Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Tips for the traumatised: surviving administration and mergers

Let me begin by confessing: I am not a law firm lucky charm. I’ve worked for 2 different firms over a period of 18 months, both of which went into administration or merged with another firm, which left me unemployed twice in a short period of time.

Unfortunately, my story isn’t unusual: changes in the legal market mean that these sort of events will happen more and more frequently, especially in the mid-sized law firms. My Nostradamus moment now is to predict that most mid-sized firms won’t exist within 5 years, as they get eaten up by the bigger firms, or split down into smaller, niche firms.

So if you’re working in a small or mid-sized firm: you’re in a very risky position right now. So what can you do to both plan for the potential experience of having a job that disappears, and to get through it successfully? I’m going to give you some tips on what to do, when, and how to get through this. And I’ll be honest: a lot of this is unpleasant, but you can get through to the other side in…

Book basics

Recently, I bought one of those Ladybird parody books - what life wouldn't be enhanced by learning about shed usage? However, this copy came with a slight design flaw. Can you spot it?





Did you see it? Unfortunately, this slight flaw meant I needed to make a trip back to the bookshop to return it, and swap it for a book that worked as a...well...book! *sigh*

Too close to the problem to see the achievements

Sometimes, you have so much to do, that you can't see what you've actually done. I'm feeling very much that way at the moment, so I thought I'd make a public list for myself of all the work and professional things I've done since taking up my role in mid January. Then maybe I'll feel less like I'm just not very good at anything. It's worth a try. Although for obvious reasons, I can't publicly say much about the baddest/hardest stuff, but...it's in there. Maybe it's not explicit about how hard it's been, but it's there.

So: what have I done?


Service management and development

Replaced someone who ran the library for 21 years, who retired 3 months before I started, and gave me no handover information.Got 6 weeks of company/training on the library from an assistant, who then retired, leaving me as the only person in the organisation who knew anything about how the library actually worked.Done the assistant librarian and librarian job simu…

Who supports the support staff?

Sadly, it looks 99% certain that yet anothermid-levelScots law firm has succumbed to the pressures of the legal market, and will be entering administration, before being sold off in a pre-pack arrangement to a law firm, or firms.

I have the dubious honour of being the only person who's worked for both the Scottish law firms that have gone into administration in the past two years, one of which collapsed and one of which was sold in a pre-pack deal. I think, therefore, that makes me fairly well qualified to make some predictions about what will happen next in this process, and who will suffer.*

In this case, the original firm, or parts of it, is being rescued by another firm. The first thing that will happen is that the partners will soon start making their moves over to other firms that they've been negotiating with in the background. If they're lucky, they'll be able to take some of the staff in their fee-earning teams along with them. What they're almost guarante…

Impressive shelving technique

I have a new role model: the shelving technique demonstrated between 12 and 18 seconds by the librarian in this Lucozade video is something to aspire to! :D


The library workout

So, you think being a librarian is a sedentary activity, huh?

Not so!!

Since I started this role, I've worked far harder physically than I've had to do in a job for quite some time!

The library building itself has 3 floors, and my office is on the 1st/mezzanine floor, so to get to my desk I go up 1 flight of stairs. To speak to my colleague, I come down 1 floor. Then to go to the bathroom, I have to go down 2 or 3 floors, or up 1, depending on where I choose to go. To see my manager on -1, I have to go down 1 flight of stairs from the ground floor, which makes it 2 floors down from my office. To go to another department, I have to go to -2. For other people, I have to go to -3. Other people are on floor 1, or 2. Other libraries are in another building on the same floor, or 1 floor down. And all of these people and places are in different but interlinked buildings, which don't always link directly. So to get to the 1st floor in one building, you need to go up to the 2nd flo…

The female vote

Last week, UKIP unveiled their latest policies to try and gain votes in the upcoming General Election. These policies were aimed at attracting "the female vote". The policies cover maternity leave, childcare...and the tax on sanitary products.

There's nothing new about this technique of political parties publicising specific policies targeting women: in February the pink minibus of Labour was unveiled - staffed by women, these women were going to go out and talk to women, about women's things. Here, Labour had identified "five areas that Labour has determined are key to women: childcare, social care, domestic violence, equal pay and political representation."

But here's the thing: surprisingly, women don't actually spend their entire lives with their interests being defined by their genitals. And they really, really shouldn't be treated as if they are. By pursuing this approach, these political parties are reducing the interests of 50% of the po…

The perils of allowing apps unchecked access to your information

Late last month, I got a bit of an unpleasant surprise when I came home to find the front of my house covered in scaffolding. My first thought was that was that something was seriously and suddenly structurally wrong with my house, and the council had put it up as an emergency measure. Having checked the frontage, it was clear there were no big chunks falling off, so it wasn't the council. Maybe it was my neighbours - we'd agreed a few months before to have some work done on our adjoining building fronts, so perhaps it was them, and they'd either forgotten to mention it to me, or they had had a unexpected chance to get scaffolding and do the work at short notice (they run a construction company). But I checked...it wasn't them. Which left the option of the scaffolders being idiots, and confusing my house (on X Road) with the same house (on X Loan), or....someone putting scaffold on for an unknown reason! Luckily, after I went round to see the owners of the house on X L…

I aren't dead

I'm just busy!

So, in mid January, I started my new role...and was promptly informed that my colleague would be leaving in 2.5 months.

YEEK!

So I very quickly had to get myself up to speed on a lot of things: how things worked in the library, who our main users were and how they preferred the services to be delivered to them, what I was responsible for, who I should be working with on various cross-department projects, where all our stock is located, how we fit within the organisational structure, where we can offer more or improved services, and core things like how our circulation system works, and what our policies on multiple day-to-day tasks like binding are. Plus I undertook a fairly massive physical and electronic clutter clear out (if I never have to spend another day in a basement with motion sensitive lighting again, I'll be a happy girl) that could only be done while my colleague was here to staff the library when I was buried in old materials in a cellar. Altogethe…

Another year, another new start

As 2014 changes into 2015, my employment will be changing too, as I'll shortly be starting another role in a new workplace.

Unfortunately, in October last year my previous employer went into administration, and although it was quickly bought out of administration by another law firm, there weren't any roles available for the library staff at the new firm. So it was time to launch into the job hunt again! I have the dubious honour of being the only person to have worked for the only two law firms in Scotland to go into administration, and at one point it was suggested to me that I could make a career out of approaching all the remaining firms and asking them to pay me not to work for them... ;) I did think that once again, I would have to leave the legal sector to find employment, but some fortunate timings mean that I will be staying in the sector, although I will be moving away from working directly with solicitors. My new role is also a permanent one, and as stable as any jo…