Developing a 'Dream Team'

Developing a 'Dream Team'
Promoted by Developing a 'Dream Team'

For this instalment of Insider’s Story the wonderful Jo Franklin, Head of Resourcing for Gowling WLG, agreed to sit down with me and have a chat about the huge career journey that they’ve been on and how they successfully stepped out of the ‘Wragge & Co’ shadow…

The Transformation

Jo joined the business post-merger in the early part of 2016 and overnight became a part of a major international law firm. “It was a testing period”, Jo admits “as I joined, three of my most experienced team members were going on maternity leave. All of that knowledge and experience leaving at a time of considerable change!

Her vision was clear; to make Gowling WLG a recognised brand in the marketplace, to compete against the top law firms and to secure the best talent across lateral, business services and early talent…

How did you do it?

Gowling wanted to focus on their people, rather than the work they do, and one of the key pieces to landing any big transformation is engaging with your people and taking them along on the journey.

From this, they decided to undertake 360-degree feedback to determine their true employer values – which consisted of 12 workshops with people across the brand and additional leadership interviews and market research to understand what made working at Gowling WLG different and unique.

Using this information, they developed an employer value proposition (EVP) framework upon which the new careers site would be based. They now have a site which offers detailed information on the firm, its culture and all the different job families in one place, which is presented in a creative and engaging way.

‘You can’t just tell people what your values are’

A common mistake that many organisations make is just announcing what their Values and EVP are, rather than engaging with people, which can alienate people and leave them feeling unsure of their identity.

Rather than just announcing firm values, it is far more effective to live and breathe them, and they slowly infiltrate into the business as usual.

Jo and her team did this through empowering the people around them. Instead of focussing on what was wrong with the current approach, they demonstrated how great things really could be by sharing knowledge and helping people to understand that there are other ways of attracting great candidates…

Developing a ‘Dream Team’

Jo recognised that in order to truly provide a value-adding service to the business, developing her team’s offering was key. At the time of joining, their agency spend was in excess substantial and the firm had become used to a reactive approach to recruitment, so this was going to be a considerable change for them.

Proving that the new model worked and providing tangible results in the first few months was vital, both in the quality of candidates introduced and time to hire.

One of the key hires to the team at the time was Chris Lake, who had an exceptional track record in direct resourcing, having worked for a legal agency for 6 years prior to joining Gowling WLG. Chris and the team helped to educate hiring managers as to the power of using their networks through a series of workshops.

‘This wasn’t an original solution’

Now Jo, whilst undeniably fantastic, isn’t a part of some kind of secret recruitment magic circle!

The direct sourcing model isn't an original solution, however it's usage within the legal sector is limited within the Top 100 law firms. In addition to this, varied results and methods are evident across the sector – i.e. direct sourcing limited to business services/non-fee earner roles or paralegal level recruitment in some firms.

By really engaging with your people, being armed with knowledge and taking a genuine interest in your stakeholders, you can build fantastic relationships.

Where are they now?

12 months after Jo and Chris joined the business, Gowling WLG had succeeded in reducing its cost per hire by 41%, with the time to hire for the new direct talent strategy 30% lower than for previous hires through recruitment agencies. 

The success has continued with the team meeting their direct hire targets year on year, producing real and credible savings on agency spend, whilst still focussing time on building relationships with their key agencies to help with niche roles. By April 2018, they had exceeded their initial 60% goal for directly sourced candidates.

To find out more about life at Gowling WLG, visit their careers page at

If you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog , email me on [email protected]

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