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28 Jun

The Art of Retaining Top Legal Talent

by: Astor Professional Search

Mastering the art of retaining top legal talent in Chicago, Illinois, can mean the difference between a thriving law firm and one struggling to stay afloat in the fiercely competitive legal landscape. Law firms that want to attract and keep top-notch legal talent around must rethink their strategies. Some helpful strategies include cultivating a positive work culture and environment, providing competitive compensation and benefits, and offering opportunities for growth and advancement.

Male and female associates talking outside the office. Retaining Top Legal Talent

Learn more about attracting and retaining top legal talent in Illinois by calling Astor Professional Search at (312) 781-9000.

Strategies for Retaining Top Legal Talent

A high-performing workforce is the lifeblood of any successful law firm. Legal employers can better their chances of attracting and retaining top legal talent by implementing the strategies discussed below:

Nurturing a Positive Work Culture and Environment

Workers spend more time with colleagues than their loved ones. So, an effective way to improve the odds of retaining talented workers is to ensure the time they spend at work is peaceful and satisfying. Law firms can build a positive work culture and environment in the following ways:

Offering Effective Leadership

Effective leadership is crucial in cultivating a positive law firm work culture and environment. Those holding senior or leadership positions must set a good example. They should foster fairness, inclusivity, trust, and respect. A culture of trust and respect encourages workers to share their thoughts and ideas with coworkers, promoting collaboration and teamwork.

Leaders must develop core values, guidelines, and practices that align with the firm’s mission. They must communicate this mission to all workers and provide feedback to encourage the realization of the mission.

Leaders must listen to their workers, respect their opinions, and guide them on how to turn the firm’s goals into reality. Doing that will promote effective communication and collaboration within teams and the whole workforce.

Fostering a Culture of Acknowledging and Rewarding Excellence

Acknowledging and rewarding excellent performance can also nurture a positive work culture and environment. Law firms should develop and implement a well-organized and clear reward system. This system may constitute monthly awards for top-performing employees, bonuses based on performance, and capacity-building opportunities.

A culture of recognizing and rewarding excellence encourages the individual worker to strive for a better performance. It also sets a good example for the whole firm. Workers are likelier to focus more on performing at higher levels when they know that their employer values and recognizes their efforts. The outcome is an improvement in the law firm’s performance, reputation, and employee retention rates.

Enhancing Safety and Security at the Workplace

The workplace should be a safe and secure space. The law firm leadership should implement appropriate procedures for holding rogue employees accountable for their actions. Otherwise, the behavior of a single worker can negatively affect others and increase the risk of losing top talent to other firms.

Promoting Professionalism

Promoting professionalism is also instrumental in cultivating a healthy work culture and environment. Leaders can build a culture of professionalism by displaying professional conduct, treating others with respect, and offering workers the tools and resources they require to do their jobs.

Legal job seekers looking for law firms with a healthy work culture and favorable work environment can greatly benefit from working with a legal recruiter. Experienced legal recruiters know the culture, values, and practices of their law firm clients. They can leverage this knowledge to connect legal candidates with the right firms.

Offering Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Competitive compensation and benefits are the cornerstone for attracting and retaining top legal talent. In fact, 74% of human resource (HR) professionals attribute high turnover rates to insufficient compensation.

Law firms should research and familiarize themselves with market rates for various legal positions when preparing or amending a compensation package. They can use online salary databases, salary surveys from professional associations, and competitor analysis to assess how much different firms pay for legal positions. Understanding the market rates helps employers ensure their compensation packages are competitive.

Base salary must match the market rates, inflation, and experience level of employees. It makes more financial sense to increase the base salary than to hire new talent to replace employees who shift to competitors.

Besides raising the base salary, offering attractive perks can motivate employees to stay and continue performing at higher levels. Employers should review their current benefits package and seek recommendations on areas of improvement from employees. Some key benefits to add to the existing ones include paid time off (PTO), wellness programs, comprehensive health insurance, and mental health support.

Providing a competitive compensation package is not enough. Leaders must be willing to explain why employees are receiving a particular amount of compensation and the steps they can take to grow their income. Employees convinced that they receive a competitive payment are likelier to remain at the firm.

