Recruitment firm Robert Walters reported last week[i] that a shortage of employees was leading to top graduate lawyers being offered starting salaries as high as £150K[ii].

However, Robbie Weston, Executive Director at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (Howden) warns that employee expectations go beyond salary alone. He says law firms must consider their overall value proposition to new recruits, particularly as the war for talent is heating up.

In the legal sector, vacancies for London-based associates rose 131% year-on-year between January and November last year, according to another recruiter BCL Legal and data firm, Vacancysoft.

Robbie says, “Whilst salary is important, employees’ expectations are changing. The pandemic in particular has shone the spotlight on the need for effective wellbeing solutions, flexible working and a positive work culture in which they can thrive. Employees’ needs are changing and it’s important that employers and benefit strategies keep up.’’

‘’Any benefits programme needs to support employees’ health and wellbeing and in particular, their mental health, especially as the legal profession is recognised as a high-pressure sector, where employee burnout can be commonplace.

A report from legal mental health charity, LawCare[iii] found that legal professionals in the UK are at high risk of burnout, 69% have experienced mental ill-health and 1 in 5 say they have been bullied, harassed, or discriminated against at work.

Furthermore, a report by the Legal Sector Workers United (LSWU)[iv] found that more than 7 out of 10 in the legal profession said their job has a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. However, one in four law firms they surveyed had no mental health support available for their staff.

Robbie adds, “Law firms need to proactively support employee health and wellbeing, including mental health, and include this in their wider company offering if they want to attract the right people.

“Law firms may also wish to consider offering flexible working as, since the pandemic, this is something many employees want as a permanent fixture in their working arrangements as well as providing opportunities for career progression; both important considerations for people looking for a new role.”

“The war for talent is likely to grow fiercer this year, so making changes now to improve company culture and ensuring employee benefits are fit for purpose is vital for recruiting and retaining the best people.”


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Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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