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Ahead of the Curve

April 2022

PURPOSE

The Professional Development Advisory Committee’s (PDAC) purpose in providing you this communication is to further its goal of periodically sharing topical information regarding the legal industry. Our hope is that one or more of the updates will provide a spark of insight to assist with your work on behalf of ALA as well as within your firm or legal department.


    

“WHAT FACTORS DRIVE ATTORNEY TURNOVER? COMPENSATION ISN’T THE ONLY ISSUE, NEW REPORT SAYS”

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

In brief: “Compensation may be the proximate cause that entices associates to leave their law firms, but ‘the root cause may run deeper,’ according to a report released [April 21]. Among surveyed associates who reported being most likely to leave their firms, their current compensation was cited as a factor by 42% and the compensation system was cited as a factor by 32%. ... But other factors also were important, including feeling underappreciated (30%), lack of progression (29%), and lack of genuine regard for their well-being (25%).”

PDAC says: “My thoughts are that there is only so much administration can do to move the needle on these two items, as the attorneys and top management need to be heavily involved in setting the right tone and being genuinely interested in these issues.”


“SURVEY: LEGAL DEPARTMENTS’ FAILURE TO ADOPT TECHNOLOGY FORCING IN-HOUSE LAWYERS TO RETURN TO OFFICE DESPITE CLEAR PREFERENCE FOR HYBRID”

Source: Robert Ambrogi, LawSites blog

In brief: “Although the majority of U.S. in-house lawyers prefer not to return full-time to their offices, nearly half have done so, in part because their organizations have failed to effectively adopt new technologies that would facilitate hybrid work arrangements.”


“WHAT FACTORS DRIVE ATTORNEY TURNOVER? COMPENSATION ISN’T THE ONLY ISSUE, NEW REPORT SAYS”

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

In brief: “Compensation may be the proximate cause that entices associates to leave their law firms, but ‘the root cause may run deeper,’ according to a report released [April 21]. Among surveyed associates who reported being most likely to leave their firms, their current compensation was cited as a factor by 42% and the compensation system was cited as a factor by 32%. ... But other factors also were important, including feeling underappreciated (30%), lack of progression (29%), and lack of genuine regard for their well-being (25%).”

PDAC says: “My thoughts are that there is only so much administration can do to move the needle on these two items, as the attorneys and top management need to be heavily involved in setting the right tone and being genuinely interested in these issues.”


“PREVENTING PROXIMITY BIAS IN A HYBRID WORKPLACE”

Source: Arlene S. Hirsch, SHRM

In brief: “As more companies embrace hybrid work models — featuring a mix of in-person and remote work — many people managers and HR departments are dealing with the challenges of proximity bias, which is the tendency for people in positions of authority to show favoritism or give preferential treatment to employees who are closest to them physically.”

PDAC says: “Nice to know that this type of bias has a name. They indicate that a key driver of proximity bias is the assumption that people are more productive in an office environment than at home ... I don’t agree. I think my issues with this type of bias is that it is easier and convenient to talk with someone who is in front of or constantly around you, [rather] than having to reach out and make efforts to call and connect with others who are remote. In HR we need to make sure this isn’t getting in the way of reviews, developing people, etc.”


“EMPLOYEES PREFER TO WORK FROM HOME — UNTIL THEY DON’T”

Source: Karen J. Bannan, SHRM

In brief: “The COVID-19 pandemic may be settling into society as an endemic infection like the flu, but according to a recent Pew Research Center study, that doesn’t mean employees are ready to head back to the office. The firm’s survey found that almost 6 out of 10 U.S. workers who can work from home are still working from home all or most of the time. ... Figuring out how to bring people back without hard feelings (or too much complaining) is going to take some work.”

PDAC says: “An interesting article about how difficult it can be to bring everyone back to the office and ideas about how that can be achieved.”


“APPROACHING BIAS IN THE WORKPLACE AS A BUSINESS PROBLEM”

Source: Pam Hernandez, Law Practice Today

In brief: “Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, everyone thought the lack of diversity at the top of organizations was mainly a ‘pipeline’ problem. ... People assumed that time would solve the problem. It hasn’t. So, what’s the problem? There are multiple problems, some individual and some systemic. Organizations must take a multi-pronged approach to make any meaningful difference.”

PDAC says: “I like the idea of approaching something like this from a different perspective, but I think the real takeaway is the abundance of links to a lot of good resources about bias, etc.”