Reactions to the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market
Last week, Legal Current shared the five key takeaways from the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market, which explored why law firms can’t just keep throwing money at the growing talent war. Today, we highlight takes from journalists, bloggers and industry influencers on the report findings.
Many focused on the industry’s retention crisis, the record-high turnover rate, and the need for firms to address it other than monetarily. Several also examined the report findings around lawyers’ dislike of some non-billable activities not directly related to client relationships and business development.
In The Times, Jonathan Ames summarized the report as: “Large commercial law firms in America are experiencing problems keeping their lawyers despite throwing large packets of cash at them.” While Jordan Furlong summed it up in a tweet: “Law firms have exactly one tool in the box for retaining lawyers — pay them more — and it’s not working anymore. This is going to be a fascinating train wreck.”
In Bloomberg Law, Roy Strom echoed this perspective: “Its findings were unexpected. The firms with the lowest turnover had associates working longer hours and making less money than those with the highest turnover. … It’s a head-scratching result that seems to only reinforce just how little marginal pay raises can do in the face of broad unhappiness among associates.”
Andrew Maloney also emphasized the talent war in Law.com: “Last year was another ‘extraordinary’ one for Big Law, with healthy demand growth and double-digit increases in profitability across the legal industry, according to a new report. But law firms are heading into 2022 with significant challenges over talent retention and costs.”
Joe Patrice agreed in Above the Law: “some firms will eventually hit a wall when it comes to skyrocketing compensation. When that happens, how will they respond to stay competitive in the battle for the finite pool of talent out there?”
Others noted the findings reflected how the pandemic is shaping the workforce. Niki Black reacted to the ABA Journal headline – Law firms came ‘dangerously close’ to losing almost a quarter of their associates in 2021, new report says – about the report: “This definitely isn’t a headline I’d have foreseen pre-pandemic.”
Others called out lawyers’ work preferences, including Richard Tromans in Artificial Lawyer: “New research by Thomson Reuters (TR) shows that most US lawyers are not that excited about committing non-billable time to legal tech implementation, innovation, KM, or alternative delivery models.”
Similarly, Jean O’Grady in Dewey B. Strategic said: “The talent war is not limited to lawyers. Competition for business professionals is heating up. One surprising chart in the report provides a roster of activities that lawyers would prefer to leave to business professionals including recruiting, KM, training and D&I activities.”
Download the full report, published by the Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law and the Thomson Reuters Institute.