In the latest Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights podcast, we speak with Shannon Boettjer of Jaspan Schlesinger about the unique talent challenges of smaller law firms
As was predicted by many, 2022 — or at least the first half of it — has indeed been the year of talent. And the legal market has not been immune. After at least three increases in top-end associate salary scale, the accompanying increases throughout other law firms, and innumerable associate and partner moves (to say nothing of the shifts in talent for corporate law departments), many legal business leaders have been left wondering what they can do to cope and compete.
These effects have been happening globally, with law firms from far-flung markets like Sydney and Johannesburg joining voices with those in Europe, Canada, and smaller markets in the United States to discuss how to combat the ripples started by major law firms in New York and London.
Much has been written about what firms might be able to do to staunch the loss of talent who are leaving in search of a higher paycheck, but relatively few firms seem to have figured out what really works.
In the latest podcast available on the Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights channel, we speak with a midsize law firm partner to discuss those steps that have been thus far successful for law firms looking to recruit and retain talent without having to rely primarily on increasingly higher pay scales.
You can access the latest Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights podcast, featuring a discussion with Shannon Boettjer of Jaspan Schlesinger, here.
Shannon Boettjer is a partner with the Garden City, NY-based law firm of Jaspan Schlesinger, a full-service, 50-attorney firm celebrating its 75th year serving clients. In addition to being a highly experienced litigator, Boettjer works closely with the firm’s recruiting and retention efforts. She also brings the perspective of someone with a background in a major international law firm, so she knows well the type of firm with which she and her partners are competing.
Also featured on the podcast is Danielle Rivner, a Thomson Reuters client manager who works closely with many New York City-area law firms, advising on a wide variety of business management topics. Rivner’s broad spectrum perspective brings insight into the successful strategies employed by a wide variety of law firms in competing for talent against larger players. This too pairs well with Boettjer’s deep experience in confronting those challenges personally.
What makes this podcast discussion particularly interesting is that, beyond the pressures that practically every law firm is feeling relative to today’s talent shifts, the experiences shared in this podcast come from firms where the primary driver of a lot of those shifts — large New York City law firms — are no more than a short subway ride away, so the effect of the competition for talent is not only acute, but highly local.
With that in mind, the insights shared about what has proven effective for these smaller firms in such direct competition can be seen as strong examples of those strategies which any law firm can look to capitalize on, particularly when the source of the challenge isn’t in the backyard.
Most important, according to Boettjer, has been Jaspan Schlesinger’s ability to sell itself as a place where attorneys can build not only a book of business, but a career balanced with a full life. Having come from a major law firm earlier in her career, Boettjer remembers well the tradeoff that was expected, sacrificing balance for the sake of the higher paycheck.
By providing greater opportunity for balance, as well as quicky progression to more meaningful work, Boettjer’s firm has been able to successfully find the talent they need to sustain meaningful, strategic growth while mitigating at least some of the risks associated with attorney attrition. These same attributes are what Boettjer believes will help make her firm, and firms like hers, into very attractive places at which lawyers could land should the draw of a large pay day start to dim for those seeking better balance.
While there are no simple answers to the questions related to how law firms can compete for talent against law firms offering what are often substantially higher salaries, the strategies shared in this podcast will hopefully give listeners some messages they can deliver to their talent pools, or priorities on which to focus within their firms’ strategic plans.