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Ryan Pryce

Assistant Director, TSR Legal Recruitment

Ryan Pryce, Associate Director at TSR speaks to Jacqui Gower, Director and Chief Operating Officer at JCP Solicitors about the firm’s ‘trailblazing’ legal apprenticeship offering in Wales, the impact of of its inclusion initiatives, and support for the health and wellbeing of its employees.

In this interview, Jacqui also shares the law firm’s initiatives for the year ahead and its ambitions for the next generation of lawyers and leaders within the business.

Q: What notable accomplishment did the firm achieve in the last 12 months?

A: In the last twelve months, JCP has been successful in freeing up our legal teams by centralising administration to allow our client facing teams to focus on what they do best.

This centralisation of administration tasks has allowed us to maximise business productivity and enhance the client journey, by removing administrative processes from the legal teams, such as compliance checks and file opening, so they can focus on delivering excellent client service and improving client experience.

Q: In what ways does your law firm distinguish itself from others?

A: JCP has a proud ‘promote from within’ ethos: we offer fast career progression without sacrificing work-life balance, which is key to our culture.

We firmly believe that having a happy team leads to happy clients, and so we ensure wellbeing considerations are embedded in everything that we do.

To achieve this, we listen to our people and make changes based on feedback, so that teams feel heard and empowered. Engagement surveys are a powerful tool for us, they allow us to champion employee voices and respond accordingly.

Last year, the survey told us that people wanted more clear progression pathways with more promotion opportunities and so we added in extra layers to our structure with clear criteria to reach those milestones.

These are now part of ongoing performance review conversations, demonstrating our commitment to delivering what our teams most want.

Q: What aspects of your job do you find most enjoyable?

A: As COO, my role is split between people strategy and business strategy. I enjoy being able to contribute to turning the company strategy into practical reality for the benefit of our teams and clients alike.

However, the most rewarding part of my role is creating opportunities for career development for existing and potential team members.

I have had opportunity over the past 18 months to collaborate with education providers, the Law Society and other firms to drive change and secure funding for Legal Apprenticeships in Wales, which led to JCP introducing the Legal Apprenticeship Scheme in 2023 with a further pathway to full qualification.

The Law Society called this a ‘trailblazing’ announcement, and developing the programme has certainly been a highlight for me as we see our new legal apprentices progressing within our business.

Q: What guidance would you offer to individuals aspiring to become lawyers?

A: There are many routes to qualify as a lawyer and so I would advise aspiring lawyers to look into university education and apprenticeships, choosing the best option for their learning style, as both can lead to full qualification.

Work experience is vitally important for aspiring lawyers, not just to demonstrate commitment to the profession and improve your CV but to understand the firm and find out if they match your values and aspirations. It is also important to develop commercial awareness, as a legal career requires strong business acumen as well as legal expertise.

Q:; How is your firm actively fostering an inclusive workplace?

A: JCP operates an employee led Diversity & Inclusion group who meet quarterly to review the D&I objective ‘To ensure #TeamJCP feel included and that they can be their true and authentic selves in the workplace’. Current considerations and actions include but are not limited to: The optional use of pronouns on emails; the celebration of religious holidays/ cultural events and events important to our heritage; the creation of a carer’s network.

Alongside our D&I Group we have dedicated Menopause Champions and Mental Health Champions to help to raise awareness of these areas, and to tackle any societal stigma associated.

We are currently looking into the distribution of relevant training to raise awareness of D&I matters such as: The life of a Carer; Neurodiversity; Unconscious Bias and Absence Management.

Members of our D&I group are working on positive actions that could be considered with regards to our Diversity Standards, which is due for discussion at the next D&I quarterly meeting.

We are also passionate about being part of nationwide initiatives, such as ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, ‘Pride’, ‘British Sign Language Week’, ‘World Menopause Day’, ‘Time to Talk Day’, ‘World Mental Health Day’. ‘Carers’ Week’ and where possible we run internal events to coincide with any external messages from the business.

Q: What developments or initiatives can we anticipate from your firm in the next 12 months?

A: All businesses must become more efficient to enable them to thrive over the next 12 months. Only through efficiencies can our business be sustainable, grow responsibly and achieve our company vision.

Technology can assist with streamlining cumbersome tasks that are repetitive or administrative in nature, and so we have a number of further tech developments planned for the next three years.

These include:

  • Improved applications and client portals
  • Artificial Intelligence (automation) for administrative tasks
  • Improving working paper light – this will also assist with being environmentally responsible
  • Further cybersecurity improvements
  • Developing more efficient communication methods (both internal and external)
  • Improved access to Management Information for our teams
  • New and enhanced workflows
  • Streamlining the burden of compliance wherever possible

We have done a lot of work to embrace technology developments to enhance our business efficiency in the last 12 months. The next twelve will be focussed on building on these strong foundations.

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