In our nearly thirty years of business at LawMaster advising law firms on effective management processes, we've observed how successful law firms manage to keep their top talent from jumping ship.
Embrace Learning and Personal Growth
Law is a business, but lawyers often struggle with seeing themselves as profit centers. Many of them joined the profession because it offered the prospect of intellectual challenge and the opportunity to engage in creative problem-solving. If, instead, lawyers are expected to repeat the same, rote services day-in-day-out for their clients, they may be profitable but they are also at a higher risk of burnout. The same goes for the staff who support them. It's rare to find any employee who is happy stuck in a state of professional sclerosis.
Instead, successful law firms value personal growth in their team. At these firms, management encourages lawyers and staffers who express interest in developing a new skill or area of expertise to pursue those interests and makes training and mentoring available. Not only does this serve the interests of the individual employees, it also results in a diversified skill set able to respond to evolving client needs.
Pay Genuine Interest to Staff Well-being
Speaking of burnout, at LawMaster we've found that firms tend to keep staff around longer when they treat everyone, from partners to assistants, as human beings whose personal lives can, and should, take precedence over their work lives from time-to-time. Working at a law firm can be stressful in its own right, let alone the stressors caused by family and relationship obligations outside of the office. If your team does not receive the support to help them manage that stress, they will inevitably leave to find somewhere that does.
Be Transparent About Decisions and Generous in Giving Credit
Another law firm trait that leads to high rates of retention is making transparent decisions about advancement and remuneration as well as being generous with giving credit. Lawyers commonly cite a lack of clarity on opportunities for promotion, unexpectedly low or unpredictable compensation, and feeling unappreciated, as negative aspects of law firm life. And, let's face it, there really is nothing worse than a boss who hordes glory for victories and shares blame for defeats.
Of course, transparency and credit-sharing require access to information about firm performance. A firm cannot set a realistic benchmark for billable hours or revenue without understanding performance trends. And, management needs to know when a senior lawyer has contributed relatively little work to a successful matter, whereas his legal assistant has put her entire life on hold to deliver a win for the client. LawMaster's practice management software gives firm management this sort of visibility into firm performance, facilitating transparency and credit-giving from the top down.
Give Staff The Tools They Need
Even the most talented lawyer or non-legal staffer will turn in mediocre performances if they're not given the right tools to do their job. A firm that does not invest in those tools appears to its staff to lack interest in enabling them to do their best work. In time, if your lawyers and staffers have to struggle with sub-par tools for time-sheeting, document management, billing, and other critical firm functions, they will head for the exits.
When a legal practice embraces Learning, Well-being, Transparency, and Tools, it enhances its ability to keep top performing lawyers and staff on board and rowing in the same direction. The result will be a happier, more productive workplace that has the capacity and consistency to keep clients satisfied and coming back.
To learn more about how LawMaster's legal practice management software can improve your firm's performance, contact us today.