Attracting and Retaining Paralegal Talent
Finding and hiring strong legal talent is a tricky proposition in normal times. And, as you might have heard, these are still not exactly “normal times.” On top of slowly emerging from a global pandemic, societal expectations and norms around our work lives, the role of labor and professional careers is undergoing a profound shift.
The paralegal profession is no exception to some of the trends other industries and workforces are experiencing. The Great Resignation, or sometimes even called “The Big Quit” are apt monikers for an employee led movement that has caused employers to sit up and take stock of everything from their salary offers, bonus incentives, and continuing education opportunities to their social responsibility initiatives and positions on race, diversity and LGBTQ issues.
As we explored in an earlier post “The Rise of the Paralegal”, paralegals and the services they provide are very often the backbone of a firm. And right now, according to TP1’s senior director of recruiting, Liz Richmond, “Paralegals are every bit in demand as attorneys. The job market is tight, talent is short, and firms still need to hire.”
Paralegals are demanding hiring salaries, sticking to their number and walking away when their ask is not met. They are also very interested in learning what other perks and extras are part of a package – and again, are not hesitant to leave a new position if a better one comes along, even shortly thereafter.
So, how can firms compete for experienced, in-demand paralegal talent? There are several key points that have remained consistent during the current cultural shift regarding work:
- Be open to remote or hybrid work environments. (Zoom trials can be done.) “Don’t be so resistant to hiring beyond your geographic area,” says Richmond. “There is incredible talent to be found across the country and that person does not need to be in your office every day or even every week.”
- Offer continuing education opportunities or other means for paralegals to continually develop their skills and stay on top of latest legal trends and practices, etc.
- Money still talks – make them a strong financial offer that says your firm understands and values the work of paralegals.
- Be prepared to answer questions about how your firm practices inclusivity and shows diversity. There may also be other related intangibles such as: How is your firm giving back to the community? Do they sponsor volunteer opportunities? How does the firm treat and/or mentor minorities?
Many employees across the U.S. workforce report having to manage higher workloads and demands due to labor shortages. In essence, the inability to attract and retain talent then creates a “vicious feedback loop,” according to this recent CNBC article, by creating burnout and attrition among the current employees, who leave for better opportunities.
In addition to some of the aforementioned actions and tactics that employers can take to attract and retain good employees, there are some very basic, simple human behaviors that make a difference to employees. During the pandemic especially, employers who demonstrated appreciation and trust to their employees saw less of them leaving for more appealing options.
When employees feel like their employer truly has their back, they are less likely to quit. As reported in the Washington Post, “Remote-work options, flexible hours and autonomy were not just a public health necessity or a kindness during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re a sign that employers trust employees to manage their personal and professional responsibilities appropriately.”
Paralegals and other support-level staff have found their voice in this current market and are using it to demonstrate their value in monetary and other ways. It’s up to the hiring manager to decide how much they are willing to negotiate on salary and other incentives that are now on the table.