Kathryn Riley is the founder and managing director of Douglas Scott.
They are an award winning legal recruitment business with expertise spanning the legal profession in its entirety. Within the business, they have teams dedicated to private practice, in-house, partner moves, locum, newly qualified recruitment and professional support.
Kathryn founded the business in 2004 after spotting a gap in the market to service the legal industry in the North West. Douglas Scott have grown year-on-year while expanding their offering nationwide and now proudly hold a significant share of the market.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Whilst I have been attuned to plotting a robust strategy for the business I have remained intuitive in terms of my own career opportunities. From a young age I knew I wanted to be involved in business and I have always maintained an innate restless attitude, applying this to my working life. My mantra is do more, better and becoming a mother at twenty inspired me to channel this, moving from a role within TV production to developing a career in recruitment.
My skills were perfectly matched, and I knew I’d found my calling. After three months in my first recruitment role I was part of the team that won a temporary contract with McDonalds and was mentioned at the AGM by the MD for what he called ‘pulling up trees sales ability’. I ran a general commercial recruitment desk before finding my specialism with the legal industry, setting up the legal desk within the firm. It seemed an obvious step to utilise my knowledge and sensing a gap within the industry servicing the North West it seemed right to take the plunge, setting up Douglas Scott in 2004. I haven’t looked back since.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
The recession in 2008 was particularly difficult, especially with maintaining our commitment to developing a relatively young business. All sectors were hit hard especially commercial property and residential conveyancing, however, despite economic turmoil and instability within the recruitment industry we secured continual growth of 25 per cent throughout the period.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Greater unity within the workplace. As someone who has forged a career as a leader where two, traditionally male-dominated, industries collide I recognise the difficulties that women encounter both in terms of the route to progression as well as in their day to day working lives.
Due to such issues, women can often become isolated within the workplace and a resulting fragmented working community may emerge that seemingly prioritises a male agenda. What I’d like to see more regularly is women coming together to overcome such problems as a group and to support the development of each other’s careers.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Growing the business to a £6m turnover. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day that it’s important to stop and remind yourself where you started. We built this business from the ground up and are currently on track to hit the £10m mark within the next three years. It’s been an amazing journey, but we are never happy standing still and will continue to set new targets and goals across the business to inspire further growth.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
As it stands, we are known as the go-to agency in the legal sector and have refined our practices directly to the market, however, we will soon reach a point where growth will be somewhat capped. The wheels are now in motion for the business to expand into other complimentary sectors. We frequently get enquires from neighbouring sectors and have had demand for this from our existing client base. As our expertise already penetrates these sectors, we will continue to build on them with the aim of achieving the same success as in the legal sector.
We were the first legal recruitment agency to support a Legal 500 national and international firm in a Master Vendor capacity and have since signed deals with other specialist national firms to support their volume recruitment drives. It’s increasingly common to see firms with a PSL status list that appears almost endless. Although superficially more suppliers should equal more choice what may be compromised is a result is quality of service and a less of a targeted approach. Working more closely with our clients and their HR teams is something we pride ourselves on and integral part to building our master vendor relationships. We believe that master vendor is the key to unlocking a true recruitment partnership and are investing more into increasing the provision of this service throughout the legal market.