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Talent Acquisition and Retention

What makes lawyers happy? Keys to attract and retain talent in 2023

· 6 minute read

· 6 minute read

While new concerns may be replacing the talent war, it is important that firms take action to keep their talent happy.

According to a 2021 Thomson Reuters report, lawyer recruitment and retention was cited by 51% of respondents as a top concern. In the last year, this concern fell off greatly as a perceived risk factor, with just 28% citing it as a high risk to profitability in 2022. 

Jump to:

icon-briefcase   Giving employees more personal control over their working arrangements

icon- three leaves   Providing growth and development opportunities

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  Creating a sense of meaning and purpose in work

icon-two individual handshake   Understanding generational preferences

icon-black puzzle piece 2   Legal tech is the foundation

  Learn more about legal trends


Here are three key tactics that you should consider this year to keep lawyers happy:

1. Giving employees more personal control over their working arrangements

For decades, law firms seemed to resist the idea of letting their teams work from home, believing that most of the work they did could only be done in person. But, when everyone got sent home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, those teams proved that they could do nearly everything from home that they could at the office—provided that they had access to the right technology. According to a 2022 survey conducted by the American Bar Association, 44% of lawyers surveyed would leave their place of employment for a greater ability to work remotely elsewhere. 

Having shown that they can succeed in a remote environment has created an expectation among employees that this kind of flexibility will become permanent. In the 2022 Thomson Reuters Law Firm Business Leaders Report, 42% of respondents will definitely support remote work to improve performance. 

 Whether for work-life balance, wellness, or simple flexibility in working hours, the idea of flexible work is a benefit that many top-performing team members want from their firms. 


2. Providing growth and development opportunities – early and often

Legal professionals who are just beginning their careers are anxious to use what they learned in school as well as experience what it’s like to work in the real world. 

While it’s great to have new bodies to research case precedent, that kind of work has the potential to lead to burnout sooner than later. Especially if they don’t have the best technology to complete their research. Not only does it take them longer to complete their assignments, but it can also make them feel like the firm does not value them. 

By providing the most current technology, they can get more legal research done in less time. And they can learn more about the law in the process. 


Image of a businessman working with the text "Understand, the past, present and future of legal research"
Find out more about the capabilities of today’s legal research tools in the white paper, “The past, present and future of legal research”.

There are other ways you can make new team members’ earliest days with the firm more engaging, such as: 

  • Adding them to the team that is handling the matter: They can see how planning meetings work and get firsthand input on what the rest of the team needs from them. And, perhaps more importantly, they will feel more of a sense of ownership of the matter. 
  • Building formalized development programs: In addition to mentoring, new team members like to know what career paths are available to them at the firm. Setting up development plans allows them to visualize where they are likely to be in two, five, or 10 years. Being able to see their futures with the firm can help to reduce turnover and encourage people to stay with the firm longer if they like what they see.


3. Creating a sense of meaning and purpose in work

The people entering the workforce today share a commitment to making a difference in the world. In addition to giving their time to their favorite organizations, they want their time spent on the job to mean something as well. 

Consider where your firm naturally makes the biggest impact on the world – your purpose. Articulate that as part of your recruitment and onboarding process. Make sure you’re regularly showcasing work that aligns with your purpose, so existing staff are reminded that what they do matters. 

Learn about what excites them on an individual level and steer them toward work for clients where there is a common interest. Let new team members use the firm’s technology and resources for pro bono activities. Encourage them when they want to pursue a matter that might be a bit outside the firm’s regular scope. Let them be passionate. And embrace their passion. 


Understanding the generational differences in prospective hires 

These keys are especially important considering the number of millennials and zoomers—as Gen Z has come to be known—dominating the workforce. The oldest millennials are over the age of 40, and the oldest zoomers are in their mid-20s. 

While some of the earliest millennials remember not having cell phones and high-speed internet, they readily embraced the technology once it became available. Zoomers, on the other hand, have never known a time when they didn’t have immediate access to the latest technology. 

Using cutting-edge technology is second nature to both of these generations, and it has become a near-prerequisite for them as they consider where they want to work. With most new associates being zoomers and millennials beginning to take on leadership positions at their firms, the demand for and focus on state-of-the-art technology will only continue to increase. 

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We designed this guide to help law firm leaders develop strategies and programs to build a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming workplace for all generations.

Read white paper

The battle for top talent has become as fierce as the battle for clients’ business. You need to create a culture that is attractive to millennials and zoomers in order to give your firm any chance of winning talent – and keeping talent around. 

While aligning with personal values is going to be key, the argument could be made that having the most up-to-date legal tech is table stakes. By taking the time now to evaluate your firm’s current legal tech stack, you set yourself up to be a stronger competitor as candidates evaluate your opportunity against others. 

Not only that, you’ll also gain all the business benefits that come with using technology that allows the firm to operate at maximum efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 


As we continue through 2023, new concerns will surely arise. Make sure that your firm has the best talent, and that this talent is equipped with the right tools to tackle future problems and come out as a leader against the competition. Learn about the latest in legal research technology and how it’s evolved to meet your changing needs. 

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