Employment lawyer recommendation - to advise a solicitor

(9 Posts)
TheBriscoesLady Tue 27-Sep-16 16:59:10

I'm a solicitor in London and may need to think about obtaining some legal advice soon re whether my employer can put me under a capability procedure in circumstances where I think I actually should be made redundant.

My area of specialism is no longer one which I think my niche firm is targeting (for various reasons) so I'm not making my billing targets. I'm being told I need to still make those targets but the reality is I don't specialise in the new areas the firm is targeting and am being prevented from going after work I do specialise in because it's not profitable enough.

I think that makes this a redundancy issue but I'm concerned my firm will try to suggest it's a performance issue.

I really would like to know where I stand on this. Any solicitors been in a similar position or any recommendations for a good employment solicitor in London who specialises in advising legal professionals?

flowery Tue 27-Sep-16 19:38:15

"I am being prevented from going after work I do specialise in because it's not profitable enough."

Are they clarifying which type of work they do want you going after?

If your firm decided not to specialise in a certain area anymore, and felt as a result that it needed fewer lawyers (particularly those who covered that work), that would be a valid redundancy. However that doesn't necessarily mean that if they choose to stop specialising in that area of law all those lawyers who used to work on it are redundant. They are supposed to avoid redundancies and keep people employed where possible.

Have they clarified what work they would like you to target instead, and is there a reason this isn't working?

TheBriscoesLady Tue 27-Sep-16 21:36:45

Thanks Flowery. I don't want to give too much information as it's pretty identifying, but the message I am getting is that it is up to me to decide what work to target based on the firm's new strategy, and to go out and get it. I am obviously not a partner but I am a senior associate so the message is 'as a senior member of the team, we expect you to demonstrate partnerial behaviours and to go out and get the work and bring it in'. I am being told that I will be given 'support' to get this work (eg with business development initiatives) but it is up to me to identify lucrative targets and to bring them in.

The particular team in which I work has greatly reduced over the last year or so - quite a few have got fed up and left, having been given a similar message. I'm probably the only person left in the team who is barely able to make half my target hours - others in the team are billing at 100%+. It's very demoralising as I'm really good at my job but my confidence is taking a real knock now. There are various reasons why I ended up being particularly specialised in one area, and now my bad luck that this skill set is no longer of particular value to the firm.

I am looking around for positions in other firms, but I think given the particular economic climate and recent political events, I would end up moving voluntarily to take a smaller salary which I obviously don't want to do. I don't WANT to move on and all things staying the same, I wouldn't even be considering changing firms so would much rather be made redundant. My fear is that they will say that by not making my financial targets I am underperforming which I don't feel that I am. I consistently perform very well, the problem is I have no work to do!

HereIAm20 Thu 29-Sep-16 19:09:01

I can recommend a good employment solicitor in Cambridge. I can PM you if you want or do you feel you need a face to face meeting?

If you feel you can meet half your target is there scope for taking over another role - for example, if you were in insolvency take on some finance work too, or if you were in planning , take on some other form of property work so that in effect your role was half and half?

flowery Fri 30-Sep-16 14:14:31

"the message I am getting is that it is up to me to decide what work to target based on the firm's new strategy, and to go out and get it. I am obviously not a partner but I am a senior associate so the message is 'as a senior member of the team, we expect you to demonstrate partnerial behaviours and to go out and get the work and bring it in'. I am being told that I will be given 'support' to get this work (eg with business development initiatives) but it is up to me to identify lucrative targets and to bring them in."

Have you done this? Have you identified areas to target which are in line with the firm's strategy, and are you getting the promised support? What do you think is causing the 'you decide what work to target and go and get it' plan to fail?

The 'target it and go out and get it' message doesn't sound out-of-place in this context, to be honest. I should say at this point that DH has been a lawyer in the City for 18 years so I do have a reasonable understanding of the culture and how things work, and how it's different to a 'normal' work place.

Building a client base is easier if you have a specialism and can maximise it though. Are you struggling to do this because your area of specialism isn't something you can use in marketing to areas your firm wishes to specialise in? Marketing to a niche is more effective and if you can't do that you won't be as effective. Is there scope to adjust your area of specialism so it fits into the firm's strategy areas, or is it too different?

I think you might struggle to argue that you are redundant when your employer are perfectly happy to keep you employed and pay you a salary, and when going out and getting work is a key part of a senior associate's role. You're just struggling to do that. There might be good reasons for that, but that's the situation. And my understanding would be that in this type of situation, City law firms don't make redundancies. They gently push instead. Or sometimes less gently!

You say London rather than City so some of what I've said may not apply so much if not.

You could certainly have a conversation with a solicitor which would enable you to obviously give more detail than you are able to here, and context. Do you not know any employment lawyers yourself that you could just run it past? I assume not otherwise you wouldn't be asking, sorry!

TheBriscoesLady Fri 30-Sep-16 17:47:16

Thanks, I know it's frustrating to try and help someone and you don't have all the info. There are reasons I can't just target new clients to win in the sector I'm in. It's very niche and there are issues around procurement and I feel frustrated as the partners know this. They are market leaders and if there was a way to do it, they'd be doing it already!

I don't know any employment solicitors in the UK, other than ones in my firm so clearly can't approach them!

hereiam thanks but was hoping for a face to face with someone.

Thanks all for trying to help though. I'll just see how things pan out I think and hope I have time to get my ducks in a row if they suddenly turn on me

debster007 Fri 30-Sep-16 17:59:53

Belinda Lester was great. She has her own firm. Very reasonable, London based and tells it to you straight. I'm a lawyer too but needed an outsider to advise a family member and I thought she was very good.

debster007 Fri 30-Sep-16 18:00:33

http://lionsheadlaw.co.uk/about-us/

YorshireLass Sat 01-Oct-16 10:06:29

Hello!

As a solicitor (no longer working) I totally get where you are coming from. PM me because I have some ideas that may help ...

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