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Legal professionals working in private practice have seen a lot of changes over the last few years. The priorities of many candidates have evolved considerably as the marketplace has continued to shift. In many cases, legal professionals are showing a willingness to move roles to get what they want, knowing that their skills will be in high demand in this current candidate-short market.
To explore these trends, Sellick Partnership has carried out a survey of private practice solicitors, lawyers, legal executives and paralegals based in the South of England, in order to learn more about the key contributors to job satisfaction among these legal professionals, as well as the factors that motivate them when seeking a new role.
Our research findings highlight a number of key trends that private sector employers need to be aware of in order to give themselves the best chance of attracting, and more importantly, retaining legal talent.
The headline findings of our survey show that although private practice legal professionals are largely happy in their roles, there is certainly room for improvement in terms of job satisfaction - and that professionals are willing to consider seeking a new role to find what they are looking for, as long that the role fills all of their needs.
Here, we break down the statistics further to provide additional insights into what is motivating private practice legal professionals in the current market.
Are legal professionals looking to find a new role?
Our survey showed that respondents are largely content in their current jobs, but many nevertheless feel that there could be better opportunities available to them elsewhere.
As workforces integrate back into the office environment, and regain the sense of normality that they had pre-pandemic, they may be starting to think about moving on. Firms could have promised bonuses or flexible working arrangements that are no longer mentioned, leaving people thinking about the next steps in their career.
Staff are generally satisfied with their salary - but is there room for improvement?
Overall, our survey respondents did not express strong dissatisfaction with current levels of pay - but the results did indicate that very few of these professionals consider their salaries to be much better than ‘satisfactory’:
Professionals are regularly working more than their contracted hours
The legal profession has a reputation for heavy workloads, and the findings of our study show this. With the majority of respondents regularly having to work longer than their contracted hours and the highest number of extra hours worked being 38.
If legal professionals are moving, it’s for higher salaries and an improved work-life balance, as well as hybrid working
With these findings in mind, it is unsurprising that many of those who are looking for new jobs are moving for the promise of better remuneration and benefits, and to enjoy an improved work-life balance:
Are employers providing the benefits that legal professionals really want?
Our survey assessed the benefits and allowances that private practice legal employers are currently offering, and compared them to the benefits that are most important to candidates seeking new permanent roles.
Here are the most common benefits that our survey respondents said they receive in their current roles:
In comparison, here are the benefits that candidates are most likely to be looking for:
This comparison reveals a number of areas in which employers could potentially benefit from improving or prioritising their offerings:
Conversely, the stats indicate that employers are largely meeting legal professionals’ needs when it comes to offering home working options, which has been a positive step for many following the pandemic.
When asked how many days they would like to work from home each week, the most popular response was three days, suggesting that hybrid working models remain more in-demand than entirely remote roles.
In recent years we've seen a number of changes in candidates altering their needs when seeking a new role. Normally these needs are mentioned during the very first conversation; remuneration, an element of home working and work-life balance being the most important things that candidates want to know about the role. In this current candidate short market, employers need to think about whether they’re doing enough to attract and, more importantly, retain employees.
Hopefully, the information in this report can give you a good insight into the wants and needs of candidates but the team at Sellick Partnership are on hand should you need any advice on your current benefit offerings and how small tweaks might be enough to attract the perfect candidate.
If you wish to utilise any part of this data for editorial purposes, please credit Sellick Partnership at www.sellickpartnership.co.uk/.
To find out more about our insights into how private practice legal employers can improve their offering for candidates, please contact a member of the team here.