Commercial Development Scheme: A New Generation of Lawyers
Flex Legal’s Commercial Development Scheme is an internal role offered to law graduates enrolled on our platform. Successful applicants are employed as ‘Client Services Associates’, and work at the frontline of the business to fulfil clients’ on-demand resourcing requests. The scheme is a unique opportunity for law graduates to engage with the legal industry in the early stage of their career. It embodies the very mission of the company: ‘inspiring and enabling the legal workforce of the future so that everyone thrives’.
The Commercial Development Scheme was originally created to allow Flex Legal’s internal lawyers to impart their knowledge and train aspiring lawyers in non-academic skills, such as negotiating, team working and communicating. Since the birth of the Client Services Team in 2017, the scheme has evolved significantly. At the time of writing, over fifty Client Services Associates have benefited from the scheme, and approximately half of our alumni have either qualified as lawyers or obtained training contracts at in-house organisations, or at Magic Circle and Silver Circle law firms.
With a Training Contract lined up for 2025, and having just graduated from university, I was keen to develop the skills they don’t teach you in university. By exposing me to a non-hierarchical culture, varied role and fast-paced start-up environment, Flex Legal’s Commercial Development Scheme has helped me achieve an exceptional degree of personal and professional growth which I may not have acquired in a multinational corporation. My day-to-day role as a Client Services Associate involves onboarding new paralegals, matching paralegals with clients’ requests, taking inbound calls, carrying out compliance checks and managing our paralegal and client relationships. Here’s a snapshot of how the scheme has prepared me for the legal world:
1) Unparalleled NetworkFlex Legal boasts an impressive clientele of top law firms and FTSE 250 companies, such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and easyJet plc. To provide a smooth experience, we are taught to value the importance of relationships and to keep clients’ best interests at the forefront of everything we do. By engaging new clients and nurturing existing relationships with partners, HR advisors and general counsel, Client Services Associates are exposed to a professional network which is unbeatable when compared to most entry-level roles in the legal sector. On the paralegal side of the business, we have on-boarded and managed over 6,000 paralegals with various strengths, interests, and journeys into law. The level of responsibility we are given in the scheme helps us to enter the industry with a foundation of contacts, client care skills and the ability to communicate with a diverse range of people.
2) TechnologyFlex Legal differentiates itself from other alternative legal service providers and recruitment agencies through its use of bespoke software. This powerful software helps us filter and identify the perfect paralegals for client requests so that we can offer a truly on-demand service, without compromising on quality. Flex Legal also adds a personalised touch to the client / candidate matching process. Rather than inundating clients with paper CVs, our software creates engaging, digital catalogues complete with candidate biographies and profile videos.
Apart from our purpose-built platform, Microsoft Office, Salesforce and Google Workspace form the backbone of the team’s daily processes. These technologies allow Client Services Associates to deliver seamless customer service and stay organised in a multifarious role.
It goes without saying that the legal industry is constantly changing. Trainees need to be comfortable in incorporating disruptive technologies into their work. Where the traditional law degree is arguably lacking in practicality for the job market, the Commercial Development Scheme helps graduates become better equipped for the evolving legal tech landscape.
3) Commercial AwarenessCommercial awareness involves having a functioning understanding of the business world and how the law influences it. To be able to advise clients effectively, commercial solicitors and barristers need to continually build their commercial awareness.
One of the best ways to develop this skill is to work for a scale-up business. Due to the fast-paced environment and size of the team, we are encouraged to be flexible and consider how external factors, such as immigration policies, technological developments and a fluctuating economy, could impact our various clients and the way we provide resources. For instance, I remember when the rise of climate activism first brought Leigh Day to us in 2022. Having been inundated with claims against leading vehicle manufacturers who were accused of ‘cheating’ emission laws, the claimant-only firm needed to scale up its team quickly. By helping to develop a more targeted recruitment approach and expediting our processes, I was part of a team that was able to supply Leigh Day with over 150 suitable paralegals across its Manchester, Leeds and London offices.
From a more internal point of view, the Commercial Development Scheme has encouraged us to consider how our own business can remain successful. By thinking in terms of margins, KPIs and OKRs, we are encouraged to identify short-term and long-term opportunities and to incorporate them in our day-to-day roles.
4) Empathy and TeamworkFlex Legal would not be where it is today without its people. Motivated by a passion for making the legal sector more accessible, the Flex HQ team truly embodies its values of humanness, trustworthiness, and entrepreneurialism.
