Trainee Blog: how Michelmores is maintaining its culture whilst working in a hybrid model
One of the reasons I chose to apply to Michelmores was its culture. At the open day I attended, I was impressed by how approachable and friendly everyone was. I felt the Firm's values on diversity and inclusion aligned with my own.
Since I have applied to the Firm, it has moved towards a hybrid model. The Firm is maintaining its culture by combining in-person interactions with hybrid working, which simultaneously supports diversity and inclusion initiatives. Attending the office is no longer based on being "present", and instead can provide a purpose for human interaction, collaboration, and connection. This can help foster relationships with others.
Each team has a charter which sets out the days you are encouraged to come in. In my current employment seat, Anchor Day is Monday. We also have an in-person team meeting on this day. This has been beneficial as a trainee, as I have been able to connect with my colleagues in the office. Also, I know I will be able to work closely alongside my team on this day.
It is beneficial to learn by osmosis from more experienced colleagues. I recently attended a tribunal for an employment case, and it developed my adversarial skills by listening to an experienced barrister.
In some teams, there are capacity trackers detailing when people will be in for the upcoming week. As a trainee, you are welcome to come in every day if this suits you. It is useful to check in with your team to see when they will be around or to see if they need you to be in on certain days.
The Firm adopts a 'one Firm approach'. This means that we are encouraged to work seamlessly across offices and departments, and we are encouraged to work in different locations to meet more of our colleagues in-person. My current supervisor is based in Bristol, and I have been given the opportunity to work there once a week. I have enjoyed meeting new colleagues and working in a different office.
As a trainee, there are many benefits to working from home. As the working environment in which law firms operate has changed, it is necessary that you can work effectively from home as a trainee. This is something you will continue to do as a qualified solicitor. There are of course many benefits as discussed above, to attending the office. However, if you can work from home, you may save time on commuting, and you may benefit from being able to fit your work in around other commitments.
When working from home, it is important to stay in touch with your colleagues on MS Teams and to adapt to different people's work styles. Some colleagues may prefer to speak on the phone, whilst others may prefer to send you a quick email. Be flexible with your form of communication. Remember it is important to ask questions throughout your training contract to ensure you make the most of your personal development.
The Firm strives to continually improve its ESG goals: it's working with Planet Mark to improve its sustainability and social outputs and has recently achieved certification. For businesses to be certified they need to pledge to measure and reduce their year-on-year carbon footprint by a minimum percentage. The Firm has considered the status of their 'Scope 3' emissions and is currently measuring their business travel (excluding air travel for the current certification), waste, water and paper procurement.
Through reporting on its carbon and energy usage in its annual report and financial statements filed at Companies House, the Firm will be able to analyse and reduce its emissions. Between the year ending 30 April 2020 and the year ending 30 April 2021 the Firm was able to achieve a 2 tCO2e reduction in their 'Scope 1' and 'Scope 2' emissions, which means the consumption of energy by our own assets and equipment, and the assets and equipment which we pay to use. This was as a result of a number of energy efficiency measures taken by the Firm, including installation of LED lighting, timers and sensors for lighting and applying heat reflective film to windows. In addition to these steps, the Firm has also transitioned to paperless invoicing, adopted a 'zero to landfill' waste disposal contract, as well as green energy contracts at the majority of our offices, and has replaced the on-site van with an electric vehicle. Notably, Michelmores moved its London office to 100 Liverpool Street, a building nominated this year by the Royal Institute of British Architects for the Stirling Prize for its green credentials.
Since having begun working with Planet Mark, the Firm has also been able to improve methods of data collection, and will use the data from the year ending 30 April 2022 as a baseline for future reduction targets.
- Diversity and Inclusion
The Firm adopts a multitude of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Recently the Firm has hosted an online seminar celebrating PRIDE and International Women's Day. These events are easily accessible on MS Teams, and they are recorded. This means they can be watched at another time, if you do not have the capacity to attend them. Last week, the Firm held its National Inclusion Week which sought to celebrate inclusion in the workplace and our everyday lives.
- Access to the Legal Profession
The Firm partners with The Sutton Trust as part of their Pathways to Law programme. This aims to widen access to the legal profession by providing opportunities for students from less advantaged backgrounds to experience working in a law firm. The Firm has been involved with this for several years and offers work experience to students in Exeter and more recently, Bristol.
There are also opportunities for support staff to become apprentices and the Firm sponsors people who would like to qualify through Cilex.
Next year, the Firm will offer school leavers' the opportunity to apply for a solicitor apprenticeship or graduate apprenticeship - an alternative path to qualification which some find better suits their personal needs.
Recently, the Firm has partnered with VisionPath to create our Momentum programme which involves partnering with three local schools. The programme aims to increase social mobility and access to the workplace by enabling employees to run career skill workshops and mentoring.
The Firm adopts a 'recruit to retain' policy. As a trainee, you will be given a good level of responsibility and coaching as the Firm develops you through your career. This year 100% of trainees accepted a NQ role at the Firm (the average rate is 97%). We are proud that some of our partners started as trainees at the Firm and have progressed to become great role models and leaders in the organisation. We are keen to support our colleagues, encourage their progression and recognise their successes.
The Firm's values are linked to the work we take on. For example, we have undertaken work for the country's first habitat bank for biodiversity net gain and assisted on a joint venture between TESCO and The WWF exploring the use of insect protein as animal feed. MAINstream and MiVentures, our Firm initiatives also support start-up and disruptor companies.
Recently the Firm hosted its annual Charity Run for the Charlie Waller Trust. The Firm encourages trainees to attend networking events and socials. For example, trainees are encouraged to assist with events such as MAINstream, the angel investment network. As part of the business department, I recently attended the away day which was held at the Kenton Park Estate in Exeter. This enabled me to catch up with and meet new colleagues in an informal way. We also had the trainee social during the summer. This was a great opportunity to meet incoming trainees and I have volunteered to assist with the trainee Christmas social.
The Firm has opened the conversation on menopause and is working in partnership with Henpicked and Menopause Friendly to develop new policies. There will be Menopause Champions to offer support and guidance to colleagues or those interested in developing their knowledge of menopause. We held a Firm-wide webinar about this and information on how to support others.
The Firm offers enhanced maternity and paternity policies to ensure we are supporting colleagues as best we can when they are going through challenging times such as pregnancy loss and premature birth. We have partnered with Employer with Heart to ensure we are providing the best support possible to colleagues affected by premature birth. We also have other policies around adoption leave, shared parental leave, domestic abuse and fertility leave.
As a trainee, you can be involved with ESG, diversity and inclusion, and internal and external events. If there is a club you would like to be involved with that does not already exist, you can request that a new one is set up. The change of direction of agile working at the Firm means the culture is being maintained in newly accessible ways.