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5 Reasons Why Lawyers Change Roles

As an experienced legal recruiter, I have met a lot of lawyers. Usually we speak when they (the lawyer) are considering a new role. My first question is normally why? I have found during these discussions that the motivation for leaving is usually some variation or combination of the following:

1. The Manager- yep the adage that people don’t leave companies is true. I meet people who tell me that they don’t like their current supervising Partner all the time. I have heard every possible thing you could imagine. From bosses being called bad lawyers, bad people managers, difficult, challenging, lazy, mean, disorganised, too angry, stressed out etc. Other people dedicate their lives to learning and writing about various management styles, what works and what doesn’t. All I can add to the conversation is this- different people like different things at different times of their life.

2.The Feeling- It is quite vague but ensuring that your workforce feel appreciated and valued is critical to staff longevity. I speak to a lot of people who feel undervalued/ underappreciated. When we are talking about value I am talking about more than just dollars. As an employer you should know that there is always going to be a company or firm somewhere in the world that will pay someone more than yours does for a similar position. If the feeling was only about money it would be an easy problem to solve. What keeps people in jobs are the people that they work with, the feeling that they get from their colleagues, management and the love of the job they do. Fostering love from your employees is key. If I knew how to do this I would be retired and living on an Caribbean island. I do know that a good starting point would be to say thank you often and mean it. Appreciate your team, reward them, listen to them, support them, ask what you and the firm could be doing to make their life easier. Make your team feel good about where they work, make them feel important, valued and appreciate the job that they do.

3. The Work- People say that the work that they do is a key motivator when changing jobs. It could be that the work is too boring, too hard, too easy, too broad, not broad enough, too quiet, too busy, too small, too big or just not the area they wished to be practising in. Finding the right balance for the individual helps people love their jobs. Ask people what they like to do and try and give them work in that area. Ask your team if they want to develop skills in a certain area and next time a matter comes in that would help them develop their skills, think of them.

4. The Brand- My experience tells me that lawyers by and large are an aspirational bunch. A lot of lawyers want to work for the best or the biggest brand on the best or biggest work. Lawyers like fancy titles and I have seen people move for a change in title and less money. Not all lawyers are concerned with brand or market perception but a lot are. Over the last 10 years it has been a common theme and is often a factor when people move from a smaller niche firm or mid- tier to bigger, top tier or global operation.

5. The Location- Location is everything. Often firms and companies keep their staff engaged and help them fall in love with their jobs but ultimately the curiosity for an overseas or interstate adventure keep recruiters like me in business. Keep your relationship with alumni strong as you never know when your company will expand to that location or the individual will return to their home office.

For more insights or observations please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to talk to you about the market and can be reached on 0413 823 687

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