Creating Opportunities for Growth and Advancement

The types of lawyers in demand are those capable of gaining new skills to become leaders in emerging practice areas in the legal scene. So, legal professionals are likelier to stay at a firm that offers them opportunities to develop new skills and progress in their careers.

Many young lawyers no longer deem climbing the career ladder through promotions as career progression. Instead, they prefer to gain new skills or improve existing ones to grow in their unique career paths.

Law firms should determine skills likely to enhance their capabilities and attain strategic growth goals. They should then develop and implement opportunities to equip talent with new skills or build on existing ones. They may, for instance, implement training programs, organize workshops, and facilitate employees to attend industry conferences.

Creating transparent and structured career development plans is also crucial. New and existing workers need to know the available career paths within the firm and the steps they need to take to advance in their positions.

High-performing workers may stay when they can visualize their career journey within the law firm. Knowing which questions to ask at a law firm interview can help legal candidates determine if the firm they are considering joining offers opportunities for growth and advancement.

Offer Mentorship Programs

Well-thought-out mentorship programs can improve the retention rates of high-performing employees. These programs address knowledge gaps and promote professional development by allowing junior legal professionals to learn from their seniors and vice versa. They also enhance workers’ skills and cultivate a sense of loyalty.

Law firms can take advantage of the following mentorship programs to better their chances of retaining top legal talent:

  • Traditional Mentorship Model: This model is the most common form of mentorship. It is also called one-on-one mentorship. It involves a senior lawyer (mentor) helping a junior lawyer (mentee) grow, improve, and realize his or her goals. The mentor does this by offering the mentee the advice and support required to face the ever-evolving challenges of legal practice.
  • Peer Mentorship: This style is akin to the one-on-one mentorship model. The key difference is that the mentor and mentee are within the same age range or job level. This model nurtures a supportive culture within a law firm by allowing lawyers to share knowledge, ideas, and experience, solve problems together, and demand accountability from each other.
  • Group Mentorship: This model involves a senior lawyer guiding and supporting a group of junior lawyers. It enables mentees to acquire new skills and build on existing ones. It also promotes teamwork within a team and throughout the law firm.
  • Reverse Mentoring: This mentorship style is the opposite of the traditional one-on-one mentorship. It involves a junior legal professional mentoring a more senior one. Junior lawyers may, for instance, guide senior lawyers to leverage new technologies when performing their duties. This move allows the law firm to keep up with the latest developments in the legal sector while cultivating a sense of belonging among the juniors.

Provide Flexible Work Arrangements

A 2021 survey found that 48% of respondents with a child under 18 years in their household cited childcare issues as their reason for quitting their jobs. Up to 45% said they were searching for new employment opportunities due to flexibility issues.

These figures show that offering flexible work arrangements is essential for retaining top legal talent. Offering flexibility shows commitment to the happiness and well-being of employees. Happy and satisfied employees enhance the firm’s overall performance and productivity.

Any form of flexibility is usually attractive to legal professionals looking for careers after law school and those already working. Law firms should implement flexible work policies that suit their unique needs.

A flexible work policy may constitute part-time, flextime, shift work, telecommuting, and remote work models. After identifying and implementing a flexible work arrangement, legal employers should promote it as a benefit to new and existing hires. They should also mention it in their job descriptions, website, and official social media pages. Doing that will expand the pool of potential hires and allow existing employees to have a better work-life balance.

You can rely on Astor Professional Search for personalized legal recruiting services tailored to your unique needs. Contact us at (312) 781-9000 to schedule a consultation with our experienced legal recruiters. 

author-bio-image author-bio-image
William Sugarman

William Sugarman is the president and founder of Astor Professional Search. He engages in the successful placement of attorneys with local, regional, and international law firms and corporations. Bill’s extensive legal and business development experience give Astor an edge over other legal recruiters nationwide. At the cornerstone of Bill’s strategic philosophy is providing the highest level of personalized attention to his clients and attorney candidates. This is also a key factor that separates Astor from other legal search firms, and it consistently delivers legal placements year after year.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years

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