Key Trends in Talent Expectations shaping Law Firms in 2024

Did you read our crisp overview of workplace expectations from senior professionals in the corporate legal, tax and finance domains? In this article, we cover the expectations of professionals from law firms. 

As before, the insights are based on the conversations recruiters at Vahura have been having with talent. These discussions have led to compelling insights about trends in 2023 and projections for 2024. Here are some of them:  

1. Work arrangements and location

  • Hybrid and remote work models: The demand for flexible work arrangements, including hybrid and remote working models, is expected to continue rising in 2024. Professionals highly value the balance, convenience, and autonomy these models offer, particularly when accompanied by trust from reporting Partners.

  • Office location: The significance of office location in cities like Bengaluru and the National Capital Region cannot be emphasised enough. Professionals prioritise locations that minimise commute times, allow them to stay closer to their families, or are in proximity to their children’s aspirational schools. This factor will continue to influence job choices in 2024.

2. Compensation and benefits

  • Transparent compensation structures: Professionals seek clarity and transparency in compensation structures, especially regarding self-assessment processes and variable pay calculations.

  • Non-cash perks: Non-cash perks such as petrol allowances and Sodexo coupons were highly valued in 2023, and this trend is expected to continue into 2024. Another must-have is comprehensive group or corporate health insurance coverage for professionals and their families.

  • Workplace facilities: Well-equipped workplaces with quality laptops, well-stocked canteens and state-of-the-art facilities are very much in demand. Reimbursement for late-night transport was something that came up in more than a few conversations. Talent is expected to set greater store by all such conveniences in 2024.

  • Higher fixed salaries: The desire for a higher fixed component in the compensation package continues to grow among law firm professionals. This is to hedge against the uncertainty of the quantum of bonus or other types of variable pay. The focus on overall compensation structures that provide fair and competitive remuneration remains paramount.

3. Work environment and culture

  • Positive and supportive culture: A non-toxic environment with supportive teams and understanding Partners continues to be a key expectation. While professionals understand the demands of their roles, they expect a healthier work culture overall. Often, this is the first point that comes up in a conversation with talent. While considering their next move, professionals are often working backwards by first zeroing in on which Partners within a law firm have a reputation of good work culture. To know which law firms score high in the Culture, Mental Health and Work Life Balance categories, do take a look at Vahura’s latest Best Law Firms to Work Report.

  • Team composition and diversity: A diverse team was a priority for law firm professionals in 2023. They were keen to see people from different backgrounds and circumstances on the team. For women, it was important to know the gender ratio at every level in the firm. They also wanted to know if women leaders in the firm play an active role, or were only promoted to check a diversity box.  Such questions are expected to gain in importance in 2024.

4. Career Development and Work-Life Balance

  • Promotions and career progression: Among job-switchers, we noticed a concern about missed promotions. Professionals are increasingly seeking assurances of fair and timely career progression from potential employers in case of mid-year switches.

  • Mentorship and team structure: Junior professionals are increasingly interested in effective mentorship programs and structured teams. This means that they expect Senior Associates and Principal Associates to be accessible for guidance.  More senior professionals are keen on working with competent juniors who are committed to executing delegated work. This aspect of professional development is expected to gain more focus in 2024.

5. Additional considerations

  • Relocation and housing assistance: While not yet common in domestic law firms, there is a growing expectation for assistance with moving or housing expenses. Providing support in these areas can increase employee loyalty and satisfaction.

6. Specific requests and one-off expectations

  • Unique requests: We saw law firm professionals making some unique and one-off requests, ranging from astrology considerations while deciding a joining date to requesting a Partner to provide a recommendation for a school admission. We’ve also come across specific technology-related requests, such as provision of a specific operating system on the work laptop.

  • Shifts in practice areas: While many professionals expressed a desire to shift practice areas at the same level in 2023, this trend did not gain significant acceptance among potential employers, forcing some professionals to restart again at a junior role in the new practice area.

In conclusion, 

The expectations of professionals from law firms has evolved significantly over the last few years. In a fast-moving market which is marked by high attrition levels, we are seeing talent leverage their bargaining power to enter into arrangements that suit their professional and personal goals. Responding to the conversation around toxicity in a high-performing workplace, the demand side has taken small steps towards reform. 

Word on the street is that there is enough work going around to accommodate everyone, so providing a positive and supportive workplace will go a long way in helping law firms keep in touch with talent expectations. It will also help them gain a competitive advantage. 

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