Considering the money law firms invest in every newly hired attorney, it would make sense for partners to pay closer attention to lawyer satisfaction. But according to Gerry Riskin, founding partner of law firm consultancy Edge International, "most firms are oblivious" to attrition costs. "That expense is unacceptable, yet firms have been accepting it," Riskin says.
– "Why are lawyers such terrible managers?" CNN Money: A Service of CNN, Fortune & Money, January 11, 2013
I encourage you to take a look at this article that recently appeared in CNN’s online Money/Fortune magazine, to which I was invited to contribute. Among the important points it raises is a statistic with alarming economic implications for law firms: according to the National Association for Legal Professionals Foundation, in 2010 firms with 251 to 500 attorneys lost nearly one fifth of their associates.
As the article rightly points out, “Aside from salaries and bonuses, law firms spend thousands of dollars recruiting and training each associate, often paying for bar exam preparation courses, moving expenses, and continuing legal education. So when a lawyer walks out the door, that investment walks out with him.”
As most of us know from personal experience, lawyers are not necessarily good leaders. Although leadership and managerial skills are easily acquired, few firms see the value in investing in professional development in this area. In my experience, this is because most law firms have not seriously considered the costs they incur as a result of poor management – the loss of an unhappy associate being just one example.
In short, leadership skills can have a dramatic effect on a law firm’s economic prospects. The costs associated with management training are a valuable investment in the future of your firm.
I welcome your feedback on this issue.