by Holly Barocio / October 10, 2019
Despite law firms’ increased efforts and success at recruiting more diverse talent, they continue to face a major problem with talent retention. The dearth of minority partners at top law firms is a worrisome issue that firm leaders must face head-on.
High-performing firms provide business development training and support for their attorneys because they understand that lawyers must learn to be sellers, bringing in new business and developing relationships with existing clients that yields new work. This kind of training is all the more crucial for diverse attorneys, who face unique challenges that a one-size-fits-all approach may not address. Firms that seek to improve diverse talent retention should focus on these top supports:
1 – Train attorneys in business development and client experience best practices. Attorneys tend to think about leaving firms when they reach critical junctures: moving from senior associate to partner or from income partner to equity shareholder. These are moments when firms can provide business development and client experience training that could keep the attorney from jumping ship. Firms should not leave revenue generation up to chance; they must equip their attorneys with the skills to build their business and to understand the central importance of client experience.
To learn more about how diversity drives business development check out our blog: How Diversity Drives Business Development.
2 – Understand that diverse attorneys face different challenges. Core business development best practices apply to everyone who is selling professional services, but firms need to recognize the unique challenges diverse professionals face when it comes to targeting prospects. Success often depends on access to a robust social network, but some diverse attorneys, particularly women of color, do not enter the firm already connected to people with power and influence. On the other hand, these attorneys may have access to unique opportunities for the firm that they could seize—with the right kind of support.
3 – Put talent analytics to work. An objective assessment tool, such as the GrowthPlay Chally Assessment, a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on more than 750,000 people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations, is essential. By identifying the unique gifts and potential your diverse attorneys bring to the table, you can place them in roles that play to their strengths. There are many competencies (135, to be exact!) that correlate with sales success, and when leaders are armed with data, they can be sure they are exhausting the talent pool and creating meaningful paths to growth that will retain the attorneys they worked so hard to recruit.
Proactive firms know that supporting diverse talent’s business development efforts will empower them to become revenue generators. And that benefits both the individual and the firm, addressing the important issue of talent retention.