Firms focus on attraction, neglect retention

By Stefanie Garber|15 July 2015
John Chisholm

Many major firms have excellent strategies for recruiting talented lawyers, but could do more to to keep them for the long term.

Legal consultant John Chisholm, who will act as a judge for the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards, believes firms could do more to keep their stars engaged.

“I think firms tend to have very good attraction strategies (especially the big firms) but I think many tend to neglect the retention side of things,” Mr Chisholm said. “Once they have got you, only the very strongest or the very malleable survive.

“Those that do have good retention strategies use the obvious: a great culture, interesting work, a career path.”


He also pointed to management as a potential factor, citing the adage that “lawyers join firms, but leave partners”.

Younger lawyers in particular, he believes, need to be provided with interesting work and a sense of career progression.

“Compared to my day when it was something of a badge of honour to be a one team player these days there is more credence given to a range of experiences in different firms and environments,” Mr Chisholm said. 

“The younger lawyers also tend to crave involvement, a firm with a clear strategy and direction, a career path – even if they don't use it. Whereas the older they get, they tend to want security and comfort.”

However, he warned against a one-size-fits-all approach to retention: “Very brave and arrogant is any firm that believes all their employees want and need the same things.”


Mr Chisholm will judge submissions for the Australian Law Awards. Submissions are now open via the website.



Firms focus on attraction, neglect retention
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