Associate retention continues to be a hot topic, especially as law firms seek ways to hold tight to the associates they’ve attracted at least in part by paying top dollar… and as associates eye the rising pay scales.
Arnie Herz of Legal Sanity has posted an interesting discussion (no longer available) on the disengaged employee, using a lot of buzzwords to suggest, I think, that legal employers need to focus on leadership development and employer/employee relationships. He cites several reports for support, including a Deloitte report entitled, It’s 2008: Do You Know Where Your Talent Is? (no longer available)
I find it interesting that relationship seems to be in vogue now, and I wonder whether the trend will continue. Are we moving toward a softer, gentler business environment? And if so, what will be the effect of the softness on the business? Is this just the current version of Emotional Intelligence? I suppose only time will tell. What I do know for sure, though, is that genuine interest is what will help the legal profession. Lawyers need to be genuinely interested — invested, even — in their clients’ aims. Associates need to be genuinely interested in the goals of their law firms. Partners need to be genuinely interested in the associates’ development and their goals.
And money… Associate loyalty can’t be bought. Although it’s less often discussed, neither can partner loyalty — as is illustrated by the large number of partners who now jump from one firm to another (and perhaps back), something that would have been anathema only a few years ago. It’s possible to purchase a widget, to purchase a set amount of a lawyer’s time. But retention requires much more.