When I attended the Filevine Annual Client Conference in September 2021, the talk in the hallways wasn’t as much about technology as it was about attracting and retaining talent. Of course, we were all there for the technology, but the burning question was talent management.
I asked one friend about his hiring process. He answered, “We test our candidates.” I asked what kind of testing they did. He said, “We test for a pulse.” That conversation summed up many others I’ve had. Attracting and retaining talent at firms has become that dire.
The problem for law firm owners isn’t acquiring the work, it isn’t cash flow—it is very practical, firms are struggling with the industry-dubbed talent wars.
Legal Work Talent Wars
Published by the American Bar Association, the ABA Journal noted that “law firms were edging dangerously close to losing almost one-quarter of their associates in 2021” (Cassens Weis, 2022, par. 4).
In October 2005, I was admitted to the Connecticut bar along with 663 others. In October 2021, Connecticut admitted 214 new savvy lawyers. That’s a 275% decline. The talent pool is shrinking, which gives job seekers options. It isn’t about finding the first job that will allow people to start paying their student loans. It is about finding an organization they connect with.
All of us are—and will remain—in an indefinite war for talent.
Attracting New Talent
So how do you attract new talent? Money is only part of the solution. There’s no question that to attract top talent to any organization, you have to pay for it. But a competitive salary alone is not going to cut it.We live in a world where the cost of case acquisition is rising, the cost of labor is rising, and insurance company payouts on cases have plateaued. There are limits on what any firm can pay to attract and retain talent. This problem compounds when firms look at who their addressable market is today: millennials.
Gen Z and millennials make up nearly half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the U.S. Millennials are born between 1981 and 1996, and are currently ages 25-41. Not only are there fewer millennials in the legal field, but their ideals and values of employment are also vastly different from what I was looking for when searching for my first job as an attorney in 2005.
The Millenial Priority
According to Gallup, workers born between 1980 and 2001 rank working for an organization that cares about employee well-being as their No.1 priority.
Thinking back on when I started practicing law, the first few years were incredibly stressful. Most of the stress didn’t come from cases, clients, or judges—it came from a lack of systems or information needed. Plus, I felt like I was reinventing the wheel on each task in every case.The law itself was knowable. The rest of it was chaotic, disorganized, and stressful.The enemy of every lawyer is disorganization. On my first day as an attorney, the senior partner took me to record a deed in a town across the state. On the way, he talked about what it meant to be a lawyer. He said, “Ryan, the lawyer’s job is to be meticulous.”He was and is correct.
A meditation room, kombucha tap, mental health benefits, or onsite puppy parties aren’t going to improve the well-being of your firm if your processes are chaotic. The talented people in your organization know this. And they’re the people who are going to help your organization thrive. While those soft benefits mentioned above certainly help boost employees’ happiness with their job, people aren’t going to feel their employer cares about their well-being unless they are successfully set up to complete their work.
For this exact reason, Filevine has been instrumental in my firm’s ability to attract talent.
How Filevine Attracts Talent
My firm shows candidates Filevine during the interview process. We show them how we work: intake processes, document management, automated workflows, eSignatures, and remote case management. When this happens, I can see the gears in their heads turning.
They see that we are organized, they see our systems, and they see a stage on which they can do their best work. They see vacations without work, dinners with their families, dog walks, and the ability to do great work from another country. They see the ability to do legal work without being tied to an office.
It might seem like you are showing too much or letting prospective employees peek under the hood of your business, but to me, it is crucial. You need to prove you are a law firm that cares about your employees, and having the right technology in place for them to get their work done is a part of the equation. We are already in a talent war, and that talent is only getting younger. Proving to potential employees that your firm has modern workflows is essential. The talent pool has options, so make sure you are setting yourself up to be competitive in their search. Processes matter. Technology matters. Show people how you enable them to do their best work. If you aren’t using Filevine to recruit talent, give it a try. It has been a magnet, helping us hire exactly who we want in a challenging employment market.