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What law firms should know about the Great Resignation

Image credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The Great Resignation of 2021, felt most heavily in the U.S., refers to a sweeping number of resignations occurring across the globe. While the pandemic played a large role in fostering the Great Resignation, many find the Great Realisation metaphor more apt for the current moment.

The Great Realisation is a more positive spin on current events, combining the negative aspects of the pandemic and the Great Resignation with a hopeful outlook for society’s future. In some sense, reaching positive outcomes post-pandemic can mean successfully navigating the vacancies left in the wake of the Great Resignation.

What triggered the Great Resignation at law firms?

An air of uncertainty unfolded in the wake of the pandemic, reaching many aspects of daily life. With it came the Great Resignation, which led to millions of workers leaving their jobs, many in search of better positions elsewhere. While efforts made by European countries are influencing a slow down in resignations, putting them closer to pre-pandemic levels, European businesses are adjusting their talent retention and attrition strategies nonetheless.

In the legal sector, these strategies aim to mitigate employee resignations and law firm turnover. Employees are leaving law firms for myriad reasons, including:

  • Rethinking preferred work-life balance scenarios;
  • Remote or hybrid model work environment options;
  • Commuting considerations;
  • High workload expectations and/or lawyer burnout;
  • Pay and benefits considerations;
  • Health and safety concerns; and,
  • A desire for meaningful work opportunities.

With these considerations in mind, employers are now focusing on how best to adjust their hiring practices, talent retention, and talent attrition strategies to hire and keep talent within their firms.

How can law firms combat the Great Resignation?

Law firms can avoid losing strong talent within their firms by focusing on the priorities the modern workforce has identified during the Great Realisation. The following measures may go a long way in encouraging employees to remain employed at your firm.

Develop a benefits package that meets lawyer needs

It’s no secret that competitive pay, benefits, and perks can secure talent for the long term. If possible, reevaluate these metrics to make your firm competitive with the new opportunities that may be springing up elsewhere. In-office perks, like comfortable communal spaces or free snacks and coffee, or remote work perks, like stipends for food delivery or home office equipment, are also nice additions to an employee benefits package.

Another option consists of making opportunities for advancement fully transparent; giving employees a clear career ladder, an outline of responsibilities, and necessary experience at each level, which can bolster employees’ desire to stay at your firm long-term to work their way up the value chain.

Create a collaborative work environment for more engaged employees

Lawyer burnout can come from high workload expectations or isolation, which can be mitigated by creating a more collaborative work environment among employees. In-office adjustments to law firm culture can consist of designating conference rooms for impromptu meetings or collaborative work times or reorganising your firm’s departments to encourage more interdepartmental collaboration. Mentorship programs, wherein early career professionals can learn from seniors, can also foster a collaborative work environment that employees may value long-term.

Clearly communicate job requirements and expectations

To attract the right candidates for any job openings your firm might have, it can help to delineate each position’s job requirements, expectations, education and experience level, and pay and benefits package. The more refined you can get, the better able you are to identify candidates who will best fit the roles available at your firm. At the same time, communicating these metrics clearly will help candidates better understand what to expect if offered a position; job candidates become long-term employees when their experience on the job matches the expectations presented at the outset. Understanding the workload entailed in a given position can also help to mitigate the lawyer burnout rate.

Identify ideal job candidates that align with law firm values

Top candidates for roles at your firm will, of course, depend on how well these candidates score on several metrics. However, in terms of minimising talent attrition, your firm will want to identify those candidates whose values and career goals best align with your firm’s. For example, a candidate who wishes to climb a career ladder may not remain at your firm if growth opportunities are not present. When hiring candidates, make sure to identify which candidates have the potential to last long-term as law firm associates. To attract the right talent pool, consider updating your firm’s values to address the evolving needs of the modern workforce.

Stop the Great Resignation: Strategies for reducing law firm turnover

As the Great Resignation continues, a number of strategies for attracting and retaining top legal talent present themselves. To learn more, check out these 5 tactics your firm can embrace in an effort to stop the Great Resignation.

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