According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of attorneys is expected to grow 8% through 2026. And competition for law jobs will continue to be strong as more students graduate from law schools than there are jobs available.
COMPETING FOR TALENT
It may seem like a wealth of potential candidates and a limited number of positions would make hiring easy. But recruiting needs to be a matter of filtering the pack of prospects down to determine the most suitable candidates for your firm.
A couple of other important factors are driving law firm talent shake-ups. Baby Boomers — and even some high-income GenXers — are reaching retirement. And younger generations see careers in a new way. There’s increased job movement, a mindset of “get experience here, take it there.” Millennials are more inclined to seek out new opportunities more often.
So how do you ensure you’re being competitive in today’s job market?
RECRUIT AND REWARD WITH A STRONG BENEFITS PACKAGE
A balanced mix of benefits that employees seek out can help you attract and retain excellent attorneys and staff. In fact, the vast majority (92%) of employees surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said benefits play a significant role in their job satisfaction.
Offering a benefits package that candidates want and need — while continuing to reward your current team — takes research and planning.
Consider your answers to these questions to ensure you’re using insights to establish your benefit strategy:
1. What are your benefit objectives? One key to determining what your benefit package should look like is to understand your goals and objectives — what you’re trying to accomplish by offering employee benefits. Your goals may include some or all of these, and more:
- Attracting and retaining the most qualified candidates and employees
- Balancing benefits with compensation
- Creating loyalty to your firm, boosting morale and increasing productivity
- Helping your attorneys and staff work better, live better and be successful — both at home and at work
- Complying with employment laws
- Keeping in mind that goals and objectives aren’t parallel — they’re likely all interconnected. Take a holistic view. The benefits you offer will depend on what you’re trying to achieve.
2. How do your benefits stack up against your competitors? Law firms have their own unique benefit needs. It wouldn’t make sense for your firm to offer the same benefits package as the bakery down the street. And, no two law firms are exactly alike either. Is yours a partnership, with more than one owner? Do you have several partners, with a wide scope of associates? Are multiple generations working within the firm? Consider how these qualities impact the goals you have for your benefit offerings, and then use data to compare the benefits you offer — or are considering — against other firms.
You may wonder how you get this kind of information. Calling the firm across town and simply asking the question likely won’t pan out for you. The good news is there are tools that can do the digging for you. Some can even run reports that compare benefit offerings by size, industry or geographic region. Work with your benefit carrier or representative to see what resources they offer. ALA also has its Compensation and Benefits Survey that compares this type of data among firms throughout the nation.
3. Are you laser-focused on the unique needs of your attorneys and staff? Attorneys’ benefit needs are different than other types of employees. That’s why it’s important to dig deeper into what you’re offering. Consider a customized mix of benefits or specialized provisions.
Many attorneys have a lot of income to protect, as well as a potential for substantial future earnings. So, for the attorneys at your firm, disability insurance can provide income protection if they’re unable to work due to injury or illness. And because many attorneys specialize in particular niches, you may want to upgrade coverage to add a “specialty own occupation” provision.
While group long-term disability (LTD) is a great foundation for income protection, it may leave an income gap for high-income earners. One way to help bridge the gap is by supplementing with individual disability income (DI) insurance. A comprehensive disability solution like this can be a good fit for employees making $100,000.
When it comes to your personnel — both those who earn fees and those who don’t — it’s important to make deliberate choices about how the employee benefits you offer are structured to ensure they’re attractive across the board. In short, be sure to offer benefits that meet the needs of your entire associate and staff population, not just one or two owners or partners.
4. How often do you evaluate your benefits? Review your mix of benefits at least annually by using market data for comparison with your competitors' offerings. It’s the best way to ensure you’re continuing to meet the needs of your attorneys and staff, and you’re keeping up with other recruiting firms. Think about these questions:
- Are there additional benefits current employees need?
- Should we add benefits that have gained popularity in the job market?
- Do we need to tweak the provisions of our current benefits?
- How can we get the best value for the cost of benefits?
It can’t be stressed enough that your benefit package matters. The benefits you offer play a huge role in the job satisfaction of your attorneys and staff. And they’re fundamental to both your recruiting initiatives and your efforts to keep them with your firm now and into the future.