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An Example of the Complex Pressures Facing Law Firms

Sharon Nelson, writing about a Microsoft claim that it’s pretty likely 40% of employees are going to leave for a new job, added this little tidbit, that sparks more than one idea in my head.

With respect to the legal industry, I buy some of this but not all of it. More and more, law firms are driven by client expectations. We have already seen Morgan Stanley telling its law firms that it wants lawyers back at work, in person meetings, etc. So, we’ll see in time what client expectations are and how much they are driving decisions about work from home and returning to the office.

So, if you are a firm with Morgan Stanley as a client, maybe the easy thing is to just say “hey, our huge client wants us back in the office and wants to have in-person meetings, so you’ve got to come back”.

But it’s never really that simple, is it? What do you do if your staff and lawyers really don’t want to be in the office full-time? What if some of the same people who first attracted Morgan Stanley to your firm are willing to leave to work at a firm that is more flexible?

Now that you are only recruiting among the legal folks who want to be in the office five days a week, is your talent up to snuff to keep Morgan Stanley as a client?

If you’re Morgan Stanley, do you really want to limit your law firm choices to the ones who are only recruiting from 50% of the talent pool? What are you going to do when it’s your own demands that cause the firms you work with to lose the talent you want to represent you?

Wouldn’t it be quite the irony for a firm to cave to this expectation, only to lose the client anyway because they aren’t attracting the top talent?

If 40% of your talent is leaving, how are you going to replace that?

If you’re looking at the firms that represent you, how do you expect them to attract the best, diverse, talent, but also limit themselves to only recruiting the people who work exactly the one way you want to work with them?

Does that even make sense?

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