People – improving people engagement

2013 Annual Law Firms’ Survey

With people their most important asset, firms need to ensure that they attract, motivate and retain the right talent. Highly engaged, talented people lead to client advocacy, increased revenue and improved profitability.

Many firms are actively considering how they can improve people engagement. With limited funds available for pay increases, firms are seeking to better understand what staff value outside financial reward.

  • Total UK headcount has increased by 39.4%. remained relatively static across all bandings, with the exception of Top 11-25 firms where UK headcount has increased by 39.4%. This is primarily driven by merger activity amongThis is primarily driven by merger activity among those firms.
  • Chargeable hours have generally fallen across all grades and all bandings of firms. This trend is not sustainable, particularly for firms outside the Top 10 where focus on increasing utilisation must be a priority.
  • The grade with highest utilisation in Top 10 firms is newly qualified. While reduction in headcount will impact this, it also appears the 1-5 year pqe grades are pushing work down to the newly qualified grade.
  • There is a continuing trend of firms tightly controlling staff costs by minimising increases in salaries.
  • The number of non-partner staff in Top 10 and 11-25 firms who have formally set objectives and had a formal performance management discussion has fallen – this may lead to problems in demonstrating fairness and transparency in awarding bonuses.
  • Gender diversity in Top 10 firms has become more equally balanced in grades below full equity partner. At full equity partner level though, women account for only 16% of total headcount in Top 10 firms.