take anything” is not a great impression to give to an employer. They want to know you’ve considered them and chosen them as an employer of choice.  Do your values line up with theirs?  Are you passionate about the same thing as them?  Do they have great career progression opportunities that excite you?  Being excited about a position will make employers excited about you.

4. Be positive!

Sometimes looking for a new job isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity.  Maybe your last position was made redundant, maybe your last boss was a tyrant and you had to work Sundays, or maybe the office moved to the other side of the city and you now have to take 3 buses and a train to get there.  But don’t let the negatives of your last job affect you getting a new one.  You may be worried about money, you may be seething about the way you’ve been treated, but put that aside for the duration of your interview and stay positive!

5. Filter your social media

Fair or not, employers can form an instant impression on you based on your social media pages, and one look at your Facebook page could be your undoing.  Update your Linked In profile so it is current and professional, keep your Twitter account clean, and remove those pictures of you and the beer bong from Schoolies 2008 from your Facebook page.  Also, Google yourself! You may be surprised what pops up.

Death of the EA?

Written by Jo Williams: Corporate Support Consultant – empire group


I have had the good fortune of recruiting several senior level Executive Assistant roles recently and I have been astounded by the high calibre of candidates I have met. I put this down to two things. Firstly, there are not as many opportunities available for EAs due to companies shedding many senior management roles. Secondly, the role of Executive Assistant has evolved.


A switched on, proactive Assistant enhances the effectiveness and productivity of an Executive in immeasurable terms. Whilst diary management, travel, task organisation and project skills are fundamental for any administration assistant, so much more is expected of and necessary for the modern EA. They have become technology experts, mastering multiple software programmes to produce high end presentations and collateral. They are event managers, researchers, influencers, mentors and project managers. Many administrative roles have become more about team support than individual support.


These are exciting times for administrative professionals. There is much broader scope to work across departments and build contacts in the business allowing more people to take notice. You also have more opportunity to diversify and grow your skill set. It’s this variety and challenge that makes being an administrative professional so appealing.


A recent development in the world of administration is the Virtual EA. This is a fabulous advancement for small to medium businesses, streamlining operations and reducing overheads. It also opens doors for experienced administrators to start their own businesses which is also very exciting. As with any outsourced service, there is a trade-off; valuable in-person contact disappears. In my experience, the EA is a vital communication link between executives and other stakeholders.


Organisations also need to be mindful of security of information including passwords and confidential files. Although technology will continue to evolve, it is my belief that there will always be a need for professional administrative personnel. The women I am fortunate enough to meet on a weekly basis are loyal, smart, proactive, business minded, dedicated and highly skilled. They are all-rounders and indispensable contributors to the efficiency of senior leadership teams. Technology can never replace that. Long live the EA!

Is the grass greener? 5 reasons it is and a word of warning!

Written by Shaaron Dalton – Consultant, empire legal


If you are reading this blog post, you are already considering making a move. In my experience recruiting Lawyers for the best part of 20 years, a move is always a good idea once you have identified reasons to leave and what you are seeking to achieve by moving. The following 5 reasons explain why you won’t regret making a well-considered move. grass_is_greener

1. Your needs are no longer being met in your current firm.

Push factors are always present when you are considering a move. Common push factors include:

– change in leadership,

– others you admired have left recently

– change in workflow

– change in the type of work you are receiving

– insufficient challenge

– a top heavy environment or too much competition for promotion

– your learning curve has stalled

– your earnings have stalled

2. You choose your new job

As a graduate you may not have had much choice in where you worked. Many Lawyers we meet took one of the first positions they were offered as a graduate.

Moving laterally as an experienced Lawyer enables you to make a more informed choice about your future career. Issues we often see addressed include questions of work/life balance, type of work, salary and potential for advancement.

A good recruitment consultant is able to provide detailed information on the opportunities enabling you to choose the right opportunity to achieve your particular career goals.

3. Salary

Moving firms is one of the few times when you will achieve an increase in salary above annual review level.

As recruiters we often achieve uplifts of 10% to 30% on moving for well trained and experienced Lawyers with 2-8 years of experience. It is rare to see more than 3- 6% increase in salary reviews in this market.

4. Adaptability is a critical skill in an environment of change

The legal profession is undergoing a period of constant change. Moving firms enables you to learn new skills and adapt to new working environments, clients and partners, gaining skills for your career long term and increasing your commercial knowledge base. In the interview process you should also ask what the firm is doing to address the rapidly changing legal landscape.

5. Successful careers are no longer linear

The days of staying with a firm for life are over. Lawyers today are prioritising experiences and opportunities for engaging and fulfilling work over the traditional partnership track. Each job is considered an opportunity to expand skills and leverage on existing experience to level up remuneration and create a springboard for the next level. The traditional partner track has given way to a new career path less linear, slightly messier which can be very rewarding.

A word of caution …

Too many short term moves can pose a problem for job security in the longer term. Take the time, ask a good recruiter for advice and plan each move with research and caution so you will reap the rewards!

This one is for the Legal Secretaries/Admin Staff

How you present yourself is not just about how you dress or how you brush your hair. It is also about how you present yourself in written correspondence. At the risk of sounding like an old person, spelling and grammar are still very important for employers. If your writing goes directly out to clients or customers with incorrect spelling or grammar, like it or not, it is a reflection on you and the organisations. Similarly, if you present work to a supervisor which is badly set out with spelling mistakes, it is frustrating to have to correct it.

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The most common errors are with words known as ‘homonyms’ – words that sound alike but mean different things. Changing one letter in a word can change the whole meaning of a sentence. Knowing which is which is important.


Accept, Except:

Accept is a verb meaning to receive something or acknowledge something. Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. I will accept all the packages except that one. Except is also a verb meaning to exclude but not used as often as the work exclude – for example: . Please except that item from the list.


Affect, Effect:

Affect is usually a verb meaning to influence.  Effect is usually a noun meaning result. The drug did not affect the disease, and it had several adverse side effects. Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about. Only the prime minister can effect such a dramatic change. The best way to know the difference is to ask if the word ‘the’ goes in front – that makes it a noun.


Elicit, Illicit:

Elicit is a verb meaning to bring about. Illicit is an adjective meaning unlawful. The lawyer was unable to elicit information from the client about illicit drug use.


Principle, Principal:

Principal is a noun meaning the head of a school or an organisation or a sum of money. Principle is a noun meaning a basic truth or law. The principal taught us many important life principles.


There, Their, They’re:

This is one of the most common errors.

There is an adverb specifying place; it is also a statement. For example:

Adverb: Fiona is standing there doing nothing. Statement: There are two plums left.

Their is a possessive pronoun, used to denote ownership of something

They’re is a contraction of they are. John and his partner finally sorted out their finances, as a result they’re really happy today.


Here is an example of the proper use of all three in one sentence:

If you look over there, you will see that John and Fiona have their new car – they’re so happy with it.


Your, You’re:

Another common problem.

Your is a possessive pronoun; you’re is a contraction of you are. You’re going to be in trouble if you don’t wear your high vis vest.


Licence, License

Licence is a noun, license is a verb. You get a driver’s licence, which means you are licensed to drive a car.


Council, Counsel

This is a tricky one. Council is a noun meaning a stator body. Counsel is usually a verb meaning to give advice. For example: The Council took advise from experts who counseled against the development. In legal circles however Counsel is also a noun, referring to a barrister – we sent a brief to Counsel.


Practice, Practise

This one is easy to remember. Practice is a noun (and ‘ice’ at the end of the word is a noun), but practise is a verb. For example, The practice is one with a rich history. They practise their speeches every day


It is tricky, but with practice (not practise) you will get these right. Are there any that you find confusing that are not on this list?



Networking, as we know, is a skill you can learn but one that people sometimes hate to have to do. There is so much to think about – how much to drink (or not to drink), where are the business cards, who are the important people to meet etc.

However the so called ‘soft skills’ needed for personal and professional development are not soft at all – they are human characteristics that will take you far, and can be applied equally as successfully to networking. Here are some tips to sue these ‘soft skills’


Keep your eye out for someone on their own at networking events

Is there someone not in a group? Ask them to join you. Can you notice someone standing awkwardly to one side? Turn and make room for them to join your group.


Be on time, or even better, early

Being always late is just rude – it delays others, delays decisions and destroys trust. And that is just at work! Vow to be on time, and plan to be early. Being early to networking events means that you are able to join conversations early – and we use the word conversation deliberately – it is a two way thing not about you talking about someone


Connect people because you can

If you know two people who would like each other, or work well together, or who have mutual business interests – introduce them. In person is grat , but email after the vent is just as useful. I can’t tell you how many business relationships have been built on something as simple as this.


Don’t just collect business cards

There is no need to keep a collection of business cards – if you’re given one, connect on LinkedIn and put the details straight into your contacts. use the tag and notes function in LinkedIn, and the notes field in contacts. Send an email following the introduction to et up a meeting or just to say thank you.


Connecting on LinkedIn afterwards

To be completely honest, getting a ‘I’d like to add you to professional network on LinkedIn’ message is boring – although I admit I do make allowances for people who hit the ‘connect’ button o mobile devices and the message goes automatically because I have done it myself. Always go to the person’s LinkedIn profile and connect from there as it allows you to add a personal message, for example – “It was lovely to meet you last night at xx event, and I’d like to add you to my professional network etc’


Remember – networking is not just about what you can get

Networking is also about what value you can provide to others and developing relationships. One of my favourite stories is of a young graduate lawyer offering a lift to someone at the airport in a long taxi queue. They exchanged cards as the man wanted to end him a note. Turns out he was the CEO of a large listed company and they stayed in touch, mostly by email but occasionally saw each other at events. Ten years after the initial taxi ride that large company listed and the young graduate was by that stage a senior associate at a mid tier firm. Guess who won the tender for the IPO over the big nationals? And guess who became a partner on the back of winning that work? That initial act of kindness developed into a lifelong client relationship – but it started 10 years after the initial contact.


