How Your Law Firm Can Attract and Retain Top Talent
Many industries have been thrown into chaos through the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing with financial uncertainty, remote working, and, in many cases, a decrease in staff retention rates. This move has been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation,’ with companies reporting abnormally high employee turnover across all industries.
However, high turnover has been an issue within the legal field for some years. For example, while the turnover rates at AmLaw 100 Firms reached nearly 25% last year, the 2019 pre-pandemic figures weren’t far behind (19%).
Why does the legal industry have a problem with retaining talent?
There are various reasons for the high turnover rate in the legal industry, particularly among associates and attorneys. For example:
- Legal professionals are prone to burnout. The expectations are high for attorneys and associates, even at smaller firms. This means that they often work unsociable hours in a highly pressurized environment. As such, it’s hardly surprising that 7 out of 10 legal workers claim their job negatively impacts mental health.
- Better opportunities elsewhere. One of the major reasons associates or attorneys leave a firm is that they’ve been offered better opportunities elsewhere. This would have been remedied by upping salaries in the past, but studies show that record salaries aren’t stopping the associate turnover crisis. For example, many professionals are now placing higher importance on workplace satisfaction and developing new skills.
- Poor workplace culture. Poor workplace culture is often cited as a key factor why legal professionals choose to leave a firm. In some cases, it encourages them to leave the industry altogether. While some professionals thrive in hyper-competitive environments, in recent years, studies suggest that employees prefer collaborative, supportive spaces.
How can you attract and retain talent?
As the above evidence indicates, employee retention is one of the larger challenges your law firm will face in the coming years. With that in mind, you must develop strong talent acquisition and retention strategy now so that you’re able to put your best foot forward.
Here are some excellent strategies you may want to incorporate into your employment plans.
- The promise of a better work-life balance. As discussed in the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market, higher salaries and benefits don’t always result in high retention rates. However, firms that promise their staff a better work-life balance report a lower turnover, alongside increased efficiency and productivity. One way you can achieve this goal is by lowering billable hour goals.
- The opportunity to work remotely. Many offices have already begun re-introducing their staff to the office space. While in-person interactions can promote better workplace relationships, this may not be the best option for employee retention. This is because remote working gives employees more freedom over their day, as they no longer have to factor in commutes. This works to promote the ever-important work-life balance and can also boost productivity considerably.
- Refine your Associate Compensation Plan. Having an attractive compensation plan in place will undoubtedly help when it comes to sourcing and retaining talent. After all, employees want to feel as though they are valued and compensated fairly for their time. In addition to a competitive salary, your compensation plan should touch on the following: health insurance, retirement plans, sick pay, and stock options.
- Show employees you care. A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that there is a clear link between employee well-being and organizational performance and that employees who feel valued at work are more likely to stick around. After all, this helps to create an environment that is warm, welcoming, and supportive where everyone is given the opportunity to thrive. Thankfully, there are various ways to show your employees that you care. This can be as simple as sending a quick email to tell them you appreciate their work.
In short, there are various steps you can take to attract and retain talent in the coming years. However, to ensure the great resignation works to your advantage, firms must deal with this scenario on a case-by-case basis. For example, each employee will want something different from their time with your firm, and a flexible approach will allow you to cater to their diverse needs.