The War on Talent

Boutiques, sexy in-house opportunities, international law firms arriving in London, London law firms establishing offices in the tax free haven that is the Middle East, and alternative law firm structures (such as those offering full-time work-from-home models with quasi-self employment) are all fuelling the war for talent. With the increasing number of new entrants into the legal market, especially in London, it is becoming harder for law firms to attract, retain and develop talent. Law firms are also becoming more dynamic and savvy in their service offerings. Traditional law firms are increasingly prepared to offer high end private client and family services. Media and sports firms are poaching large family law teams lock stock and barrel. Traditional ‘old money’ law firms that once upon a time specialised in the vanilla private client ‘English gentry’ work (farming, tax planning, agriculture) are now hiring transactional lawyers to ensure that with a full service law firm no work is unnecessarily lost.

It is more important than ever for law firms to think carefully about how they sustain their talent pipeline. Loyalty, partner promises and gratitude tax are no longer compelling enough reasons to think that top talent won’t leave nor is it enough to allow these lawyers to languish in teams gracefully and patiently waiting for their day to come. Lawyers are increasingly working in a way that they want to and it is vital law firm’s are responsive to this in a meaningful and enduring way. Cultural and behavioural change must be properly supported and law firms must engender cultural shifts. More than ever before, our candidates principal reasons for considering new opportunities relate to 1) concerns about the enduring billable hours model; 2) difficulties in being able to realistically pursue partnership (bottle necks and poor legacy planning are amongst the most common causes for partner promotion delays); and 3) a firm’s over-focus, and misunderstanding, of the attraction of seemingly irresistible revenue scales at the expense of a genuine commitment to foster and support diversity in every sense.

We frequently move senior level candidates because of concerns regarding a firm’s unrealistic focus on poorly considered measurable objectives. Unrealistic partner billing pressures, long hours and ill thought through flexible working policies combined with a reluctance to embrace four day weeks, earlier finishes, and support familial demands are amongst the most commonly cited reasons for exceptional (often female) candidates wanting to consider senior (often partner) opportunities at firms that provide less competitive revenue scales than their larger cousins and, which may have less established teams, but which are emerging, dynamic and demonstrating genuine strategic and business intent when it comes to sustaining top talent.

The time has come for law firms to think carefully about their talent management processes. Recruitment supplier diversity is the corner stone of a successful and enduring talent acquisition and retention culture. Attrition hurts teams, profits, peer and competitor profiles, and most importantly, clients. The recruitment market remains littered with firms that have no genuine commitment to multicultural demographic diversity and disability, LGBT and BAME inclusion policies which are, at best, treated as an afterthought. Recruitment firms that choose to focus only on a targets and a commission culture do not support law firm prestige, reputation or business success. It forces poor practice that alienates and deters superior talent from joining your organisation. We continue to see some of the globe’s top ranked law firms lose some of their best talent to firms that are less well ranked with less financial prowess because these less well ranked firms are dedicated to growing their firm with successful, strategic and inclusive hires, especially at the senior level. Corrective behaviours from the top down are what challenges and shakes antiquated business and recruitment practices on every level.

Mimoza Fleur works hard to ensure with each client we work for we have a proper understanding, and genuine commitment to, the firm’s hiring and business objectives. We take interest in your business development communications and diversity and inclusion policies. We understand how the achievement of your business goals is informed by your talent pool. For example, our commitment to multicultural demographic diversity has enabled many of our clients to successfully operate in global markets and specialise in niche services. In every assignment we take on we are always alive to the unconscious bias that can negatively influence hiring policies and we remain shocked by the extent to which systemic and unconscious bias causes for law firms to lose (intentionally or otherwise) some of their best lawyers returning from maternal and/or paternal leave.

Our informed, inclusive and commercial approach to recruitment in the legal world enables us to sell your opportunities with the USP it deserves. We match candidates to opportunities extremely well because of the emphasis we place on diversity and cultural fit and we know which firms are focusing their recruitment and retention goals on diversity, agility and openness. But, don’t take our word for it. Here’s some of what our client’s and candidate’s say:

‘I have recently worked with Somaya. What stood out to me was the depth of knowledge that Somaya had on the market, the firm, and the candidate she was representing. Her feedback throughout the process was detailed and considered, she was credible and I trusted her guidance throughout. I look forward to continuing to work together.’ Gabriella Chappel, Recruitment Manager | Bird & Bird.

‘Somaya is well aware of the need for diversity in recruiting and retaining talent, and the importance of both acknowledging and addressing the difficulties with current law firm processes. Somaya offers a perspective from a number of firms and candidates, and can use that experience to offer concrete advice and examples of best (and worst!) practice to assist individual candidates and firms.’ Jacqueline Mulryne, Partner | Arnold & Porter

‘Somaya represented a candidate from a Magic Circle firm when we were undertaking a search for a new partner to join our London Employment team. She quickly developed an understanding of our practice and our requirements, and demonstrated this knowledge through the guidance and mentoring which she provided to the candidate. She was professional, dedicated and responsive throughout the process, and assisted with navigating tricky issues around targets and compensation. The result was a very successful hire for the team.’ Khurram Shamsee, Partner | DAC Beachcroft

‘Somaya is highly recommended. She is extremely thorough and on top of her brief. She is also very easy to work with – a strong communicator who recognizes the sensitivities of a career move and helps to steer you through the process.’ Jamie Mckie, Senior Associate | Dentons

‘The service that Somaya provides is second-to-none in my experience. She has a genuine knowledge of the markets in which she operates and a strategic nous focussed on delivering results. Somaya is committed, supportive and delightful to work with and she takes the time to tailor a professional and trusted service that is bespoke to your needs and objectives.’ Commercial Arbitration Partner | top 30 law firm.

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