As the legal industry continues to evolve, and competition for talent at the top level remains competitive, law firms may need to adapt strategies to attract the right legal talent in 2023.
Of course, offering competitive compensation packages will continually be attractive to lawyers. However, more recently, various other factors are top of mind for lawyers looking to progress at a top-tier law firm.
I sit down with our most experienced recruiters and company Directors, Jonathan Taylor (Director of London) and across the pond, Matthew Hart (Director of Australia), to reveal precisely what is influencing the decisions of talented associates in 2023 and effective ways law firms can position themselves as attractive employers.
- Law firms that emphasise the importance of development, mentoring and a strong work pipeline will be looked at favourably by associates.
- In the tight market, firms that streamline and invest in effective recruitment processes that sell the team and firm brand will stand in a stronger position now and when the market picks up.
- Culture, work/life balance and technology adoption remain big talking points.
In our conversation, both Jonathan and Matthew emphasise the increasing importance of professional development and face time with partners to aspiring associates.
Matthew Hart, Director of Australia at Sonder Consultants, said.
"A lot of lawyers are rethinking their strategy of finding the top paying firms in the market, where short-term financial gain is a top priority, and looking instead at the best platforms for long-term, satisfying careers, with a strong pipeline of work. Top legal talent wants to work in an environment that values and invests in their professional development."
Jonathan Taylor added:
"Law firms who offer face time with partners, mentorship programs, in-house training, and opportunities for career advancement will attract talent. It's certainly at the front of minds for lawyers in City."
Matthew Hart highlights that mentoring is a big concern and priority for more junior and mid-level associates.
‘’Many lawyers want to find partners/firms who genuinely care about their development and have a track record of putting time and energy into training, development and consistent, constructive feedback. Lawyers, particularly at the junior & mid-levels want that valuable partner face-time so they can ask questions.’’
With the market as it stands, law firm recruitment processes (in some instances) are becoming slower. As a result, some candidates have been let down by disorganised recruitment process; as a result, changing their opinion on the firm entirely and heading to competitors.
Jonathan Taylor comments,
"We aren't seeing candidates rushed through an interview process in a couple of days for fear of losing them as we saw in 2021 and H1 of 2022. Instead, firms are taking their time. However, we are finding the slower interview processes are leading to a lack of communication from firms, and candidates are getting frustrated and feel their application is not being taken as seriously as they would like. This leads to disengagement, and ultimately their being attracted to other options."
Even if Partners are in no rush to hire, showcasing the brand and withholding an elite reputation is hugely important. Be responsive and show the associate precisely what it means to work within a team at this firm and the opportunities it can present.
As a Marketing Manager, I can't stress the importance of showcasing a strong employer brand. Utilise digital marketing initiatives to promote the firm's values and mission, highlight employee success stories, and maintain a positive online reputation. This image then needs to be reflected within the recruitment process. An interview is as much about selling the firm to a candidate as it is them selling themselves to you!
Moving forward in 2023 it's obvious that traditional work culture has no doubt shifted since covid. While some partners are trying to navigate this, there's no denying that law firms that leverage this could be in a better position to attract talent, and this doesn't just mean offering working from home.
Matthew Hart says:
"We speak with many candidates who like the buzz of the office and working close to their team and partners. A lot feel like the communication between parties is lost when working from home. However, they appreciate the recognition from firms regarding work/life balance, mental health, and the threat of burnout. Law firms that offer additional perks and benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, gym memberships, social events, parental leave and flexible working will have the upper hand."
Questions regarding work environments and cultures that value diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to arise. An overall supportive and collaborative team-oriented atmosphere is highly important to associates. And I'm often asked the question, 'what's the culture like?' Before, 'what are they paying'?
In 2023, more law firms are turning to technology to streamline operations and remain competitive. But is this attractive to lawyers?
Matthew Hart says:
It's not the first question they ask, however talented young lawyers are attracted to firms that invest in technology to improve their services and make their jobs more efficient. Anything that means they can do less paperwork and more client time and problem-solving is a win.
In conclusion, to attract top legal talent in 2023, law firms must emphasise professional development, provide mentoring and a strong pipeline of work, leverage technology, foster a diverse and inclusive culture, create a strong employer brand and think outside the box when it comes to promoting work/life balance by offering new and supportive incentives that truly make a difference.
Implement these strategies, and attract the world’s best legal talent in 2023.
Want to book a consultant to address your hiring needs this year? Book a meeting here.