Law firm launches its own academy to nurture workforce of the future

Amanda Webster
X The Business Desk

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North West law firm Harrison Drury has launched a new HD Academy and revealed its largest leadership development programme as it looks to bring through its next generation of lawyers and leaders.

The academy will be headed up by experienced solicitor and director, Amanda Webster, and will have a dedicated curriculum for new solicitors who have been qualified for up to five years.

A cohort of 19 staff are also taking part in a £90,000 leadership development programme in a partnership with training and qualifications provider, Skillwise.

The programme will be a combination of virtual training and when lockdown restrictions are eased and business returns to normality additional face-to-face and team/group training will take place.

The new academy and investment programme are part of the Preston-based firm’s new five-year strategy, which has been created following a consultation programme with its 110 staff. The firm is aspiring to be the best law firm to work for in the North West.

Amanda Webster said: “Our leadership team recognises that the firm’s success is built on the brilliance of our people.

“The academy will give our younger lawyers real focus in their career development.

During a legal career, lawyers quickly assume responsibilities in areas such as client relationship management, business development, people management and finance, but often don’t receive the training to develop these necessary skills.

“The academy will enable our people to excel in their chosen area of law while building the essential business skills to reach their potential.”

Other features of the academy include a dedicated knowledge transfer programme that will see Harrison Drury’s senior lawyers mentor its younger solicitors, and a HD Future Forum allowing the firm’s HD Academy members to exchange ideas on the law firm of the future.

Executive chairman, John Chesworth, who has led the firm since 2007, said: “The launch of the academy and our leadership investment programme is another key milestone in our history.

“The firm and its people have been on an amazing journey together and we are proud of our people development record. But we must keep developing and investing. We want to continue attracting the best legal talent and give them opportunities to forge a brilliant career.”

The Skillwise Leadership and Management Programme is designed to equip directors, senior managers, and rising stars with an array of people skills and leadership knowledge.

It includes modules on leadership styles, business culture, coaching and mentoring, business improvement, critical thinking and decision making. Those completing the course can register as associate members with the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Leadership & Management.

John Chesworth added: “This is about creating the leaders of the future and helping people to achieve their career aspirations. We also recognise that people’s job satisfaction and engagement levels are massively influenced by the interactions they have on a daily basis with their managers and colleagues.

“That’s why we’re focusing on leadership with this significant new investment, which will sit alongside our existing training and coaching programme.”

Looking forward, he said: 2021, John added: “We had an excellent final quarter of 2020 and we are looking forward to a very positive 2021 and decade of progress.”