Robert Halton – BER – Burges-Salmon

Burges Salmon chief people officer Robert Halton talks to Legal Week Intelligence.

How would you define the culture? The culture is very supportive but also one where people are given a lot of responsibility: people have the opportunity to grow, which is very rare. Everybody is in one office; we don’t have a multi-site location. Everybody does know the partners; everybody is known by the partners. I can’t think there are many firms where you can ever say that these days, in terms of size and in terms of the quality of work that we do. From our perspective, there is a real focus on reinforcing the culture and also, dare I say, challenging the culture if there are any aspects that aren’t what we want to be doing too.

What has been your greatest achievement in the last year? A total overhaul of the learning and development programme to make sure it fits in with people’s career track, which is clear and transparent and available to everybody. That’s been a major piece because we knew that we needed to invest more effort into it. Every single lawyer now spends half an hour with a member of the team to help them to put together their own development plan. [It’s been] a huge commitment but it is paying off really well.

What is your greatest challenge? Feedback. There is still work to do here; there always will be work to do because generation Y craves feedback and generation X isn’t that brilliant at giving it! They need it in a different way. This is something that requires a big push from us and will continue to be an area of focus. Allied to this is investing in the partners’ skills because when people become partners, they do so for their client skills, not necessarily for their skills as managers or leaders. The focus on being a leader is really important. In terms of priorities, the main priorities are: reinforce, reinforce, reinforce the key messages all the time.

Top three BER scores – Burges Salmon

  • Quality of work handled by my firm
  • Quality of clients at my firm
  • Reputation of my practice area/team

Burges Salmon BER comments – What do you like best about your firm?

  • ‘My absolutely lovely colleagues! Dedicated, bright, hard working – and fun too!’
  • ‘Quality support from all Partners and HR. Everybody is treated as equals’
  • ‘Respect for others no matter what their level – hierarchy is not visible. We genuinely do work collaboratively’

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