Law Offices Rethink Hiring and Retention Strategies

    Social, Economic, Demographic Trends Reshaping Legal Field, New Report

    TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - Recent developments in the legal profession are
prompting law firms and corporate legal departments to employ increasingly
progressive recruiting and talent management strategies, according to a
just-released white paper from Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing service
specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal
professionals. The paper, Best Practices for Recruiting, Developing and
Retaining Top Legal Talent, is part of the company's annual Future Law Office
project. It discusses the staffing challenges caused by diminished law school
enrolment, increased lateral movement of midlevel associates, seasoned talent
opting out of the profession, and the pending retirement of the baby boomer
generation and how law firms and corporate legal departments are responding to
these issues.


    -  Lawyers surveyed identified advancement opportunities, flexible work
       schedules, career development or training, mentoring or leadership
       training, and stock options or other equity bonuses as the most
       effective incentives for retaining and motivating their best workers.
    -  Some law firms are implementing multiphased retirement programs in
       which lawyers work part-time while they groom their successors.
    -  The recruitment and retention of minority groups remains an ongoing
       challenge for many law firms. Some firms are instituting new
       initiatives targeted specifically to women and minorities.
    -  Corporate legal departments are completing more work in-house to
       reduce spending.

    For its Future Law Office project, Robert Half Legal commissions surveys
of lawyers, interviews leading experts and conducts research to assess how law
offices might operate in the future. The results are available at
    "Demand for lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries with the most
sought-after practice area expertise is outpacing the current supply, a trend
that will likely continue," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert
Half Legal. "Law firms and legal departments are implementing policy changes
to bolster recruiting efforts, limit staff attrition and grow their business
in an increasingly competitive landscape."
    Research conducted for the Future Law Office found that law offices have
implemented a broad array of incentives for motivating and retaining their
employees. Lawyers surveyed by Robert Half Legal said the most effective
incentives for retaining their best workers are advancement opportunities (92
per cent), flexible work schedules (82 per cent), career development or
training (81 per cent), mentoring or leadership training (74 per cent), stock
options or other equity bonuses (57 per cent), non-cash recognition (57 per
cent) and spot bonuses (54 per cent), among others.

    Firms Take a Fresh Approach to Talent Management

    Law firms realize they need to see recruitment as the initial investment
in a long-term strategy to maintain adequate staff levels and limit unwanted
attrition. "Once a lawyer is hired, ongoing mentoring, training and
professional growth opportunities should be offered, as well as programs that
facilitate work-life balance," said Volkert.
    To retain senior lawyers with a wealth of professional experience and
valuable skills, many law firms are re-examining mandatory retirement
policies. Some firms are implementing multiphased retirement policies in which
lawyers gradually shift from full- to part-time work as they groom their

    Diversity in Staffing Remains an Elusive Goal

    While law firms are devoting more resources to increasing and promoting
diversity in their ranks, the recruitment and retention of minority groups
remains an ongoing challenge for many, Volkert noted. "Firms understand that
there is a strong business case for promoting diversity," he said. "Some firms
are instituting new initiatives targeted specifically to recruit women and
minorities such as conducting outreach to high school and law school students,
and partnering with corporations to mentor and support minority associates
once they are hired."

    Legal Departments Attract Lawyers Seeking Balance

    Corporate legal departments are increasingly completing more work
in-house to reduce spending and are competing with law firms for experienced
lawyers. "To attract and retain top talent, legal departments are emphasizing
corporate reputation, work-life balance and a team-oriented environment," said
    He added that while in-house lawyers do not necessarily work fewer hours,
they may feel that work-life balance is easier to attain since many corporate
legal departments offer a greater number of flexible scheduling options than
law firms.
    To order a complimentary copy of the complete white paper, or for more
information on the Future Law Office project, please visit

    About Robert Half Legal

    Robert Half Legal provides law firms and corporate legal departments with
project and full-time professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal
support personnel. Robert Half Legal offers online job search services at

    EDITOR'S NOTE: To schedule an interview for local commentary in Toronto
or Calgary, please contact Jim Dimovski at 416-350-2330 extension 62024.

For further information:

For further information: ROBERT HALF LEGAL, Contact: Jim Dimovski, (416)

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