Last week, I read an alarming, but not surprising, article on law.com. The article, Law Firms Struggle to Stave Off Mass Attrition, discusses how the worldwide trend of people quitting their jobs is impacting the legal industry. According to the article, which cites a McKinsey & Company survey, 15 million U.S. employees quit their jobs since April. Likewise, approximately 40% of employees are at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs in the next three to six months. As a result of these and other statistics, this trend is now known as the Great Attrition. The article also points out that law firms are not immune from the Great Attrition.
Those quoted in the article discuss several root causes for lawyers leaving their law firms. Among the reasons, are:
- The feeling of being disconnected from the office and colleagues.
- Not being valued by firm management.
- Burnout and frustration from both workloads and the COVID-19 pandemic.
From my perspective, and what my industry contacts tell me, these issues are real. I also read about and hear how other root causes have compounded the attrition crisis. First, some law firms are starting to mandate a return to work. Consequently, those lawyers who do not want to commute anymore, or feel unsafe, are looking for alternatives. Second, under normal circumstances, lawyers have a high stress job. However, with added pandemic-related and societal stresses, plus overwork caused by firms not being able to find enough people to hire, there seems to be a rising mental health crisis among attorneys. These two issues only add to the three causes listed above.
The article mentions that law firms are dealing with disconnection issues by hosting events – creating higher employee engagement. With office closings, law firms were creative using Zoom to host social functions and the like. Now with people back in office, they are doing more in-person, outdoor events. One firm leader said it is important for partners to return to the office. In other words, partners should lead by example.
Also, according to the article, some law firms are only throwing money at the problem – more compensation and benefits. However, the McKinsey survey shows that this is not a solution. The survey found:
Rather than sensing appreciation, employees sense a transaction. This transactional relationship reminds them that their real needs aren’t being met.
The bottom line is that money may help but only after addressing other concerns. For example, providing comfort with strict safety protocols, easing workloads, and mentoring programs.
Are Rainmakers Affected?
In a previous blog, I touched upon this issue. While rainmakers may not be personally impacted, the loss of key personnel may impact one’s ability to service clients. Plus, bad firm policies and decisions may make it hard to find replacements. Therefore, if your firm is a victim of the Great Attrition, maybe it is time for a change. There are law firms that are addressing this major problem in an effective manner. Accordingly, they can provide the necessary flexibility and resources to service your clients and grow your practice.
We are happy to discuss your situation and options for improvement. If interested, please reach out and schedule a call with us.