What can law firms do to recruit and retain their employees?

In many ways, The Great Resignation could be called The Great Reflection. It’s definitely a candidate market – and they not only want more money, but also more flexibility, satisfaction and work-life balance.

Companies are losing talent and struggling to replace their employees as other companies emerge and offer them more incentives.

The solution to the talent problem facing companies seems simple: reduce employee turnover by making your company more attractive.

Is it really that hard for law firms today to retain and recruit talent?

Legal intelligence firm Leopard Solutions has published some revealing findings in its recently published study 2021 State of the Legal Industry Report which you can download for free:

  • In 2021, 14,000 career changers moved – a number that significantly exceeded 2019 and 2020 (which was of course a strange year due to the pandemic).

  • Leopard Solutions tracked nearly 12,000 job openings in 2021, the highest number ever

  • Leopard research shows that the overall percentage of ethnically mixed lawyers in law firms has remained virtually unchanged over the past two years. The percentage of diverse attorneys in the top 200 firms appears to remain frozen at 17%.

  • Since 2012, sidewalkers are now taking 61% longer to become partners. For new hires who stay with their original company, the time to partner search increased by a staggering 136%. Broken down differently – that’s an incredible 3100+ days! Leaving makes more sense than staying at your place of origin if that is the case – so much for being a ‘native’ attorney these days.

It takes significantly longer to hire someone than it does to quit and leave. So the solution is to immediately increase employee retention while ramping up your recruitment efforts

Organizations must then continue to improve the employee experience. (Also – not only for lawyers but also for administration professionals who also leave because they are tired of being treated differently than lawyers).

The Great Resignation is the result of a shift in thinking about what people expect from their employers. They want to work for companies that align with their values ​​and offer growth opportunities.

Additionally, law firms today need to think beyond financial incentives and:

  • Continue to offer flexible working environments and remote arrangements

  • Expand your talent pool by thinking more creatively about how you find candidates

  • Provide growth opportunities such as leadership roles, educational opportunities, and thinking beyond the flat law firm model

  • Support professional development in a unique way

  • Create sustainable, real change and keep innovating

  • And perhaps most importantly, show that you genuinely care about your employees and invest in them every day.

A Harvard Business Review article suggests customer retention measures that can have the greatest impact:

  • Incentivize loyalty – (which the idea is to pay people enough to take the money issue off the table) with the added benefit of re-leveling pay is that you have the ability to increase pay inequality for people of color and women recognize and correct, including mothers of young children

  • Provide Opportunities for Growth – Forward-thinking companies have been engaging in retention talks for the past few months – by asking their best employees what it would take to keep them and acting accordingly. Show current employees that you value them even more than potential hires by offering them new opportunities for growth and advancement.

  • Elevate Your Purpose – Prove to your people that your business is about more than the bottom line. And don’t just talk about purpose; Use it to shape what you do and how you do it.

  • Prioritize culture and connections – Make time to connect and build relationships with – and between – your employees. Not only will this strengthen their relationship with your company, but HBR research during the pandemic shows that social connections also have a significant positive impact on productivity.

  • Invest in the care of your employees and their families – Provide mental health resources, recognize the personal sacrifices everyone has made during the pandemic, help parents with young children by providing or subsidizing day care, and grant more paid time off.

Also, today it’s so important to listen to the wants and needs of your employees and then act on their feedback. Encouraging two-way communication will help businesses of all types retain their employees. To that end, consider sending out frequent surveys, holding City Hall question-and-answer sessions with business leaders, and meaningful one-on-one meetings.

And finally, Put your people first – every day. Dennis Garcia, Microsoft’s in-house counsel, said so in a Leopard webinar on diversity in law firms.

We have a tremendous opportunity right now to reflect on our value proposition to employees.

Consciously designing an employee experience that focuses on a people-first culture will be a key differentiator today.

Law firms – and employers of all kinds – develop engagement through trust, security, flexibility, inclusion, diversity and well-being.

If you don’t already have a recruiting marketing strategy, now is the time to create one. Here’s a framework you can use.

Copyright © 2022, Stefanie M. Marrone. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 46

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