Estimating what it costs a firm to lose a highly educated professional is more art than science, but an impressionistic review of the literature suggests rough agreement that a year’s worth of salary is probably a safe minimum guess. Couple that with the fact that, in law firm land, associates literally represent the future of the firm, and you might imagine firms would invest readily and heavily in professional development and training to cultivate both talent and loyalty.
Ah well, as we all know, lawyers do not generally enjoy a reputation as astute business managers — nor, in many cases, as “people people” — and those two realities lead, in many firms, to benign neglect of associate training. That does not mean, however, that firms are oblivious to the costs of attrition. Indeed, last spring The National Law Journal reported that firms are taking steps firms are taking steps to make it harder for headhunters to poach associates, primarily by removing information about associates from their Web sites — information as basic as direct-dial numbers, e-mail addresses and biographical or practice-group data. More recently Law Firm, Inc. reported that only four of the top 10 firms deserved an “A” for the completeness of associate information on their Web sites.
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