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Nick Allen

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Nick Allen

Head of Legal

I manage the Legal Recruitment Team at Pro-Legal, placing legal professionals of all levels into a wide range of businesses in the financial services, entertainment, sports and retail industries. We provide a first-class service, informed and transparent process for our clients and candidates. 

I previously worked as a finance solicitor for an international law firm before moving into recruitment in 2013. I have therefore developed an in-depth knowledge of the legal sector and have a strong network of legal professionals in industry as well as private practice.

Outside of work, I have a keen interest in craft beer (and part own a micro-brewery), so you are likely to find me wandering the streets of London in search of the perfect pint. Occasionally, I’ll try to balance this out by jumping on a bike or swinging some golf clubs around. 

If I was not in recruitment, I would be making beer/ playing drums in a rock band.

nick's latest roles

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What people say about Nick

Nick is an excellent recruiter and found me the exact role I was looking for. He was alive to my preferences and brought great opportunities to the table. 

Nick's efforts made all the difference when I decided to move into a new role on qualification. Unlike many recruiters, Nick really listened to the kind of environment I wanted to move into.

Nick was extremely helpful and professional. When I first contacted him he was happy to meet and gave me some excellent general advice without pressure as I was unsure of whether to move roles.

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Companies Nick has worked with

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This company provides senior debt, subordinated debt and mid-market direct loans to companies in Europe and the US.  Placed an experienced legal advisor into the legal team.

This company works with a range of high-level investors such as superannuation and pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and insurers. Assisted in the placement of a mid-level funds lawyer into the legal team.

This company provides a range of structured investments up to £100m and have a significant presence in Europe. Placed a senior debt lawyer into the legal team.

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nick's articles

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60 Seconds With: William Robins, Partner at Keystone Law

Posted by Nick Allen

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago on how to make Partner? I’d say take a hard look at what a partner really does. Partners these days do less and less law. They are managers and politicians. If you decide this is why you went to law school, then start building the political alliances you’ll need to join the partnership and steel yourself for the marked transition. If you’d rather spend your time practising law, then partnership’s probably not for you. If so, your client base is your currency. Build that up, make sure it personal and portable. Then you will be hot property as a legal director, of counsel or a consultant solicitor at one of the challenger law firms such as my own, Keystone Law. What does Keystone Law do well? Keystone is the most agile firm in the world. If money’s your thing; then Keystone can offer you a platform to a seven-figure income. If you are looking for balance, then Keystone lets you set that balance absolutely. You can work how you want, where you want and for whom you want – again all while earning around 75% of the value of your practice and being part of a vibrant collegiate law firm. Like for like, Keystone lawyers are paid between two and three times as much as counterparts in traditional private practices, or the same but doing between half or a third the hours. What is your biggest bugbear about CVs? Personal interests. People seem to leave these out these days and they shouldn’t. All the best lawyers have a life outside work. It’s part of what makes them a good lawyer. So don’t be shy, put it on your CV. You might find your interview is much more interesting and you land a role based on who you are not what you know. How would your team describe you? Committed! They also call me Wikipedia, I think that’s a compliment. If not in law, what would the dream be? That’s a tough one, I’d never want to leave the law entirely behind. Maybe working on a legal startup with a bunch of other entrepreneurs. If you ask our lawyers though, I know what they’d say. Lawyers at Keystone can if they want have a portfolio career and thus the best of both worlds. We have a lawyer who also runs an amazing charity in Africa, one who is a part-time general counsel and another who runs his own fund. Biggest superstition/fear? I am not superstitious and thankfully I don’t have much to fear. I don’t like letting people down though. Not sure if that counts. What is your morning routine before work? Up at 5.30, bike to the tube, work on non-confidential emails on the train, hit the desk at 7.30. Skiing or beach? Beach every time. Who is your hero? I don’t have one, but I very much admire music with a message, art that captures realism and emotion and sportsmen and women who show amazing dedication. If you want one for this week: Philippe Gilbert on the Tour De France. What a legend. He suffered a big fall where in 1995 Fabio Casartelli crashed and died. He got back on his bike and powered through the remaining 60km of the stage… with a broken kneecap. What is your life hack / top tip? Can I have two? 1) Emotional intelligence wins the day. Don’t just think about the question you are asked, think about who is asking it. 2) Carpe diem and I don’t mean time recording!

