What the previous 2 years have taught this agency about expertise growth

On the finish of November, the 2022 Report on the State of the Authorized Market: A Difficult Highway to Restoration famous, “all regulation corporations had been edging dangerously near dropping virtually one-quarter of their associates in 2021.”

That statistic displays simply how drastic—and speedy—the change within the expertise panorama has been throughout the pandemic. Previously two years alone, we went from rising unemployment charges to the “Nice Resignation” to the place I consider we stand now: the Nice Reevaluation of Priorities. At this time’s staff care about who they work for and the way and the place they achieve this greater than ever earlier than. They need extra possession over their careers and acknowledge that work is private. Now, our expertise methods should align with these preferences.

Within the midst of all this alteration, the highway forward for regulation agency leaders may appear daunting. However my expertise over the past 12 months and a half main a worldwide regulation agency with greater than 1,600 attorneys unfold over 100 places of work has additionally proven me that it is a second of actual alternative—one the place we are able to reinvigorate and reshape how we develop, retain and entice expertise within the authorized trade.

Beneath are 4 key takeaways which have emerged from Littler Mendelson’s expertise and we proceed to deal with as we glance to the longer term.

Provide alternative in profession trajectories

The pandemic has compelled individuals to actually take into consideration the intersection of their private {and professional} lives, together with how they wish to develop their careers. Within the authorized trade, that may translate to attorneys looking for options to the normal associate-to-partner observe. Regulation agency leaders ought to, due to this fact, empower their attorneys with alternative: the chance to direct their very own profession trajectories in a means that’s in sync with their objectives, preferences, pursuits and private lives.

Meaning offering choices, whether or not it’s the flexibility to carve out particular subject material information in a given apply group or providing pathways that acknowledge individuals have totally different pursuits or are at totally different levels of their careers.

As an illustration, Littler CaseSmart, which launched in 2010 as a platform for managing employment litigation, created the LCS counsel place. LCS counsel work throughout the platform and deal with a definite space of the authorized course of (analysis, discovery, transient writing, and so forth.). This allows them to construct expertise inside a selected space of curiosity in addition to the chance to advance to positions with extra administration accountability. We began with 12 LCS counsel when the platform launched, and the crew has grown to just about 100.

Along with the pandemic accelerating curiosity within the position, there was an evolution within the causes attorneys are pursuing it. Within the early days, these searching for roles that didn’t match the associate-to-partner path had been doing so due to explicit life circumstances (e.g., new mother and father, caregivers, these nearing retirement). Now, as individuals have mirrored on what’s vital to them, it’s actually each kind of lawyer who, for a variety of causes, decides that they need one thing totally different out of their careers.

Decide to mentorship and IE&D

As regulation agency leaders reassess their expertise methods, mentorship and inclusion, fairness and variety have to be prime of thoughts.

A robust dedication to IE&D has by no means been extra paramount than within the wake of the inequities exacerbated by the pandemic and the highly effective motion for social justice. As we glance towards a post-pandemic future, we proceed to deal with refreshing and additional investing in a number of initiatives to assist recruit and retain various attorneys.

As an illustration, Littler was an early adopter of affinity teams, which offer assist, growth, networking alternatives and a launchpad for creating affinity-focused communications and applications. Along with our present teams—Bollo (Black/African American); ‘Ohana (Asian, South Asian, Center Jap, North African and Pacific Islander); Satisfaction (LGBTQ+); and Reunión (Hispanic/Latinx) in addition to our Ladies’s Management Initiative—we launched two new affinity teams in late 2021 for veterans and for people with disabilities. Our affinity teams are open to all agency workers and allies of every group. Notably throughout troublesome occasions and with fewer alternatives for in-person interplay, we discovered that these teams present an vital discussion board for our crew members to share methods for achievement, interact in enterprise growth planning, set up mentorship relationships, and have a good time and embrace the distinctive qualities that every particular person brings to the agency.

Recruiting and hiring practices is one other key focus space for IE&D efforts. Luckily, in our newest annual survey of practically 1,300 employers, we discovered that revising recruiting and hiring practices is the highest step firms in all industries have taken over the previous 12 months to advance their IE&D objectives. It is a promising signal that employers are reconsidering frequent parts of job descriptions that will now not be needed within the new world of labor and taking a extra versatile method to get extra various candidates within the door.

At Littler, we’ve got not solely embraced adjustments to our recruiting practices but in addition acknowledged that we should repeatedly evolve how we assist and elevate our various expertise as soon as they’re introduced on. That’s why, in April 2022, we introduced our rebranded Littler SOAR Program, which pairs newly employed various associates with a shareholder mentor to assist them efficiently combine into the agency throughout their essential first few months.

Create a tradition of innovation

It’s lengthy been vital for regulation corporations to develop new know-how options and processes for serving shoppers, however the pandemic put a highlight on simply how vital these improvements are. As an illustration, a 2021 Wolters Kluwer survey discovered that regulation corporations who paved the way on know-how had been extra in a position to climate the pandemic, higher positioned to increase their enterprise and had been extra productive.

Crucially, know-how may also help entice and retain expertise as properly. But this requires going past a top-down method and creating a real tradition of innovation—one which drives extra collaboration, transparency and alternatives to convey new concepts that profit each shoppers and colleagues.

A method leaders can operationalize that is by providing incentives that encourage attorneys to current new concepts and by offering the assist to convey these concepts to fruition. As an illustration, we host an annual Innovate 100 hackathon-style occasion for Littler attorneys across the globe to provide you with the agency’s subsequent huge innovation; the profitable groups obtain the assist to construct out and develop their proposed ideas. As well as, our biennial Wesley J. Fastiff Ingenuity Award, which is open to all workers, was designed to encourage creativity and new concepts from throughout the agency and offers a money prize to the profitable crew.

It’s vital to do not forget that know-how—like a complete, easy-to-use information administration infrastructure—can even assist each attorneys {and professional} employees do their jobs extra effectively and successfully, thereby enhancing job satisfaction and bolstering retention.

Adaptability over flexibility

The elemental adjustments to how we work is simply one of many some ways the pandemic has taught us to raised embrace change and uncertainty. In response, leaders have burdened the significance of flexibility.

But whereas flexibility is vital for recruiting and retaining expertise, it should transcend merely providing distant and hybrid working fashions. One key lesson that has emerged for us throughout the pandemic is to acknowledge that somebody’s chosen path right this moment might be totally different tomorrow, and that’s completely effective. Actually, as leaders, it’s our job to adapt to what our workers are telling us they want. We wish attorneys to see Littler as a spot the place they will spend their careers—and meaning acknowledging they are going to inevitably expertise adjustments of their private {and professional} wants over time.

The Nice Reevaluation of Priorities is right here. Moderately than seeing it as a roadblock, regulation agency leaders ought to view it as a chance to reevaluate their expertise methods and priorities.

Erin Webber is president and managing director of Littler Mendelson, the world’s largest employment and labor regulation agency. She guides the strategic route of the agency throughout core areas, together with expertise growth and recruitment; inclusion, fairness and variety; international growth and innovation. She additionally oversees the administration and operations of Littler’s greater than 1,600 attorneys and places of work worldwide.

Thoughts Your Enterprise is a collection of columns written by attorneys, authorized professionals and others throughout the authorized trade. The aim of those columns is to supply sensible steering for attorneys on methods to run their practices, present details about the most recent developments in authorized know-how and the way it may also help attorneys work extra effectively and techniques for constructing a thriving enterprise.

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This column displays the opinions of the creator and never essentially the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Affiliation.