Shortage of Legal Talent

The Shortage of Talent in the Legal Industry

The legal industry, like many others, is facing a challenge when it comes to talent. Law firms across the UK are struggling to attract and retain top legal minds, and it’s having a significant impact on their operations and their clients. 

At Setfords, we’re a part of this narrative. We’re a platform law firm, offering an innovative model where our lawyers are consultants and their own business owners. But, we hired more of them than any law firm, platform or traditional, in 2023 according to the Codex Edge Platform Firms report. So, why are more and more lawyers turning away from traditional law and towards platform firms such as ourselves?  

81% of legal professionals say the ability to recruit and retain talent will have an impact on law firms and corporate legal departments in the next one to three years (up from 75% in 2022) 

Work-life balance reigns supreme  

Perhaps one of the biggest issues facing the legal industry is its traditionally long hours, often leading to a poor work-life balance. And today’s workers, in the legal industry and beyond, are putting more importance on getting that balance right. Indeed, the 2023 Randstad Workmonitor survey found that 93.7% of respondents said that work-life balance was important to them. So, by continuing to serve up cultures that reward more time spent at work, the legal industry may be missing out on plenty of excellent talent.  

Long hours may be driving more lawyers away from the profession (or into platform firms), but this in. Itself presents an issue. If firms are struggling to recruit replacements for those who have left, a greater burden is placed on the lawyers who are left behind. This creates something of a vicious cycle. More people leading due to a poor work life balance leads to longer hours for others, further driving lawyers away from their roles.  

Clients come first 

Plenty of lawyers join the profession because they enjoy working with clients, solving their legal issues and providing a fantastic service. While this is admirable, many of these lawyers quickly discover that these ambitions aren’t particularly compatible with the billable hours and difficult targets expected at most firms.  

In the face of these challenges, platform firms can seem like a preferable option. Lawyers can take their time with their clients, better work around their schedules, and provide them as a better service as a result. In turn, this can make the role more fulfilling for lawyers, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and reducing feelings of burnout.  

Younger lawyers are searching for more 

As younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z) start to make up a larger percentage of the workforce, it’s vital for the legal sector to keep up with their wishes for their workplace. And, attitudes are shifting, with younger generations searching for fulfilment outside of the 9-5. Indeed, a recent report revealed that 50% of Gen Z have ambitions of running their own business.  

As younger generations of lawyers start to gain more legal experience, they’re putting that experience to use outside of traditional employed roles. Consultancy is a popular option, demonstrated by the fact that three of the top ten hiring firms in 2023 were platform firms, with Setfords coming out on top. The Setfords model, and ones like it, enables lawyers to run their own businesses with background support from an established firm, offering the best of both worlds to entrepreneurial people who want to keep on practicing law. 

So, what’s the solution? 

Traditional law has operated in the same way for decades. It’s clearly still working well for some lawyers, but the talent shortage is showing that more and more are looking for something new. They want to work differently, more efficiently, and put their lives outside of work first. Platform law firms offer the opportunity to do all of this and more. At Setfords, we believe that our innovative model will only continue to grow in popularity as more and more lawyers decide they need something that traditional law just doesn’t offer.  

The shortage of legal talent is a complex challenge, but also an opportunity for firms to innovate and offer lawyers the flexibility, autonomy, and are looking for today. 

You can learn more about what the legal industry can do to attract more talent here: 

How can law firms attract the best legal talent? 


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