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Legal Business Awards 2018

Posted by Nick Allen

What a fantastic night had at the Legal Business Awards 2018! It was a pleasure to host Simon Tysoe (Latham & Watkins), Steven Tregear (Russells), Simon Esplen (Russells), Hugh Gardner (Marriott Harrison), James Ashe-Taylor (Constantine Cannon) and Daniel Lloyd (TLT) on our table and share what was a great evening, learning about the achievements of the legal profession’s finest as the awards played out. Huge congratulations to all the winners, as well as all the nominees - just recognition for what has no doubt been hard work to get to this point. A special mention to those nominated for the Boutique Law Firm of the Year award, which Pro-Legal were honoured to sponsor. GQ Employment took the trophy home along with our sincere congratulations. We are very much looking forward to next year’s awards already! Shout-out to Mark Bailey, our guest tweeter for the night. Here are a few pictures from the night.

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How to Choose a Legal Recruiter

Posted by Nick Allen

You would think that choosing a recruiter should be simple - there are many of them to pick from and most of them will reach out to you so you don’t even have to make contact with them. However, far from being a passive choice made simply by the fact an agent happens to be the first recruiter to cold call you about a role, this decision should be a carefully considered one as the difference between a good and a bad recruiter can cost you that shot at your next great move. In this article, I will suggest a number of factors you should consider when making this choice. Source How have you come into contact with the recruiter? Do they come recommended by a friend? These are the kinds of candidates recruiters love to work with, as they have already been vetted by your contact and, as such, a level of trust is already established. Agents have a reputation to upkeep when recommended, so you often find they work even harder than normal in these circumstances. Have you been approached on a cold call? Although this can be awkward when sat at your work desk, this is quite simply a necessary tool for recruitment agents in a highly competitive market. Try not to dismiss the message the agent is offering just because of the method by which they initially make contact – they could be calling about your ideal role. There is of course also no need to hand your search over to the first stranger who approached you out of the blue and has not yet built a relationship with you. Other factors have to figure. Research Does a recruiter have the relevant expertise that you need them to? Be it expertise of a specific sector or geographical focus or of a kind of firm you wish to work at, you should ensure that your recruiter is knowledgeable in the specifics of your particular search. The best recruiters do not work with every candidate that comes their way as it would be impossible to become specialised in everything. No agent, for example, could know the intricacies of the in-house pharmaceutical market in the same level of detail as the private practice funds market. By necessity, recruiters will have different specialisms so check that their areas of expertise suit your needs and that they have a strong track record to back this up. Recruiters that appear too broad should be avoided so as not to end up with a jack of all trades. Network Does your recruiter have access to key personnel who make the decisions? This is particularly relevant when it comes to in-house recruitment. You want to be sure that your recruiter has direct access to the people you will be reporting to in your new role and who will ultimately make a decision about you during the interview process. This kind of access increases the quality of feedback about your application and means the agent will have far more influence throughout the process. This is especially the case where the recruiter has a strong relationship with the decision maker who is relying on the recruiter to assist with vetting candidates. Personality Excellent interpersonal skills are a hugely important requirement of an agent, least of all because job hunting takes time and you will be spending a good deal of yours speaking to your agent over the course of the process. Above all other traits, it goes without saying that you should seek a recruiter who is honest and will genuinely go the extra mile for you. For instance, do they offer to assist you with getting your CV up to scratch? Will they give you genuine market insight and salary information even if you have not expressed any interest in starting a search with them? The recruiters who are passionate about their jobs will do these things, therefore I would suggest that you should always look to someone passionate about their profession to assist you with your search. Recruitment is a hard job, involving more than its share of rejection, so you need to know that your recruiter has a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to keep on top of your search and land you that great opportunity. Meeting your agent Believe it or not, recruiters do appreciate you are extremely busy and that taking time out of your day for a coffee with an agent may not be the most important thing you have to do that day. However, if you can spare the time, do meet with your agent. Your next career move has to be worth investing a little time in. Get to know your recruiter face to face. This enables you to build rapport and look them in the eye when they are selling their services to you. This works both ways as if a good recruiter is able to have a frank and honest conversation with a candidate and buys into them and their objectives, that recruiter will work their hardest to achieve the desired outcome. This is an industry about relationships and any recruiter worth their salt will want to build a meaningful one with you. The above is only a brief overview of the main factors to consider, however, I do hope it is of use. If you ever want a discreet and non-pressured conversation about any of the points above, your career or the market, please feel do drop any of us at Pro Legal a line – we are happy to help.

