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Staff retention an issue for 100% of top 20 firms

30 Nov 2021 / employment Print

Staff retention an issue for 100% of top 20 firms

Legal firms are not immune from resurgent labour market issues in the wider economy, this week’s Smith & Williamson survey has shown.

Recruitment and retention of staff is the top issue, highlighted by 57% of firms, up five places from last year when it was an issue for only 14% of firms.


Supply and demand challenges, flexible working, geographical relocation, new entrants in the market — along with the so called “great resignation” are key elements as employees reassess their career plans post-pandemic.

Maintaining profitability (47%, 60% in 2020) and pressure on fees (43%, 42% in 2020) remain perennial issues in the survey.

Although the economy is still flagged by 35% of respondents, this represents a significant fall from last year when it was an issue for 94% of respondents at the height of pre-vaccine COVID.

Staffing is a concern for 100% of the top 20 firms but just 57% for all firms.

Other issues of materially greater concern for the larger firms include the economy (47% compared to 35%) and new forms of competition (20% compared to 12%).

Cash flow management

In contrast, reported key issues for ‘all firms’ are materially higher in relation to managing cash flow (25% higher at 32%) and pressure on fees (16% higher at 43%) for ‘all firms’.

Finally, in relation to firms in Dublin and the regions, the most significant difference relates to recruitment, where 70% of Dublin firms believe this is a key issue but only 31% of the regional firms cite it as a concern.

Interestingly, Dublin firms feel greater competitive pressure, with 49% of Dublin firms highlighting pressure on fees as opposed to 33% of firms outside the capital. 

Conversely, cyber-risk is seen as a more acute concern outside Dublin at 46% as opposed to 28% in the capital. 

Finally, 26% of firms outside of Dublin list adopting new technology as a challenge, as opposed to 15% of firms based in Dublin.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland