Current Issues In Legal Recruitment Surrounding Recruiting & Retaining Talent

There had been a rapid rise in recruitment issues that have affected all industries including the legal sector. For instance, there were obstacles in the recruitment and retention of talents.

At current, there is a skills shortage within the candidate’s market in legal recruitment due to the lowered trainee intake that had occurred between 2008 - 2012. Therefore, this have resulted in the fallen numbers of transactions in legal services, which had affected growth in the industry.

This also meant fewer trainees are qualified in non-contentious disciplines such as corporate, banking and property law. Whereas more trainees were qualified in contentious disciplines, and more became family, immigration and employment solicitors.

However, this meant there is now a scarcity of solicitors who lacked two to five years’ post-qualified experience. This issue has not only caused instability in legal teams, yet there had been an increase in workload.

How does this affect law firms and their current methods of recruitment?

The skills shortage issue has affected the recruitment process. For example, there had been occurrences where the candidate would have attempted to resign from their firm for their prospective employer, However, during the notice period up to six months, their current employer would “buy-back” their employee by guaranteeing a promotion to prevent them from leaving. In turn, this can cause prospective employers to extend their recruitment process.

Furthermore, this had led to an increase in pressure upon these solicitors who can be overworked. This could drive them to seek better opportunities to have a balanced lifestyle.

Are there any innovative methods to recruitment being applied in legal organisations in response to these issues?

There had been an increase in investment in graduate programmes and HR. Yet, there has been limited usage of technology in recruitment strategies as they are not being implemented throughout the board.

As an improvement, the barriers of entry in the legal sector have been lowered to combat the challenges of skills shortage, which is implemented by viewing candidates with various experience and background.

Recruitment processes have become more streamlined by seeking more emotional “buy-in” candidates to fill vacancies from the date of offer and to guarantee that they will join their organisation after their notice period.

At present, the candidate could have eight to ten opportunities, in comparison to the past where they could have gained one or two. Therefore, legal organisations must be efficient in their recruitment practices. Recruiters have struggled since candidates now have the advantage to choose one from ten job offers. However, this could frustrate nine other clients that the candidate crossed over, hence causing more pressure on the recruiter to manage relations.

However, changes in legal recruitment in organisations must be achievable to meet their objective, since what may work in a larger organisation may not work in smaller firms as they would have the resources to implement it.  

Moreover, there should be increased efforts to understand the candidate’s motivation to join the organisation as it will be similar work, and whether there is a good culture fit between the two. Regular communication should be exchanged between the employer and future employee to ensure loyalty until their first day of employment. Likewise, talent retention should be reinforced since they should be treated as an investment.

Final thoughts

Firms that uses the “buy-back” tactics can also cause resentment for other loyal employees, and use influence to improve their own circumstances. Although the need to recruit more talent is affected by the skills shortage, retaining and developing talent is equally as important to gain significant savings and reducing the recruitment process.

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