The Great Legal Resignation

First Reviewed : December 13, 2022
Last Reviewed: December 13, 2022

From summer 2021 to winter 2022, a consistent range of 7% to 10% of attorney respondents to Bloomberg Law Workload & Hours Surveys that were conducted during that time period wanted to leave their jobs.
– Bloomberg Law

In the wake of a brave new post-pandemic world amidst an economic downturn, legal faces new demands from legal departments and general counsel. According to Wolters Kluwer, legal professionals need” tech-enabled organizations that support their preferred way of working”. 69% of corporate lawyers and 72% of law firm lawyers say they will work remotely full or part time if they don’t have access to legal tech and accessible workplaces. 

Factors That Spurred the Great Resignation 

The ABA Journal notes that The Great Resignation started around the spring of 2021. It continues through 2022, impacting every aspect of the workplace. Legal professionals are leaving their jobs, taking a career pivot, or leaving the workforce entirely. In their article, the ABA Journal says that this is large percentages of talent being underutilized for want of basic needs at the workplace including legal tech requirements and better work-life balance. 

Evolving Thoughts in the Legal Workplace 

  • Changing ideas about work-life balance scenarios
  • Remote or hybrid model work options
  • Commuting
  • High workload expectations 
  • Salary and perks
  • Health and safety
  • Looking for meaningful work 

The pandemic created financial issues, causing organizations to cut expenses and reduce overheads by downsizing and laying off legal professionals. This in turn created the Great Resignation, which sees no abating as the nation gets enveloped in a recession. 

Retaining Talent in the Great Resignation

How can organizations retain talent as legal professionals resign in droves? Many companies are falling back on age-old factors including better compensation and bonuses. According to Bloomberg Law, organizations are beginning to explore the idea of a better work-life balance that became viable and easier to attain during the pandemic style of work. It really is the simple things that lawyers are looking for, to enrich and enhance their work life, and which organizations can offer. 

Ways To Retain Legal Talent 

Increasing salaries

Perhaps the most obvious, better pay can equal happier lawyers who may be content staying on at companies. These organizations that can compensate lawyers for the long hours and sometimes difficult legal work have an advantage over companies that cannot stretch their dollars further for existing talent. 

Implementing flexible work-from-home policies

COVID-19 demonstrated that hybrid and remote work models were as effective as in-person work. Lawyers understand that eliminating or reducing their commuting hours, supplementing legal work with legal tech, and offering flexible hours make for a better work-life balance. Companies that can provide these for their legal department teams will be able to bypass high attrition rates as well. 

Utilizing legal technology 

Legal tech is here to stay, and savvy lawyers say that legal tech adoption at organizations impact their decisions on whether to work for the company or not. Wolters Kluwer reports that 83% of lawyers say it’s important to work for companies that leverage legal technology. Only 36% of lawyers believe their legal department is prepared to recruit or retain technology staff, which means companies need to step up their legal tech game, and lay the groundwork for one if they haven’t already. 

An End in Sight for the Great Resignation?

Legal publications agree that the Great Resignation shows signs of slowing down, but that it’s up to organizations to make that change. Lawyer Monthly notes that while the future may be uncertain, companies need to “ensure they are nurturing the needs of the top talent within their teams and also supporting those that are seeking professional growth and fulfilment,” stating that these companies “will be the ones that are the most successful”.

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