The fight for law firms to retain top performers and attract new talent remains a constant challenge, according to new research from legal recruiter Clayton Legal.
Alongside multi-faceted socio-economic factors and a changing competitive environment, firms are also competing with the fact that there are fewer active candidates on the market, as well as some after-shocks from the pandemic which has seen some permanent changes to how, when, and most importantly where legal professionals are requesting to work.
According to the report, over 55% of respondents received a pay rise within the last 12 months, and over 36% were in receipt of a financial bonus – although the latter failed to hit the mark with the overwhelming majority (71%). And, whilst financial reward and remuneration is being used by firms to attract and keep their staff, it isn’t top of the wish list amongst legal professionals. Instead, a continued desire for flexibility in working arrangements, be that agile, home or “hybrid-working” – a buzz word that seemingly hasn’t lost its buzz.
Lynn Sedgwick, Managing Director of Clayton Legal, said:
“The pandemic has undoubtedly shifted the power dynamic with employees putting personal life, mental health, and well-being before work than they were before 2020. Ultimately, this comes down to a continued focus on the much-desired work-life balance. Active jobseekers are also acutely aware of workplace culture and a law firm’s ‘employer value proposition’ as we see a fallout from the pandemic, and ultimately, they’re prepared to move firms in order to get it.
Employee expectations are higher than ever, and law firms know that. In the current market, they need to be offering something beyond a competitive salary to turn the heads of legal professionals that, thanks to a perfect storm of increased demand and short supply, have a number of golden opportunities at their fingertips.”
The report highlights that the challenges faced by law firms in 2022 aren’t just around hiring either. Staff attrition and retention (and subsequent need for recruitment) is part of the ongoing conversation, but given the tumultuous past 24 months, the research highlights that there is still some concern about the long-tail impact of COVID on the sector. Nearly 19% of respondents stated that they didn’t foresee ongoing challenges around hiring, retention, or the continued debate around hybrid and home-working – but did verbalise other themes around staff engagement, increasing market share, supply chain issues and rising business operating costs.