Continuing competence implementation

How Xoserve Limited have adopted the approach

Sally Hall In-house lawyer Xoserve Limited Sally Hall, In-house lawyer at Xoserve Limited, explains how they have implemented our new approach to continuing competence.

Sally Hall qualified as a solicitor in 2008 following a previous career as a professional singer for, amongst others, the Walt Disney Company! Transferring in-house as the start of her Training Contract has enabled her to gain a broad understanding of many different areas of law, primarily including Employment Law, Contract and Commercial, and her chosen specialism – Data Protection. Sally obtained a Masters Degree in Advanced Legal Practice in 2012 and along with the more legal elements of her role, now supports the Xoserve Legal team in an informal PSL capacity.

Xoserve was founded in May 2005, and is an integral part of the restructured gas distribution market in Britain. By delivering transportation transactional services on behalf of all the major gas Network transportation companies, Xoserve provides one consistent service point for the gas Shipper companies.

How have you been involved in implementing Xoserve’s approach?

Whilst primarily I am a Data Protection Solicitor, I also support the team in relation to their ongoing training and development needs. I have therefore taken the lead on ensuring that we are fully ready and prepared for the new approach and have enjoyed the opportunity to re-focus the team on their development needs and the opportunities that this presents.

What changes have you made to implement your approach?

Xoserve has always made training and development a priority. Within the team, we support professional development at every level with junior right up to senior staff regularly undertaking both formal and informal training. We see the development of the team as a key element of our aspiration to provide excellence, consistently challenging team members of all levels to grow and excel. Therefore, the changes that we have made have not been substantial, but more an adjustment of our thinking and formalisation of our approach to personal development.

Primarily, we now focus on the how as well as the what, so we actively look to work on our softer skills alongside the legal ones. We have implemented a feedback email after every piece of work where we ask our internal clients for their views on the service they received from us, both in terms of the legal advice received and the manner their queries were dealt with. This has enabled us to consider not only our professional skills and take time to identify any gaps in knowledge, but also our personal development skills.

We have also worked on how training and development is viewed. For example, historically some members of the team may not have classified legal research as part of their development but as a result of the new approach, we have been able to not only identify this as a part of their continuing competence more formally, but also consider and then implement the output of that research so that they are sharing that knowledge with more junior team members, and wider, within the business. This has enabled a much more effective use of knowledge gathered and is already benefitting the team as a whole.

We have also introduced improved record keeping of all aspects of development and better follow up on the outputs of training sessions and feedback.

What was/is the biggest challenge in adopting the new approach and how have you overcome it?

The team and Xoserve as a business has been very open to the changes we have implemented as the positive impacts are evident. Not only requesting but also responding to feedback has clear benefits for both the team and our internal clients. The same can be said for increasing the emphasis on knowledge sharing.

Getting people into the habit of recording development has been a challenge, but making this an agenda item for team meetings and the odd email to give everyone a regular nudge helps!

What advice would you give other in house solicitors about implementing this approach?

I think the key thing to remember is that nothing has fundamentally changed. As a profession, the need for us to constantly grow, develop and demonstrate excellence has always been key, and the new approach doesn’t change that fundamental requirement. The only difference is that we now have more control over how we develop professionally with the opportunity to really focus on the areas of law, and other key skills, which are most relevant to us as individuals. I think we can all be guilty of pushing our development to the side when things get busy, but the new approach shifts the emphasis to view competence differently, keeping development at the front of everyone’s minds at all times.