What’s Motivating Associates Beyond Money?

Written By:
Daniel Sweeney
Legal Search Consultant

It has been a massive start to 2022. In March, the Cravath salary scale topped out at $415,000 for the associate class of 2014. Law firms have used salary increases as a recruiting tool amid stiff competition for attorneys, particularly for more experienced associates who specialise in deal work.

We have also seen firms add an extra pay tier, reward huge bonuses and stay competitive by moving quickly to match their competitors’ associate salaries.

It’s clear to see that the war for top talent is not slowing down. From salaries to sign-on and retention bonuses, associate compensation keeps rocketing higher. All bets are off when a deal has to get done, and candidates are very much in the driving seat.

Despite such generosity, law firms continue to struggle to retain talent. According to data from the 2022 State of the Legal Market Report, associate turnover at law firms reached almost 25% through November 2021 on a rolling 12-month basis.

As the search for the best talent continues in the legal market, firms are wondering what else they can offer (outside of compensation) that will attract lawyers. Hybrid working continues to be a contentious talking point, but the firms that have seen the most success in their recruitment efforts are the ones who have been able to think outside the box and provide unexpected benefits.

Some of which our consultants have seen include:  

1\. Flexibility in terms of location

2\. Excellent relocation packages

3\. Clear paths to partnership

From phone calls I have been having, I noticed that quite a few people didn’t realise the extent of some firms’ relocation packages. For example, they can help you find agents to sell your current place, sometimes pay lease break fees, assist you with a realtor on this side of the pond/pacific, etc. Some firms also allow you to work remotely, from different offices. So, if you want to work from Miami in the Summer, that’s okay!

Firms that have also been more forthcoming regarding partnership opportunities and providing transparent career development paths have been successful in attracting lawyers with a longer term vision.

– Stefano Barbagallo, Senior US Consultant at Sonder

4\. Development of assistance programs for parents and caregivers who have children with social or behavioural challenges or development disabilities

5\. IVF support

6\. Emergency care for child, adult and elder care

7\. Pet care and pet insurance

''It can be challenging for those looking to start a family or have children, parents, or even pets to support, to juggle lawyer life, especially when working hours become demanding. So anything that provides peace of mind and support in their personal life may be a benefit worth more than money to some attorneys.''

8)Educational tutors

  1. Breast milk delivery service  

  1. Physical examinations  

Unsurprisingly, ambitious lawyers are factoring in their lives outside of work when it comes to deciding which firm is best for them, and I have been advising my clients of the same. The cash has been great to see and truly deserved for the hours put in by lawyers over the last two years; however, it is time for firms to get creative when it comes to what else they can offer.

As recruiters at Sonder, our job is not just to help our candidates when it comes to salary but to also meet other requirements regarding how they work, career goals, and personal commitments. While there’s no denying money is important, it is just one factor among many that attorneys consider when evaluating whether to make a move – especially after the whirlwind of the pandemic and other economical and political issues across the world.

For more insight into what firm benefits you can secure, and career advice, please reach out to us at: info@sonderconsultants.com

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”
– A Lincoln