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Is Your Law Firm Ready for 'Free Agent Season'?

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 15, 2016 6:57 AM

Lateral hiring is becoming the standard hiring model within this industry. There was a time in the labor field where people would get hired by a particular firm, do well, and expect to stay there for the rest of their career. The reality is that this way of working is dying -- particularly for younger associates. It's basically the law firm absorption of the new gig economy.

Today, the top firms in the country are aggressively looking for ambitious young attorneys whose eyes are wandering for greener pastures outside of their current setup. Your firm may be looking for new talent, but remember, your talent could be looking for a new firm. How do you keep the current talent you have whilst growing in this increasingly cut-throat business?

It's Not All Money

Everybody in this business likes money, but not everything is money. And it's usually around the end of the year when many young attorneys start looking to make career moves. This is sometimes called "free agent season."

Small firms can't afford to make huge outlays of cash to entice talented associates, but they can give their lawyers equity sharing in the firm. Give your ambitious lawyers a piece of the action and some skin in the game. Employment happiness is as much about being appreciated and having one's ego stroked as it is about dollars and cents. Heck, some studies even have us wondering if we shouldn't all just become public interest lawyers.

Shoring up the Weaknesses

Every firm has culture and logistical issues, and sometimes these issues stretch patience to the breaking point. When searching for laterals, it's imperative that a firm make a good impression on those candidates who're considering your small business as his next career move. Yes, unfortunately, this means that some expenditure will have to be made in making the place look good.

Small Firms Should Work on Stability, Not Growth

Mention the word "growth" and businesses think about getting more clients and hiring more attorneys. This is good, but it's important to maintain focus on keeping the talent you already have. Expansion requires a real expenditure of capital. Maintenance can be as simple as weekly social meetings.

A good reason many attorneys leave a small operation could have to do with small issues that were never properly addressed months -- even years -- before. Don't let a talented lawyer stay unhappy with your firm.

Need a great hire? Post a job with Indeed.

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