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How to raise your law firm’s retention levels

Posted by: Laurence Simons 19/08/15

Appraised UK legal consultant, John Chisholm, has recently commented that he thinks law firms could be doing more to keep their lawyers engaged. Although many have strong recruitment strategies, he cites their retention policies as lacking.

‘I think firms tend to have very good attraction strategies (especially the big firms) but I think many tend to neglect the retention side of things,” Chisholm explained. “Once they have got you, only the very strongest or the very malleable survive. Those that do have good retention strategies use the obvious: a great culture, interesting work, a career path.’

But why is retention important? This isn’t a difficult question. Often, the best lawyers under the roof are the key players that a firm will want to keep engaged. But this is not a strategy, it’s just a natural reaction to feeling as though you do not want to lose your top talent. However, all players are important when it comes to retention. Not only does having a great place to work coincide directly with the turnover rates of a firm, but a high loss of staff or poor off-boarding processes can betray poor organisation and weaken the perception of their branding.

So what does Chisholm suggest? That to keep young lawyers truly engaged, they must be provided with interesting work and a strong sense of career progression. He goes on to explain that, ‘The younger lawyers also tend to crave involvement, a firm with a clear strategy and direction, a career path – even if they don't use it. Whereas the older they get, they tend to want security and comfort.’ Perhaps it has always been easier to provide this sense of security, but maybe firms that take into account the needs of all of their lawyers will prove to have higher retention levels. And from this, it is likely that they will attract more candidates in the long run.

How important do you think high levels of retention are?