I am old enough to remember the urban legends spoken by our dearly beloved elders. “You kids have it so easy these days. Back in my day we had to trek through blizzards for ten miles wearing boots that barely covered our feet.”
I’m sure you’ve heard older partners say something to the effect of “When I was a junior, I kept my head down and my mouth shut and just did the work. Eventually I got to work with a partner and learned my way. You kids want us to show you everything. Whatever happened to self-reliance?”
While I agree that self-reliance is an important quality to have, I don’t believe that leaving your juniors to fend for themselves is your best business decision.
The thing is this. The sink or swim attitude or approach wasn’t good then, and it’s certainly not good now. If you don’t develop your junior talent, they will leave and go and work for your competition. Down the road, who is going to be left to buy you out when you want to retire?
When you develop your talent, give them constructive feedback in order that they can learn and grow, it’s an investment that will directly affect your own pocket-book. Nothing is ever 100%. But from my experience, taking a more positive approach and developing your talent will pay off more than it won’t.
If you don’t do it because it’s right thing to do, fine. Do it because it will put more money in your pocket.
Working with a number of lawyers in helping them to transition into their new firms, I can say that this kind of support can speed up the process of successful integration by at least three times. And that is being conservative. All you have to do, is ‘do the math’. Not only will you increase that dismal success rate, you will also speed up the revenue generation of your new partners.
Here is one example of what is possible:
Working with one partner who moved from one national firm to another starting back in September of 2017, I helped him with his transition into his new firm. We looked at who he should approach first to team up with for business development. I helped him to build relationships with his new partners, associates and management.
Starting in September 2017, and after the initial transition period of three months, we then focused on taking his business development efforts to the next level. Fast forward to now, May, and he has already grown his practice beyond himself and successfully built a team of one other partner, two associates, two paralegals and his assistant. That has all taken place since September. Wow! Imagine if you had this same success with more of your lateral hires? What would that look like for your firm?
And it gets better! Once word gets out, and it will, your firm will find it even easier to attract even more high-performing talent. Think about how that will positively impact not only your bottom line, but your firm growth.
One area where I see a lot of potential for law firms to stand out from each other is in marketing your talent acquisition strategy. Let’s say your firm has established a winning formula for targeting and attracting high-level lateral talent. And your professional development people have created a successful transition program for your newly acquired talent increasing their likelihood of success dramatically, not to mention getting better ROI and contributing to the bottom line. This is a winning formula. How do you take the next step?
Engage your marketing people to articulate your approach to attract even more high-level talent and own the talent race. The competition for talent is fierce right now. Why not own it?
Then also articulate this winning formula to your current and future clients. E.g. “We have an established reputation of acquiring and retaining the very best talent in this market and this is how we do it…” After all, what is a law firm without talent? And what are your clients buying?