You are here

Retaining and Caring for Tech Lawyer Talent: Strategies for Legal Professionals

In a rapidly evolving legal landscape, retaining and nurturing tech lawyer talent has become a critical aspect of law firms and legal departments. The International Technology Law Association (ITechLaw) recently hosted a workshop that delved into the challenges and strategies surrounding talent retention. This article highlights key insights and actionable steps discussed during the session, providing valuable guidance for legal professionals seeking to create an environment conducive to professional growth and employee satisfaction. 


Presenters and Objectives: 

Stacy Zosky, Partner at Stitt + Zosky, Legal Search and Consulting (Canada), Daniel Hart, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP (United States), and Toby Crick from Bristows LLP (United Kingdom) led the workshop, aiming to share their thoughts on retaining and caring for talent in the legal profession. The discussion focused on understanding the dynamics of the "new normal" work environment, considering hybrid arrangements, generational expectations, and the impact of technology on talent management. 


Retaining and Caring for Talent: 

The workshop commenced with a dynamic interactive discussion centered around talent retention. Participants shared their thoughts and concerns, highlighting various challenges faced in their respective organizations. The topics ranged from hybrid work arrangements and mentorship challenges to the billable hour model and the impact of AI and other technologies. Generational differences, compensation expectations, recruiting and retaining diverse talent, and supporting the retention of women were also addressed. 


Professional Happiness and Key Themes: 

Understanding what contributes to lawyers' professional happiness emerged as a crucial focus. The participants identified two overarching themes: connection and individual value. Building a culture where people genuinely care about each other personally and professionally was recognized as essential for mental health, psychological safety, and retaining diverse talent. Engagement in meaningful work, recognizing individual contributions (both billable and non-billable), tailoring work to personal interests, and caring for lawyers as human beings were emphasized as key factors driving professional happiness. 


Guiding Questions for Firms and Legal Departments: 

  • To cultivate an environment aligned with these themes, firms and legal departments should reflect on specific aspects of their talent management. Some guiding questions discussed during the workshop included: 
  • Integration of laterals and new lawyers: How are organizations ensuring a smooth integration process for new team members? 
  • Work assignment allocation: Are the most coveted tasks distributed equitably among lawyers? How can organizations avoid concentrating such work among a few individuals? 
  • Valuing lawyers' work: Do lawyers feel that their contributions are genuinely valued? Are proper credit and recognition given for work generation? 
  • Client exposure: Are lawyers given opportunities to engage with key clients or c-suite executives when they are ready? 
  • Regular feedback and professional development: Are lawyers receiving constructive feedback to support their individual professional growth at each stage of their careers? 
  • Support during personal crises: How do organizations manage situations when a lawyer faces personal crises? Is there a safe and supportive environment for lawyers to seek assistance? 
  • Celebrating milestones: Does the organization celebrate both professional and personal milestones, such as court wins, major deals, weddings, and births? 
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Is DEI integrated into the broader talent management system? How are organizations ensuring inclusion and avoiding tokenism? 


The Impact of Technology: 

The workshop also addressed the game-changing impact of technology in the legal industry. The use of AI, while introducing efficiencies and enhancing legal strategies, has also raised concerns. The commodification of legal services poses a risk of displacement, as certain tasks can be automated. Additionally, the use of AI in screening talent has highlighted the importance of ensuring fairness and inclusivity, as biased algorithms may inadvertently screen out underrepresented populations. 


Overcoming Challenges: 

Leadership plays a crucial role in helping teams address fears and challenges posed by technology. Organizations can focus on leveraging AI to create efficiencies, reduce mundane work, and enable lawyers to spend more time on strategic legal matters, thus increasing job satisfaction and client value. 


The Billable Hour Model: 

The workshop also touched upon the billable hour model, acknowledging its potential to alienate lawyers and hinder their sense of connection and value. Participants discussed alternative models and explored how organizations could manage targets to foster engagement, connection, and a sense of value among their legal professionals. 



Retaining and caring for tech talent in the legal profession requires deliberate action and intention. Creating an environment where lawyers feel connected, valued, and engaged is crucial for their professional happiness and the success of organizations. By considering the workshop's insights and addressing the challenges related to technology, talent management, and the billable hour model, legal professionals can build thriving work environments that attract and retain top talent. 

2023 World Technology Law Conference