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Redundancies in the Legal Profession

There are good reasons to believe that the skills of local government and other public sector lawyers will be needed more than ever to help their employers through the next few years of upheaval. But there will almost certainly be some redundancies. If you are affected, it is vital to remain as positive as you can and see the impending career change as a challenge to be overcome, says LawCare.

The threat of redundancies has hovered over many parts of the legal profession recently. Major City and national law firms have implemented cutbacks as they realign those parts of their businesses that have suffered a downturn. Criminal and family legal aid practices have been hit by tendering changes. Although there have been court cases over the legality or otherwise of the selection methodology used, the reality is that the government needs to make public spending savings and that equates to the legal aid budget being diminished – it is only the extent of that reduction that remains to be clarified.

Now there is significant and understandable concern over the likely outcome of the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review next week. Inevitably, the review will lead to a significant and challenging financial climate that will require not only tighter than ever restraints on the public purse, but also the restructuring of the organisations delivering many public services.

There need to be savings which, in many cases, could lead to the loss of jobs for lawyers working in central government departments, local authorities and private practices reliant on public sector work. The country faces a period of change, austerity and challenge and as a result, many highly competent and efficient lawyers are going to have to face the prospect of a career change.

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The future will be a challenge, but the secret to limiting its detrimental impact is to see it as exactly that – a challenge to be overcome and an opportunity to improve lifestyle and enjoyment of life.

So, it is vitally important when facing redundancy, reduced hours, loss of colleagues, changing structure or changing workload, to remain resilient and, above all, positive. If facing the pressure in a negative mode, you will already be fighting an uphill battle. Retaining belief in oneself and embracing change will help the mind and body adapt. Sometimes a change – albeit an enforced one – is surprisingly rewarding.

Consider the following tips for dealing with this difficult period:

  • Don’t bottle up or hide your emotions. Share your feelings and concerns with a loved one, a colleague or phone LawCare for support and a listening ear
  • Analyse what you are and are not good at. Make a SWOT analysis. Then follow up those areas the analysis shows to be your strengths
  • Now is the time to try new things, especially if it’s something you have always wanted to do – perhaps try a different area of the law; apply for judicial appointment; open an animal refuge
  • Inevitably, you will panic and take a scatter-gun approach to job applications, so some you apply for might be appropriate for you, but others may not. If you feel that you have to settle for something you don’t want, just to keep your income stream, then still keep looking whilst doing that job to the best of your ability
  • Don’t be frightened – this is the time to move onwards and upwards
  • If you are still unable to raise enthusiasm, go and see your GP. Get checked over and see if some small medical intervention is appropriate
  • You may benefit from investing in an appointment with a Career Consultant
  • Upgrade your CV and make it sparkle and stand out from the crowd. Get it checked over by an expert. Your local college, university or law school or a recruitment agency can help, they are experts in this field and do it on a daily basis
  • If you still want to stay in the same area of the law, call in favours from friends, previous colleagues or opponents who know how good you are
  • Consider taking a locum position
  • Register with a good recruitment agency and look at areas of the law that are growing and perhaps consider retraining and/or relocating if necessary.

Above all, come and talk to LawCare – 0800 279 6888 – Monday to Friday 9am to 7:30pm, Weekends/Public Holidays 10am to 4pm, 365 days of the year. Alternatively visit our website for lots of really helpful information.

Remember, at the end of the day, it is the job that is redundant, not you.

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