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Law.Com Article Offers Excellent Attorney Retention Strategies

An August 11, 2006 article published on law.com offers law firms an excellent list of strategies for improving associate retention at a time of escalating associate salaries and a competitive market for talent. The article observes correctly that nowadays many associates consider other "intangible" factors beyond just compensation in deciding whether to remain at a firm long term, or contact a recruiter to search for new positions.

Among the suggestions offered to firms seeking to improve associate retention:

  • Hire thoughtfully: during the recruiting process, firms should educate candidates about the firm's culture and expectations and thereby ensure that the candidate is a "good fit" for the firm who is likely to stick around
  • Nurture associates' careers: a major complaint among associates is repetitive, tedious projects and lack of training to handle more complex assignments; build loyalty by helping associates develop their careers through adequate training and mentoring and exposure to challenging, high quality work
  • Teach management skills to partners: because the quality of an employee's relationship with a supervisor directly impacts retention, firms need to teach supervising attorneys how to communicate and interact in ways that will help younger attorneys feel appreciated, valued and trusted (rather than fearful or humiliated)
  • Offer alternative compensation options: a firm that can't pay a top starting salary, can still be competitive on compensation by offering associates a "piece of the action" in the form of a percentage of new business generated by the associate or a percentage of fees awarded in contingency fee litigation; discretionary bonuses for stellar work (and not tied solely to hours billed) is also an option
  • Address work life balance: offering flexible work schedules, part-time arrangements with meaningful work, lower billable-hour requirements, alternative partnership tracks, additional vacation time, free soft drinks and snacks at the firm, and concierge service are all "work life balance" solutions the increase loyalty.

See the full article here.

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