Flexibility overtakes pay as top priority for practitioners

Flexibility has overtaken pay as the top priority for practitioners entering the jobs market, according to new research by legal recruitment consultancy, Realm Recruit.

As part of its annual market research conducted in June 2021, Realm Recruit surveyed more than 100 practitioners on a number of topics, including jobseeker status, employee engagement, wellbeing and pay. The research found that, for the majority of practitioners, flexible working has become a prerequisite, rather than an incentive, when it comes to looking for a new opportunity.

83% of practitioners said that flexible working would be important to them if they were to look for a new job.

Since lockdown measures were lifted in March 2021, most law firms have expected their employees to return to the office for at least part of the week. It now appears that practitioners expect to enjoy a hybrid working model, with 84% of respondents saying they felt that their firm should allow them to work remotely for at least three days per week.

Realm Recruit has recently published the results of its research in full along with recommendations for law firms in a new report: The Great Talent Shortage: Adapting Your Attraction and Retention Strategies for 2022.

Other key findings include:

  • 20% of practitioners describe themselves as active jobseekers
  • 83% said they felt secure in their job, up from 33% in 2020
  • 40% of practitioners haven’t had a pay increase in the last 12 months
  • 41% of practitioners said a pay rise would be very important to them in their next role
  • Almost half of practitioners do not believe they are paid fairly
  • 24% do not think their employer contributed to looking after their mental health
  • 44% said they didn’t think the leadership at their firm was representative of the firm as a whole

Realm Recruit’s managing director Duane Cormell comments:

“It’s clear that following the COVID-19 pandemic, when almost all practitioners were working remotely, individuals have realised that the traditional 9-5 office-based approach just isn’t the only option anymore.

“It is in the best interest of firms to address their flexible working policies, as our research shows the next biggest single factor firms can continue to meaningfully compete on is pay.

“What’s more, with just 20% of practitioners currently identifying as active jobseekers, law firms have to work harder than ever before to pique the interest of prospective employees. Firms must either offer flexible working options or pay their practitioners very well if they are successfully to attract, recruit and retain the best people for their business.”

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