Phil Kennedy joined the Ardent team four years ago. He shared his thoughts on his time in legal recruitment and a few aspects of the industry that stand out to him.
Starting out in legal recruitment four years ago after a first career in practice, it feels like I’ve worked through some of the most significant events most of us will experience in our working life. From Brexit to the pandemic it could very well have been one of the worst times to strike out on something new.
The right fit
Looking back, however, I can safely say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ardent and the industry as a whole. I think this in part comes from the personal nature of the business. We really live the journey our candidates go on, through the ups and downs of the processes to (hopefully) the offer and celebration of acceptance. And from the law firms’ perspective I’ve been trusted to find them the right people to fit into their teams and culture in a business that is reliant on its people as their most important asset. This gives a real sense of satisfaction when a placement is made.
In addition to this, the environment fostered at Ardent, where we have the flexibility to work with the people we want to and are trusted to get on with this in our own way, goes a long way to make for a positive and enjoyable place to work.
Although there are many, here are four of the key points that stand out or surprised me in the industry.
No right approach
There’s no “right approach” in recruitment and people develop a style that works for them. In legal practice there tends to be an agreed formula and process that each party works through. In recruitment there’s no precedent transaction documents or standard amends that get sent back and forth. I have been very lucky to work with some of the best recruiters in the market and to learn from them.
Don’t second guess people
You can try, but you are often wrong. You never quite know what is driving candidates to make a move and so you really need to spend time talking and finding out the rationale before you can present the relevant options.
Most law firms by their nature are quite hierarchical. Much of legal practice is experience based and people progress through firms over time. I have found the structure in recruitment a lot flatter. When I first started it amazed me how willing partners (who previously wouldn’t have been “in my social circle”) are to spend a good amount of time chatting. They might just like a gossip but they also know that there’s a lot more to running a practice and a firm than the law and the recruitment piece is integral to their teams.
If you don’t do anything nothing happens
Being proactive and energetic is key. In law firms, work tends to find you – largely when you have enough on already. It is a competitive market and we are always working to find candidates roles through sector knowledge and expertise.
So all in it’s been a fascinating and fulfilling last four years, perhaps with a couple more external factors than I had bargained for.