When my clients ask me for advice around recruiting I always advise them to consider attitude as the no#1 attribute to look for. I am not discounting academics, or technical ability, but let’s be clear, they can be learned. Attitude is far more difficult to teach and learn-you have it or you don’t!
A few years ago I remember reading a story about this one top-tier law firm in the US. Their approach to recruitment was out of the norm-to say the least. First, they didn’t target top-tier law schools, they looked at 2nd and 3rd tier schools. Secondly, they didn’t look at straight ‘A’ students, they looked for ‘B’ students who worked while going to law school to pay for their tuition. Their thinking was that this demonstrated a strong work ethic and great attitude-these students were willing to do whatever it took to succeed. I was taken aback when reading it. I totally agree. Not to say that straight ‘A’ students don’t have a great attitude, but this firm got it right. “Attitude before Academics”. They often found that in the case of the straight ‘A’ students attending top-tier law schools that with that came a sense of entitlement.
With the right attitude you find the solution. The wrong attitude “Well if I breath in, then I am going to have to breathe out.” The right attitude. “What’s the solution? There is a solution for everything”- that is when you have the right attitude.
People with the right attitude or ‘good’ attitude will do what it takes to learn what they need to. They will do the work….They won’t complain or drag others down. They contribute. They are a part of the solution. in many cases they ‘self-manage’. And generally, they are a pleasure to work with.
So before marks, before resume, choose the attitude! In my humble opinion, it accounts for about 90% of everything!
What is a law firm without great talent? -Empty office space! There are so many reasons law firms need to do more to empower their lawyers and staff to excel in their careers. One of the most critical areas I see for improvement is how you on-board your newly acquired talent.
Firstly, the competition for talent is pretty fierce right now. And secondly, talent acquisition especially at the lateral level in my opinion is one of the more successful growth strategies for law firms. But are you doing enough to help your newly acquired talent land successfully at your firm?
Here is some research as presented at this year’s Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, by members of the firm Winston & Strawn LLP. Although it’s research done in the US, we can easily see how it’s relevant to law firms everywhere.
- Per ALM Intelligence, 2,895 partners changed firms in the AM Law 200 in the period from September 30, 2016 to October 1, 2017.
- 99% of managing partners with more than 250 lawyers said they pursued lateral hiring as a growth strategy in 2017 (Altman Weil).
- Only 59% of lateral moves from 2011 to 2016 were deemed a success by managing partners (City Private Bank survey).
These statistics would suggest law firms in general are not doing enough to support lawyers in landing successfully at their new firm.
More next week on how to improve those numbers.
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?