A NEWLY released legal forecast suggests that law firms are not very innovative in their recruitment strategies and need to find a point of difference from other firms if they want to stand out in the crowd, in particular when attracting young lawyers.
Many young lawyers see top-tier firms as all cut from the same cloth, regarding them as much the same in terms of work expectations, bonuses and flexibility. There has therefore been a backlash against these firms as senior associates and others are looking at other options, particularly in the mid tier, according to a Hays Legal Quarterly Forecast on the legal profession, released last week.
“Firms need to give lawyers flexible working hours and gym membership, for example,” said general manager of Hays Legal Kristine Luke. “We get candidates who think top tiers are all the same, and they are ruling them out.”
“The firms need to find a point of difference, such as work/life balance, more flexible working hours. There may be no room for this — in light of [Allens Arthur Robinson managing partner] Tom Poulton’s comments — but they need to promote what they can offer,” she said.
Law firms also face competition from overseas firms. The forecast suggests that attempts to fill vacancies in private practice will be driven by the expansion of teams rather than the replacement of existing roles. But they also face competition from overseas firms in Hong Kong, London and the Middle East, where they are sourcing quality lawyers with between two and five years’ experience, from both Australia and New Zealand
Where overseas firms are recruiting local lawyers, the Forecast suggests, vacancy activity will increase for replacements. “We are doing a lot of recruitment for Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries,” said Luke. “In the next quarter we are going to see much of the same, and we have been campaigning to attract Aussie and NZ lawyers overseas to work in the Magic Circle London firms. They tend to want banking and finance and corporate lawyers at the two to five year level,” she said.