Our Editor, Emma Waddingham, caught up with Ryan Pryce on his return to the fold of legal recruitment specialists, TSR Legal about his reflections on the opportunities for and working in the Welsh legal sector, what inspires him and gets some key tips for candidates and employers.
Ryan has over a decade’s worth of experience in legal recruitment in Wales and helped TSR Legal create a thriving South East of England Division before moving to London. He returned recently with his wife and young family to South Wales, to rejoin TSR Legal as an Associate Director.
Q: Using your helicopter view, and a change of location, what do you think has changed in the legal sector – especially in light of how people plan their careers?
A: The work-life balance has changed – beyond recognition. People are more confident in asking their employers to be flexible. I think we’re moving away from an all or nothing hybrid approach – there are fully hybrid and fully office-based roles out there but the word ‘flexibility’ is the term that really captivates people. That’s true of all sectors; including ours! At TSR, Rob and Karen and I have a fantastic relationship; they are family-focused too and let me be there for my children when I need to be.
However, while the inevitable pressure was on to provide hybrid or remote working policies after the pandemic, we are now seeing a significant steer back towards office-based work – a desire from both employees and from employers themselves.
That varies firm to firm, but I think this is partly based on the need for people to work closely as a team, for supervision and for career and social development. Some people just don’t want to work at home!
Money is a massive motivator, of course, as is the type of work and clients you’ll have, but most people want other benefits – greater flexibility to work from home, working in the office if they want to, cycling benefits, health plans, in-house restaurants, dog days in the office, pensions and paternity leave. The list is endless, and people’s priorities change over time, which is why we see settled professionals leave and switch firms.
Not everyone wants to be a partner – which is why we’re seeing so many ‘new’ roles, such as Legal Director, that need to be understood and articulated to the market. These are great opportunities for candidates who want to progress and excel with their own clients but may not be aiming for partner / director.
Combined, these changes make it even more important to find the right person for each team and firm. – there’s no shortage of jobs at the moment and the recruitment competition remains. There’s so much flexibility on offer.
Q: What inspires you about the legal sector in Wales?
A: The choice and diversity of career opportunities, the clients that law firms have, the weight of in-house opportunities and the capability to operate across all markets. Cardiff for example has diversified away from being a personal injury and clinical negligence focused marketplace. There are firms who do this incredibly well, and those who have added new teams and services to overcome some of the challenges in this market.
There is a significant commercial and corporate offering in Wales, and public law expertise is highly sought after by firms thanks to continued growth and success across high street and national brands. We have a vibrant legal sector and Wales is a great place to live – the perfect mix!
This competition and the recognition of the value of Welsh economy has and will help attract and retain the best talent. We’ve seen that in the rise of national firms investing in Cardiff – and that investment will spread.
This competition holds us all to account – to compete and grow, and identify what value businesses can offer, in their own way. It’s about communicating how you can meet their needs and support ambitions. That’s how I aim to help, by offering that point of difference to the right candidate, and tailor our advice and support.
Q: What are your top tips for interview?
A: Undoubtedly the interview narrative may change depending on the seniority of the role, but I always remind candidates to:
- Research the firm or organisation. Employers expect you to understand them and understand how and where you’ll fit. The legal sector is more transparent about its work, its people and culture than ever before. Understand the people you’ll be working with – the firm’s ambitions, its goals, its values and achievements. Look at recent hires and deals, new client wins and long-standing relationships. Understand their profile, any partnerships, communities they support and see if you can identify why they’re different. Not only do interviewers expect you to know this – you should want to. You need to know it’s the right fit for you.
- Ask questions. Both interviewer and interviewee are selling themselves at interview. You both need to ask questions – even if the interview style is more fluid. A good baseline is to ask a couple of questions about the firm and team; its growth plans and ambitions, what it hopes to expand upon. Then ask about their plans for you and the role – how will you be supported, and what opportunities lie ahead? Is there a pathway to partnership, if that’s what you’d like. Will you be supported to get involved in charity or pro bono work, if that’s important to you.
Finally, a small note on interview dress code: it’s harder now for candidates to judge how to dress for interviews because many firms have moved to casual dress. It’s likely that even the most casually dressed team will be smarter for client meetings. I honestly don’t think you can be overdressed for an interview. I’d always advise to look your best – and if you’re not sure, ask your recruitment consultant.
Q: What’s different about the way you work at TSR Legal?
A: The majority of candidates we place aren’t ‘on the market’. They’re already working in a law firm. I will have known them for years and it’s highly likely we placed them as an NQ. We’ve stayed in touch, seen their careers and lives progress and understand what they’re looking for further down the road. They will have referred their friends to TSR. Employers understand the benefits of working with specialist sector recruiters for this reason.
It’s essential for both candidates and employers to work with those who truly know the market, who are trusted to find and seek the right talent and offer candidates who are aligned with the firm or team’s values and goals. The best recruiters have these connections, the insight and are a trusted advisor – its how we add value.
The most important thing to me is to uphold our duty of care to both candidates and to our clients, to make long-lasting, successful placements that work for everyone.
We offer advice on the whole structure of a role, and the supporting package if needed – any many clients speak to use regularly as a temperature check before they advertise.
Q: What inspires you to do what you do?
A: I absolutely love matching the right people to their next opportunity and seeing our clients’ businesses grow as the result of a successful placement. My connections are referrals and people we’ve placed in the past. To see them grow and achieve great things is a privilege.
I understand that recruitment can be viewed disparagingly by some – and yes, there are poor recruiters but I’d like to think that the majority of us work with integrity, passion and professionalism and add real value. Your career decisions really do shape your life. To play a part in that for others is especially rewarding. We really care about the legal profession and its future and are proud of our role in building a stronger sector.
On a personal note, my family absolutely drive me to succeed. I have two small children who take up a lot of my time, as you’d expect. Parenthood has absolutely changed me and the things I aim for. When I’m not running around after my children, I’m very much a sports fan. I’m a huge Liverpool fan, enjoy going to the gym and I’m an avid runner; I must run close to 50k a week. Last year I raised just under £1k running for Mind charity – a cause close to my heart and a pleasure to link something I love and find rewarding to helping others. Ultimately, so my wife and children are happy and proud of me, then so am I!
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