5 Ways to Retain Top Team Members for Your Law Firm

9 minutes to read

We live in the age of the Great Attrition.

In the past few years, a record number of employees have quit or planned to quit their jobs, and that number continues to increase. In the U.S. alone, voluntary attrition increased by almost 800,000 in the past year, while involuntary attrition decreased by almost 400,000 during the same period according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But that’s not all: According to a McKinsey survey, nearly a quarter of employers believe they are holding on to more low-performing talent now compared to a year ago. They’re unable to keep the best talent. They’re simply stuck with the most available.

If you’re worried about the long-lasting effects the Great Attrition can have on your law firm, never fear — we’re here to help you retain true A-players in your organization.

There are five proven ways to retain your top team members:

  1. Create a Foolproof Hiring Process
  2. Cultivate a Competitive Workplace
  3. Develop an Effective Onboarding Experience
  4. Establish Growth Opportunities
  5. Prioritize Alignment and Engagement

1. Create a Foolproof Hiring Process

Hiring a new team member to join your law firm should follow the same process each and every time — and it should be designed to remove bad fits from the candidate pool early. A structured hiring process is vital to your potential team member’s and firm’s overall success, and it gives you a much clearer picture of what the candidate will bring to the table.

Here at Crisp, we take the hiring process very seriously — so seriously that we have a nine-step pipeline that filters applicants rigorously, so only the cream of the crop receive offers in the end. Take a look for yourself:

Step 1: The Job Description
Step 2: Call the Number
Step 3: Submit Application
Step 4: Phone Interview
Step 5: Test Assignment (with a Firm Deadline)
Step 6: Assessments
Step 7: Final Interview
Step 8: References/Background Check
Step 9: Offer Letter

Looks extensive, right? That’s because it is. If it weren’t, then we wouldn’t be able to get a full picture of the person we might consider bringing on board. If a candidate isn’t the absolute best fit for the job and our company culture, then we want to know that right off the bat before we invest in them — and we want them to know early too.

When considering a potential hire for your law firm, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is, ‘What would great look like?’ For every role within your organization, clearly articulate the ideal person’s strengths, skills, and defining factors. Then use that yardstick to measure candidates applying for the role. Is the potential team member truly what you need for this role? Is this someone who will mesh and align well with the culture of your team? Is this someone who will be successful in your law firm today, in five years, and in 10 years?

By hiring the absolute best person for each role in your law firm, you will avoid bringing on bad fits that will leave later — by your choice or theirs.

2. Cultivate a Competitive Workplace

The competitive spirit isn’t saved for professional sports teams. It must be used in your law firm as well — not just because it’s going to help you get ahead of your competitors, but because it will help you attract and keep the best talent on your team.

Here’s the most important thing to remember when looking for potential hires:

People want to work for organizations that prioritize them. They want to know that they will be rewarded for working hard and committing to your vision.

One way to become a competitive employer in your marketplace is to clearly communicate how unique your firm is. Prove to potential hires why working at your firm will be the best decision for them. Consider the following questions when deciding why your firm stands out from all the rest:

  • What is the personality of your law firm’s brand, both externally in your marketing and internally for the people who work there?
  • What are the perks and benefits your law firm’s team members can expect to enjoy?
  • Are the compensation and benefits packages up to par?
  • How will this role contribute to your long-term vision or big-picture mission?
  • Why should potential team members want to work for your law firm over any others?

Another important factor in creating a competitive workplace is your law firm’s culture, which is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your business unique, and it matters more than you might think. Check out some of these statistics surrounding culture in the workplace:

  • When searching for a new job, 77% of respondents said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.
  • American millennials are more likely to care about work culture over salary (65%) than those age 45 and older (52%). Similar numbers were found in the U.K. (66% vs. 52%).
  • 89% of adults polled told researchers that it was important for employers to “have a clear mission and purpose.”

Salary isn’t everything (though competitive compensation and benefits are powerful ways to retain top team members for your law firm). If you aren’t putting enough effort into building an award-winning culture for your law firm, then you’re almost certainly missing out on valuable prospects — and you risk losing the A-players you already have.

For a more in-depth tutorial on what great looks like when it comes to company culture, check out this article.