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January 2018 : Legal Movers & Shakers

Posted by Nick Allen

Victor Cramer moved from KPMG to Stewarts Law in January 2018 as a Partner in their Tax Litigation department. Victor spent 11 years at KPMG prior to the move and is a specialist in VAT and indirect taxation, as well as the alternate dispute resolution methods used by HMRC. Kelly Whiter has moved from PwC, where she was the Head of Private Client Immigration – Legal, to Fladgate LLP to become their newest Immigration Partner and first addition in 2018. She has experience working with tax advisers and private bankers in helping high-net-worth individuals relocate to the UK. Edward Bridge has been appointed Zurich Insurance’s UK General Counsel, taking over from Neil Hodges. Mr Bridge joins Zurich from Prudential UK. Former Co-operative Bank General Counsel, Brona McKeown, has taken up the General Counsel role at British Land plc.

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60 Seconds With: Harry Bengough, Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Posted by Nick Allen

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago on how to make General Counsel / Partner? Build your network. Don’t worry if you aren’t winning work from an early stage in your career, just make sure you get to know your clients, make personal connections and keep in touch with them – you never know where they might pop up in the future. What do HCR do well? Identify opportunities and go after them. Departments are given sufficient autonomy to head in the direction they want, which encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. What is your biggest bugbear about CVs? They rarely represent the person I meet face to face because they all look the same! I’d much rather get to know the person than read what they got in their GCSEs. How would your team describe you? Probably laid back but hopefully approachable as well. If not in law, what would the dream be? I did have a fairly brief foray into the renewable energy sector. It was a great learning curve for me and fascinating - so perhaps something in that area. Biggest superstition/fear? Not sure there is a stand out one. Sharks are pretty terrifying though! What is your morning routine before work? I don’t like to hang around in the mornings, so usually I’ll say goodbye to the family, feed the dog and get out the door. Skiing or beach? Probably beach, but love both. Who is your hero? I don’t have a particular hero. I’m in awe of people who take the plunge and start their own business though. What is your life hack / top tip? Enjoy it. Make sure you have the work-life balance that’s right for you.

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Reasons Why Lawyers Move In-house and When to do so

Posted by Nick Allen

It is a path well-travelled: train at a firm, spend some years learning the trade then take that experience in-house. But what exactly is it about a career in-house that is such a draw for lawyers? Furthermore, when is the right time to take the leap? I have suggested answers to these questions below, based on our extensive conversations with lawyers about their reasons for looking in-house as well as conversations with heads of legal teams about what they are looking for and why. A frequently mentioned reason for looking in-house is the difficulty in achieving partnership in private practice. A report compiled by the Law Society in 2015 showed that, for the first time, the number of partners at law firms fell below a third of all solicitors in the profession. That trend does not make for cheery reading to solicitors with partnership aspirations out there. The process of achieving partnership seems unapologetically difficult and many solicitors feel that a change of direction in their legal career is necessary as a result. A closely related point is that many solicitors do not have any desire to progress to partnership and, as such, look in-house. Managing a team, bringing in enough work to feed hungry associates deals, working on transactions or cases and being the technical go-to-person in the team is an incredibly difficult range of skills to juggle and many solicitors seemingly do not have the appetite to dedicate as much time and extreme effort as achieving partnership requires. Following on from this is the fact that many lawyers see an in-house position as a better way to achieve a work/life balance. Having worked incredibly hard in private practice, many in-house positions offer a more realistic approach to having a life and exploring options outside of work (family time being the most quoted). For those who are not necessarily motivated by a lifestyle change, factors such as the breadth of work and proximity to the business are of particular importance. Quite often, the further you climb the ranks in private practice, the more specialised in a particular area of law you become, which can build frustration in commercially mind lawyers who want to maintain an interesting breadth of work. In-house opportunities are far more likely to offer this diverse range of work, with greater access to the business and the ability to be involved in the more commercial aspects of decisions. There can, of course, be a trade-off to the above, with in-house base salaries on average being c.10-15% lower than those in private practice, however many see it as a worthwhile bargain. In addition, with many General Counsel salaries clearing £300,000 (before bonus), there is still enough incentive for those who are financially motivated. So once you have decided that in-house is the direction for you, when should you look to move? Generally speaking, most roles on the in-house market are set between the 2-6 years PQE level. Typically this is because General Counsels or Heads of Legal are keen to attract lawyers to their teams that have sufficient knowledge of their chosen area of law and that also have the general legal, commercial and business experience to be able to quickly understand the workings of the business and what it is aiming to achieve. At the +6 PQE level there can be an issue around how a new hire fits into the company’s remuneration structure and the team hierarchy. This is not a hard and fast rule, as often more senior roles become available, however for the most senior roles, such as General Counsel or Head of Legal, hiring managers will often only look at candidates with previous in-house experience. If any of the above resonates with you and you would like to discuss exploring the in-house market, please do contact us as we would be delighted to assist.

