How Can Law Firms Keep Top Talent from Slipping Away

One thing is for sure: the war for legal talent will continue unremitting into the foreseeable future. A Law360 article discusses how law firms can prevent their top talent from jumping to another one, and conducted a survey that determined that attorneys are more likely to stay put if their law firm has advancement opportunities than if they are being paid a generous sum but feeling stagnant in their current position.

It’s always important to focus on the long-term. Even if a firm is trying to save money by delaying promotions, based on the findings of this survey, it would be a wise investment to cater to the 89% of attorneys who reported that they were both “very dissatisfied” with their firm’s opportunities for advancement and that they were “very likely” or “likely” to look for a new job within the next year. Firms can do this by placing a bigger emphasis on communicating with their employees the timeline and requirements necessary before promotions are considered.

Source: Law360

The Elephant in the Room: Discussing Compensation in the Interview Process

In the hiring and interviewing processes, compensation is more often than not a touchy subject, and can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker for the talent the company wants. Timing is essential in job interviews, especially regarding the discussion of salary. It is important to recognize the when it is most conducive to broach these matters for both candidates and employers, and to attempt to find that sweet spot.

One of the benefits to working with a recruiter is that he or she will likely be the one doing the dirty work and negotiating salary. However, both sides should still know how to address the issue if it comes up. According to an article on Business Insider, an IT recruiter,Dan Martineau, notes that “the best employers don’t focus on money until the very end, and the same goes for candidates”. For the candidate, it is much more appropriate to discuss salary once the company has expressed a sense of commitment. In the first meeting, the candidate should be focused mostly on selling his/her skills to the employer, and deflect the compensation issue until later on.

On the employer side, although it may feel like a cruel game to candidates, it is important for them to hold their cards closer to their vest– compensation is traditionally not disclosed until the offer. This is because everyone assumes that they are on the top of the pay scale, and if a job is advertised at a range at which the company offers a lower amount on that range, the candidate would be unhappy even if he or she would have been happy with that amount having never known the range in the first place.

Being aware of the etiquette around compensation discussion is key in the interview process, and mastering the art of timing is everything.


How to get headhunted

It’s not about finding the ideal legal role, it’s about it finding you. Good employers searching for quality lawyers aren’t going to be posting on public job boards, either. That’s where hiring a knowledgeable headhunter comes into play.

Headhunters don’t waste time with a “scattergun approach”, but meticulously research a long list of candidates before even deciding to initially reach out. If you want to be on their radar, Jason Elias, a recruiter in the Australia legal community, highlights six things you could be doing to put yourself a cut above the rest.

  1. If you’re not already building a profile for yourself, start now: you’ll never be headhunted if no one has heard of you. Make sure that you connect with the people on LinkedIn that you are connected with in business, that you are active within your professional community, and that you come across as an expert in your field.
  2. Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn: make sure you are detailed with what you have accomplished and worked on and the value you have brought in your current and past jobs.
  3. Give off subtle signals: as in, do not change your LinkedIn status to “Currently seeking new opportunities”. Consider updating your experience, and change your Inmail settings to notify others that you are open to hearing about “career opportunities”, so that headhunters can reach you.
  4. Make yourself reachable: provide an email or phone number where you can be reached, or make sure to keep up with your LinkedIn, because if a headhunter struggles to reach you, he or she will move onto the next one on their list.
  5. Don’t breach etiquette: don’t tell anyone in your firm about your plans to move, never approach the employer directly (they’re using a headhunter for a reason). You don’t want to jeopardize your current position as well as any new one.
  6. Take advantage of the resources that a headhunter has to offer: the headhunter will most times be highly knowledgeable about the state of the market and trends, and can be used as your trusted source of intelligence on the employer as well. Even if the specific opportunity isn’t right at the time, you never know when something else might come up in their sphere of influence that could be.

Surprisingly enough, following these simple tips makes a huge difference on whether or not you end up on a headhunter’s short list of candidates to approach for a top tier position. Make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your good side showing even when you don’t know you’re showing it.


