5 Ways Legal Departments Can Retain Top Talent

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 08, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When you bring someone onto your team, whether they're an attorney or legal secretary, you're making an investment. And you want to make sure you get the most out of it. That means not only finding great candidates, but keeping your top talent around.

But hanging on to top talent isn't easy. About a quarter of all employees are actively looking to change jobs, and talented ones should have no problem finding a new place to work. So you'll have to make it worth their while to stick around. Here are five tips to help you do just that.

1. Know What You Can Offer That Others Can't

Even if you can't offer the highest salaries in town, you can differentiate yourself from other employers by offering benefits that others can't, and we're not just talking about the difference between in-house and firm work here, either.

For some, that may be a strong mentoring relationship with new talent. For others, it might mean helping your promising attorneys develop innovative niches in the legal department. Or maybe you can keep your support staff around by offering greater flexibility. Take a look at what your company offers and find a way to make it stand out.

2. Provide Opportunities to Grow

The best workers are usually those who seek out growth and challenges. Doing the same thing day in and day, year after year after year, out isn't going to inspire them. So make sure you're giving room to grow. Provide training and networking opportunities, and consider projects that will help your staff develop new skills. If your company has a corporate talent development system, make sure the legal department is actively engaged in it.

It doesn't have to be all top down, either; encourage your department's talent to bring their ideas to you as well.

3. Recognize Good Work

There's a reason teachers give out gold stars: a little appreciation can go a long way. Workers who feel valued, recognized, and appreciated will have higher job satisfaction, increasing the likelihood that they stick around. This recognition can come in a variety of ways. There are bonuses, of course, but also consider featuring achievements in departmental emails or nominating stellar members of your team for professional awards and recognition.

4. Solicit and Respond to Feedback

Feedback allows attorneys and other staff to feel like they're being heard, but it also lets you keep your finger on the pulse of the office. Are people overworked and disgruntled? Overworked and feeling empowered? Bored and looking for something to do? Regular feedback can clue you in, allowing you to take action to improve the situation, or just keep a good think going.

5. Create an Environment Employees Enjoy

You don't need to put a ping pong table in the conference room or switch everyone's desk chairs over to bean bags. But creating an inviting environment is a major step to making talent want to your department -- and stay there. If aggression, negativity, or incivility are spreading, take steps to nip it in the bud.

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