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Pandemic has hindered lawyers’ careers, survey finds

Sanders: Timely reminder for firms

Half of all legal professionals think that the pandemic has been detrimental to their career, with many now looking for new roles, according to a survey conducted by a Kent law firm.

Thackray Williams found that 43% of those working in law firms were currently seeking a new role, with a further 22% considering making a move.

The main two reasons were more money and better benefits (70%) and a better work/life balance (69%), followed by opportunities for promotion and progression (48%).

The online survey, conducted in cooperation with legal recruiters LR Legal, received responses from 135 legal professionals, 51% of whom were solicitors, 33% support staff and 16% trainees.

When asked about their employers’ biggest failings during the pandemic, poor communication topped the list (42%), lack of opportunities for promotion (40%), poor technology (35%) and not having proper mechanisms in place to manage mental health and wellbeing (34%).

Despite the failings, three-quarters of staff said they were well treated by their employers during the pandemic and 30% said they felt more positive about their employer than they did before Covid.

At the same time, 37% considered they were under pressure to return to the office for all or part of the week.

Sean Sanders, managing partner of Thackray Williams, said: “We’ve spent the last 18 months working hard to communicate with our colleagues and listen to their concerns.

“During a time of great uncertainty and high anxiety, one of our biggest drivers was to ensure that our staff didn’t find themselves in an information vacuum.

“In an era where law firm culture is just as important as pay, the results of this survey present a timely reminder for firms to keep communication and employee wellbeing at the top of their agenda.”

Leilani Reader of LR Legal added: “The legal recruitment market, particularly amongst solicitors and legal secretaries, has always been highly candidate driven and that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Law firms are having to work extra hard to attract talent.

“Financial remuneration always ranks highly for candidates, but flexible working is no longer a nice to have – it is essential. Most legal professionals will not even consider a law firm if they don’t offer flexibility or aren’t actively investing in their culture.”

Thackray Williams has 140 staff in three offices in Kent and one in London.