On the legal industry embracing social media

As unnatural (and sometimes risky) as it is for lawyers to embrace social media, the New York State Bar Association came out and called it an “indispensable” tool for legal professionals. While the profession is based on leather-bound books and a reverence for the past, the industry is changing rapidly to keep up with the times. Here are a few ways Bloomberg has noted that the legal profession has already embraced the social media revolution:

  1. Law firms are going virtual to keep up with the trend of reducing waste and increasing inefficiency while maintaining quality: a more fast-paced, culturally modern, tech-centric model where lawyers have more flexible schedules and firms have reduced some of their overhead expenses.
  2. Virtual lawyers: lawyers work more remotely, and have access to a larger client base. One of the noted downsides to this, however, is that there is a lack of direct access to coworkers where the Internet is an inappropriate arena to discuss some matters.
  3. Law firm marketing now almost all includes social media strategy.

There may be some aspects of social media where the legal profession is indeed behind the curve, but the industry really has clearly taken big strides. The truth of the matter is that there are some aspects of practice that cannot be easily replaced with technology, but where it can lean out, it should.


Reducing Bad Hires

Spending thorough time and effort when making a hire may seem like a headache when a business is in dire need of talent, and fast. However, Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Talent Acquisition Study found that a majority of organizations of all sizes make bad hires every year, and analyzed the significantly larger financial burden that ensues from doing so, proving that doing the footwork is all the more worth it. So how can companies be smarter about their hiring decisions?

The key criteria for quality of hire is new hire productivity, hiring manager satisfaction, and organizational fit. Recruiters must properly assess candidates from the sourcing phase through the entire interview phase in order to be able to properly ascertain if the candidate is the right fit.

There are several things that companies themselves or outside recruiters can do in the talent acquisition process to make the right hire:
– Focus on employer branding in order to convey company culture
– Utilize behavioral and peer-to-peer interviews
– Focus on the candidate experience to ensure he or she will perform, stay motivated, and want to stay with the organization
– Provide recruiters and hiring managers with the tools to ask the right questions to evaluate candidates
– Look past hard skills
– Assess candidates often

The solution to reducing bad hires is multi-faceted and requires a significant amount of effort in the short-run, but is an investment with a much higher return for the company’s long-term success.

Source: Brandon Hall Group Talent Acquisition Study 2015,

Firms Must Be Integrated for Mergers to Be Successful

Many mergers fail  because there were red flag issues evident beforehand which firms either ignored or failed to resolve. However, even when this is not the case, some mergers still fail. This can be because management did not address the integration of the firms after the official merger. There are several things that management should do to ensure that a merger is successful.

a. Give priority to human due diligence: People issues are often at the root of failed mergers. Prevent a “we” and “they” attitude by…

b. Communication: More communication is needed after the merger than before. There are several ways to maintain communication, including: 1) having the Managing Partner/ CEO be visible and available, 2) publish frequent newsletters on what is going on, and what will happen going forward, 3) update a directory of all personnel, 4) draft a temporary Procedures Guide and distribute to everyone

c. Hold a partners’ retreat, a retreat for key administrative personnel, and all lawyers.

d. Make sure major clients and key clients see the benefits of the merger.

e. Establish criteria to measure teh success of the merger, and track them.

Successfully integrating firms after a merger requires considerable extra work and can take as long as two years. But the only alternative– a merger that fails– is not acceptable.


Going from Law Firm to In-House

The move from private practice to in-house demands different skills such as the ability to influence and an understanding of business.

Global Legal Post draws from research conducted by the Association of New Zealand, which found that transitioning from a firm to an in-house legal team is not an easy task. 62 percent of respondents said that it took at least a year to get to grips with the change.

The survey also found that “the most important skill necessary for the move is “influencing skills” – with 99 percent of in-house lawyers surveyed agreeing that it was an essential skill for GCs. In descending order of importance this was followed by strategic thinking and the ability yo translate the complex into simple communications”.

A broad business understanding and specific legal knowledge related to the organization’s operations, and the industry in general were rated as necessary to the role for general counsel as well.


