How your firm can secure the best talent

Tuesday 6 September, 2022

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IL Secure the best talent for your law firm

In the current job market, and in the vast majority of sectors, candidates have the upper hand. There are vast numbers of vacancies to fill, and far too few applicants to fill them.

In law specifically, 85% of firms are planning to increase staff numbers this year[1]. When legal talent can make demands of prospective employers and take their pick of the market, solicitors have to compete for hires more fiercely than ever before.

If your firm is one of the 85%, read on and find out how to give yourself the advantage in the race for talent.

Assess and improve your offering

Since the ‘power’ lies with candidates, they can name their terms — terms which tend to look something like this:

  • At least two days of remote work per week[2]
  • 10% shorter working hours, for which only 34% are prepared to take a pay cut[3]
  • 50% want flexible working — the option to perform their work in the hours of their choice[4]
  • The majority of firms predict an increase in pay expectation of at least 5%[5]

The prospect of paying more money for less work won’t be appealing, and a valid concern would be whether those conditions are viable or sustainable. Fortunately, you can remain competitive without harming your margins.

Greater efficiency means that a firm can maintain or increase its productivity within a shorter time frame, balancing out the reduction in working hours and an increased wage bill.

Understand your employer brand

The image that your firm presents directly influences the quality and quantity of people that you attract. It’s exactly the same principle that you’d apply to marketing for potential clients, but directed at prospective employees.

Invest the time to understand exactly what your brand and branding communicate, assess the gap between what it is and what you’d like it to be, then develop a strategy to improve it. Developing an employer brand is a long-term project, but actively managing yours can have an enormous impact — 75% of job seekers are likely to apply to employers who do so[6].

Improve the hiring experience

If the hires that you hoped for aren’t joining at the rate you’d expect, it’s normal to assess the start and the end of the process, i.e. ‘how are we advertising the role?’ and ‘are we offering competitive packages?’ Those remain crucial, but it’s also vital to ensure that you’re not losing people in the middle of the journey.

There are plenty of reasons why candidates will drop out — receiving other offers, changing their mind about leaving their employer, becoming fatigued with the process, or perhaps realising that the role or the firm isn’t exactly what they wanted or expected. There are many factors you can’t control, but for those you can, you obviously should.

It might be that your interview or assessment process is too long, that you’re not communicating enough about the next steps or the status of an application, or that the partners you choose aren’t best suited to conducting the interviews. Examine the journey and see if anything might be discouraging applicants from completing the process.

Run a referral scheme

Referral schemes are a very cost-effective and reliable way to locate excellent talent. By offering an incentive for current staff to encourage their contacts to apply, there’s an extra precision to the firm’s search — the applicants that result are selected by people whose judgement you trust, and who have a professional and reputational stake in the success of those applicants.

You also enjoy an extra reach that simply advertising a role doesn’t have. A potential applicant might not have been thinking about a new role, so won’t have searched for vacancies. However, if a friend or acquaintance were to reach out directly (and sell the virtues of your firm) that is very likely to at least intrigue them.

Widen the search

If you only fish in one pond, you’ll get the same fish. If you’re not getting enough applicants or hires, you might need to diversify your search — ask yourself if you’ve applied unnecessary limits or filters.

It’s an understandable instinct to dismiss applicants that don’t hold a degree from a certain level of university, or whose experience doesn’t include something specific that you assume to be vital. It might seem like a practical necessity for a time-poor practice manager or hiring partner, but if there’s still a shortage of talent, then it’s not working as intended.

Academic prestige and professional cachet don’t necessarily reveal true potential, nor does their absence indicate incompetence. By looking further than what’s on paper, you might tap new wells of talent.

Admittedly, applying fewer initial filters could mean that the number of unsuitable interviewees increases, but just as improved efficiency increases firm productivity, it also frees up the time to conduct a less conventional and more time-intensive hiring process.

The key to successful hiring

If you want to create a more attractive work environment, one that can offer flexibility, smoother processes, and better work-life balance, and if you want to free up your partners to discover the best talent in the market, then you need Insight Legal.

Over a 1000 Law Firms are using us to run their legal operations more efficiently, allowing them to offer better terms and win the race for the best hires. Don’t fall behind — book a half-hour demo and we’ll show you how to keep up. It’s a small investment of your time, but it could be the most important one your firm makes.