The Law Society's Annual Report for the period from September 2021 to September 2022 has recently been published. At first sight, it makes for encouraging reading. It reports an increase in the numbers entering the profession and an improvement in the profession's overall diversity statistics. However, it also notes that legal trainee registrations dropped by 2% in the period, which is the lowest figure seen over the last five years.
Why is this a problem?
With 17% of those currently occupying Partner positions within law firms aged over 55 and approaching retirement, there could be an emergent bow wave of senior-level vacancies at a time when there isn't a talent pool of sufficiently experienced, highly trained and skilled lawyers available to fill them. This is especially likely to be a challenge for smaller single-Partner firms where continuity is essential for success.
Important considerations for recruiting in 2023
Recruiting for legal positions in 2023, particularly for senior-level and Partner positions, it is vital that firms look to address their diversity requirements in selecting the most appropriate person for the job. Women remain underrepresented at Partner level in law firms, and especially in larger organisations. Of equal concern, only 16% of Partners in British law firms are of an ethnicity other than white.
Certain practice areas are already experiencing recruitment issues, with demand outstripping availability. For firms operating in these environments, recruiting for vacancies and training an internal talent pipeline to ensure continuity into the future is vital to guard against unexpected resignations and requests for sabbaticals. The Law Society is already warning of a chronic shortage of Criminal Duty Solicitors, whilst rapid growth in the family law, conveyancing and property law sectors will require firms to recruit appropriate personnel in short order in order to capitalise on elevated demand.
Planning your talent pipeline
Securing the right people in post to cope with the upcoming workload doesn't happen by chance, but with budgets increasingly squeezed in order to maximise profits, taking the time to plan and allocate resources effectively will stand you in good stead this year.
It is vital to take the time to plan for growth, re-allocating existing personnel as required to develop their knowledge and experience, support their career aspirations and reduce the burden on busier practice areas. Nurturing internal talent in this way allows a clear path for career progression, which will improve the likelihood of filling any upcoming senior-level or Partner positions internally.
As ever, it remains essential to consider any changes that will be imposed upon your business by new regulations or those that you will choose to make in order to meet the changing needs of your clientele. For example, you may plan to specialise in cyber security law or move away from criminal law. Whatever your aspirations may be for the firm, you will need to ensure that you have the correct balance of appropriately trained staff in post to support your strategy and to achieve your KPIs.
2023 is a year for planning for the future. Understanding your future workload and ensuring that you have the right people in post is the first step, nurturing and developing them comes next. It is likely that some level of external recruitment will be necessary in order to achieve your objectives. It is vital that you hire strategically - not only the best person for the job but also someone who improves the diversity and balance of your organisation.
If you want expert help to reach your 2023 hiring goals, please get in touch with Interlink Talent Solutions at email@example.com.