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Is Your Law Firm Hiring CTO ?

October 21st, 2007 · No Comments


You must be curious why would a law firm hiring CTO? Let me clarify, the CTO refered herein is not “Chief Technology Officer” or “Chief Technical Officer” that we are familiar with, but it refers to “Chief Talent Officer”. This is a relatively new kind of high ranking position in a law firm’s structure.

Recently, a US large-sized law firm, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton (about 480 lawyers) announced that it had hired its first Chief Talent Officer, tasked with bringing together all of the elements of the associate/lawyer life cycle. The main duty involves strategic pre-hire and post-departure employment management.

Bob Neufeld, the CTO said that most of the law firms are behind corporations when come to human resource matter. I think it is likely to be true, either in US or in Malaysia.

I think below are the main challenges faced by the Malaysia law firms when come to human resource management:

1. The “employment turn over” in law firms is comparatively high.

-In a 30 lawyers law firm, you are likely to see about 2-3 lawyers leaving the firm every year.

2. Difficult in hiring experienced lawyer and/or supporting staff.

- Legal business is a “low cost starting business”, (the mandatory annual expenses are merely thousand plus including annual practising certificate fees, insurance fees and miscellaneous.). Therefore, it is rather easy for any lawyers to set up their own practices, especially those who are experienced (in term of skill and clientele).

- Working in law firms as a clerk or secretary is rather more hectic than working in other industry as a clerk you need to deal with bulk of paper works daily and the worse part you are always rushing to meet deadline almost everyday. If one misses the deadline, one may need to compensate for the losses suffered by the firm, which you know may not be a small amount anyway…  

3. Retaining talent is not easy

- It is common to see that many law firms train their own chambering students when the later joined them as fresh graduates. However, after 3-4 years, these fresh graduates have become experienced lawyers, who can work on their own independently. If the firm do not have a proper or systematic promotion scheme for these lawyers, it is not surprising to see them leaving the firm one by one and joining the competitors.

In view of the above, your law firm should also start consider hiring a CTO today? Anyone wants to hire me? hahaha!

Tags: Legal Management

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