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The boomerang trend is set to continue – why employees make a U-turn

Posted by: Clare Butler 25/01/17

The list of reasons why legal professionals may leave their firm, on indeed their in-house team, is incredibly long, but frequently, lawyers make the move looking for higher remuneration, greater opportunities, or a position that better suits the demands of their personal lives. Our salary survey data indicated that after remuneration, the pursuit of a ‘greater challenge’ is the highest priority for lawyers when changing career. This is in itself to some extent a positive trait; those looking for a greater challenge are likely to be determined and ambitious employees.

So, many decide to test the market and procure a new role. They often, however, realise they were more suited to the culture of their previous firm, and return further on in their career with the benefit of hindsight. In fact, according to a number of commentators this ‘boomeranging’ trend is likely to become even more widespread.

Recent research from a fellow recruitment consultancy found that 83% of executives are more accepting of ‘boomerang’ employees than they were three years ago, in fact, only 7% of respondents indicated they would be opposed to rehiring. Employers valued a boomerang employee’s successful track record (60%) and how well they fit into to corporate culture (40%) when asked what factors they looked for when rehiring. Almost half (49%) of respondents working for larger companies reported that they had successfully rehired former employees.

While a small minority might still be wary of rehiring a former associate, it can have a number of organisational benefits, for example, having in-depth understanding of the people, policies, technology and clients. This, paired with the experiences gained while away from the firm, will provide them with a perspective that is likely to be far superior to any other potential candidate. Hiring boomerang employees can also have significant financial benefits for a firm, reducing recruiting and on boarding expenditure. To put it simply, as an employer you’re gaining the full benefit of a seconded employee but one who genuinely wishes to return to your business.

We’ve seen similar trends in the legal recruitment industry, possibly because so many legal recruiters are former lawyers. There is a definite thirst for growth in our profession and it’s been fascinating to me to work with consultants who have returned to us from other businesses, full of ideas and now fully committed.

Fortunately the nature of the legal profession means that professionals are able to move between firms or employers with relative ease given the transferable nature of their skill sets. As more young professionals - who are frequently characterised by the importance they place on company culture - enter the profession, it’s likely that the boomerang trend will continue to rise, evidencing that the grass is in fact greenest where you choose to water it.

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