First 90 days

Starting a new role can be daunting at the best of times, but when it comes to a career in employment law, there is more to the job than simply being aware of ever-evolving legislation. By taking the time to get to know your new organisation, you should be able to become an indispensable part of the team during your first 90 days, and beyond.

We recently welcomed a trio of senior solicitors to ESP Law, and one of those new faces, Jayne Nevins, has been taking a look at what any new recruit should focus on during their initial three months at a new firm.

1. Build relationships

It is not uncommon to see a job advertisement emblazoned with the words ‘must be able to hit the ground running’ across all sectors and experience levels. And, while being able to find your place as part of the inner-workings of a firm is undoubtedly key – your role within the team dynamic carries just as much clout.

In these early days, each conversation is a chance to make a good impression – so every single interaction counts, whether it be with a customer or co-worker. Use this ‘learning phase’ to try and understand the nuances of the team, identify any common ground and build trust with your own line managers and key stakeholders.

Spend time understanding the each and every organisation you’re set to work alongside – and make an effort to try and have a conversation with the key contacts at each. The sooner you build these connections, the easier every interaction becomes for both the lawyer and the HR professional.

Developing personal relationships with customers – and making them feel as though you’re an extension of their in-house HR team – is key to fostering a strong and successful working partnership.   

It is no secret that employment lawyers work both independently and as part of a team, therefore taking the time needed to foster those inter-company relationships from day one is key.

2. Understand the business values

It might sound like an obvious one, and you might already be au fait with the firm’s ethos and culture following the application and recruitment process, but this is your chance to really see the ‘soul’ of an organisation in action.

Understanding how your employer wants to be viewed by the outside world will inevitably have a significant impact on how you interact with customers – so do not overlook the importance of this period of the process.

A clear picture of the company history, structure, position in the growth cycle, future objectives and overall culture will help you to discover what makes the place tick – allowing you to shape your day-to-day accordingly.  

3. Get to grips with the tools of the trade

With any new role comes a steep learning curve in terms of software and systems, policy and procedure, so in the early days – before your role becomes busy with clients and cases – use this time wisely to explore the software. Adapting to new ways of working can take time to get your head around, so try not to be too hard on yourself if it does not click right away.

If it is possible, stagger training sessions on software systems to give you enough time to spend some time learning the platforms when you can, before the next lesson begins. Every organisation will have its own internal recording process and research facilities, so be kind to yourself when it comes to getting to grips with each.

4. Make a seamless transition

As covered in our whitepaper, HR Director: The First 90 Days’, the settling in period is not an overnight process, but there are ways to make the move a little easier – perhaps one of the most important being leaving the old role behind.

Of course, past experiences can help to improve this new direction in your career, and the lessons learnt on pastures of old are still valid, but focus on the here and now – as well as the future – in order to advance the settling in period.

The old adage ‘don’t try to run before you can walk’ is very relevant in this first quarter too. You were hired for a reason, so try to avoid the sense of feeling that you need to explode onto the scene within the first week – take your time and do things calmly.

5. Let the skills of an employment lawyer shine

The beauty of life as an employment lawyer is that your workload varies greatly from day-to-day – and you often feel as though you’re juggling plates when discussing a company restructure one minute, and a disciplinary procedure the next.

The mark of a good employment lawyer is the ability to empathise with the case in question – both from an employer and employee point of view – and provide sound legal advice across the board.

These skills need to be part of your role regardless of whether it is your first week in the office or last month before retirement, so allow them to shine from the moment you take on your first case.

Above all, have confidence in your own ability as the rest of the ‘operational’ side of your new role begins to take shape. Be aware of adapting to the company culture, understanding customers’ needs, developing your tech and positioning yourself as an approachable, flexible and agile team member – and everything else should fall into place.


We are the HR and employment law experts from ESPHR.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

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Author: Jayne Nevins

Senior Solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Jayne has 20 years experience in all areas of employment law. She initially trained as a barrister and cross qualified to become a solicitor 16 years ago. She has specialist experience within the field of healthcare and the hospitality sector. However, for many years she has advised commercial clients in a huge variety of business sectors and so has an in-depth understanding of their needs. Jayne has litigated many complex cases and prior to joining ESP was also an advocate in the employment tribunal.

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