Positive Work Environment = Great Employees

Creating a positive work environment is key to attracting and retaining great employees.

We came across a very informative article for tips on creating a great place to work.

1) Be flexible:
Modern technology means that many companies are no longer reliant on the traditional 9-5 workday.

2) Communicate:
Besides keeping employees in the loop, frequent communication also reminds employees they are part of the team.

3) Recognize success:
70% of employees say meaningful recognition has no dollar value
Top 5 forms of recognition awards are: certificates, cash, gift certificates, food, company merchandise

4) Offer development opportunities:
Studies show that promoting staff to senior roles from within the company provides benefits such as reducing turnover and increasing productivity.
Provide professional development by: offering on-the-job training, reimbursing for continued education and training, creating opportunities for employees to connect and network, establishing a graduate scheme to fast-track promising alumni, adopting a mentor-ship program

5) Build trust:
Proactively build interpersonal trust
Communicate with predictability

6) Give and receive feedback:
People may not like giving negative feedback, but everyone wants to hear it– as long as it’s constructive.

7) Provide a sense of purpose:
Employees who are able to find meaning and purpose within their roles are healthier, happier, and more productive

Both employees and employers benefit from a great workplace. Having a positive work environment ensures that you will both attract and retain top talent. Satisfied employees will in turn reward your company with strong financial performance, as well as spread the word about their positive work experience.


How to Communicate Effectively

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”
-Anthony Robbins

It is important to keep in mind the specific things that will make the way you communicate more effective. These tips below do not only apply to leaders or people in authoritative positions, but to everyone. These communication tips are effective no matter who you are, what position you hold, or who you are speaking to.

1. Know your audience: Think about what people need to hear from you, and how to delivery the message so that the target audience will be able to hear it.
2. Pay attention to body language: Constantly track people’s physical reactions to your message, and adjust your communication style if needed.
3. Be honest: Honesty builds trust.
4. Be authentic: If you stay true to who you are, people will gravitate more to your message.
5. Speak with authority: Be clear, direct, and assertive.
6. Speak to groups as individuals: Be able to work a room and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly.
7. Listen: Communication is a two-way street, so actively listen and stay focused on understanding the other person’s perspective.
8. Admit your mistakes: Model accountability for your words and actions.
9. Solicit feedback: Check in to verify that your message was understood correctly. If not, try again.
10. Be proactive: Give clear, concise goals and directions so people don’t waste their time heading in the wrong direction.

Source: “10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders” by Dr. Travis Bradberry

David vs. Goliath: Why Executive Search Firms Win

The Leadership Digest posted a great article about the values of working with a boutique executive search firm.

There are typically two ways to go when hiring an executive search firm: large or boutique. Speaking from experience on both sides, I strongly believe that most client companies get better results by partnering with the right boutique executive search firm, rather than by hiring the mega-firms. It may sound prestigious to use a big name firm, but choosing a recruiter is all about quality, from start to finish. And in our experience, bigger is not always better.

With boutique firms:

The client company is not forced down or handed off to a junior associate that then handles the recruiting assignment. We do it ourselves from sourcing the candidates, screening, evaluating, presenting and shepherding both the candidate and client through an offer.

The client deals directly with the person who knows the candidate.

Boutiques have the flexibility to structure their fees based on agreed-upon milestones, instead of the calendar (when the search is launched, when candidates are approved, when interviews begin, and when the final candidate accepts). Many do not charge any automatic administration fees and never add a surcharge for travel, lodging, or other fees.

Boutiques typically work on fewer projects, devoting a great amount of time and attention to each one. They are also always done by partners of the firm.

Boutiques have a business model that enables them to form a genuine partnership with their clients, and develop an in-depth knowledge of the company. This provides for a better opportunity to understand the needs of their clients and assessing candidates that will be the “right fit”.

The bottom line is, we are service providers. It is important to critically evaluate the quality of service you, as a business, will receive, by determining the recruiting firm’s commitment to provide what you and your company want and need.