Attracting talented staff is one thing. The lure of ongoing training and development, career progression and perks like gym memberships often prove enticing for junior and mid-career lawyers. However, retaining the same staff long-term is a challenge that is not so easily overcome.

The recently released Mahlab Report cites a lack of flexibility as a key challenge for firms looking to retain their young lawyers, with many rejecting a lifestyle plagued by long hours and overwhelming budgetary pressures. Although it’s easy to combat this objection with the promise of flexibility, what does this actually mean?

What does being ‘flexible’ mean?

When it comes to retaining your lawyers as they progress through their careers, a genuine acceptance and implementation of flexible working arrangements can do wonders. For an arrangement to be truly flexible, it needs to account for an employee’s individual circumstances. For example, offering parents non-traditional work hours, the ability to work from home during school holidays or providing a ‘dress for your day’ policy. Arrangements like these which consider your employee’s lifestyle can be be the difference between an employee moving on from your firm or not.

There’s a reason why employer inflexibility is a key contributor to the once-in-a-generation skills shortage the legal profession is currently facing. The average day no longer requires a lawyer to be in the office as early as 7 o’clock or as late as 11 o’clock. Modern lawyers have recognised this and accordingly, they no longer subscribe to this as the norm. These lawyers are actively seeking employers with a genuine commitment to flexibility.

Retaining talent through parenthood

Parenthood can interrupt the career trajectory for many lawyers, and for some, the setback is permanent. With the mobility afforded to law firms by technology these days, this does not need to be the case. Practice management software like LEAP gives your lawyers the tools to work around their busy lives. The LEAP Mobile App for example, can let parents collaborate on matters, share documents with clients and even record billable time while working from home or even doing school pick-up. Technology like this should empower employers to let their staff work without supervision, particularly when work on matters is synced to LEAP desktop for other staff to view.

The right technology

With the right technology, your lawyers and even your support staff can very easily work from home or abroad. For example, semi-automated accounting services can drastically reduce the need for your bookkeeper to be in the office, while cloud-based practice management software empowers staff to collaborate on matters just as they would together in the office. ‘Flexibility’ is no longer a mere buzzword; prospective employees expect access to truly flexible arrangements that are amenable to their own circumstances.

Similarly, the right practice management software can give your lawyers the power to streamline their workflow and reduce their reliance on bookkeepers or secretaries. This has the potential to reduce the hours they spend in the office or even working full stop. Automation of commonly used letters, precedents and forms for example, can drastically reduce time spent in the office on mundane data entry. An automated payment process for your clients can also minimise the time you or your bookkeeper spend chasing overdue invoices.

Moving forward

Retaining talented staff is not a task to be under-estimated. With many junior and mid-career lawyers eagerly questioning the culture of firms at the outset, the need to provide genuinely flexible work arrangements has become imperative. With the mobility of technology continuing to grow, offering these arrangements is becoming easier than ever.

For practical guidance on how your firm can overcome the skills shortage by retaining talented staff, download your complimentary copy of the How to Overcome the Skills Shortage whitepaper today.