Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with Momentum Media’s research arm Momentum Intelligence, is set to uncover the key motivators legal professionals consider when deciding to switch or join firms.
Appearing on a recent episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, host Jerome Doraisamy spoke with Lawyers Weekly editor Emma Ryan and Momentum Intelligence head of research services Michael Johnson about the launch of this year’s ‘Legal Firm of Choice Survey’.
Now in its fifth year, the survey calls on Lawyers Weekly readers to identify the factors that influence their choice in joining (or leaving) a law firm.
Beyond the firm’s brand, the publication asks how central training support is, as well as information technology, human resources and career advancement opportunities in readers’ decision-making.
According to Michael Johnson, the survey is an opportunity to share – confidentially – what legal employers should do to attract new talent and retain existing staff, and to outline the values or initiatives that are important in an organisation.
“Essentially, we're canvassing the experiences, attitudes and perceptions of legal professionals to really get a bit more of a better understanding about what their work day is like,” he explained.
“There's so much that is set around how happy legal professionals are, and it's obviously quite a competitive environment in terms of talent across the legal industry.
“This is a benchmark tool that we can use, to apply every year to understand ‘OK, here are the key issues, here are some of the changes, and here's what legal professionals are saying’.”
The biggest issues likely to receive attention in this year’s survey relate to the culture of each law firm, and what employers are doing to promote wellbeing among staff, Emma Ryan noted.
“For us, there have been a couple of really major themes that have developed over the past 12 months in particular. A big one of those is obviously sexual harassment,” she said.
“We're seeing employers come forward with these types of policies about trying to protect their staff and encouraging them to come forward if they have any issues in the workplace.
“Another one is gender quotas. Trying to get gender equality in the law is really important at the moment.
“We've seen firms such as Baker McKenzie and Norton Rose Fulbright introduce 40-40-20 gender quotas recently, and I think that's about encouraging an equal playing field across the profession and getting women and minorities into more partnerships, which is really good to see.
“In terms of these sorts of strategies, I think it is about that attraction piece. Graduates now are presented with so much choice in terms of what firm they can go to. There are so many different law firms in the market, so it's how you go about trying to nab this talent, but also how do you keep it as well. Some of these policies are really integral for that.”
While the Legal Firm of Choice Survey presents an opportunity for lawyers to air feedback on their employer, it also gives law firms across the country pivotal, objective insights into what they’re doing well and what they can be doing better.
A big takeaway each year, Mr Johnson says, is that lawyers want their employer to be consistent.
“I think you need consistency. Consistency at a high-level matters,” he said.
“Obviously what we're doing in this research is saying ‘These are the things that matter’, but then we look at it and go, ‘OK, this is a time for me to reflect on my quality of leadership ... How do we compare to the industry average, or how do we compare to our peers?’
“Then there are things like communication. Communication is such an integral part of how an organisation conducts its business.
“Overall, what lessons can they take from this? Take it as an opportunity to reflect and to measure yourself against the wider community.”
Adding to this, Ms Ryan said: “I completely agree, particularly when it comes to communication”.
“It’s not just necessarily about screaming at your employees, because you're the top dog of an organisation or whatever, but also fostering collaboration and hearing from those that are inside the law firm across the board, and really seeing what they're after, and seeing what's going to make them happy, and seeing what is going to actually help them stay there.”
“It's so important these days, because people just aren't attached to law firms like they used to be in the past. They will go somewhere else if they're not happy and this research helps us uncover the reasons as to what leads to this.”