Alexis Navie, National HR manager at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, said initiatives that had been around in some form for a while, were now being brought to the foreground as law firms sought to keep their lawyers engaged.
“It’s an interesting phase because we have to find new ways to keep the lawyers motivated,” she said.
“It’s about keeping people engaged, providing clear career development strategies and giving people stretch assignments and objectives.
“You need to put people in situations where they are going to grow, learn and develop – put them in front of clients, give them opportunities to study something different, enable them to take some time out. It can be a whole bunch of things and it really depends on the individual.
“A lot of this stuff has been happening for a while, but the intensity of it has increased now as law firms become very much concerned with the bottom line.”
Navie said the greater need for efficiency meant it was vital that the people leading the law firms understood things like talent management, how to identify the best talents in the firm and retain them, and how to develop the core competencies of people at the other end of the spectrum.
That was achieved by designing a team that not only met the current needs of clients and the business, but was also designed to cater for the future needs of the business.
“As a business we have to generate the results we want and to do that you have to have the right amount of people with the right level of skills across the whole range of areas,” Navie said.
“Otherwise, you can end up with the problem where you have too many senior people and they end up doing lower level work, or vice versa.”
Navie said the area of workforce planning and designing workforce environments to achieve optimum results was a new direction being taken by HR departments, and was one way in which they were working with the partners of law firms to add value to the business.