It’s never been more critical than now for law firms to adapt new working practices – particularly investing in the right technology – to retain talent.

In the new working world since the outbreak of the pandemic, law firms need to be on their toes to ensure that their top talent have access to all the right tools and technologies to stay productive – but more importantly, to stick with the same firm. 

For many firms, this is more of a “do now than later” as many will understandably prioritise what they consider to be more immediate issues or challenges. However, firms which take  a flippant attitude towards technology risk seeing their top talent walk straight out the door. Worse still, replacing that talent has become even more difficult in the wake of working from home, the great resignation and ideas of a “new normal”.  

Are law firms appropriately leveraging technology to retain talent?

If you ask us, there are a few simple reason as to why law firms keep losing valuable talent:
  1. Constant pressures to put in more work hours, but no digital backbone or structure in place for employees to be able to work just as seamlessly on a remote basis – as they do at the office.
  2. Bounding employees ‘strictly’ to work as many hours as possible from the office and not allowing enough flexibility to work remotely or at their own hours.
  3. Not leveraging the latest technology and tools to help lawyers and other legal staff do their jobs more effectively – both from the office and remotely.

Times have changed a lot since the pandemic struck – in a few short years, most of us have dramatically changed in our attitudes to how we prioritize and complete our workflow, and law firms must adapt  to reflect the “new normal” if they want to attract the best and brightest industry talent. Nowadays, , the top talent in your firm will, at the very least, expect you to leverage technology to help them perform better at their job. If you can’t keep up, they will likely head for the door.

In fact, law schools are also waking up to the many benefits legal technology brings to the table, such as AI and remote working tools. 

So, is technology the only way to move forward when it comes to talent retention in the legal industry? No, it certainly isn’t the only way but it is a very critical component of the success equation.

Your 4-step action plan to retain talent

Here’s what we recommend you start with:

1. Make flexible working a part of everyone’s job description

In this day and age of Microsoft collaboration tools like SharePoint or Office 365, flexible working should be offered as a standard in every law firm, making it much easier for lawyers to work together, share and collaborate on live documents and communicate instantaneously. It’s a fast, secure, and convenient way to get things done. 

2. Embrace direct communication.

There’s no need to make your staff members jump through hoops just to get in touch with, say, the CEO, a senior team lead or even a client. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, for example, are the go-to communication tool for many businesses – not just in law, but in many other sectors as well – to instantly get in touch and even have group calls and conferences at the touch of a button. 

3. Identify from the outset what your workers want

Creating a culture of constant dialogue is something you should be striving for from day one. Listen closely and intently to what your top talent is saying – i.e. what are their underlying needs and wants to get their jobs done effectively? Many workers know how their working life can be improved, but are too afraid to give voice to their solutions, therefore it is imperative to encourage a culture where team leaders are approachable, and lawyers/legal workers aren’t afraid to speak up. Too much talent has already been lost because workers have suffered in silence – don’t let it happen to you! 

Also, consider all the ways in which you can help them better engage with their work, while also offering ways to help them achieve a better work-life balance, for instance. You certainly don’t have to take action on everything they demand, want or say – but it’s going to pay back handsome dividends, especially in the long-run, if you can simply identify some common themes and then work towards making improvements on those areas. For example: A better work-life balance or how they can work more effectively from home. 

4. Put Technology at the Forefront 

Identifying what’s truly important to your top talent is merely half the work done. Because this will be what your technology-based solutions will focus on: addressing their needs. The needs of your top talent should give direction to the kind of software and technology based solutions you should employ – this may or may not include AI, for example. 

Don’t just blindly invest in a solution only because a certain vendor gave a killer presentation and showed you some stats on how other law firms are reaping the benefits by using ‘xyz’ technology solution. Similarly,  don’t make huge investments in technology based on the requests of a single lawyer or worker.  Instead, look for solutions which speak directly to your criteria for retaining top talent, while enabling everyone to perform more effectively. Make sure that technology answers to your needs of fixing or upgrading certain issues. 

Hopefully, you won’t have to witness that day when your talent walks out the door simply because you couldn’t keep up with their needs and demands. The above suggestions should act as a very good starting point for setting off on the right foot, and technology should be at the heart of it all. 

Our Faculty Says...

Hussain Hadi - Faculty Member

“Law firms are increasingly looking to attract and retain the next generation of talent through cultivating a culture of problem solving and leveraging the power of technology. The Clifford Chance IGNITE tech-focused training contract and the Freshfields Hub are successful examples of projects that encourage innovation and engage teams that are excited about deploying tools like contract review software and document automation to drive efficiency at every opportunity.”

– Hussain Hadi, Head of Publishing and Technology at LexisNexis Middle East

Want to learn more? Our LTIC certificate has an coverage of a broad of tools and case studies that can support you in understanding more about the legaltech landscape. 

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