Finding Talent, Then Developing and Keeping It

Volume 38 Number 5


About the Author

Sheila M. Blackford is an attorney and practice management advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty at University of Oregon School of Law.   

Law Practice Magazine | September/October 2012 | The Recruitment and Retention IssueWelcome to the Recruitment and Retention Issue of Law Practice (LP). People are the key to client satisfaction and law firm success, so how do we recruit and retain the best? How do we know when a decision is right? When dealing with people, we can’t be 100 percent certain. Turnover is costly, the hiring process time-consuming. Have we ever calculated the cost of our time—time spent drafting ads or talking to placement services, reviewing applicant résumés, and developing, conducting and evaluating interviews? I am sure it’s more than we ever imagined. So let’s not waste more time. I am confident you will find that this issue of the magazine offers many valuable ideas about recruitment and retention for your law firm.

This month we are grateful for the help of our recruitment and retention issue team, led by Bill Gibson, who worked diligently with fellow members of the LP editorial board Beverly Loder, Cynthia Thomas and Marcia Watson Wasserman, in addition to long-time career coach Rachelle J. “Shelley” Canter from RJC Associates. You likely recognize several of these names from ABA Women Rainmakers, the Law Practice Management Section (LPM) board that develops educational programs and business development opportunities for women in the legal profession, including the upcoming ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop on October 19 to 21 in Lake Tahoe.

Marcia wrote our lead article about how large law firms are leading the way in associate development. She shares stories of two law firms that are doing professional development the right way: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Stites & Harbison PLLC. And for associates who need to manage their own professional development in a large law firm, Marcia offers advice from senior professional development managers at Bryan Cave LLP and Stites as well as from the director of Moster Legal Placement Inc. You’ll want to be ready to jot down all the ideas because Marcia did the homework for all of us!

Next you’ll want to read Andrew Elowitt’s “Coaching: The Cornerstone of Professional Development” to learn why coaching is essential for helping lawyers develop and use relationship-based skills such as management, leadership, collaboration and client development. Anyone who has ever personally felt the frustration of knowing what he or she should do but not how to actually do it can appreciate the need for a good coach. Now you’ll know what good coaching looks like.

Diversity is very important to think about with recruitment and retention. Don’t miss Vernā Myers’ fine article, “From Counting Heads to Cultivating Minds: Why Effective Retention Requires Attention to Our Implicit Biases,” in which she shares five common unconscious and unintentional biases identified in her book Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing.

Having recruited great talent, do you feel confident about your retention practices? Shelley Canter shows us how to glean ideas from the retention practices of corporations, and Phyllis Weiss Haserot teaches us how to form a multigenerational approach to engagement and retention instead of dwelling on the differences between the three or four generations that we encounter at work. Naomi Beard closes out the feature articles by helping us understand that law firm upward reviews are an effective tool to improve morale while promoting retention and helping to train law firm mentors.

In this issue, we launch our newest column, Ethics, with helpful advice from columnist Marion Rice, and we welcome to the pages of Law Practice George Leloudis, our new Product Watch columnist, as well as Joan Bullock, LPM’s new chair. Finally, we would be remiss not to thank two guest columnists, Brian Burke, who has written the Taking the Lead column, and Ann Guinn, who contributed the Practice Management Advice column.

On behalf of everyone working on this issue, I hope you will find abundant good ideas for identifying and fostering the talent in your law firm.

Collegially yours,

Sheila M. Blackford





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