As the economy picks up, the gladiators pick up their weapons in the fight for talent again. With a raft of restructurings in the past five years, now that work is picking up, there are structural gaps in the talent profile of a number of similar firms. Make no mistake that the recession was long and deep enough that some very good people were cut adrift. Some of these remain available to the big law firms, albeit that they may look at firms through different eyes (and as a result seek to negotiate a different type of employment relationship). However, plenty of talented lawyers have left the pool of potential employees. Many have found a more natural home in one of the many flexible resource pools that have grown significantly even during tough times, and these “nomadic lawyers” are less likely to be tempted back to the mothership.
The lever many firms will look to pull, will be the big red salary one – paying premium wages for the best talent, and making a business case on the basis of the work these lawyers will not only service but help bring in. The challenge of course is that the market has changed, with general counsel now being far more price sensitive.
If the clients are not willing to pay increased fees to pay for the influx of talent at premium wages, what gives?