Thomson Reuters Institute and the Center for Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University have released the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market: A challenging road to recovery. Law firms are throwing a lot of money at the talent problem and it may not be paying off… in fact history suggests that it may destroy some firms.  The report underscores the fact that many lawyers value “intangibles more than money” — and yet law firms continue succumb to the compensation “arms race.”

Are you at a “Stay Firm or a “Go” Firm? The report indicates that some law firms may lose almost 25% of their legal talent in a year. Ironically “stay” firms may pay less and have associates that work longer hours. Here is an enlightening chart comparing talent issues at “stay” and “go” firms.

The talent war is not limited to lawyers.  Competition for business professionals is heating up. One surprising chart in the report  provides a roster of activities that lawyers would prefer to leave to business professionals including recruiting, KM, training and D&I activities.

The report concludes with some advice about actions that can be taken to improve a firm’s position for retention or recruiting:

• establishing clear written plans and policies laying out the firm’s expectations regarding
employees’ return to the office, safety protocols, and hybrid work arrangements;
• delivering frequent and empathetic communications tailored around the realization that
different persons will be dealing with return-to-work issues in different ways;
• providing resources for lawyer and professional staff support through wellness and
mental health programs;
• offering adequate technical and administrative support for work-at-home arrangements;
• taking a flexible approach to remote work, part-time work, and flex-time arrangements;
• developing policies and procedures to assure equity and fairness in assignment,
evaluation, compensation, and promotion decisions, especially in regard to lawyers and
professional staff taking advantage of remote working arrangements;
• creating policies and procedures to provide adequate supervision and oversight for remote
working situations;
• modifying training programs to treat lawyers and professional staff equitably regardless
of their in-person or remote working status;
• making appropriate investments in technology to keep the firm on the cutting edge of
digital communications and artificial intelligence-assisted work processes; and
• finding additional ways to foster social engagement and comradery within the firm.

Download the full 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market at this link.