Retaining talent: law firm CEO urges firms to introduce better incentives

updated on 10 March 2022

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As the legal industry pay war continues, DWF Group Plc CEO Sir Nigel Knowles has warned City firms that massive pay packages “is only a sticking plaster” and is “not a sincere, sustainable or healthy solution” for attracting and retaining talent.

In an open letter to the Financial Times in February, Sir Nigel called on firms to offer better incentives and work on creating a “healthier workplace environment” or risk losing talent to “more enlightened sectors”, such as fintech, ecommerce start-ups and advertising agencies. He highlighted the work that more progressive firms are doing in this area, which includes:

  • championing diversity and inclusion;
  • encouraging a modern work/life balance; and
  • creating physical environments and culture that are “much more meaningful than relying on huge, but ultimately one-dimensional, starter salaries and ad hoc payments”.

Echoing Sir Nigel’s warning, legal recruitment consultancy Edwards Gibson looked at historical salary wars in the legal industry and raised its concerns that they “don’t tend to end well for associates, and more importantly for law firm management they have always been a portent of a market correction.”

As firms continue to battle it out in the pay war, it remains to be seen what junior lawyers really want from their future employers.