Technology

Opportunities for Law Graduates –Law Firms Looking For New Recruits

The number of young lawyers is getting smaller. But law firms looking for new recruits shouldn’t moan, they should change. Some concrete suggestions.

The statistics are clear: According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the number of law graduates has been stagnating for years. While there were still more than 10,000 graduates of the second state examination in 1999, the numbers have fallen below 8,000 since 2010. The year 2021, the training year last evaluated and published by the Ministry, brought out just over 7,800 qualified lawyers and thus onto the USA job market. With an increasing need for well-trained legal workers, the problem is already mapped out.

In the US, there is a significant shortage of skilled workers in the law market, which was slowed down briefly by the corona pandemic, but could not be slowed down. Job portals have long been filled with legal jobs across the board and headhunters are looking for the next opportunity to place a candidate who is willing to change jobs from one large law firm to another.

In this tense situation, nuances decide on the hiring of new employees for one’s own law firm, especially since the business model and core activity are ultimately similar in many law firms.

 

In addition to the imbalance in the number of graduates and the increasing demand in law firms, another exciting factor cannot go unnoticed: almost 60 percent of the graduates of the second state examination in law are female. The trend in recent years is increasing. While in 2003 there were just as many male as female graduates, by 2018 the ratio was already 40 to 60 percent.

Equality in career paths

Based on these facts, the following thesis can be put forward – which appears obvious but is still not given enough attention in reality by law firms and institutes, such as Law Mind: law firms that are able to offer all graduates the same career opportunities – regardless of gender and personal life planning – , are attractive to a larger group of potential employees than law firms that do not succeed in this development. A per se distinction between “male career opportunities” and “female career opportunities” simplifies a complex situation in society as a whole, which it would be fatal to simplify. Rather, a career path and thus a career opportunity must always be considered individually.

But how can employers use this knowledge for themselves? What characterizes a law firm that offers “equal” career opportunities? Or even simpler: How does a law firm become attractive?

The new generation of lawyers is clear in their wishes and ideals of an employer and work activity. Young people want clear mentoring and expect employers to give them a steep learning curve. Your own work should have as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. Employees want to achieve an effect with their work and create added value – be it in economic terms or, in the case of lawyers, in the sense of added social value. Unsurprisingly, the generation also wants good pay.

 

The most important wish of the younger generation will have gained a lot more relevance in the past few months: flexible working hours as much as possible.

Now the world of law firms finds itself in a field of tension: being available for clients at all times on the one hand and the growing desire for flexible working hours on the other. Irrespective of the need for flexibility, a law firm will have little interest in sending its employees home at 6 p.m. if there is a written submission deadline. This area of ​​tension can also be found in another context – in the area of ​​parental leave models. How can a law firm succeed in reintegrating employees who take parental leave afterwards in such a way that career paths are open again as quickly as possible and dissonances within the teams are avoided?

Casting these complex challenges into a clear system that applies to all employees while not jeopardizing the clout and strength of one’s own law firm is the great challenge facing law firms these days. The better a law firm masters this difficult balancing act, the clearer the “war for talent” will be in its own favor.

In particular, however, female lawyers can be won in this area. Because despite the increasing number of men taking parental leave (2.6 percent), it is primarily female lawyers who take parental leave, at over 42 percent. A law firm that deals with parental leave as flexibly as possible and manages to reintegrate those taking parental leave as quickly as possible, regardless of gender, will have more chances of convincing graduates, and in particular the increasing number of female graduates. This flexibility can then be communicated to the outside world, creating an attractive employer brand that young professionals can identify with.

Parental leave as a rule model – that changes the reality in law firms

Good reintegration is successful if working time models are offered at an early stage that gradually lead back from parental leave. Above all, however, career opportunities, such as a partnership, should never be blocked by temporary parental leave or the temporary use of a working time model. What seems so obvious has often not yet arrived in the office reality. Current partners had to do without flexible working time models, so there is a lack of understanding of the need. Due to the shortage of skilled workers and the changed wishes of the new generation, a law firm that wants to continue hiring still has to deal with the requirement.

“Mandates that are generally handled by two people allow us to offer more flexible working hours without losing the service of being available at all times.”

 

But how compatible is a working time model with client support? Pragmatic solutions are highly individual, but the following would be a possible scenario: For clients, the availability of their own lawyer is a central component of good consulting services. A claim that many law firms want to meet. A possible solution are teams of two or more lawyers who work on mandates together. This allows more flexible working hours without losing the service of constant availability and ability to speak. Of course, this proposal is not easy to implement, can cost profitability under certain circumstances and means a culture change for many law firms, but this solution has already been tested and is beginning to establish itself.

The biggest challenge is probably anchoring this solution not just “on paper” but in the culture of the law firm. To this end, every law firm should take the necessary time to try out models in order to find an individual solution that works in everyday working life, but does not lose sight of the worsening market conditions.

Conclusion

In summary, it is advisable for a law firm marketing agency to deal with the following questions internally in times of a shortage of skilled workers: Which rules should apply? How to reintegrate after parental leave? Which flexible working time models are possible? How is comprehensive client support guaranteed?

A law firm that has answered these questions for itself must also communicate this to the outside world. Potential applicants need to find out how the law firm deals with questions about the future.

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