Recognizing and Retaining Legal Support Staff

There’s no doubt that the legal industry is undergoing a transformation. In March 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the legal sector lost about 1,400 jobs in the months of January and February alone. Increased competition and poor recruitment policies are just some of the reasons for the decline in legal staff retention. However, there are steps your firm can take to safeguard against losing quality legal staff.

Adjust Your Recruitment Techniques

After time demands, toxic culture was the most common reason legal industry staff cited for leaving their law jobs. In a study by Law Practice Today, nearly 19% of legal staff cited it as the primary reason they left their jobs. For many attorneys, the stress and time demands of the job weren’t the primary problem; more respect, collegiality and kindness may be the keys for them.

Actively managing and developing culture through recruitment can significantly improve employee retention and performance, which directly influence organizational profitability and growth. A recent study by found college students would accept an average of 7% less starting pay to work for companies with cultures they value and appreciate. There is also a wealth of data showing that cultural fit influences employee retention and performance. In the same study, when new hires appeared to join a company expecting a certain culture, and not all of their expectations were met, they left for a new job opportunity.

Your legal staff may be good at what they do, but are they the best fit for the firm? When interviewing for open positions in your law firm, allow time to interview a wide range of candidates. Not everyone who looks good on paper is going to be a cultural fit for your firm. Poor recruitment decisions can have a major impact on your firm. This is particularly true for smaller firms, where the whole practice can be affected by a hire who isn’t performing or doesn’t fit with the firm.

Offer Incentives that Improve Work-Life Balance

Often times, legal support staff and attorneys leave more than just their law firms, they leave the legal industry all together. One of the primary reasons for this exodus from the legal industry is the time demands. Thirty-four percent of the respondents to Law Practice Today’s survey said that the primary reason they left was because found it very difficult to meet billable hour requirements and spend quality time with their families.

Rewards and incentives in the workplace have benefits for both employees and employers. When recognized for stellar performance and productivity, employees have increased morale, job satisfaction and involvement in organizational functions. But these rewards and incentives do not have to be budget busting. Non-monetary incentives reward employee performance through perks and opportunities. These rewards could include flexible work hours, training opportunities and the ability to work independently. The rewards and incentives are valuable to an employee because they allow workers to learn new skills and pursue advancement opportunities. They also allow more time for them to focus on family and enjoy a more balanced, fulfilling lifestyle. Firms that recognize the importance of offering work-life balance rewards experience higher retention and fewer disgruntled employees.

Show Appreciation with Recognition says that legal professionals have said feeling appreciated for the work they do is the top driver of their happiness in the office. More than anything, legal support staff and attorneys want to feel appreciated.

Employers don’t have to break the bank to instill loyalty among legal staff. Simply showing appreciation for your staff’s hard work and dedication has a much greater motivational impact than many people realize. Recognition rewards can include award ceremonies and public announcements, employee’s choice for the next case assignment, or asking them to be a mentor to others.

Hosting an employee appreciation and awards banquet is an excellent way to celebrate the accomplishments of all those who have contributed to the success of your law firm. Workplace recognition rewards should occur frequently such as at the end of the day, week or at the conclusion of a big case.

Finding meaning in one’s work has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, empowerment, job satisfaction, and performance, and also decrease absenteeism and stress. Unfortunately, a meaningful work experience is not the norm, particularly in law firms. Law firm leadership who resolve to retain associates can make simple changes to improve the workplace environment. It can be difficult to change the culture of your law firm. Adjusting business operations and it takes time to implement certain incentive programs. While your law firm works towards long term employee retention programs, know that getting started is as easy as giving your legal staff a sincere thank-you for a job well done.

Ready to start strengthening the culture of your law firm? Levy Recognition can help!

Contact us today about custom recognition programs designed specifically for the legal industry.

The Custom Awards Process