I came across an interesting law firm retention strategies article in the New York Times this morning about the general ramp-up in perks, benefits, bonuses, and what-have-you that law firms in the U.S. market are resorting to in order to attract and retain top legal talent. The list of incentives in play is an interesting one – random acts of kindness from the happiness committee at Perkins Coie, cash bonuses on top of year-end bonuses at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, a $2000 bonus for employees who buy a hybrid car at DLA Piper, to in-house meals, on-site daycare, concierge and personal valet services elsewhere.
While one lawyer quoted in the article expressed disdain at some of the more exotic perks (pet insurance, concierge services) as an “appalling” attempt to “set up people’s lives”, my view is that Marina Sirras, who runs a legal recruitment firm in New York, is bang on with her assessment that “money is not the only thing that drives these lawyers right now – they want to be able to have a family and enjoy their family. This has never been as hot an issue”. The article touches upon the fact that child-care is often a critical issue in this context, and cites a handful of firms that have experimented with on-site daycare and emergency nanny services. My money says the first big Canadian firm that gets behind child care in a serious way is going to have a significant competitive advantage in the market when it comes to attracting and retaining the associate generation.