Workplace Culture | 4 min
February 28, 2023
According to TheLawyer.com, 60% of surveyed law firms report feeling a strain on their operations due to a lack of skilled workers. As business owners, law firm owners feel the pressure to ensure that qualified candidates and current employees feel supported and have the necessary tools to excel in their roles. Additionally, they need to find ways to create a competitive work environment to recruit new employees who won’t settle for an organization that does not offer everything they need to be successful. While for many law firms this can feel like a daunting task to take on in addition to the work they need to get done, there are four simple steps that law firms can take to attract and retain the top legal talent.
Across nearly every industry, employees no longer want to be stuck in an office for 50 hours a week, completing manual tasks that take away from the work they enjoy doing. For legal professionals, this is especially pertinent as clients are often unavailable during business hours to create new matters, schedule meetings, or respond with updates to keep cases moving. This means that legal secretaries and attorneys must come in early or stay late in the office to ensure no delays occur. However, legal technology can automate these processes so that staff members don’t need to sacrifice their personal time while still providing clients with a seamless experience.
Let’s take matter creation as an example. Instead of manually setting up a manilla or desktop folder, the right legal software will offer pre-built matter types for most common cases a firm manages. This feature means that client and case-related data only needs to be entered once across relevant documents and forms, eliminating the time spent on manually completing documents for each case. Additionally, this means that all relevant staff members can access case-related information from anywhere to contact clients to set up meetings, request additional information, and provide updates. As firm staff spends less time on manual case management, they can then focus their attention on billable client work during the day to get them home on time for a healthy work-life balance.
One of the reasons many legal professionals leave their jobs is to pursue a career at a firm or legal organization that allows them to work where and when it is convenient for them. In fact, a 2022 survey found that nearly 50% of legal hiring managers reported that a strong candidate would turn down a job offer if they didn’t have remote work opportunities. That means a firm could lose out on top talent solely because they couldn’t offer a potential employee the flexibility they needed to manage their professional and personal obligations.
The right legal software solution can eliminate this challenge altogether. If employees can access software to see all the details, updates, documents, and correspondence related to the cases they’re working on from anywhere, they can effectively work from anywhere, at any time, whether that be from the office, at home, in between school drop-offs, in between doctors appointments, or even from a completely different geographical location! These remote work options also help to reduce overhead as they reduce the amount of office space, desks, and utilities required to accommodate their staff in person.
Attorneys at the early stage of their career face a Catch-22. While technology can automate many of the tedious jobs they were previously tasked with, legal automation tools also allow them to grow their technical skills and develop career plans that align with their goals. Partners and law firm owners must work with their staff members to understand how they want to grow and provide them with a career plan with actionable steps to achieve those outcomes. While asking senior attorneys to take more time out of their day to dedicate towards mentoring and training new staff members would’ve meant they would have to work longer hours to get their work done, the software eliminates several hours of manual work a week to allow them to support junior attorneys.
For example, as senior lawyers focus more of their time on servicing clients and billable work, they can include junior lawyers through virtual meetings or shadowing so that they can begin to develop the business acumen, emotional intelligence, and project management skills needed to advance in their careers and move into more client-facing roles. These training opportunities allow firms to support their staff in their career development and show that the firm is invested in retaining their employees by creating an environment that will enable them to learn and advance from within.
Last but certainly not least, law firms can mitigate employment gaps by expanding their recruitment efforts beyond their local community. Major cities, like New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C., are no longer the concentrated hubs for top legal talent at all career stages. Many legal professionals have taken advantage of the increased presence of remote access software and the changes brought on by the pandemic to work from geographical locations that they want or need. In the past, dispersed legal talent meant that “main street” law firms could not recruit or hire these attorneys and support staff. However, the right legal software opens up new opportunities for law firms.
Cloud-based legal software enables partners to call on senior attorneys who have retired or moved away to serve as senior team members and provide consulting services by providing them access to case-related information from anywhere, on any device. Additionally, as law firms onboard staff members in different locations, they can create new revenue streams by servicing new jurisdictions and areas of law that they wouldn’t have been able to had their talent pool been limited to their local community.
The competition for highly skilled legal staff is more intense than ever. The legal skills shortage will continue to pose challenges for law firms that cannot offer the flexibility, automation, and advancement opportunities that junior lawyers and support staff look for when considering staying with a practice or moving on to more modern law firms. As firm owners and partners consider how to mitigate these risks, they need to embrace cloud-based legal software created to automate the mundane, in-person tasks that force them into longer hours to complete menial tasks instead of focusing on billable tasks and career development opportunities.
Download our free whitepaper, How to Overcome the Skills Shortage, for a step-by-step guide on how to identify these gaps in your law firm and mitigate the impacts with the right legal software solution.
How to Overcome the Skills Shortage
Download our free whitepaper