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Legal Recruitment – The need for transparency in its process

Posted by Nick Allen

For years now, a primary frustration of job seekers, hiring firms and recruiters alike has been the limitations regarding transparency throughout individual hiring processes. This can reach from an initial application right through to discussions of forthcoming offers but can cause real harm to the health of the recruitment process if transparent communications are not upheld. Without a doubt, the main reason for this is – time. Although recruitment can be an incredibly important task when developing a team, or when you are the one looking for a job; it often gets pushed to the back of the mind behind the more urgent requirements of day to day tasks. But as is well established, we know that recruiting the right people at the right time can be an invigorating force for blending a higher performing and more productive team. From an employer perspective – transparency is key to reducing turnover: Generally speaking, interviews do not reveal the full aspect of what it is actually like to work for a firm or company. In reality, it is all too common for discussions undertaken during the interview not to align with the actual job. This is one of the glaring issues that will undoubtedly create a turnover problem. Transparency also comes to the fore in circumstances where jobseekers are not the ones being transparent enough. This can often result in jobseekers accepting an opportunity that will not be the right fit because you tailored your answers so that the employer heard what you think they wanted to hear. This reflects back to the turnover problem above and benefits neither side. The obvious remedy is to put expectations into writing at the outset and then throughout the process. This will ultimately clear up cases of he said/she said as people often hear what they want to hear, as opposed to what was actually said. And, more importantly, it will quickly uncover and allow you to fix any incongruencies between stated expectations and the realities of the job. From a jobseeker’s perspective – transparency is essential to maintain engagement in the process: If candidates are made aware from the outset, or indeed throughout the interviewing schedule, that it is likely to be an elongated process, expectations can be managed and those candidates whose need to move is urgent can be clear that although they are interested, other opportunities may likely draw them away from a particular position that they may have a preference for. Alternatively, if there is a slight delay due to hiring managers being on holiday, pulled into urgent matters or working in other locations, it is best to ensure these reasons are communicated. Nothing frustrates a process more than silence. In effect, if you were to canvas anyone you know who has undertaken a new job search, you can bet on the fact they will have at least one comment about a firm (or indeed recruiter) who simply did not provide them with adequate communication about the process and any associated delays. Ultimately, the above is not rocket science, nor is it something that is a secret to those select few HR professionals. But it is an essential element to ensure the employer/jobseeker relationship is upheld and reputations of both sides remain intact. The best advice, as a job seeker, is taking the time to reflect if the job is right, rather than trying to shoehorn yourself into the organisation for fear of missing out. As an employer, ensure you lay out the expectations of the process and the realities of the opportunity as best you can to reduce turnover and avoid blemishes to the reputation of the firm.

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December 2017: Legal Movers & Shakers

Posted by Nick Allen

In case you missed any of the following moves in the run-up to Christmas… In-House BT has appointed Sabine Chalmers as its new General Counsel. Ms Chalmers was formerly Chief Legal Officer at Anheuser-Busch InBev and will be confirmed into the role in January 2018. Peel Hunt announced the appointment of Hywel Llewellyn as General Counsel of its Corporate division. Mr Llewellyn joins Peel Hunt from Deutsche Bank, having previously worked in J.P. Morgan Cazenove’s ECM & M&A Legal team in London and Hong Kong. Practice Simmons & Simmons has announced a new patent prosecution division, upon the appointment of Kevin Cordina, a patent attorney from CMS (a legacy Olswang Partner). Pinsent Masons have boosted its Arbitration practice by appointing Jean-François Le Gal as partner in its Litigation, Regulatory & Tax team. He joins from Brown Rudnick and will focus on the London & Paris offices White & Case LLP boosts their London offering, having appointed Daniel Turgel - a Corporate M&A Partner from Linklaters whose practice encompasses financial services and private equity

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