6 Legal Industry Recruiting Trends for 2024 | JurisTemps

January 2, 2024

6 Legal Industry Recruiting Trends for 2024

According to the 2023 Report on the State of the Legal Market, recruiting remains a top challenge confronting law firms. The associate turnover rate for law firms is holding steady at 20% as of November 2022, a significant increase over the 2020 rate of just under 15%. The legal industry is certainly not the only one to face a hiring crisis but there are specific steps law firms are now taking to continue hiring top talent. Here are the top trends we see heading into 2024.

Recruiting Trend #1: Referral programs

Word of mouth remains an effective way to recruit talent. Just as consumers look to people they trust for recommendations on purchases, professionals are taking the time to ask people they know about a potential employer. According to a LinkedIn report, referrals are the number one way people find job opportunities, and companies can expand their talent pool by up to 10 times when they tap into their employees’ social networks.

Firms are offering referral bonuses to employees who recruit talent. One top 50 AM Law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, according to a report from Insider, offered a $75,000 referral bonus to any associate who helped the firm make qualified hires last year. That’s on the high end. But Shearman & Sterling’s referral program offers $25k to former attorneys who refer potential new hires.

Recruiting Trend #2: Counteroffers

While counteroffers are traditionally looked down upon, the industry has come to terms with the fact that, especially in our current business landscape, they can’t afford to lose top talent. The fact is that the longer you work in your career the more resignation letters you’ll likely receive. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; the average employee has 12 jobs throughout their lifetime, according to Zippia research. What matters more is how you handle your response. Here are 5 steps for navigating resignation letters and considering counteroffers.

Recruiting Trend #3: Sign on bonuses

For some Industries sign-on bonuses are standard operating procedure. According to Business Insider the top five offering the largest bonuses are: healthcare, hospitality, pharmacy, education, and trucking. But, since the pandemic, more are making it par for the hiring course. In fact, an Indeed analysis shows that in July of 2022, 5.2% of job postings advertised a bonus, up 3X the level in July of 2019. One-third of companies responding to a 2022 Salary.com survey said they’re offering sign-on bonuses. In the financial industry, 23% of businesses are offering signing bonuses. For the legal industry, according to the New York Post, signing bonuses for lawyers are at a record high. A December 6 Law360 article stated that law firms are continuing to offer year-end bonuses and 2024 raises in line with Cravath, Swaine & More LLP. As for what you can expect to pay in bonuses, that can range from $10k to $1 million depending on firm size and candidate qualifications. The caveat is that bonuses aren’t paid out until the employee completes a trial period that can range from three months to a year.

Recruiting Trend #4: Pre-Boarding

Top legal talent is highly coveted by firms and more and more difficult to retain in the current employment landscape. That’s why waiting until their start date to engage with a new hire is no longer good enough. The period between a candidate signing their offer letter and starting their new role can make or break the experience for your new hires.

Nearly six in 10 companies report that candidates became unresponsive after accepting a verbal offer, and 65% of employers say they’ve had a candidate ghost them after accepting an offer, according to Indeed. Law firms are taking a proactive approach by planning pre-boarding activities for new hires that introduce them to colleagues, get them invested in the company culture, and create excitement before Day One.

Recruiting Trend #5: The end of traditional job ads

With the proliferation of employees leaving their jobs and hiring at an all-time high, traditional job ads aren’t as effective. That’s due in part to their prohibitive costs and lack of reach. In the current landscape, there are more active candidates, and they’re being targeted by your competitors. For the legal industry, it’s the passive job seekers that hold the most value. More than 80% of employed professionals say they’d entertain a career change if the right opportunity came along. These professionals have a higher employability rate and greater odds of being successful hires. It’s the ideal way to get ahead of your competitors.

Recruiting Trend #6: Tech integrations

Not only are the latest technologies including artificial intelligence and data analytics being used to help with law firm recruiting, identifying, and assessing potential candidates, states one LinkedIn article, but firms that have these tools in place can hire younger, less experienced legal professionals who can do the heavy lifting with the help of these technologies.

Through continuous networking efforts, JurisTemps offers access to passive job seekers who may not be easily found despite countless job postings and numerous classified ads. Learn more here and submit your confidential staffing request.

Discover more tips, trends, and techniques to find top legal talent, simplify and speed up the recruitment process, and improve retention at The Docket.