James Mills
James Mills
Associate

Articles From the Team

An interview with 2019 appointed BCL Legal Associate and non-practising solicitor, James Mills

Our Talent Acquisition Manager, Jo Leaver, sat down with James Mills in Manchester to find out how he’s finding the transition from legal practice to legal recruitment.

James, you had a career in law and now you’ve started a career in legal recruitment! Can you tell me a little about your career path before you joined BCL Legal?

I started the whole legal journey when I was about 20 after various internships in stockbroking before the market crash hit. Looking for a new challenge, I embarked on a three year law degree, then work experience, vacations schemes in Leeds and London and completing the LPC. After all the hurdles, I was finally ready to start my training contract with Walker Morris.

I was very lucky to train at Walker Morris in Leeds and achieved a solid grounding – working with and learning from some of the best legal minds. On qualification, I decided to move to Manchester for a technology and commercial role with Fieldfisher as tech has always interested me. Afterwards, I worked with Addleshaw Goddard in their commercial team.

When the time came for you to consider a move, what made you decide on legal recruitment and what made BCL Legal stand out to you?

I knew some very successful and outgoing recruiters and I felt it would give me a way back to dealing with people; using my legal experience but without the paperwork and with the added rush of landing a deal.

The opportunity to do some recruitment role plays as part of the assessment was a great ‘try before you buy’ for me as well.

For me, BCL Legal stood out because of its investment in technology, which is really impressive. I know how important it is to leverage smart tech to stay ahead of the competition. Hearing from the directors about the business’s vision and where it’s going, and meeting the BCL team before accepting the job, gave me the belief to make the move.

How are you finding your BCL journey so far and what do you enjoy most about your job?

I’m really enjoying it and one of the best aspects of my transition to legal recruitment is the team and the people I get to work with and the interaction I get to have with them.

Secondly, being able to find the right fit for both the client firm and the candidate is a real buzz when it all comes off because everyone wins.

How did you find the interview process with us?

While there were a number of stages to the interview process, it was an enjoyable experience. The opportunity to do some recruitment role plays as part of the assessment was a great ‘try before you buy’ for me as well.

Another useful part of the recruitment process was meeting with a number of the senior recruiters and directors to get a feel for the structure of the business, the expectations and how I would fit in.

How did you find your induction and getting settled into your Leeds based desk?

With no prior recruitment experience, it was all a little daunting but the training has been second to none. For example, I had a full day’s training on the systems, which was great and helped me get up to speed quickly, giving me the confidence to throw myself into the role.

I think the biggest challenge holding lawyers back from jumping into legal recruitment is the ‘sunk cost’ of time invested into becoming a lawyer (about 6+ years) in the first place. I’d advise anyone who’s thinking about it to see the move as not necessarily one that steps away from the legal industry, but as a different role within it.

Being a Yorkshireman, it’s great to be back working in the Leeds market. Leeds is the fastest-growing legal market in the UK with a plethora of international, national and regional firms attracting some of the best legal talent, so there are lots of opportunities to run at!

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering a move into legal recruitment?

I think the biggest challenge holding lawyers back from jumping into legal recruitment is the ‘sunk cost’ of time invested into becoming a lawyer (about 6+ years) in the first place. I’d advise anyone who’s thinking about it to see the move as not necessarily one that steps away from the legal industry, but as a different role within it. Put simply, you get to speak to lawyers about the law and opportunities but without all the paperwork. You get to network and build solid relationships and become a trusted advisor to your candidates and clients alike. It’s only been four months but I have no regrets about jumping into legal recruitment with BCL Legal.

60% of our legal recruitment consultants are former lawyers. If you're interested to know more or you'd like to have a strictly confidential chat with our talent team, contact Jo Leaver today!

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