The toughest competition of all

The toughest competition of all

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for small law firms in small legal markets is to recruit and - sometimes even more difficult - retain high-quality associates. The assumption is that the small markets and the small law firms are at a substantial disadvantage. Our firm's observations, advising smaller law firms, confirm that there is a lot of truth to this perception. However that disadvantage can be overcome.  Here's how:

  • Expand the scope of your recruiting in law schools. Many small law firms still allow their recruiting strategy to be shackled by the myth that the only the "best" law firms and only the "top quarter" of the law school class produce good lawyers. Research has not established such a correlation and, if anything, the it appears that lawyers who graduate in the second and third quartiles of their law firm classes actually are more successful as law firm partners.
  • Remember that retention is seldom about money. Over the years, our firm has conducted focus groups of almost 1,000 law firms associates worldwide. When asked, "What makes you want to remain in this firm?" money is never one of the top factors mentioned. Instead, associates - especially in smaller firms - tell us that the more important factors include: opportunities to learn legal skills and gain experience; the opportunity to work with, and learn from, a successful partner; and to perform increasingly important responsibilities for clients.
  • Invest in professional development and career management. The successful management of professional talent seldom does not require a lot of money.  It does require a serious investment of partner time and attention. It is no surprise, therefore, that the small firms that are the most successful in retaining legal talent have serious mentoring programs, in-depth performance evaluations, and a clear career path for each associate in the firm.

Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.