Survey Shows Many Legal Employers Unconcerned With Losing Top Performers

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 01:00

Despite a competitive hiring environment in the legal field, many law firms and legal departments are not focused on retaining their top performers. In a new survey, 42 percent of attorneys said they are not concerned with losing their best people; 43 percent said they are only somewhat concerned.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 300 attorneys among the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada. All respondents have at least three years of experience in the legal field.

Lawyers were asked, "How concerned are you about losing your top talent to other law firms or legal departments?" Their responses: very concerned 12 percent; somewhat concerned 43 percent, not concerned 42 percent, and don't know/no answer 3 percent.

Lawyers also were asked, "Which professional development program is the most effective in retaining top performers?" Their responses: mentoring program 46 percent; continuing legal education 24 percent; leadership training 18 percent; participation in an exchange program in firm's/company's foreign location 2 percent; something else 1 percent, and don't know/none/no answer 9 percent.

To keep highly skilled legal professionals, Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, recommends a proactive, multifaceted approach:

• Offer competitive salary and benefits packages. Firms should regularly review their compensation structure, correct weaknesses and ensure that salary levels are competitive in their local market.

• Invest in staff development. Employees should be able to advance in their careers without having to leave the firm. Lateral moves, promotions from within, and training and mentoring programs are ways to foster professional growth.

• Make sure employees are intellectually engaged.

• Keep employees motivated. Publicly praise individuals and teams for a job well done.