Staff accounts for one of the highest proportion of costs undertaken by law firms. It is not hard to see why – in this people-centric business, a law firm’s success to a large extent depends on the ability of its staff to leverage their experience, expertise and knowledge to deliver value and services to the organisation’s customers.
Despite this, human resource (HR) management has thus far been of relatively little concern to law firms. However today, as firms look to internationalise their business; and operate as commercial global enterprises, appointing people in roles ranging from CEOs, CTOs through to compliance specialists and support staff – HR management must become a priority. Employing people with the right competencies and attitudes as opposed to selection based solely on professional qualifications will be of paramount importance.
Furthermore, firms will need to undertake workforce planning on an international scale – only then will they be able to identify and correct any talent gaps and align staff requirements with the strategic goals of the business.
In a global landscape, attracting and retaining top talent becomes increasingly challenging as people with business skills have the option of many industry sectors and geographies open to them. Law firms will need to focus on reward and motivation, given that lockstep is diminishing as a viable option. How law firms deal with and manage the aspirations of their staff will be key to their ability to attract and retain the best talent.
All the above requires a heavier emphasis on strategic HR processes including structured employee appraisals, skills and career development programmes and reward schemes that transcend geographies, and yet make them locally relevant.
This can only be enabled by the adoption of a strategic human resource management approach (SHRM) that is underpinned by IT. SHRM provides a people-centric framework that assists organisations in achieving their business aspirations; and technology such as a business management system streamlines and links SHRM to all the critical functions of an enterprise including client, matter, financial, resource planning, global accounting, procurement, reporting and business intelligence.