With corporations across sectors bracing for an economic downturn in 2023, the team at Maverick Search Consulting, a top business staffing consultancy for law firms, is closely tracking shifts in how firms are hiring, deploying staff talent, and retaining employees. Having successfully placed hundreds of professionals, the experts at Maverick are witnessing firsthand the changing ways in which candidates are evaluating their careers and new opportunities. Today, Maverick is pleased to release its predictions for the top business of law trends in 2023.
“Looking ahead to the new year, the talent marketplace remains tight and competitive, and the demand for specialized business staff to support and amplify the work of attorneys is very high,” said Ren Tucker, CEO. “As we partner with firms to understand their primary business challenges, we expect these five trends to emerge.“
- The Breaking down of barriers between the lawyer and nonlawyer populations:
Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives are a critical component that continue to be top of mind for firms that want to keep up a productive and positive workplace culture – this will continue in 2023. Maverick predicts that firms that recognize the critical contributions of business staff will thrive in the coming year.
Pro Tip: Ensure business staff members are included in more client-facing activities and treated as equal members of the population.
- Office spaces of the future:
Since March of 2020, law firms have found themselves at the vanguard of the search for alternative workplace models and solutions to serve the post-pandemic working population. Maverick predicts that firms will continue to retool inefficient office space to reflect the flex hybrid work culture with more hoteling. As a result, we expect to see an uptick in the hiring of workplace experience professionals to ensure the return to office is as attractive and seamless an experience as possible in 2023. Additionally, leveraging technology to provide data-backed insights into the most efficient use of space will remain a top priority for firms going into the new year.
- Downsizing after pandemic hiring sprees:
We saw a downsizing of administrative ranks during the early days of the pandemic with firms reorganizing outmoded roles, such as secretarial staff, in response to demand dropping for in-office support as the world went virtual. Additionally, many U.S. law firms went on a hiring spree towards the tail end of 2021 to keep pace with record-breaking global M&A activity that topped $5.9 trillion in deals. However, now that transactional work has slowed in 2022, and the demand for legal services has dropped overall[i], Maverick predicts more downsizing of attorneys, paralegals, and business staff by firms that over-hired during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, when the macroeconomic environment sours, firms tend to cut payroll spends first from the business staff ranks, before they turn to attorneys,” observes Benjamin Field, Managing Director of Business Development & Client Relationships. “While this reflects an economic reality, it also reflects a certain perspective—that the business staff population still is regarded as not having a direct contribution to a firm’s success.”
- Pay transparency and salary alignment:
Maverick predicts that more firms will continue to embrace job posts for hires in states with pay transparency laws, which will result in increased equity after an initial period of pay compression. “Prospective employees will have greater access to salary information and, over time, historical data, which will empower them in salary negotiations. Information certainly is power in this instance,” Tucker said.
- Wholesale business staff team moves to remain rare:
While there was industry chatter around the potential for an uptick in wholesale team departures following a marketing and business development team’s move from Cooley to Fried Frank in 2022, we see this as unlikely to develop into a trend in 2023. The ingredients necessary for this to occur—among other things, an established staff team who enjoys working together and a charismatic leader who engenders such loyalty—are rare.
Pro Tip: To help mitigate the unlikely event of a full team move, a critical piece in the “belonging” equation involves continuing to find ways to engage and develop business staff leadership across key departments, including HR, finance, pricing, technology, marketing and business development.
To learn more about Maverick Search Consulting visit www.mavericksearchsontulting.com.
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