LAW FIRMS that are thinking about listing on the stock exchange should bear in mind that younger generations of lawyers don’t necessarily want equity in the business, said a recruitment expert.
Ben Cass, general manager of Link Recruitment, said the past year has seen a lot of discussion surrounding the benefits of listing on the stock exchange, including the ability to move away from a pure partnership structure and offer a wider base of employees equity in the business. However, Cass said this is not something all employees are interested in.
“It’s not necessarily the right strategy. Equity is often about locking people into the business for a longer period of time but we know younger generations don’t want that,” he said.
According to Cass, when it comes to retention, firms should stop thinking “how do we lock people in for longer” and focus on how to provide more exciting opportunities for younger lawyers.
“Younger lawyers want to be able to move around, be able to advance, they want new opportunities and challenges and diversity in their career,” Cass said.
Indeed, Cass said this desire for new challenges and diversity is actually more important to lawyers than the oft-cited desire for a more balanced lifestyle.
“From the information that we are seeing, while balance is something that’s of interest, the reason people are moving roles is the challenge, opportunity for advancement, and ability to build skills and experience,” he said.
With candidates spoilt for choice and no sign of the candidate shortage easing in 2008 Cass said firms will have to accept that they will continue to lose staff and focus on how to draw them back. One tool Cass said firms aren’t fully leveraging is their alumni — as a means of bring people back to the firm and to send positive messages out to the market to assist with recruiting.
“I think a lot of firms have an alumni, but in some of the conversations I’ve had with the firms, while they might have newsletters or something on their website, they aren’t using it to recruit people back in, or to recruit through that network by getting referrals through that network,” Cass said.
Antonia Bentivoglio, marketing and business development manager at TressCox, said while the firm didn’t use its alumni to help recruit new staff, it was proving to be an effective way of keeping in touch with lawyers that have moved offshore and are likely to return.
“I can think of two people who went overseas this year and have been active in the alumni. So keeping dialogue open with people like that who have gone overseas for the experience of working overseas, but will eventually (most likely) come back to Australia, is very important and the alumni is helping maintain those relationships.
“So, when they do come back, they still feel connected to TressCox and if there are opportunities for when people come back, they can maximise those opportunities in a firm where they feel comfortable, where they know people and their clients and the way the firm operates,” Bentivoglio said.