Despite its small size, the Client Services Team moved mountains last year. We enjoy seeing paralegals thrive in the legal industry. When placements are successful, or paralegals receive further opportunities, it is rewarding for the whole team. When issues arise, we act swiftly to mitigate them, while achieving a balance between the paralegals’ and the clients’ best interests. Interacting with a number of paralegals on a daily basis teaches us to be considerate of the various circumstances that may affect people in life. Through the Commercial Development Scheme, Client Services Associates learn to build empathy and kindness. These ‘human’ traits are indispensable in lawyer / client relationships which depend largely on trust and confidence.
Overall, I am truly grateful to have been part of Flex Legal’s Commercial Development Scheme. In addition to working with lovely and incredible people, this opportunity has given me the confidence and skills I will need to flourish in my forthcoming legal career. Whether you are interested in working as a paralegal, lawyer or Client Services Associate, I would encourage you to apply now!
CDS Alumni - Where are they now?
Jessica joined Flex Legal’s Northern Hub as a Client Services Associate during the interim between the end of her LLB studies and the start of her training contract at Slaughter and May. Within six months, the role has equipped Jessica with client-facing skills and the confidence to navigate new environments.
JESSICA KODILINYE: “The Commercial Development Scheme is a unique opportunity which has taught me real-world skills in an increasingly competitive legal sector. Through the scheme, I have developed the confidence to seek out new opportunities, handle setbacks, and challenge myself to grow continuously. With a lovely and supportive team at my side, I have thoroughly enjoyed my role at Flex and know that I will greatly benefit from the practical skills I have learnt in my future role as a trainee solicitor.”
Jacob joined Flex Legal’s Northern Hub in 2021 and was quickly promoted to Senior Client Services Associate after contributing to the 200% increase in sales with two of our top clients. Jacob is now a future trainee at Slaughter and May, and believes the CDS was critical in his search for a training contract.
JACOB DARCY: “The CDS provided me with an opportunity to develop practical commercial skills, negotiate for real with partners, associates, and recruiters alike, and build behind-the-scenes knowledge of legal operations in both private practice and in-house teams. The CDS has prepared me well for life in practice as a trainee and a solicitor thereafter, providing practical tools for success”.
Mosawer worked as a Client Services Associate in Flex Legal’s Lawyers’ Team, before being promoted to Senior Client Services Associate and then Client Services Manager. He is now a trainee solicitor at Dow Jones through Flex Legal’s Trainee Scheme.
MOSAWER MONEER:“Taking part in Flex's Commercial Development Scheme was a truly enjoyable and practical experience that marked a significant step in my journey. This was my first role out of university, and I quickly found myself engaging with senior stakeholders from prominent companies and legal teams. This hands-on experience not only enhanced my technical and soft skills but also instilled confidence in my communication. The scheme's unique combination of practical exposure and skill development has been instrumental in accelerating my career growth. I highly recommend the Flex Commercial Development Scheme to those seeking a structured and effective path for honing their skills and advancing their professional journey.”
Laura gained strong client-facing experience before contributing to Flex Legal’s southern CST as a Senior Client Services Associate. She stayed with the team for more than a year and then undertaking a role as a paralegal at Campari Group.
LAURA SANDOVAL: “The CDS really helped me develop my networking skills. Being able to lead client calls with important stakeholders has made my transition into working as a Paralegal a lot easier as I’m accustomed to speaking and working with important people! Also, it really helped me fine tune my organisational skills. Leading requests and working to different deadlines, helped me learn how to organise myself through todo lists and frequent catch ups.”
James recently worked in Flex Legal’s southern paralegals team as a Senior Client Services Associate, where he effectively managed client requests and liaised with Flex’s sales, marketing and lead gen teams. After making a great impact in his CST role, James was offered a paralegal placement, through Flex Legal, at our client, DS Smith. Following a successful placement, James will soon be joining DS Smith’s in-house team permanently as a commercial paralegal.
JAMES LLOYD: “In a competitive legal market, having a welcoming team full of people looking to progress their legal careers just as I was really drew me to Flex. Through the CDS, I greatly developed my commercial knowledge of the legal market and how law firms operate, whilst I also learnt key professional skills such as juggling deadlines, communicating with clients and marketing yourself and your services to law firms. My experiences with Flex through the CDS have been very positive, and have definitely helped me progress my legal career”.
Kieran joined Flex Legal’s paralegals team in 2022 with a training contract at DLA Piper. The Commercial Development Scheme helped him to understand the inner workings of the legal industry and hone his professional skills before undertaking his SQE studies.
KIERAN WRIGHT: “The scheme was a great opportunity to gain exposure to and an understanding of a major part of the legal industry, that being recruitment, and allowed me to develop my professional skills before starting my legal career. Flex’s culture of encouraging colleagues to take on varying responsibilities from an early stage was appealing to me as it demonstrated the confidence placed in us from the outset.”
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