With nearly 4.2 million resignations in the US at the end of August, the 'Great Resignation' shows no signs of slowing down. And the legal field is not spared; associate attrition is at its peak, according to the recent survey by NALP. With such a staggering number of quits comes a time for the 'Great Rethink.'
Law firms invest a lot in hiring and retaining associates. Doing so takes a significant amount of time, trust, resources, and energy. A frustrated associate leaving is no surprise to the law firm, but if a satisfied associate decides to move on, it comes as a shock and pushes the firm to introspect what went wrong.
"Over half of respondents say their firm's leading culture values are 1) high priority on client service (76%), 2) integrity (56%), and 3) high-performance expectations (50%)."
Major, Lindsay & Africa's 2022 Law Firm Culture Survey
Excessive workload, a lack of work-life balance, an unpleasant firm culture, lower remuneration, and lack of innovation are a few other reasons associates stated while parting ways. So, how can law firms take care of them and make associates feel valued? Let's dive deeper.
Diversifying, Training and Mentoring
Associates start feeling restless with ordinary jobs. Instead, they look for growth in substantial work wherein they can demonstrate their learnings and abilities to perform better or even outperform their peers. Involving them in the strategy of a case from the start can help them get exposure to gain a better understanding of the procedure and feel more valued.
In the post-pandemic era, when humans are more digital than ever, associates should also be given the training to use new-age tools to simplify their legal operations. Investing in a SaaS-based platform will increase efficiency and make the associates feel at par with the competition. Besides, investing in their training and education helps them overcome the fear of becoming obsolete, which settles in naturally with a rapid technological shift.
Another part of their professional growth is regular sessions, seminars, or workshops to help them hone their soft skills. Also, involving thought leaders to guide associates through complex cases can help them feel secure and confident.
The reason associates call it quits is the lack of growth opportunities. They start feeling anxious about their career path if their career goals aren't aligned with a law firm's growth. Not knowing what lies in the future for them in their current position is why they start looking out for options.
Moving the associates to a higher title or providing them with competitive compensation is a solution to eliminate this insecurity. Another way could be assigning them a high profile or a challenging case to look after so that they feel content with the job and attain new skills. Creating counsel tracks for associates not interested in partnerships but who want to advance and handle sophisticated work could also be a good option for retaining great talents.
The atmosphere of a law firm is a much-cited reason for associate retention. A healthy workplace culture gives a sense of security to associates that they are an integral part of the law firm and are not easily replaceable. Maintaining transparency, conducting regular reviews, and keeping an open communication channel are a few ways to inculcate a healthy environment at the workplace.
Millennials and GenZ want to be happy, and at peace at work, so they stick to the organizations that make them comfortable. Fostering a culture where associates can openly express their interests without fearing job loss or upsetting their peers goes a long way.
Associates departing shouldn't put your firm in a spot where things go haywire. Instead, comprehending why they are leaving is the first step toward retaining them—associates who are valued stay loyal to their firms. Focus on their holistic growth, and create an encouraging and transparent policy framework that helps you keep the company culture healthy to ensure that the associates stay for long.
At Traact, we help law firms simplify their legal operations. Whether it is onboarding or relieving an associate, our matter management feature enables you to streamline and automate your tasks. Book a demo to know how we can add value to your legal team.