Don’t ignore the small things. Top team members pay attention to them.

3. Develop an Effective Onboarding Process

Once you’ve found the perfect candidate to bring onto your law firm, it’s time to onboard them. Do you have a process in place that you use every time? If you don’t, you might not keep that person for as long as you hoped.

Before actually accepting the job and showing up to work, potential hires will choose to apply to your organization simply based on your reputation (see above for the importance of culture). But once they come to work their first official day as a team member, they’ll start to formulate their own opinions of your law firm.

Here are a few ways to make a positive impression from the start — increasing the longevity of your law firm’s new hires:

  • Standardize each new hire’s onboarding process. Who will they need to meet and train with in order to be successful? What resources will they need from you? What will their first day at work look like?
  • Stack their calendars. Your new hire doesn’t know what a typical day in the life at your law firm looks like, and they won’t come in knowing what to expect from their new position. Plan out their first days to the fullest extent possible to give them a better understanding and help them hit the ground running.
  • Ensure they meet their new colleagues. It can be intimidating coming to work on the first day and not knowing anyone. Consider implementing meet and greets or one-on-ones between your new team members and existing ones. This will help your new hire feel comfortable and welcomed, and it will give your existing ones an active role in shaping the culture of your organization.

Whatever you do, always remember that simply finding and hiring A-players is just the beginning. Effectively onboarding new hires makes a huge impact on whether they will stick around and be effective members of the organization. Don’t make the mistake of not prioritizing them.

4. Establish Growth Opportunities

Growth should be non-negotiable for you, your team members, and your law firm as a whole.

We each spend about a third of our adult lives at work, and during that time, we want to know that we’re working toward something meaningful and not just wasting our efforts.

In a study by Quantum Workplace, team members listed professional growth opportunities as one of their highest drivers of engagement, while exiting employees listed lack of growth opportunity as the second highest reason for leaving.

If you have high retention in your law firm, it’s probably because you encourage career development opportunities — and if you have high turnover, it’s probably because you aren’t encouraging enough of them.

This leaves one very important question to ask yourself:

What are you doing to ensure that your team members know that their growth ceiling is high?

For starters, clearly define what the growth opportunities are for each position in your law firm. Every team member should know what they’re working toward and how to get there, which includes knowing what skills they’ll need to master, what projects they’ll need to complete, what results they’ll need to generate, and any other training they’ll need to reach a higher position.

Prove to your team members that you want to invest time and energy into them, just as they have done for you. Set them up for success and you both will reap the rewards in the end.

5. Prioritize Alignment and Engagement

Your law firm will not be successful if your team isn’t on the same page — end of story. If there’s a lack of alignment and engagement among your team members, that’s just the start of going down a very slippery slope.

One of the first things you can do is set the right vision. This will help potential hires know exactly what your law firm is all about even before they submit their application. Here at Crisp, our vision is central to every decision we make:

We’re on a mission to help 1,000 law firms grow their revenue by $1,000,000 each ($1B+ impact) by 2024.

It’s clear, simple, and to the point. Someone seeing our mission for the first time already knows exactly what they are working toward here at Crisp, and if you develop and communicate a clear vision in your law firm, your team members can align with it as well.

The top candidates want to work for something meaningful, and a clear vision helps both you and them find the perfect match for one another. Your team should view your vision as a way to achieve their own goals and find their purpose within your organization across the board.

Crisp Team

Being a collaborator in part of the bigger mission will improve the level of engagement your team feels with your law firm. If each team member can see how their piece of the puzzle translates to something meaningful, they will begin to internalize the ideals of the firm and actively work toward them — rather than resisting the commitment required to execute with excellence.

Final Thoughts

Just because we’re living during the Great Attrition doesn’t mean it has to affect your law firm negatively. Start seeing this as an opportunity to attract the best talent to your law firm and capitalize on the increased competition in the marketplace.

Your law firm is only as great as the sum of its parts. Once you attract and bring on high-performing team members, make sure you are doing everything you can to retain them for the long run.

We can help. Apply to join Crisp Coach, America’s #1 law firm growth program, to invest in yourself, your A-players, and the future of your law firm.