Legal hiring lessons learned during the pandemic
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, traditional industries were forced to adopt non-traditional methods of doing business and recruiting new hires. The legal industry was no exception.
Now, having gone through a global pandemic and what it has entailed for almost two years, there are lessons we learned at Foster Group in 2021 that will help guide us – and others in the recruiting industry. legal – in the new year.
Disruption breeds demand
Whenever there is a major disruption, there is usually a significant demand for legal services. Due to the effects of a global pandemic, many businesses and organizations are seeking the advice of lawyers and legal professionals to advise them on how best to handle a multitude of legal issues caused by the pandemic.
For example, companies can seek legal help to renegotiate leases of office space that is no longer in use due to remote working, or for advice on how to legally require employees to be vaccinated to work. in an office. We have seen an increased demand for labor and employment lawyers, corporate lawyers and real estate lawyers. In particular, we have seen an increase in the demand for more experienced, more experienced lawyers.
In 2021, the law firm landscape saw a strong demand for partners, which is a strength of our practice and a constant concern of our team. We saw a 50% increase in associate hires in 2021, with hires closing faster.
Currently, senior associates are in more demand than their junior counterparts as they require less training, which is significant at a time when many companies operate on a hybrid work schedule. While companies have taken steps to effectively train their associates remotely and through Zoom, a lot of learning usually happens through the work of lawyers neck and neck.
Another change in the market is the movement of associates from lower level companies to higher level companies.
From a legal recruiting standpoint, 2020 overnight changed one of the most traditional aspects of the interview process – the in-person meeting. Daily in-person interviews quickly moved online as social distancing and quarantine became commonplace around the world.
Fortunately, many of us have learned to go virtual in 2020, so conduct interviews and do business in general online, was a relatively painless process in 2021. Transactions proceed faster and more efficiently. People have gotten used to remote working in today’s climate, and the idea of taking a job in an office you’ve never been to is now widely accepted.
There is no perfect roadmap to bringing the legal industry, or the world, back to the normalcy we know, but it is understood that this pandemic is on. Because of the transitions people made in 2020, such as working remotely, videoconferencing, wearing masks, and reducing office hours, the familiarity of all of this has made for a more seamless transition in 2021.
Talent acquisition is changing
The competition for talent is astronomical. The standard approach that companies used to take is no longer sufficient. For example, before the pandemic, it typically took three to six months to hire an associate. This time has been considerably reduced.
It has become more difficult to find talent because the law firms themselves have adapted and become more creative with their structures, titles and offerings, for example by allowing people to work from home. Login bonuses are more readily available than in the past. In addition, promotions have become important factors when developing offers.
The firms are also moving existing partners to open offices in new locations to attract new talented staff, especially to areas with leading law schools nearby. For example, we have seen an increase in recruiting in Salt Lake City and the state of Tennessee.
For our team, partnering with law firms and understanding their platforms and opportunities is more important than ever. The fatigue candidates feel due to a high level of recruiter awareness requires something more substantial to be able to get through all the awareness and offers they receive.
For example, it is essential that we have a thorough and detailed understanding of the recruiting law firm’s desirability, including details about the firm’s performance, its clientele, the path to partnership and the culture of the group. In this market, it is not important enough to approach candidates with “a good company that is well regarded”. We really take the time to understand the value of the opportunity and how it translates into the attorney’s career goals. Understanding the short and long term opportunities offered by firms and aligning them with what is important to our candidates is essential.
Currently, many lawyers are keen on flexible working arrangements. Before the pandemic, few of the firms of major law firms were operating virtually.
Now that hybrid scheduling or working entirely remotely is an option for many legal professionals, however, this is something law firms could and should use as leverage when extending offerings. Depending on the duration of the pandemic, the ability to work remotely part-time or full-time could be a permanent solution.
The past two years have been marked by continued growth and change in our industry. In the face of change, the most important thing we can do is learn to adapt.
As a legal recruiting firm, we have learned how to reach candidates in today’s market and appeal to their needs, not who they are. We have now opted for Zoom meetings with applicants instead of in-person meetings, which we did regularly before the pandemic.
Of course, some law firms can try to keep what was previously the norm and try to operate that way. However, it is difficult to recruit for these companies because it is a more competitive environment than what they were used to in the past. They will likely find that they have to adapt and adapt in order to be successful.
As an industry, we must be ready and willing to change the way we operate to meet the needs of today’s market. And by 2022, we can expect an even more demanding market.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owner.
Michelle foster is the founder and managing partner of the Home group, a boutique agency specializing in legal advice. She has extensive relationships with leading firm hiring and management partners nationwide and attributes her success to her experience as a seasoned law firm partner and legal recruiter, as well as her approach as a career consultant versus a typical agency recruiter.