What would lawyers like to do with their time when they are not billing clients?

Since the dawn of time, the most crucial battle a law office fought outside the courtroom was to win and retain profitable clients. Recently, another, even more pressing, conflict has arisen—the talent war.

Law firms find that, due to the “Great Resignation” and the desire of people to work in a way that is fulfilling to them, they often need to convince prospective employees to join the firm just as much as a prospective customer. They must also work as hard as they do for their best clients to retain quality talent.

Companies need to know what drives lawyers to compete in the talent war. What makes them tick? What is their passion?

There are many aspects to being a lawyer. While it is true that the success or failure of a firm will depend on how much time they bill and other metrics agreed upon, there are also different facets. In law firms, there is a persistent but outdated belief that non-billable hours are always unprofitable. The best lawyers are passionate about what their firms want them to do. Firms need to realize that many activities that are not billable but inspire lawyers have value.

Lawyers are looking for ways to enjoy their work in all its aspects. Law firms need to be able to tap into what their attorneys are interested in doing with their non-billable hours. Many law firms must adequately explain their culture and the opportunities for a new or lateral hire.

Aligning the firm culture with attorney preferences

Thomson Reuters’ Stellar Performance Skills and Progression Mid-Year Survey 2020, which was recently released, indicates that most lawyers prefer to spend non-billable hours on business-building activities. According to the graphic below, most lawyers are passionate about building client relationships and growing their businesses.

When we examine the functions highlighted in the “vocational” box, it is clear that they focus primarily on growing the company. The “vocational” duties can be viewed as something that lawyers may find appealing as a calling. They are doing what they enjoy and find rewarding. These are the people who make the company rain.

On the other hand, “leverage” responsibilities tend to be more logistical and strategic. These responsibilities do not require a large team. Getting the job done only takes a few motivated, focused legal professionals.

These responsibilities, when completed, can have enormous benefits for everyone involved in the firm. This cross-functional, collaborative approach can also make the work, which may be less satisfying, more interesting for lawyers.

These skill sets are equally crucial to the success of a law office. Firms that listen to their attorneys and give them work they enjoy are more productive and happier. They also tend to remain with their firm for a more extended period.

The survey results clearly show that lawyers prefer vocational responsibilities and their critical nature. Innovative firms will balance the work required to handle leverage and the meaningful work lawyers enjoy.

Find out what motivates attorneys.

Hiring and retaining top talent will likely remain a significant concern for law firms through 2022. Learn more by attending the Thomson Reuters Webcast “Stop The Great Resignation: How to Reduce Law Firm Turnover” to find out how to make your firm a desirable employer in a competitive talent market.

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