Attracting & Top Legal Talent

Attracting and retaining top talent is crucial in a competitive and highly-regulated space like the legal sector. But like so many other disciplines, legal services were hit by the ‘Great Resignation’ following the pandemic, as legal professionals’ expectations of their employers evolved.

At Michael Page Legal, we regularly consult with hiring managers – both those looking for in-house talent and those in practices – on their employee value propositions (EVP). As the cumulative value of everything you offer to your people, your EVP will determine your hiring and retention success – and thus, your organisational performance to a large degree. 

Here, we break down exactly what it takes to build a leading EVP in the legal space. We also share the results of our recent survey of UK legal professionals, in which we asked them what they wanted to see from employers, and what factors made them seek new opportunities. 

Why do legal professionals leave roles?

While it's impossible to summarise all the reasons legal professionals move to new organisations in a single word, 'ambition' is a good starting point.

Law is one of the most challenging professions to learn, and those who reach the top of the sector are often driven by a desire to continue their professional development over the long term.

When asked the reasons for wanting to leave their current job, our survey found that the following came out on top:

  • To pursue different opportunities (36% of legal & policy, 23% across all sectors)
  • The work is no longer challenging (36% of legal & policy, 17% across all sectors)

If you are trying to improve talent retention, giving your legal talent opportunities to try new things and to work on their personal and professional development could be a good way to keep them engaged.

What do legal professionals look for?

An attractive salary is key to attracting best-in-class professionals. For the latest salary benchmarks across in-house, private practice, and governance roles, download our 2023 Guides to Salaries and Hiring Strategy in Legal today.

But beyond salary, what are the key areas that will allow you to sell your roles to candidates? Our survey found that work-life balance is high on the agenda across professional services, including legal and policy:

  • 64% of all sectors look for work-life balance in new roles
  • This figure rises to 73% among legal & policy respondents
  • Across professional services disciplines, it rises to 83%

In what is known to be a challenging field, many have the begun to re-evaluate their priorities and seek out roles which allow for more personal time and clearer work-life boundaries. In our experience, hybrid working allowances are an essential part of an EVP in legal for this reason.  

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How to promote your roles effectively

Of course, a leading EVP has limited value if you aren’t able to communicate it effectively. For that reason, job descriptions are crucial to communicate the perks and benefits of your roles to candidates and attracting top performers.

In many cases, the job advertisement is the only communication you will have with a candidate before they decide whether or not to apply – many will only research your organisation in more detail if they feel interested in your role.

As such, consider including a short 'about us' statement at the bottom of your job descriptions. This can be standardised across all of the job ads you post, or tailored slightly to suit each role - it doesn't need to be time-consuming.

Think about what your most talented candidates are looking for, and make sure you highlight that your organisation caters to these desires. Our work with candidates indicates that some of the most sought-after qualities of an employer are:

  • Work-life balance
  • New challenges and opportunities
  • Good colleague relationships

If you can show that you offer employees these key things from the beginning of the application process on top of a competitive overall package, you will present yourself as an employer of choice in the space – and candidates will respond.

Tom Hart, Senior Manager at Michael Page Legal, commented:

Legal professionals are often risk averse when it comes to making career moves. This tendency, combined with a continued shortage of candidates, has meant that organisations are having to work harder than ever to attract top talent. We're encouraging our clients to think closely about their employee value propositions and really emphasise the benefits they can offer to prospective talent in terms of remuneration and job stability. At a time of economic uncertainty, this can make all the difference.

What's next?

Whatever your talent needs, we have a team on hand to help. Our Page Consulting team specialises in workforce planning and helping organisations build their EVPs. When it comes to hiring, we have legal-specific teams operating across multiple levels of the job market: 

Michael Page for qualified professional and management roles.
Page Personnel for professional clerical and support roles. 
Page Executive for executive level roles. 
Page Outsourcing for custom volume hiring solutions.  

To discuss your hiring needs, get in touch

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