How to attract and retain top legal talent

According to Reuters, “Midsize to large law firms can spend from $200,000 to $400,000 to enable a new legal associate to realize their full earning potential.” And while that is a large investment in acquiring top talent, retention is low at many firms and the investment often goes un reciprocated with lawyers changing firms multiple times throughout their careers. 

To grow the firm you must find the right legal talent

It may not be difficult to hire lawyers right out of law school, but it is more than challenging to find experienced, “A Players” ready to make the move to a new firm. The challenge in finding top legal talent is two-fold: 

  • One: Your candidate has to have skills specific to your firm’s specialization and specific to the gaps in your existing team. 
  • Two: You candidate has to be the right culture fit for the expectations of your firm. 

For the purpose of this article, we’ll address the latter. 

Long hours and late nights are de rigueur for a law firm but many experienced attorneys have put in their time and are looking for a more balanced schedule. For those who are driven and want to put in the work, there is the question of leadership and communication style. To attract and retain the right new hire, you must identify the culture of your office and outline it clearly so that the candidates can judge for themselves whether this is a place they will choose to stay. 

The work you will put into onboarding your new hire will only pay off if they are in the right environment.  Aligning yourself with your company culture and clearly stating that to a candidate is productive for both of you. 

Identify and articulate the culture of your Law Firm

Performing a culture assessment will ensure that potential candidates are a good long term fit. Examples of questions you can ask internally to assess culture are: 

  1. What is the mission of your organization?  
  2. What difference do you make?  
  3. What problems do you solve?
  4. What are your company values and how are they demonstrated in the workplace?
  5. What are you most proud of as it relates to the culture of your office? 
  6. What is the leadership style of the office? 

Once you identify your company culture, write a short paragraph describing what a new hire can expect. This is not the time to try to seem like you are something you’re not. Attracting lawyers with skills and the right communication style requires honesty. If your management style is rigid and requires daily reporting, clearly outline that. There are many people who prefer that management style to a less structured work environment. If your office starts the day with coffee and a check in on all things (not just work) be sure to communicate that so the new hire can fit right in. 

A clear company culture allows your recruiter to articulate what to expect and, potentially attract the passive A Player who is not culture-aligned int heir current role. 

Outline the ways you help your team get better

From Emotional Intelligence training days to paying for professional development courses, there are many ways in which law firms can invest in their lawyers and staff’s growth and progress. Is there a path to partner available? Do you discuss raises at specific time increments? What is the salary ceiling for the role you are filling? What are your vacation policies? Maternity/ Paternity leave policies? 

As you outline these elements of your company culture you align clearly with some candidates and push away others. That is the right path to take. Hiring and firing is expensive, time consuming and drains resources from the real work of your firm.  So getting it right the first time is both economical for your checkbook and for your time. 

For more details on how the CultivHIRE Employer Branding Assessment can help your Law Firm clearly define your culture and attract and retain the best lawyers and staff, reach out to us!