Across May 2022, BigHand gathered a total of 836 responses across senior Operations, HR, Resource Management and Practice Group Leader roles, from firms of 50+ lawyers in North America (NA) and the UK. In addition to exploring the latest resourcing trends and their impact on law firms, the research discovers how firms are responding to the demand for dedicated resource management expertise and technology.
A stand-off is developing between law firms and employees on hybrid working expectations. The findings shows that although half of respondents (49% of NA, 52% of UK) report that their firm has mandated the number of days they must be in the office, almost half (49%) of NA respondents (35% of UK) admit to not complying.
The report also highlighted a disconnect between law firms’ intentions with DEI (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion) and actual progress. Less than one third (24% of NA and 27% of UK) of law firms are prioritising DEI when staffing legal work, despite 69% of NA and 52% of UK firms reporting increased client pressure to resource matters with diversity in mind. There’s clear intention from law firms to improve DEI, however there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
The legal hiring market has become hugely unpredictable. The findings show that 32% of UK and 31% of US firms confirm lateral hiring has increased in the last two years as more employees are looking for favourable flexible working policies. Employee expectation is changing with a higher focus on work life balance rather than billable hours and the traditional route to partnership.
Profitability is also being impacted. The report shows 22% of NA and 24% of UK respondents believe failing to use the right resource to complete work is contributing to profit leakage. Factor in the steady increase in inflation and salaries, along with increased pressure from clients to staff matters with profitability in mind (71% of NA and 63% in UK) – and it would seem that tough controls to improve matter profitability are now vital.
Law firms can no longer afford to rely on individual partners and lawyers to resource matters. 29% NA and 36% UK respondents have dedicated Resource Managers in place, and 91% of NA and 94% of UK firms plan to recruit them. Similarly, 87% of NA and 77% of UK firms either have a dedicated Resource Management technology in place or plan to implement one over the next 24 months.
Firms are now committed to investing in both resource management roles and resource management technology, reinforcing the importance of effective talent management, efficient resource allocation and a commitment to DEI throughout the legal sector. It is absolutely vital that this commitment is not only prioritized but also actioned as part of the essential shift towards the business of law.
Overall, the report provides extensive analysis of current resourcing trends at law firms and is a must-read for progressive legal professionals globally. Firms’ growth and client satisfaction now rely on a far more consistent approach, one that is built on a ‘one firm’ model where resources are shared and centralized, and Resource Managers are part of a strong, collaborative team.
To find out more or access the full report, click here.