Networking really is all about people – remember to use your soft skills not necessarily your selling skills for success.



It doesn’t seem that long ago that we wrote about 15 things you could do for your career in 2015. http://legaleagles.careers/keeping-your-staff-happy/15-things-to-do-in-15/ Where did that year go? How many of those things did you do?

Rather than add one more thing to your ‘list of things to do’, I decided to dilute this list a little and set out the most important things I think you should do for your career in 2016:zzz resolutions


Look forward to the end of 2016

Imagine yourself in December 2016, looking back on the year that was.   What are some of the words you would like to use to describe what you feel? Proud? Accomplished? Happy? Content?

Here are some words you don’t want to use to describe your year – disappointed, exhausted, sad, angry

So decide now how you want to feel at the end of the year, and remember that feeling. Every career step or decision you take needs to be working towards that feeling, and when you find yourself feeling negative thoughts, remember how you want to be feeling and work out what you need to do to change that situation, or how you can use the negative experience to your advantage.


How to get there

Once you decide how you want to feel at the end of the year, write down three or four significant goals you want to achieve. ‘Achieve’ is the most important word here – these goals must be SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic (or what Resources do you need)
  • Time bound.


Prepare for appraisals/reviews

I believe you need to start preparing for your annual performance review the day after your last one. If you have not already started doing that, start now. Review your last appraisal:

  • Were you happy with the appraisal?
  • Did you act on the feedback you were given?
  • Did you set goals?
  • Did you achieve them?
  • Do you need a new goal?
  • What feedback from clients and supervisors have you received?
  • What major projects have you been involved with?
  • Do you need any stretch assignments?


Keep a ‘little jar of awesome’

A friend told me about this ‘self help’ tool she used and it is such a great idea I decided to try it myself this year! She keeps a jar on her desk and writes a note on a post it or other small piece of notepaper every time something good happens at work – achieving a new goal, getting good feedback from a supervisor or a client, nailing a presentation, learning a new skill, someone expressing gratitude etc.   Write the date down, the event and how it made you feel. At the end of the year you can look back on your ‘little jar of awesome’ and remember the many times you succeeded and felt great at work.

Make 2016 your whole year of awesome!

Going on parental leave? Plan your career before you do.

“How will having a baby affect my career”, is a lament we often hear, and it is such a difficult question to answer, as each person is different. The answer, though, is largely up to you. Of course when we hear men ask this question, we know that we really will have achieved a level playing field!the-need-for-paid-parental-leave-L-Edsji8

Having a baby is a big step in anyone’s life, whether mother or father, and for those with career aspirations, it is important to plan your career around any extended periods of leave you might be taking.

As with all difficult or perceived difficult situations, communication is the golden rule. The following are our suggestions for making sure communication in relation to not just your leave but your return to work remains open and that there are no misunderstandings:

Meet with your supervisor

As soon as possible after you advise of your intention to take parental leave, it is important that you meet with your supervisor to discuss your career intentions and how best to minimise the impact on your career. In the world we live in it is often easy for managers to make assumptions about what people expect or don’t expect from their careers once parenthood hits them. Things you will need to discuss including:

  1. How to stay in touch with the firm – decide how much you want to stay in touch with the firm and what is happening in the firm and your colleagues. You could request that information about your group and the firm be sent to a private email address or you could decide to keep your email operational for you to check emails from time to time. This is entirely up to you but be careful if you keep your operational email open that you don’t get caught up in doing work when you’re on parental leave, unless of course you want to. Make a visit for the usual ‘ baby showing’ and keep up regular visits or contact with colleagues, This can be via email communication, coffee or lunch catch-ups or a drink after work one night, with or without the baby.
  2. Salary – most organisations have a set program for reviewing salaries. If you are taking an extended period of parental leave, it is highly likely that salary reviews will take place while you are away from the office. Make sure that you continue to be on the list of salaries to be reviewed, particularly if your leave commences just prior to the salary review process. If your salary is not reviewed in the normal course of events, then on your return to work, salary bands are likely to have shifted upwards and you will be “behind the eight ball” in terms of your recommencement salary. If your leave starts just before salary review time, then it is imperative that you stay on the list of staff to be reviewed given that most reviews take place on the basis of performance over the last 12 months.
  3. Decide how much you want to know about clients and how much you want to stay in touch with clients – if you are quite senior in your career you have probably established very good client relationships. It is important that you let your supervisor know if you wish to continue to be invited to client social events and be kept up to date with what is happening with the client. Of course you can use your own research to keep an eye on what is happening with your clients in the press and through their website, and other outlets.
  4. Do you want to make yourself available for client work or not – while you are on parental leave, it is assumed that you don’t want to do any work, however if there comes a point where you are happy to be involved in work matters, make sure you let your supervisor know. This is also a good way for a gradual return to work on a limited hour’s basis.

By showing you are committed to continuing your career, your return to work will be a much smoother transition than if you are absent from work for an extended period of time with no contact.

Remember – out of sight is out of mind.