The struggle for finding talented lawyers and staff in many professional roles used to be a local issue only a year ago, but has now been taken onto a global scale thanks to predominantly American firms willing to pay a significant mark-up to secure relatively junior hires.
In the Advanced Legal Trends Report, it was found that around a third (32%) of firms in the UK were offering pay rises, while 38% of legal professionals said that their firm had improved other package options such as employee benefits.
This has had a ripple effect on recruitment demand across all areas of law, exacerbated by an unprecedented demand for legal services in the commercial arena. While there has been a small rise in the number of lawyers qualifying in the last year, this in no way matches the increased demand.
In the past, this would be cause for serious concern, but today the technology exists to enable smaller teams of legal professionals to service more clients and cases efficiently, without compromising on quality and service.
However, the fact that supply and demand have been out of kilter has caused some professionals to become overworked, stressed and burnt out and many are leaving the profession. It is crucial that firms provide effective tools that help professionals work without additional stress, and makes completing their daily tasks within contracted hours feasible most of the time.
The law has traditionally been associated with a ‘long-hours’ culture, but this needs to change if firms are to attract and retain key talent when competitors can offer a more sustainable alternative.
Technology reduces the burdens that can lead to fee earner and support staff burnout. Automating common time-consuming tasks allows more time for higher-value work and leads to an improved home-work balance. Satisfied employees are more engaged and productive and contribute to an enhanced corporate reputation for being a great place to work.
Utilising software to help automate services and integrate with casework, such as case management, document management, time recording, forms software, will create a matter workflow that allows lawyers to work quickly and effectively, with minimal administration work and high client satisfaction, without a loss in accuracy or creating a working environment that can lead to burnout.
Employers should not underestimate the power of word-of-mouth, where employees can be the most effective ambassadors for their firm’s recruitment activities. Authentically contented people invite friends and personal connections to consider joining their firm because it is a great place to work, with excellent opportunities for career progression and a culture that puts people first.
It’s clear that recruitment has become extremely competitive in the UK, with 87% of legal professionals in our Trends Report telling us their firm has found it difficult to attract new talent or replace leavers this year. 39% said they had not had sufficient numbers applying for vacancies, while one-third (33%) cannot find suitably qualified people for the roles.
Anyone on the market with a decent work record has plenty of options around levels of compensation, where they live, and what working style they prefer. Firms must ensure they are seen as an employer of choice, or risk losing their key talent to competitors.