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Legal Talent & Inclusion

How law firms can address their legal talent issues in 2022: Podcast

William Josten  Senior Manager, Enterprise Content - Legal, Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

William Josten  Senior Manager, Enterprise Content - Legal, Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

In the latest Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights podcast, Thomson Reuters' Jen Dezso discusses the data shedding light on today's legal talent challenges

The first half of 2022 may be remembered as a time marked by massive challenges related to talent for pretty much every industry — and the legal market has certainly not been immune.

While current data shows that at least some of the upheaval noted toward the end of 2021 and through the early part of this year may be stabilizing, we may be experiencing more of a plateau rather than an actual tapering off of talent-related issues. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess when the next hike in associate salaries may happen and what effect it will have, or whether the overall economic tumult will impact law firms and corporate legal departments.

The Thomson Reuters Institute has devoted much time and attention to studying these talent-related questions throughout the first half of 2022. Many of our reports, including the Report on the State of the Legal Market, the Dynamic Law Firms Report, our report on Law Firms Competing for Talent in 2022, and the recent Stellar Performance Survey of Standout Talent, have looked at myriad of questions relating to what attorneys in today’s workforce want, and how law firms are delivering (or not) against those expectations.

You can access the latest Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights podcast, featuring Thomson Reuters’ Jen Dezso, here.

As part of the Institute’s ongoing commitment to providing data-driven insights and solutions to the market, we continue to explore these difficult questions. To discuss some of the most recent findings and how they fit into the bigger picture of the legal market, this latest installment of the Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights podcast features Jen Dezso, Director of Client Relations for Thomson Reuters. Dezso brings nearly two decades of experience in utilizing data to understand how clients think about their law firm relationships and using those insights to help law firms decipher how to build better and more profitable client relationships.

As the podcast points out, it should come as no surprise that the most recent data indicates levels of lawyer turnover have been high. Perhaps more troubling for law firms, however, is that flight risk among their current staff of lawyers remains at uncomfortably high levels. What’s more, key drivers of retention for law firms aren’t always evident and don’t necessarily align with the traditional law firm solution of increasing compensation. The research also indicates that while higher compensation might be sufficient to entice lawyers away from a law firm, it won’t necessarily be sufficient to encourage them to stay, nor will higher compensation address many of the underlying problems that have led to high levels of flight risk in the first place.

Not surprisingly, different law firms and different types of lawyers are experiencing many of these talent challenges in different ways. As the podcast discusses, depending on the size of the law firm, the experience level of the associate, the geographic location, or any of a number of other considerations, each individual law firm may be facing a plethora of different and sometime juxtaposed talent questions.

Jen Dezso

So, with a multi-faceted problem to confront, where does a firm start? Dezso suggests that every firm looking to address their talent problems must first get an honest assessment about where their attorneys stand today. How likely are they to want to leave? What is driving the decision to stay or go? This exercise can give a firm the ability to understand not only firm-wide trends, but individual lawyer insights as well. For many associates and younger partners, for example, talent issues are about clarity of growth and career paths. For more experienced partners, it might be more about how continued participation in the firm meshes with newly experienced shifting desires for a better work/life balance over the last several years.

The podcast’s wide-ranging discussion touches on these key topics but also suggests that when it comes to addressing today’s talent challenges, the legal industry only may be looking at the very tip of several underlying problems.

Episode transcript.