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Accreditation for paralegals - is integrated human resource management no longer a nice to have?

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As the Law Society plans a new accreditation scheme for non-qualified paralegal staff, is it time to think about how your HR systems integrate with the rest of your business?

It is reported the scheme will be available to staff in legal practice, from secretaries to those with an LLB or LLB/LPC and no training contract, with assessment by recognition of educational attainment and evidence of proficiency in core competencies,

HR management is taking a more strategic role in many of the legal services businesses we work with. From recruitment, professional development and training to resource planning for complex projects, firms are increasingly relying on software systems to track and manage every stage of the employee lifecycle.

Recruitment

Tracking qualifications and development starts with hiring an employee. Typically skills are identified as part of a vacancy definition and firms use this to assess potential candidates. Tracking this manually can be an arduous task and updates often do not happen as further skills and certifications are achieved.

Keeping an up to date skills matrix helps to streamline the recruitment process. It allows quick assessment of external candidates against defined requirements, ensuring they meet the requirements at the outset. Managing this information on current staff also helps to identify potential internal candidates for the role.

Ongoing professional development

Managing on-going development is critical for both employee morale and productivity. Clearly identifying the skills / certifications required for a role, together with a rating system, assists in mapping career paths and helps managers discuss performance and motivation with their staff.

Training and assessment

Managing internal and external training attendance can be a time consuming task for HR teams. Providing self-service facilities for employees to manage this online can streamline the process and encourage higher levels of attendance through increased awareness.

Resource planning

Complex legal work increasingly requires a clear plan of how a matter will be resourced. Tracking skills and certifications through a business management system makes it easier to identify available staff with the most appropriate skills for the project. This helps the firm plan ahead not only for individual matters but to determine the resources and skills required for future growth.

A combined approach

Most legal service providers rely on proprietary HR systems that are separate to their practice or financial management system. Often the solutions provide limited facilities for users to interact with the solution and minimal links to the matter planning process.

By integrating these capabilities in a single business management system, as in our new offering (code named Nimbus), firms have the ability to combine best practice processes for human resource management with finance, procurement, expense management and flexible invoicing – an integrated solution to operate a legal business more efficiently.

For users, this approach offers facilities to keep their own information up to date, empowers them to manage their ongoing professional development, tracks training attendance and enables them to  register interest in current vacancies.

For managers and HR teams, this approach streamlines administration. It eliminates duplication of data in multiple systems, provides a familiar Microsoft interface for ease of training, manages the recruitment process and importantly stores and uses information on the skills and certifications of the workforce.

As new accreditation schemes and other qualifications and skills for legal services providers evolve, using a more integrated approach helps the business be confident it has the processes and tools to adapt to new ways of working and utilise its workforce in the most effective and efficient way.

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