This year our Legal practice is celebrating its 20th anniversary! We’re carrying on with our series of interviews, this time with Becky Morgan, who is the Director of the Legal practice here at Hydrogen. You can watch the full interview here.
Having been with Hydrogen for more than 17 years, Becky has some amazing insights to share into how the legal practice has changed over the past years, especially the UK market and what are some of the future plans of the UK Legal practice.
"I joined Hydrogen in 2004, starting in the Finance practice before seeing the light after a couple of months and moving to Legal. I slowly worked my way up from a Consultant, but it took a good couple of years before I properly got my career going. I built up the Industry and Commerce team, then managed the In-House team and finally the whole of the Legal practice for about seven years. I went on maternity leave in 2016 and came back to a slightly different role in 2017, focusing on our Private Practice team. Now I manage the Associate product in London as well as the Legal Operations & Transformation practice and I personally focus on our Partner product. In my 17 years with Hydrogen, the business has gone through a huge transformation. Back in 2008, we were a completely UK-centric business of only 60 people and today over 50% of our revenue comes from outside of the UK and we have over 300 staff across offices in multiple countries.
When the Legal practice began in 2001, the US firms were establishing themselves in London and the Magic Circle and top UK firms were losing a lot of the best candidates at the mid-level because agencies were relying on job adverts and not proactively headhunting, so we exploited that gap in the market. We also launched our MarketWatch service, which is all about building relationships with passive candidates and is still invaluable today. We build relationships with candidates from when they are trainees and know exactly what they want from their careers, so when their dream job comes up, now or in 3 years time, they use us exclusively. An interesting fact is that 82% of candidates we place were either headhunted by us or referred to us, which is testament to how we find our passive candidates. Our approach hasn’t changed over the years even though there is more competition in the market today. We’ve added a digital research team that maps the market in detail and adds 10,000 candidates a year to our database; and we work with fewer clients now so that we can provide them with a more thorough inch-wide, mile-deep service. The main change has been as a business as a whole where we are more focused on growth mindset and developing our people.
A key milestone for me was when I won a piece of work which led to Hydrogen’s legal practice starting our Media business. I won a retainer with NBC Universal and suggested a big advertising campaign to accompany the search. They had just released King Kong, so we did an amazing advert with King Kong and Naomi Watts. In those days, print ads were very dry and text heavy and this was so different and cutting edge that Hydrogen became known for its great brands and high-profile ads, and I’m very proud of that.
One of the reasons that I am now one of the longest-serving employees is because Hydrogen has never stood still; change is constant. Even when we're doing really well, there’s always a focus on what's next. What I like now is that we are a medium sized business, so have the benefit of being small enough where everyone matters and has a voice, but big enough to enjoy that back-office platform and support that is so important. We have some very longstanding managers and we’re all motivated by a common goal and love working together. The other reason I am still here is because of Ian, our CEO, who always puts people first. I wouldn’t want to work for anyone who didn’t have his high levels of integrity and attention to detail.
I think the things that makes the practice itself so special are the incredible candidates, law firms and brands that we work with, and the people within the practice. It’s a very collaborative environment, we all support each other and are incentivised to grow together, and it makes it a very special place to work. The UK private practice team is split into two main areas, our standalone team, which are the non-transactional areas and our transactional team, which focuses on areas like banking, corporate, funds and real estate. We've split it that way so that our consultants have a really in-depth knowledge of the practice areas that they support clients with. We also have our Partner offering, plus our Business Support side, our global Legal Operations and Transformation practice, and a team that focuses on the Marketing too. Those teams are going from strength to strength and act as a really good support to the fee earner side of our business.
I have lots of memorable moments from my career so far, from going to one of my first client meetings and realising at the end of the lunch that I was wearing mismatched shoes, to our amazing incentives like our famous Vegas trip. But the most memorable times are always about the people I’ve worked with, seeing them go through personal milestones like getting married or having children, is just so lovely."