Articles From the Team
How do you know if a lawyer - or law firm - is the right cultural fit?
When I ask lawyers what their top priority is in seeking out a new role, I get a variety of responses: for some, money is the main driver; for others, they’re prepared to take a pay cut on the promise of a better work/life balance, or a shorter commute to the office. But one of the most common top priorities is finding the right culture.
An increasing amount of lawyers want to know whether they’d fit into a prospective team. Perhaps this is due to bad experiences in a previous role, or maybe the values of the current firm don’t match theirs. Whatever the reason, cultural fit is important, and not just to lawyers looking for a new job opportunity – it’s equally as important to law firms.
But in reality, day-to-day, what does this look like? How does a job-seeking lawyer, a legal recruitment agency or recruiter, and/or the hiring law firm, ensure good cultural fit during the recruitment process?
The definition of ‘cultural fit’
It’s a phrase everyone’s heard of – unfortunately, it’s thrown around a lot with little meaning; wrongly so, it’s become a mere buzzword – but let’s put pen to paper and get to the bottom of what we really mean by this term. It can be quite difficult.
To me, it means fitting into (suiting) an environment because it sits in accordance with your own values. From the other side, if a law firm hires employees with the same values, everyone’s on the same page and believes in how the firm operates and the direction it's headed.
What cultural fit isn’t, is hiring a lawyer who has the most in common with other members of a team.
What’s really important to remember, is a law firm can bring in employees who are a good cultural fit (every time), whilst still maintaining workplace diversity – these important factors are not mutually exclusive. Team members can share the same values but still offer differences.
But how do I know if I’m (or they’re) the right cultural fit?
Given cultural fit is such a priority for both lawyers and law firms, from my point of view, understanding a client’s workplace culture is vital in doing my job properly.
Furthermore, knowing what the culture is like within a team helps me market an opportunity to a lawyer candidate.
I’m not on the ground with my clients on a day-to-day basis so unless a law firm shares cultural insights, it’s difficult to know whether a candidate will slot into a team nicely or not.
Hiring a lawyer candidate who isn’t the right fit can have a negative impact on existing team members – and a law firm goes back to square one. This is why it’s really important for firms to give a clear picture of culture, values, and vision.
So how do you find the right cultural fit? Always have a transparent and detailed chat with your recruiter about it (whether you're a lawyer looking for a new job or a law firm looking to hire) at the outset of the recruitment process.