Where’s all the Legal talent gone?
- February 20, 2018
You place an ad with a recruitment agency, excited to see who will apply and what the crop of candidates will bring. You’ve a great reputation, an attractive benefits package and offer a generous salary, so why aren’t quality candidates coming through the door?
It’s a familiar story. Plenty of undergraduates show an interest in law; according to the Law Society, a total of 22,765 students were accepted onto undergraduate law courses in England and Wales in the academic year 2016-17. And it’s not as though there are only a handful of fully-qualified, experienced solicitors in the land, as the same report indicates that there were 175,160 solicitors on the roll at the end of July 2016. While the figures appear healthy at first glance, the reality is that law firms are struggling to keep pace with changing demands.
What does a talent shortage mean for the legal sector?
One area of the law where a lack of quality candidates is particularly prevalent is in Conveyancing. The labour-intensive process of Conveyancing and the growth of other areas of law, such as work for private clients, mean that firms are struggling to meet the property-related demands of their client base. Firms are under pressure to retain existing talent and attract new talent from a shrinking pool.
Firms should take action to remain competitive
A 2017 survey by PwC found that more than half of the top law firms within the UK were not keeping pace with new technology. As a result, labour-intensive processes, such as facilitating the sale of property, remain just as labour-intensive and reliant on slow postal systems for sending documents to be signed as they ever were.
Not only does this make the field of conveyancing unattractive as a whole, a lack of investment in technology signals to a candidate that this is not a firm that is looking forward or moving in the right direction. Investing in technology to allow electronic signatures and cut out snail mail makes life easier, and the service more attractive, for all parties from staff members and candidates to clients.
Alongside investment in best practice for the future, training is another key factor in offering a competitive edge when recruiting candidates. As time moves on and client demands change, so too must the skills offered by solicitors. And of course, there’s the ever-present spectre of Brexit looming, bringing with it an uncertain future with Europe, and clients that may need advice on trading overseas. Equipping your staff to deal with these issues broadens their skill set, strengthens what your practice can offer, and makes the whole package more appealing to candidates.
The most important factor for law firms
With ways of working changing faster than they have in decades, technological advances continuing apace and an uncertain relationship with Europe on the horizon, flexibility is the defining characteristic law firms need to display. Investing in better ways of doing things and training staff is all well and good, but it’s only relevant until circumstances and client demands change next week, next month, or next year. Law firms need to have one eye on the future, one eye on the lay of the land, and adjust and readjust as times move on to be in with a fighting chance of attracting – and keeping – the very best candidates.