Helping newly-qualified solicitors get ready for the challenges ahead of them
Gowling WLG is a UK-headquartered international law firm providing a full service to clients worldwide. Catseye were asked to help develop a programme to help newly qualified lawyers to step up to an increasingly busy workload, as the firm grew as a result of a merger, as well as bouncing back organically post-recession.
Upon achieving qualification, the career landscape for the new associates changes from being obviously sign-posted to being more ambiguous and self-determined. Their technical skills remain important, but are no longer the sole key to success in delivering value for themselves, their clients, and the firm. Catseye worked with their Head of L&D and other key stakeholders to design and deliver a solution.
Interviews with key WLG stakeholders revealed three key challenges the programme should address:
- a desire to reinforce the psychological contract between the newly qualified (NQ) and the firm to increase levels of talent engagement
- a need to bridge the differences between the predominantly Gen X leadership team, and the Gen Y NQ team to clarify mutual expectations
- the L&D team were keen to show case best practice in the post-merger firm to demonstrate the power of great leader and peer-led learning
The solution included two workshops spaced eight months apart in different locations to reinforce inclusivity and provide sufficient space for active learning to happen. Areas to be explored included: self-confidence and resilience, commercial realities, managing expectations, receiving feedback, winning behaviours, building career capital, delivering great client service, professional standards inter alia. Much of the thinking was generated through small group work, with additional input from those just a year ahead of them as well as from relevant experts and senior leaders.
The NQ associates were reassured by the commonality of the challenges and concerns they shared and resolved to support each other as they grew. Other benefits identified included:
- Less worrying leading to greater productivity
- Stronger peer support mechanisms
- Improved networks leading to better client service
- Talent engagement and retention reinforced
The outputs from their thinking on motivational drivers were shared with the board to help foster better cross-generational leadership. The approach to the programme was repeated the following year.