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Keeping employees happy

Whilst the world might be in the midst of a global financial crisis, the focus for keeping lawyers happy has not changed, writes Ruth SalamonThe core wishes of employees have never really…

Whilst the world might be in the midst of a global financial crisis, the focus for keeping lawyers happy has not changed, writes Ruth Salamon

The core wishes of employees have never really changed. They still want fair remuneration, exposure to high quality work, hands-on involvement, direct client interaction and good prospects of promotion.

The importance that employees place on these issues will vary depending on their level of experience and, therefore, the stage that they are at in their career.

For instance, senior lawyers are more concerned with opportunities to build a practice of their own and their partnership prospects. Junior lawyers on the other hand are more concerned with mentoring, training, the variety of work offered and incidental benefits such as Friday night drinks, social networks, pro-bono work and secondments.

Level of experience aside, candidates tend to value the following two attributes highest when considering opportunities.

Firstly, friendly co-workers in good working environments - the old days of lawyers blindly accepting verbal abuse from partners have passed. Lawyers expect to be treated with respect and are generally happy to work as hard and as long as required, provided they are doing it within a supportive and collegiate team.

Secondly, quality work for quality clients - lawyers want to be challenged. They also want hands-on responsibilities so as to feel like an integral part of the business.

Other commonly listed wishes include a busy and dynamic practice and long term prospects. Interestingly, the catch-cry of the last couple of years, "work/life balance", is being heard less and this is no doubt a result of the recent global financial crisis.

That's not to say lawyers are happy to work around the clock all of the time. People are recognising the realities of business today, and as long as it is the exception rather than the rule, lawyers will accept the need for long nights when deadlines are pending.

Ruth Salamon heads up Laurence Simons Specialist Legal Recruitment, Australia

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