As 2021 winds down, Legal Current is looking back at the milestones and key accomplishments from the Legal Professionals business of Thomson Reuters. Today we look at three recent thought-leadership reports that provided insights into how law firms are handling the rising competition for talent: the 2021 Law Firm Business Leaders Report, the Q3 2021 Peer Monitor Economic Index, and the Stellar Performance: Skills and Progressions 2021 Mid-Year Survey.

With law firm business leaders increasingly concerned about how to acquire, retain, and pay staff, the Q3 2021 Peer Monitor Economic Index showed the intensifying war for talent is a growing drag on law firm performance. Andrew Maloney discussed the findings on, emphasizing that “despite paying more for associates, firms are still hemorrhaging talent.”

“Attorney turnover remains high despite bonuses, salary hikes,” noted Karen Sloan at Reuters. “Law firms saw increased demand, rates and productivity in the third quarter of 2021, but associate compensation hikes dragged on their bottom lines.”

These findings were reinforced in the 2021 Law Firm Business Leaders Report, which identified talent acquisition as the top threat to law firm profitability.

“It’s a big change from last year, when the talent wars didn’t make the list of the top 5 profitability concerns,” noted Kathryn Rubino on Above the Law.

The Global Legal Post’s Madeline Anderson explained that the report findings showed “[l]eaders have definitively shifted their focus from cost cutting to standing out in a hypercompetitive market and using tech to build value.”

A third report, the Stellar Performance: Skills and Progressions 2021 Mid-Year Survey, explored lawyers’ work preferences.

ABA Journal’s Debra Cassens Weiss examined the report findings: “Thirty percent of surveyed ‘standout lawyers’ would like to work fewer hours, while 53% are satisfied with the hours that they are working. … Those who are least happy with the hours they are working are younger lawyers and female lawyers.”

At London’s City A.M., Farah Ghouri also noted female lawyers are “among the least happy with the number of hours they work,” emphasizing, “The recent report by Thomson Reuters found that women practicing law were, on average, putting in 100 hours more than their male colleagues every year.”

“The past year has greatly accelerated several major trends that were already under way on how much lawyers wish to work and the makeup of that work,” said Lucy Leach, the report author and senior technical research manager, Thomson Reuters. “To get the most out of their teams, firms need to consider how lawyers’ attitudes are changing on issues such as workload and career development, and how technology can improve those and other factors.”

For more on how law firm leaders are competing to hire and retain talent, watch for the 2022 State of the Legal Market report in January.

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