Look at almost any law firm website and you’ll likely see boasts about how the firm is “client-focused” or “client-centric.” Certainly, devoting your energy and efforts towards serving your clients is a positive, if not essential, attribute for a successful practice. Same goes for securing those clients in the first place.
While calling your firm “attorney-focused” may not be the best marketing strategy, attracting, retaining, and managing the legal talent that will help your firm thrive requires a commitment as important as the dedication you show to your clients.
Focusing on associate job satisfaction and professional development, as well as efforts toward building a cohesive sense of common purpose, are investments that will pay dividends to your clients and your firm’s bottom line. Here are five success strategies that leading law firms can adopt as part of that investment.
Technology, culture, attitudes, habits – all of these evolve from generation to generation. What was once standard operating procedure for Baby Boomers or even Gen-Xers can now seem completely obsolete or anachronistic to Millennials and Gen Zs. This can lead to misunderstandings and disconnects between younger associates and more senior attorneys. If firm management does not understand what matters to the talent they are trying to recruit and keep, or if they won’t come to terms with these generational differences, newer attorneys will find a place that does. Understand and adopt talent management strategies (including leadership and professional development) that address these specific generational distinctions.
Poor communication is often cited as the single biggest factor that leads to client complaints to state bars or disciplinary bodies. A failure to encourage open communication within your firm can lead to similar dissatisfaction. It can also stymie the innovation, collaboration, and calculated risk-taking that is essential to success in a legal profession that is evolving at unprecedented speed. Make sure that you encourage open communication and actively solicit honest feedback.
Understanding and connecting with individual lawyers’ personal and professional “whys” – what drives them, gives them purpose, and provides them with meaning – will allow you to adopt policies and approaches that address those motivations. This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that practicing at your firm will be a part of the answer to those questions.
Talent management is not about paperwork and your HR department. It’s about maximizing the value that your legal talent provides your clients and your firm. Developing and retaining your attorney talent and reducing costly attorney turnover should indeed be valued as a strategic business objective. So shift your mindset about talent management from being seen as an administrative task to a strategic business objective.
Identify and employ the right talent management specialists to lead your firm’s leadership development and talent management initiatives and programs. While relying on internal resources may be the right choice for some firms, retaining outside experts is sometimes the optimal solution for developing and implementing effective talent management strategies.
While implementing these strategies will require additional time, focus, commitment, and resources, it is worth it in the long run because to stay competitive, every law firm must attract, develop, and retain quality legal talent.