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Winning the Talent War

Winning the Talent War

Winning the Talent War

The following article was originally published in the Trial Lawyer’s Journal, Vol. I. To subscribe and access the complete 130+ pages of interviews, articles and more, visit for more information.

Attracting and retaining top legal talent has become a significant challenge for law firms in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Great Resignation, coupled with the trend of the
Great Re Shuffling, has led to high employee turnover rates and disengagement among legal professionals. Law firms struggle to retain top talent due to the increasing demand for better work-life balance, flexibility, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Instituting the changes needed to retain your employees can be expensive, but it is crucial, as high employee turnover can negatively impact a business in multiple ways. With the current state of growing employee frustration, law firms need to take action and make the necessary changes to hold onto their top legal talent.

Navigating change: Coping with the aftermath of the pandemic

As the world continues to grapple with the aftermath of COVID-19, the legal industry is also feeling the effects of the pandemic. From changes in work arrangements to shifts in hiring and retention practices, law firms have had to navigate a new landscape.

This Great Resignation was a major cause of concern for private practices over the last few years, as many are struggling to retain their top talent. In the legal field, we saw more of a Great ReShuffling than just resignations. ReShuffling is the trend of lawyers and other professionals leaving traditional private practice for in-house positions and vice versa. The NALP Foundation’s most recent Update on Associate Attrition reports that the turnover rate for associates is at an all-time high — 26%. Law firms lost over one-quarter of their associates in 2021. Pre-pandemic, that number was 18%. Because of the greater demand (and, therefore, opportunities) for experienced professionals, mid-career lawyers have made up the greatest number of those changing jobs in the legal profession, particularly in early 2021. Junior lawyers have joined the reshuffling (read exodus from their organizations), and according to this study, many plan to change jobs in the coming year.

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We’ve seen disengagement play out in our offices (or remote work situations) with the phenomena of quiet quitting. Quiet quitting — when an employee disengages from their job and reduces their level of productivity without formally resigning — can indicate that an employee
is unhappy with their work or work environment but may not feel comfortable voicing their concerns or quitting outright.

Even more frustrating for firms is that many studies, like the American Bar Association’s Practice Foward’s study, “Where Does the Legal Profession Go from Here,” show a real shift in how lawyers want to work in the future. In addition to remote work, the report indicates that compensation may not be the primary motivator for legal professionals. Rather, employees take issue with diversity, equity and inclusion, professional mobility, and lack of technology.

Instituting change can be hard (And expensive)

A high employee turnover rate can negatively impact a business by decreasing productivity, affecting client service, and damaging morale. Therefore, employee retention should be a top priority for any business, and providing opportunities for employee development and growth can help keep staff engaged and motivated.

Designing a comprehensive professional development program at your law firm can be an overwhelming job due to its cost and operational requirements. It’s a major investment for your firm to implement an effective program that integrates professional development during onboarding, provides ongoing assessment, creates a culture of learning, and provides opportunities to apply new skills.

Winning the Talent War 2
In the legal field, we saw more of a great reshuffling than just resignations.

This moment of employee unrest highlights the importance of prioritizing employees, and law firms that create a supportive and engaging work environment will be well-positioned for success in the current job market and beyond. So, it’s time to take action and make the necessary changes to keep top legal talent.

How can you attract the best legal talent

Attracting the best legal talent for your law firm requires a combination of strategic approaches. Start by ensuring that your firm’s vision and values are prominent in your job descriptions and interview process to find candidates who align with your culture and long-term goals.

Additionally, make sure to announce open positions, highlighting the benefits of the position and what the firm has to offer. By implementing strategic interviewing by appointing the right team members to the interviewing panel, providing clear instructions and a set of questions, and using an interview scorecard, the law firm can communicate its commitment to employee growth and development.

Use traditional job search sites, referrals, recruiters, law schools’ career offices, and recruitment events to find potential candidates. When posting job openings, use accurate job post wording to attract suitable candidates, emphasizing the firm’s benefits and values.

Managing the hiring process effectively is crucial, including sorting candidates into qualified vs. unqualified, clear communication about the firm’s goals and values, and maintaining contact with the recruiter or candidate throughout the process.

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Retain your best employees

Offering flexible work arrangements, clarifying hybrid policies, rethinking caseloads, providing ongoing career development opportunities, investing in legal technology, and revisiting employee pay and benefits packages are essential steps that personal injury or civil litigation law firms can take to attract and retain legal talent.

Revise benefit offerings

One approach to consider is revising the employee pay structure. This could include offering more competitive salaries, merit-based pay increases, or performance-based bonuses. Performance-based bonuses can motivate employees to achieve specific goals and create a healthy competitive culture where employees feel rewarded for their hard work and contributions.

Additionally, revising employee benefits packages to include additional perks can help to retain associates. For instance, some firms are offering additional sick leave or paid time off to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. A home office stipend can also benefit signifi cantly, particularly as remote work is popular. Commuting benefits, such as reimbursements for public transportation or parking costs can also appeal to employees who commute to work.

Flexible work schedules

Another benefit to consider is offering more flexibility in work schedules. Flexible schedules help employees balance their personal and professional obligations, increasing job satisfaction and reducing stress levels. A 2022 Law Firm Leadership Survey conducted by Withum revealed differences between staff and attorneys’ expectations regarding remote work: currently, 54% of lawyers have a permanent hybrid work environment, while 35% of staff reportedly have a similar arrangement.

Flexible schedules include telecommuting, flexible start and end times, or compressed workweeks. It’s not just about instituting remote or flexible work. A lack of clarity around hybrid work expectations can lead to frustration for employees. So make sure to have documented hybrid work expectations.

Rethink caseloads

If your firm has experienced significant changes in size or structure over the past few years, it might be time to revisit the optimal caseload for each attorney and staff member. The optimal caseload for each attorney can vary depending on the complexity of the cases they are handling, the attorney’s experience level, and the firm’s workload.

Consider the expertise of individual attorneys when assigning caseloads. Does your staff want to grow in certain niches or learn different matters? In these cases, assigning cases based on each attorney’s wishes may be necessary rather than simply distributing them evenly across the firm.

Law firms that create a supportive and engaging work environment will be well-positioned for success.

Implement technology

Implementing technology is becoming increasingly important for law firms to remain competitive and meet the demands of modern clients and employees. Case management is one software that can significantly impact your firm. For your law firm, you want to invest in case management software designed specifically for personal injury law firms.

CloudLex is a case management software built exclusively for plaintiff personal injury firms based on their unique needs. The software provides a comprehensive suite of features designed to help law firms manage their cases more efficiently, from intake to resolution. Case management software typically offers a suite of tools like document management, task management, calendaring, and communication, all of which are customizable to suit each firm’s specific needs.

When looking for software, it has to be intuitive, with a user-friendly interface that requires minimal training. This ease of use is critical because if the software is simple and intuitive, employees will be more likely to use it, which can ultimately increase its effectiveness and impact on productivity.

Case management software can help reduce errors, improve efficiency, and increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Your team can automate routine tasks which helps staff work more efficiently, increasing job satisfaction and reducing burnout. CloudLex offers reporting capabilities that can help you identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your firm’s operations.

CloudLex’s easy-to-use interface and comprehensive suite of features make it an excellent choice for personal injury law firms looking to streamline their operations and stay competitive in today’s market.

Provide pathways for growth

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One effective approach to promoting employee growth is through mentorship programs. Mentors can guide and support employees at all levels, helping them identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and create a roadmap for career advancement. Mentorship programs within your firm also allow younger professionals to learn from more experienced colleagues and develop new skills and perspectives.

Another key element of career development is providing a budget for professional development initiatives. This could include access to courses (beyond CLE credits) or workshops, attending conferences and industry events, or participating in training programs specific to the organization’s needs. Providing a budget for professional development shows employees that their organization is invested in their growth and development.

Additionally, prioritize providing a clear career path for your employees, including opportunities for advancement and promotion. Setting up regular meetings where you can give feedback on performance, set goals, and create development plans can help employees understand their
role within the organization and how they can achieve their professional aspirations.

The pandemic has affected the legal industry, resulting in a Great Resignation and re-suffling of legal staff in law firms. Employee disengagement and declines in productivity have had negative impacts on firms. Law firms need to prioritize the development and growth of their employees, provide a supportive and engaging work environment, and offer competitive compensation and benefits packages to retain top legal talent.

Adopt a strategic approach to hiring by clearly promoting open positions, highlighting the firm’s benefits and values, and managing the hiring process efficiently to attract the best legal talent. By implementing these measures, law firms can position themselves for success in the current job market and beyond.

Cate Giordano is the founder of CML Digital Marketing, LLC, bringing over 15 years of experience in legal marketing and writing to the table. She advocates for legal tech solutions and provides tailored marketing services to support small law firms of all sizes.

The following article was originally published in the Trial Lawyer’s Journal, Vol. I. To subscribe and access the complete 130+ pages of interviews, articles and more, visit for more information.

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