A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers
This Blog by Susie Rogers, Director, Rusher Rogers HR Solutions, was just posted by ALPMA
What is it that attracts a candidate to a firm? Research shows that it is not money alone but a firm’s reputation, measured across a number of different indices as highlighted in the 2015 ALPMA/Rusher Rogers Australian Legal Industry Salary & HR Survey and, as a whole, this is what can contribute towards driving talent to an organisation.
For a candidate this means:
- A firm’s professional reputation & its performance in the sector;
- the firm’s type and level of clients;
- its specialisation and expertise as a leader in vertical markets;
- the firm’s culture and the profile of its employees;
- career opportunities (long and short term);
- benefits on offer;
- commitment to professional development; and of course
- remuneration and rewards.
Which recruitment strategy is going to harness the right talent?
The most successful ones that I have seen are:
- those firms that know exactly who suits their firm from a cultural point of view, and they stick to that without compromise;
- firms that take their time to hire and plan what talent they need well in advance;
- firms that have a clear vision of who they are as a practice and can clearly articulate this to their targets;
- those firms that know what they can offer in return and conversely they have clear expectations of what they expect of an employee;
- firms that know what direction that they are going as an organisation and invite newly identified targets along for the journey as a part of that way forward; and
- firms with management that has profiled their ‘high performance’ employees, both the hard and the soft skills of their people so that they are clear when they hire what is important for a team fit, not just an experience/skills fit.
The WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) Factor
Progressive, forward thinking firms have developed a recruitment strategy that has involved them placing themselves in the shoes of the potential employee.
Instead of coming from the angle of being inside looking out, they have stepped outside their own firm and considered their organisation from an outsider’s perspective, that is, from the outside looking in. The question is, is what they see enticing enough from the outside and does it stack up or perhaps more importantly, standout against all the competition in the market place.
Whether your recruitment strategy involves lateral hires or growing your own talent, the recruitment strategy needs to address both short and long term resourcing needs. The uniform foundation – no matter what level experience you are targeting – will be what you have on offer.
As this year’s ALPMA salary survey highlights, most firms have some, or many of, a long list of benefits ranging from additional leave entitlements to study allowance, meal allowances to flexible working hours. But is this enough? With social responsibility volunteer programs, commitments to career progression, opportunities to work globally within the one firm, to healthy salary and incentive packages, what will differentiate your firm against another and does your recruitment strategy reflect this?
Understanding what attracts targets to a firm is critical and with the provision of benefits, market rate salary packages and comparable, achievable incentives addressed, it’s the firm’s reputation, and culture that is left. Having a clear and committed strategy to developing and maintaining, let’s say, a ‘high performance’ culture is critical so that if you want ‘high performance’ talent then you can recruit to that culture and attract to most appropriate talent because of it.
Successful recruitment strategies are also well rounded recruitment strategies. By this I mean strategies that have a process that captures talent for future roles with a commitment of looking after all the talent that has been introduced to your firm. It is critical that the candidate has a positive and professional experience with your firm throughout the recruitment process even though they may not be the candidate of choice at the time. Leave the door open as yesterday’s candidate maybe tomorrow’s employee. Remember people talk to their network about their experiences with firms, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Reactive vs Proactive Talent Sourcing Strategy
The ALPMA salary survey indicates that a hefty 65% of firms rely on a reactive talent sourcing strategy, 80% of whom go to the market as the need arises. This means they have no real long-term recruitment plan, relying heavily on finding the right people at the time of need. Only 14% engaged in a more pro-active recruitment strategy by investing time in developing their own database of potential candidates, including specific talent pools of unique talent, developing a brand on social media to attract future talent and a process and commitment to an ongoing engagement strategy with potential talent. These may well be the ‘go-to’ firms for the future ‘high performance’ candidate while less proactive firms fight over those who are left.
Which type of practice will you be?
ALPMA Editor’s Note
The ALPMA Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey provides a comprehensive, independent review of salaries paid for 60 – 70 positions in legal firms, and reveals the hottest HR issues and challenges for the legal industry in Australia and New Zealand. This year, we conducted two surveys – one providing benchmarking information for Australian law firms, proudly supported by Rusher Rogers HR Solutions, and one for New Zealand law firms, proudly supported by McLeod Duminy Legal Recruiters.If you would like to understand more about law firm compensation strategies and how your firm compares, then you can purchase the relevant report for $A550 (including GST) if you are an ALPMA member who did not participate in the research or for $A2,200 (including GST) for all non-members who did not participate in the research. Participants receive a complimentary copy of the research.Please contact Connie Finestone if you have any questions about purchasing the report.