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Allen & Overy Tackles Associate Retention

Plenty has been written on what law firms can do in order to improve their rate of associate retention, which is widespread. Now, Bruce MacEwen reports on one law firm, Allen & Overy, that is trying to do something about it. MacEwen writes:

Allen & Overy has gotten religion about this—they were widely reported to be in the 25% (or higher) annual attrition camp—and they're created a comprehensive program attempting to address the problem from all angles, but primarily from the social/career satisfaction, and the economic/financial, perspectives.

Changes to address associate retention include:

    * The firm recognizes that "the old days of the partnership laying down the terms and conditions of employment and then expecting associates to acquiesce are over."

    * Retaining key talent is the only way to maintain competitive advantage.

    * So the firm is taking a page from the way it treats its clients (or aspires to treat its clients, at any rate): "When competing in the ‘war for talent’, we would be well advised to apply the same principles we do when managing our client relationships. We need to listen. We need to understand the issues and be ready, willing and able to respond."

    * As associates have become more involved in trying to find a solution, "their appreciation of the complexity of the situation has increased. They too realise there is no quick fix that management has — for whatever reason — decided to ignore."

    * At the most summary level, the A&O initiative can be distilled into "creating a coaching culture:" Providing greater clarity about performance expectations, career paths, and better two-way communication.

MacEwen points out the the A&O initiative also includes a revamped "pay for performance" component, where associates' financial rewards are linked to the fortunes of the firm and the partners. 

MacEwen comments that A&O is off to a good start. But a start is all it is. Unless the firm follows through, the firm will likely find itself back in the high-attrition-rate penalty box.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 24, 2006 at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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