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  • Writer's pictureJoan Claire Gilbert

Is Your Law Firm Leadership Team Repelling Top Talent?

One of the leadership blind spots I hear about time and time again from attorneys, many of whom have left firms due to this factor, is the lack of meaningful acknowledgment and prompt, constructive feedback given to their team members.

Many HR leaders in law firms also feel frustrated about this and may even leave their role with a particular firm, due to butting heads with the management team on these kind of issues. (They often see what's happening internally with attorneys, behind the scenes).

Acknowledging your colleagues, whether above or below you from a hierarchical standpoint, is an art (when done in a meaningful and effective way).

Giving prompt, constructive feedback while being for your colleague's and the firm's success, is also an art, a practice that takes commitment.

Yet these are also indispensable ingredients to building a law firm culture that attracts and retains top talent.

For example, if you are a partner and you are correcting your associate's work after they turn it in, but not taking some time to walk through with them the corrections you feel need to be made, you are overlooking a key opportunity to build rapport with a potential future leader of your firm, while also helping them be a better attorney.

What may happen instead is you make those corrections, feeling disappointed in your associate's work quality, but not speaking straight with the associate (as well as acknowledging them specifically for what they did well). You may even complain about that associate to another partner. You might bring it up weeks or months later, perhaps at their annual performance review.

But you never spoke straight, promptly, with the associate, while being for their success, the success of your team, for your client and the firm's success.

The associate, when she finds about it later, is crushed and feels less trust toward you and the firm as a whole.

This is just one instance of trust-erosion in action, in the law firm, often unknowingly.

The talented associate starts looking for better options elsewhere.

A simple oversight with huge, negative repercussions.

These are the kinds of leadership oversights that I hear about time and time again.

And they are costing your law firm, big time.

If you a lead a law firm, where are the holes in your leadership team's way of working together?

Do you have shared commitments on how to work together, effectively, in a way that builds rapport, engagement, and innovation?

Does your workplace culture attract and retain top talent?

If not, why?

I invite you to reflect on these questions, the answers to which could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you'd like some help, email me at, and I'd be happy to offer you 30 min of my time to help you unpack where you're at and where you'd love to be.

You don't have to walk the "overhaul the law firm workplace" culture alone.

In fact, it can be much more enjoyable than you think, and your bottom line will reflect that your time and investment in it was exceedingly well-spent.

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