Top 5 Legal Talent Retention Strategies

Posted June 17th, 2021 by Urban Legal Recruitment

Employee retention is a top HR challenge for law firms. So why, when firms are spending big dollars recruiting, hiring and training new lawyers, do they often not make the required investment in retaining them? 

Most firms do not fully understand the full cost of churn. They track billable hours, and other key financial performance indicators, but rarely understand the real cost of staff turnover.

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we’ve seen a significant spike in activity in 2021. We know by talking with firms, lawyers and paralegals every day that retaining quality staff requires an investment in both their personal and professional wellbeing. Here are some steps your firm can take to protect its investment, both financial and human.

The right people 

Retention actually begins with recruiting the right people. If your candidate is not the right fit, nothing you, or they, do can make it work. Start by ensuring the right hire. Enough said.

Financial incentives

To retain top talent, remuneration must include short- and long-term bonus incentives that are transparent and flexible, along with competitive salaries, perks and benefits.  

“This year we are seeing a significant increase in mental health spending accounts,” says Shona Tischner, ULR Director of Executive Recruitment and Professional Support. “Firms are offering on-line sessions, group chats and other ways to ensure their staff feel their mental health is truly being supported and not judged.” 

Investing in employee mental health is good for the firm too. A 2019 Deloitte report reveals that companies with mental health programs in place for one year had a median annual ROI of $1.62 for every dollar invested, which rose to more than double for companies with programs in place for three or more years.

Yes, money and other types of compensation matter a lot - but there’s more.

Work/life balance

The days of 80+ hour weeks are waning. Societal changes like two-career families, diversity, equity and inclusion, and changing demographics are redefining the workplace.

Millennials gravitate to, and are more likely to stay with, organizations that embrace “triple bottom line” values (people, profit and planet).They are interested in working collaboratively and take a more personal approach to their work. Boundaries between personal and professional are blurring and they expect more flexibility and stronger relationships.

“We’ve seen firms find innovative ways of ensuring their people are connecting and socializing, including Zoom workout classes, virtual coffees with coworkers, online wine tasting, and virtual  Friday afternoon get togethers,” according to Shona.    

Firms that offer flexible work arrangements, increased personal days, childcare/eldercare support for families, and a holistic recognition of the ‘whole’ person and not just the professional, will be rewarded with increased loyalty and commitment. 

Meaningful work 

“Everyone wants to feel like they belong and fit. Engaging employees in defining what ‘meaningful work’ is to them, and providing clear career progression and growth opportunities that support their goals will go a long way in retaining your high performers,” according to Stacy Cowan, ULR founder and Partner, Associate and In-House Legal Recruitment. 

Clearly communicating the corporate strategy, vision and goals helps employees see the ‘big picture’ and how the work they do is important to the success of the firm. By understanding where they fit and what their contributions mean to the success of the firm, they are more likely to engage and commit.

Corporate culture

Solid leadership, ongoing training, coaching and mentorship, and a corporate culture based on trust, transparency, and respect greatly increase the chances of attracting and maintaining loyal, engaged employees.

There are numerous studies that confirm engaged employees are more productive and stay longer with their company than less engaged employees. Recognizing and rewarding employees is one of the best ways to improve employee engagement. Formal annual recognition events, coupled with impromptu rewards, let employees know that they are seen and appreciated. 

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Richard Branson

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.