Increased Retention Efforts Vital, Robert Half Executive Says

Monday, May 1, 2006 - 01:00

As the economy gains momentum and the hiring climate improves, job opportunities for experienced legal professionals are increasing, notes Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, a staffing firm specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. As a result, managing partners and general counsel must make a concerted effort not only to address growth, but also to make retaining their best and most experienced attorneys a front-burner issue.

According to Mr. Volkert, current business expansion is giving tenured attorneys with expertise in high-demand practice areas such as intellectual property, real estate and litigation more career choices. He offered advice on retaining attorneys to those managing law firms and corporate legaldepartments.

'Compensation is an important element in any retention strategy, but it's just one of several variables that must be considered,' Mr. Volkert says. 'Law firms and legal departments also must bolster their investment in staff through avenues such as professional development, training and mentoring while working to foster a balanced work environment.

If efforts are not made to prevent staff migration, an organization may find itself in a difficult position as experienced attorneys look elsewhere to find a workplace that better meets their goals and needs.'

Mr. Volkert offers the following retention tips:

  • Keep compensation competitive. A firm's pay and benefits package should at least match prevailing rates. Ideally, salary levels and bonuses should exceed industry standards.
  • Facilitate employee development. By emphasizing career growth and training, law offices can demonstrate that they support employee growth and success while investing in the organization's future.
  • Create a worker-friendly environment. Establishing a workplace that promotes a healthy work/life balance can be instrumental in keeping your best talent. To give employees more flexibility, consider adopting practices such as telecommuting, compressed or flexible work weeks, and job sharing.
  • Celebrate a job well done. Praise and recognition demonstrate to employees that their contributions are valued. People who have positive attitudes about their jobs tend to do them well, are more invested in the organization and are likely to see themselves as part of the team, rather than soloists who are detached from co-workers and management.