Resource management

Legal Resource Management – The Present and Future Impact on Law Firms

The level of employee volatility within law firms is unprecedented. Lateral hires (and therefore attrition) are at an all-time high; wages are rising rapidly; and a standoff is emerging between companies’ hybrid work policies and employee expectations.

How does this rapid pace of change affect the business of law? Are lawyers’ efficiency and effectiveness compromised? What is the impact on customer services? Have key diversity, equity and inclusion goals been pushed aside while companies tackle resourcing issues? If so, what are the implications for customer relations as customers push for greater inclusion? On top of all these challenges, is profitability compromised?

To understand the impact of the current employee instability on law firms both operationally and strategically, in May 2022, BigHand collected a total of 836 responses across senior roles of operations, human resources , resource management and practice group leader, firms of over 50 lawyers in North America and the UK. In addition to exploring the latest resourcing trends and their impact on law firms, the research uncovers how firms are meeting the demand for dedicated resource management expertise and technology.

The resulting report shows how a better understanding of how the industry manages the conflict between the hybrid professional expectations of companies and employees can help shape productive strategies that will also help win the current war on talent.

It highlights the current gap between enterprise DEI goals and what is currently delivered – and how that can be changed. And it demonstrates the industry’s commitment to creating centralized resource management roles, supported by technology, with the goal of creating a much more efficient, fair and business-focused work environment.

Key findings include:

  • Half of respondents (49% NA, 52% UK) say their company has mandated the number of days they must be in the office – yet 49% of NA respondents and 35% UK admit they don’t. not comply.
  • 69% of North American firms and 52% of UK firms report growing pressure from clients on resource issues when considering diversity. Yet less than a third (24% of NAs and 27% of the UK) of law firms prioritize DEI when it comes to staffing.
  • 71% of North American firms and 63% of UK firms experienced pressure from clients to ensure legal work is done by the most cost-effective resource.

One of the key steps in meeting these challenges is to move from the “practice of law” to the “activity of law”. This has led to an increase in dedicated resource management/distribution of work roles in law firms – something the big four accounting firms have had in place for years.

The report found:

  • 91% of North American companies and 94% of UK companies plan to hire a resource manager in the future, and 29% of North American companies and 36% of UK companies already have dedicated resource managers.
  • 87% of North American companies and 77% of UK companies either have dedicated resource management technology or plan to implement one within the next 12-24 months.

Dedicated resource, people and technology management processes are now essential to support a fair distribution of work and career development for all. Employees now expect to be treated fairly and to have their individual career plans recognized and supported, which means companies’ approaches to resource management will be essential.

Can a company risk losing valuable hires due to continued reliance on outdated and inefficient processes for resource allocation and employee support? If businesses don’t change now, associates will continue to leave, increasing costs and challenging productivity and efficiency. As the war for talent is set to continue, managing dedicated resources has become essential for all law firms.

Read the full report here.