With Biglaw firms facing overcapacity thanks to a lack of attrition, layoffs and deferrals are now at top of mind when it comes to Biglaw’s employment outlook for associates. The lateral frenzy that was 2021 now seems oh-so long ago, but if hiring picks up again, some firms simply aren’t interested in cutting ties with their associates — they want them to stay put.
Enter the “stay interview,” a new means for Biglaw firms to assess the needs of their associates and making necessary changes in the hope of keeping them on the payroll. Firms like Cozen O’Connor and Lathrop GPM have reported positive experiences after using these interviews among their ranks. The American Lawyer has the details:
Having spoken with roughly 100 Cozen O’Connor associates to date—89% of associates asked to do voluntary interviews did so—[Mindy Herczfeld, chief legal talent officer at Cozen,] was able to glean valuable information about the firm’s associate population. Firm culture, work-life balance, and having their personal time respected were among the top reasons associates said they would stay at the firm, Herczfeld said.
She also learned some areas of improvement: the path to partner appeared opaque from the associates’ perspectives, and young lawyers wished for more professional development opportunities. As a result, the firm held sessions on the partnership path and offered individualized, one-on-one coaching for skills such as public speaking and communication—measures associates said they appreciated in subsequent stay interviews.
Through the use of stay interviews, Lathrop GPM has learned that associates need guidance on how to have “critical conversations” while working remotely. “When you’re not interacting with someone in person, some of those non-verbal queues may not be there,’ said Vanessa Vaughn West, director of diversity and inclusion at the firm. “Some of the things you might rely on in-person have evolved.”
As noted by Am Law, Cozen’s stay interviews — and the changes at the firm that occurred thereafter — have resulted in an increased associate retention rate, meaning that using innovative methods like these will not only help to improve associate satisfaction but will also convince associates to remain with their firms for the long haul.
‘Stay Interviews’ Help Law Firms Adjust to Young Lawyers’ Changing Needs [American Lawyer]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.