For every profit-making organization, it has now become a necessity to get back on track and serve their customers better than before. When COVID-19 struck, it changed the growth path of several businesses, a few of which are struggling even now to regain their performance levels. If we consider the legal sector, it continues to reel and adapt to the culture-shock which covid has given it, as a result of which, the profession has changed at a rapid speed. What started from merely shifting from office-working to working from home space has now been converted to a new an unfamiliar concept of hybrid working. Not only this, the sector has faced several other changes too, some of which have posed a serious challenge towards the growth of the legal sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought along ‘the great resignation’, a period where several lawyers, from various fields, found themselves leaving the sector entirely. If we consider the reasons for the same, several attributed that the pandemic forced law firms to layoff their employees and stop hiring new candidates. Among other reasons, the profession has also become a prime target for cybercrime, due to the growing need to keep up with their clients’ evolving expectations in an increasingly online world.
A report from 2021 by the Thomson Reuters stated that lawyer recruitment and retention was cited by 51% of the respondents as the top concern. Therefore, in this article, we will be discussing about the need for talent retention for law firms while highlighting a few trends which firms can follow to attract talent to their law firm while also retaining the existing one.
Firms need to introduce flexibility and allow employees more personal control over their working arrangements. For many years, the legal fraternity resisted the idea of letting teams work from their homes, believing that the most productive work could only be done from offices. However, the pandemic proved this wrong. With access to right technology, legal teams were able to do nearly everything from home, be it client calls, or court meetings via videoconferencing. The American Bar Association conducted a survey in 2022 which revealed that 44% of the respondents would leave their place of employment for a greater ability to work remotely elsewhere. We have proved that, we can work effectively even through remote locations, hence for firms aiming to retain talent it is important to support remote work in order to improve employees’ performance while also retaining them.
Providing growth and development opportunities early in the career is also a way through which law firms can retain talent. For professionals who are just beginning their law career, the experience can be a bit overwhelming and make them anxious to what it actually feels like working in the real world. For any young legal professional, it is important to use the best technology when proceeding with their research. This will not only get their work done in less time, but will teach them more about the law in the process. Another way through which we can provide young lawyers with opportunities for growth and development is by adding them to the teams which handle the specific cases. This can allow the lawyers to learn how to set meeting with clients and how to receive inputs of other fellow lawyers. Law firms can also build development plans, which allow lawyers to visualise where they would like to be in the coming years. Such development plans are a mirror for these lawyers to reflect on their choices and career paths, making them visualise their future, which as a result, can encourage people to stay in the law firm and work hardly. However, the same can also lead to reduction in turnover of an organization, if the firm realises that they do not like where they stand, as of then.
The people who work at our law firm do so with the objective of creating a sense of meaning and purpose in their work. We as individuals have now become more aware to our surroundings, and hence wish to make a difference in the world. Therefore, it becomes the duty of the law firm to realise if they are capable of making an impact on the world. They need to find their purpose. This purpose should then become a part of our firm’s recruitment and onboarding process. Moreover, our works also should be aligned in a manner which clearly depicts our firm’s purpose. To find meaning in the work we perform, lawyers should learn about the activities which excite them and steer them toward work for clients where there is a common interest. For members entering the firm, they should be allowed to use the firm’s technology and learn about it in their own way. In cases where certain lawyers are pursuing a case which lies out of their expertise, then we as lawyers need to let them be passionate about it and let them embrace it too.
The legal sphere still has Gen Z dominating the workforce, with ages above 40 categorizing under the highest contributor to the field, while the oldest zoomers are only in their mid-20s. These Gen Z though are new to high-speed internet, have still embraced technology once it became available. Right now, legal firms are under a constant battle to retain top talent in their firm in order to meet their clients’ business needs. Therefore, it is important for firms to create a culture which is attractive for millennials and zoomers in order to give them a chance of staying in the legal sphere. Among all the trends we discussed, it is important to have the most up-to-date legal technology at the table. With all of this, it is important for law firms to align their own needs, and evaluate their opportunity against others.
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