This is a guest post by Mary D’Eramo from Vice President, Legal Recruiter and Consultant, Partners, Groups and Merger Division at Mestel & Company.
I participated yesterday in a Leopard Solutions webinar with Laura Leopard, Christy Crider and Stefanie Marrone discussing the Leopard Solutions survey results on why women are leaving the practice of law.
I learned a lot today from my fellow panelists and saw some stunning data.
The data shows that women attorneys are leaving Big Law in record numbers and transitioning out earlier in their careers. But they are not leaving because they don’t love the work anymore.
And it is very clear what law firms need to do for them to stay.
It’s not more money.
And it’s not a different type of work.
Data shows that women are “voting with their feet” because staying isn’t possible.
Women are asking for more flexibility, more balance, mentoring and support in pursuing their goals and the work they love to do.
The good news: If law firms want to recruit, retain and advance women attorneys they can. But the question remains, will Big Law innovate and take action on this information, reconciling it with the traditional model of the business of law?
In an industry where the billable hour and origination requirements have been the foundations for recruitment and advancement, it will require a lot of soul-searching.
Will the costs associated with losing attorneys and hiring their replacements in a tight market be a tipping point?
Here are thoughts to strengthen retention and recruitment efforts with women attorneys:
- View business development as a language fluency which starts from early stages. Develop a program for your female attorneys fostering this skill, with goal setting and accountability.
- The keys to partnership and meaningful engagement lie with communication, internal connections (mentoring) and the CLIENTS. Create programs and opportunities for your female attorneys within the three Cs.
- Ensure your recruitment representatives, including hiring partners, include a diverse representation (no matter what gender the candidate is).
- Set goals for recruitment of women attorneys, and on specific searches creating accountability for the firm.
- When recruiting women – be intentional. Arm your market ambassadors with specifics on the firm’s women initiatives and unique opportunities. Tailor your message when speaking to female candidates.
- Consider options such as flex-time, hybrid work and lowering origination requirements with systems in place for team credit. Flexibility and balance top the list in recruiting requests and why people leave!