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How to use technology to attract and retain the best legal talent

“[Our] success is built on the work of talented and motivated people who thrive in a supportive and collaborative environment, dedicated to delivering an exceptional standard of work for our clients.”

This is what it says on the careers page of a top London law firm. You can see similar messages on the recruitment pages of its rivals and law firms generally.Clearly, these firms care a lot about recruiting good people. Just like you do.

But turn the confident promises and boasts around and look at it from the perspective of a potential recruit and the story looks a little different.

Millennial momentum

What do today’s lawyers actually want? According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2017, the answer is clear.

 – They want flexible working arrangements; two-thirds think it has a positive impact on productivity.

 – They embrace technology and see it benefitting the wider economy and themselves.

 – They prefer companies that work for positive change in society.

 – They respect ‘plain, straight talking language’ and honest communication.

Does that sound like most law firms? Probably not.

– Technology-powered talent. But you don’t want to be ‘most law firms’. Technology gives forward-looking, ambitious firms new ways to stand out; not only with candidates but also with clients.

– Flexible workingCloud-hosted Microsoft collaboration tools like Office 365 and SharePoint let lawyers work together with document management, collaborative editing, open-book calendar management and web-hosted video conferencing and instant messaging. These tools let people work from home, from different offices or from client sites in a secure way.
– Direct communication. Modern law firms embrace joined-up communication systems, like Skype for Business, that let people make a phone call, set up an internet conference call or send instant messages. It lets people choose the right way to stay in touch but all within the same application.

– Plain talking. Take a look at Microsoft Teams. Part of Office 365, it’s a new way for firms to foster collaboration and stay in touch. More immediate and informal than email, it reflects the way people communicate in their personal lives with Facebook and WhatsApp. Complement that with a culture-building app like Know Your Company for honest feedback.

– Training and support. Build a culture that supports continuous learning, not just ‘continuous professional development’. Continuous learning means offering a range of training options, including mentoring, access to online courses and funding for relevant personal study (such as learning a new language) and that the company has feedback mechanisms, such as stay and exit interviews, so that it too can learn. Add 24/7 technical support to avoid the risk of fee-earners losing revenue because of IT problems.

– Positive change. Millennial candidates seek out employers that use business as a force for good. While many firms might not be able to emulate democratically-run Dutch law firm Bruggink en Van der Velden and achieve B Corp certification, technology can help any firm make a difference. For example, to reduce your carbon footprint (by allowing video conferences with clients and more home working) or to cut waste (by replacing printed documents with scanned and digital versions). It can even offer alternatives to the traditional timesheet. The answer is ‘yes’When, according to the Harvard Business Review, employees consistently ask the same four questions about which company to join… 

Is this a winning organisation I can be proud of?

Can I maximise my performance in the job?

Are people treated well economically and interpersonally?

Is the work itself fulfilling and enjoyable? … it surely makes sense to use technology to the greatest extent possible to make sure that the answer is always YES.

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