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« UK Group Finds That Millions of Office Workers Don't Get Home Until at Least 8pm | Main | Work Life Winner: Addleshaw Goddard: A Model for Attorney Retention Best Practices »

Lawyers Leaving Firms for In-House Jobs at Clients

A recent article on discussed how law firms are losing talented attorneys to in-house positions at their clients, which are often perceived as offering more of a work-life balance and presenting opportunities to directly contribute to the growth of a business. Such departures are hitting firms hard in the current tight market for talent, and the recruiting problems are exacerbated when a departing attorney is a partner who brings along several associates with him or her to the client. Adding to the pain is a trend among corporations to bring more work in-house that was outsourced to firms in the past.   

The problem, of course, is that accusing a client of "poaching" would probably irreparably damage the business relationship with that client.  Jon Lindsey, managing partner of the New York office of Major, Lindsey & Africa, an attorney recruiter, indicated that he has not encountered any "no-poaching agreements" between outside counsel and their clients.

One interesting comment that caught our attention was made by Robert Werner, managing partner of Texas-based Brown McCarroll, which lost lawyers last year to clients. Said Werner: "People should be doing what they're most interested in doing. They've got to make the appropriate career decision for themselves."

This is the right attitude -- firms should be more sensitive to the career development needs of their attorneys. While that may seem to run counter to the goal of attorney retention, in fact, offering career development options may actually promote greater loyalty by letting attorneys know the firm cares about their job satisfaction. Of course, career development resources are only one component out of a package of several measures that can help increase retention such as well-structured mentoring programs; work life balance options such as flex-time, telecommuting, job sharing and sabbaticals; and stress reducers like concierge services.

See the full article here.

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