Pandemic has had detrimental impact on legal careers, survey finds

News  |   23 November 2021

Half of all legal professionals think that the pandemic has been detrimental to their career, with many now looking for new roles.

The survey by south London and Kent law firm Thackray Williams, in cooperation with legal recruiters LR Legal, found that 43% of those working in law firms were currently seeking a new role, with a further 22% considering making a move.

The overwhelming reason for wanting to change job is for more money and better benefits (70%), but this is only just ahead of a better work/life balance (69%), followed by opportunities for promotion and progression (48%).

When asked about their employers’ biggest failings during the pandemic, poor communication topped the list, cited by 42% of respondents, followed by lack of opportunities for promotion (40%), poor technology (35%) and not having proper mechanisms in place to manage mental health and wellbeing (34%).

Despite the failings, 76% of law firm staff said they were well treated by their employers during the pandemic and 30% said they felt more positive about their employer than they did before Covid.

With many firms now encouraging staff back to the office for all or part of the week, 54% said they did not feel rushed or under pressure to return, but 37% did.

Sean Sanders, managing partner of Thackray Williams, said: “We’ve spent the last 18 months working hard to communicate with our colleagues and listen to their concerns. During a time of great uncertainty and high anxiety, one of our biggest drivers was to ensure that our staff didn’t find themselves in an information vacuum.

“In an era where law firm culture is just as important as pay, the results of this survey present a timely reminder for firms to keep communication and employee wellbeing at the top of their agenda.”

Leilani Reader of LR Legal said: “The legal recruitment market, particularly amongst solicitors and legal secretaries, has always been highly candidate driven and that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Law firms are having to work extra hard to attract talent.

“Financial remuneration always ranks highly for candidates but flexible working is no longer a nice to have – it is essential. Most legal professionals will not even consider a law firm if they don’t offer flexibility or aren’t actively investing in their culture.”

Methodology: An online survey was conducted between 28 September – 13 October, 2021.

135 legal professionals responded. 51% of respondents were solicitors, 33% legal support staff and 16% were trainees.

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