According to the fall figures released by the Dallas Fed, 2018 Texas job growth outpaced the rest of the nation, rising to 1st place, up from 9th in 2017. The hot local economy has also impacted the legal arena with law firms setting up shop and expanding operations in Texas at a frenzied pace. Dozens of firms opened offices in Houston between 2001 and 2018, lured by the strong economy, the high-profile energy sector and the growing list of corporate headquarters. Some of the fastest growing practice areas in Texas include energy, corporate, real estate, international, employment, environmental, and immigration law. This explosion in law firms has created a frenetic lateral market and a near-constant churn in support staff. The growth has brought several recruiting and legal hiring trends into the forefront:
To recruit candidates and improve retention rates, employers are increasing the starting salaries for attorneys. Some law firms seek tenured associates with proven track records; others are taking the opposite approach and recruiting attorneys with two to three years of experience and offering training.
While salary will always be one of the top considerations, more firms are finding that an attractive benefits and perks package can tip the balances in their favor. Some of the less traditional benefits and perks include holistic health and wellness programs, gender-neutral family leave, work-from-home options and paid volunteer hours.
Large law firms are seeing Millennials leave to work at smaller law firms with a better work-life balance. Diversity, community service and how associates are treated are all essential aspects of firm culture.
Degrees and experience are essential, however, hiring managers must also determine whether someone will thrive in the organization’s culture. Hiring the right fit can dramatically reduce turnover and increase productivity, translating into higher profits for the firm. Personality assessments are becoming more common to gauge interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
Paralegals who can perform multiple duties are in high demand since they can deliver some of the work traditionally handled by associates. Hybrid paralegal/legal secretary roles are more common as clerical responsibilities have become streamlined by technology.
To remain competitive and innovative, many law firms have realized that they must operate more like a business. Non-lawyer professionals are increasingly hired to handle key marketing and development operations. Some new positions in law firms include chief talent officer, chief pricing strategist, director of practice management and director of business development.
Even in a booming market, successful law firms must be flexible and agile. Many are turning to legal staffing firms to quickly scale up talent when projects demand and then reduce when the project is completed. Temporary hires can also be thoroughly evaluated for personality and skill before making a permanent, and expensive, final offer. This option allows firms to increase manpower without increasing payroll expenses.
Collier Legal Search is a full-service legal staffing company that specializes in placing well-credentialed partners, associates and legal professionals at every level in law firms and corporations. Our experience in the industry and unique approach to building our candidate database consistently delivers results that clients can depend on.
We are committed to maximizing success for our clients and our candidates. Contact us at 832-239-5253 to give us the opportunity to work with you.