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Save time, money and resources: retain your best legal talent

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Highly skilled legal professionals set your firm apart and finding individuals with the right talent takes time and resources. This is why firms need to consider the importance of retention, rather than just focusing on recruitment.

Yet it’s something that firms can struggle with – even the big players aren’t immune. The most recognisable names in London saw retention rates of newly qualified solicitors as low as 74%. Retaining talent isn’t a cost-cutting exercise, it makes your firm much more competitive in the long term. 

Cost of recruitment

Recruiting new talent is a cost to your firm. According to research published by Glassdoor, the average time it takes to hire a new recruit in the U.K. is 27.5 days. This means one-twelfth of a year is spent on reviewing CVs, carrying out preliminary interviews, secondary interviews, communicating with recruiters and checking references. Factor in multiple hires, and that figure increases significantly. Considering the amount of resource, time, money and effort hiring takes, it’s evident that concentrating efforts on retention becomes far more beneficial.

Onboarding is the first step towards retaining talent. Yes, of course, it’s more effective to retain existing talent than recruit new talent, but sometimes a new hire is what your firm needs. Your firm needs to start looking after them even before they start. A welcome pack that explains benefits and expectations makes the perks of working with you clear to solicitors. Prompt, clear communications are professional and ensure candidates remain happy to work for you. 

Brexit might be a source of uncertainty for many industries, but it seems to have sharpened the mind on one thing – ensuring your staff feel valued. CIPD found that 26% of organisations ‘report a greater emphasis on developing existing staff’. The report also highlighted that more organisations are involving employees with their business strategies and encouraging them to contribute their own ideas. 

Management is your best defence

When your employees feel secure and supported at work they are less likely to look elsewhere. Management must demonstrate excellent leadership skills, this isn’t just managing a caseload or a team of solicitors with exacting standards, it means having good soft skills too. 

If you want to keep hold of staff, then you must also encourage them to manage themselves and be invested in their careers. Maintain regular contact with them through formal appraisals, informal and open discussions and put the ball in their court. If they feel that they have a say in their own work and career they’ll be more engaged and more likely to remain with your firm.

Training and development

These two words are the most important words in your vocabulary if you’re going to successfully retain staff. If your legal talent doesn’t have what they need to do the job, then their focus and energy will be put towards finding a new position elsewhere. 
The SRA has a whole section of its website dedicated to how solicitors can plan their development. Investing in your people shows that you’re committed to them and will increase commitment from them. 

Remember that legal skills, especially in disciplines such as conveyancing, are in short supply. So not only will developing your staff make them more likely to stick around, it will mean that your firm doesn’t feel the effect of the skills shortage. And employing highly skilled legal professionals with subject expertise will make your firm more competitive in the long run, as they’ll be better equipped to handle client demands.

Your recruitment agent and retention

Using a recruitment agency can be very beneficial to retaining talent. There are many advantages to working with a partner when it comes to retention, and perhaps the two most important factors to consider are the personal touch and a recruiter that specialises in your market. A recruiter that takes the time to build relationships with you, the client, as well as candidates makes retaining that talent easier later on. A positive working relationship that starts on the right note will ensure that the candidate feels happy to stay with your firm for the foreseeable future. A recruiter that specialises in the legal market understands the sector and is better able to represent the role to candidates. Candidates that feel the job matches up to their expectations are much more likely to stick around than those who feel the reality is different.

Recruitment costs vs. benefits

Recruitment takes time, effort and resources. There’s no denying that the right hire at the right time can make a huge difference to a firm, yet a revolving door of talent increases the cost of recruitment exponentially. Retention starts to look a lot more appealing if you weigh the cost of recruitment against the benefits of retaining staff. Time spent training and looking after your best talent will pay you back dividends, with happier staff you’ll have happier clients, and your firm will be all the more competitive. 

If you enjoyed reading this blog, you might like our other post: Legal talent drought: How to attract the best talent against the odds.

And if you’re recruiting now, you can talk to one of the team on 01772 259 121, or you can register your vacancy online.

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