This boils down to “everybody wants ‘em, but nobody wants to train ‘em.” As corporate law departments and BigLaw compete fiercely for a scarce supply of 3rd-5th-year lawyers, who will blink first and bear the cost of training and development?
I chanced upon an article written by recruiter Mike Evers in the July 8 issue of Inside Counsel, titled “The Talent Shortage Has Arrived.” I realize, that, after five months, I’m more than late to the party, but little seems to have changed since it was published, so here goes. According to Mr. Evers,
“Two facts are colliding. First, law department hiring…is, indeed, on the rise [and]…I think the percentage increase will turn out to be much higher than anyone expected. The desired target hire is what law departments deem ‘entry level,’ i.e., three to five years of experience…at base rates of $100,000 to $150,000 per year.
Second, the supply of desirable candidates at this level is very limited. Companies have stopped subsidizing the training of junior BigLaw associates. Law firms have no economic need or moral obligation to hire entry- or junior-level attorneys in vast numbers. Law schools are not yet willing to step into the breach and subsidize apprenticeships, which would be very costly. So, corporate associates with ‘BigLaw’ pedigree are in short supply.”
The last three sentences define the conflict.
None of the three stakeholder groups wants to pay to develop what the two buyer groups need. Corporations are saying, “The free ride is over; we’re done paying to develop your inventory.” BigLaw, who arguably has gotten the free ride for so long, is saying, “We’re not going to pay to develop them. You need them as much as we do.” The law schools? Forget about them. Their fundamental legitimacy is under serious attack right now.
As the song says, “something’s gotta give.” Who’ll blink and swerve first in this high-stakes game of chicken?
Developing young lawyers' legal capability is only half the task. They also have to learn how to get clients, or your firm's future doesn't project very far into the future.
The problem is that you have more lawyers to train than money and resources to train them with.
There's a way to extend your finite training budget meaningfully: Don't waste it on a program that requires the lawyers to commit to the huge time commitment and gratification-deferral for the equivalent of a BD degree. Instead, give them only the training they need to succeed at the business development activity they're going to undertake imminently. (As a friend put it, "I don't want to become fluent in French; I just want to impress my date Friday night by ordering smoothly from the menu at the French restaurant.”)
RainmakerVT's just-in-time training eliminates waste and risk, and reduces unit cost. Here are some examples:
- A few lawyers are going to a networking event next week? Give them the networking event simulation that teaches them how to go from the doorway to a qualified sales opportunity--comfortably.
- One of your lawyers is speaking at an industry conference next Spring? Help her get the most out of that presentation, and in the months beforehand use that “thought leadership” platform as a way to manufacture a network of contacts of exactly the type she wants--without leaving her desk.
Take a look at the RainmakerVT course list. You'll recognize how you can give lawyers what they really want: help with what they're about to do instead of abstract training that they can't see any concrete application for right now.
Only what you need; only when you need it.