Navigating the Perfect Storm: Recruiting, Training and Retaining Lawyers in the Coming Decade (Ark Press)

 Jerome Kowalski

Kowalski & Associates

 July 29, 2010

       I am pleased to announce that my new book, Navigating the Perfect Storm:  Recruiting, Training and Retaining Lawyers in the coming Decade (Ark Press) will be released late next week.

            In this volume, I address the run up to recent events which affected the profession and forced us to change as well as the challenges that lay ahead.


            Firms have gone through pain and stress and financial loss as the shifting market made demands on different practice areas.  Client and practice concentration has been the bane of firms for many years. Recruiting and staffing for particular disciplines and training lawyers for those disciplines in the new world in which we find ourselves require dramatic new approaches.


            Principle focuses addressed of the book are on recruiting lawyers at every level, the training of those lawyers and retaining those in whom firms have invested substantial time and energy. With the market flooded with high quality flooded lawyers who were the victims of recent layoffs and the waves of 45,000 new graduates entering the market each year.


            Continued and escalating attacks on the citadel of hourly billing created the viral growth of value billing, Alternative Fee Arrangements, fixed fees and convergence. Clients are increasingly requiring their lawyers to assume some degree of risk in virtually every engagement.  These new billing models and client demands, in turn, mandate the introduction of  new disciplines to the profession, namely, project management, training lawyers in project management, client relationship managers and budgeting skills as well as taking our eyes off maximizing hours billed in favor of efficiently delivering quality product within the budget fixed for each engagement.


            The profession’s historical method of recruiting law school students in the early Fall following the conclusion of their first year of law school attendance for summer associate programs with a view towards employing those students as full time law firm associates two years following the initial recruitment process requires impossibly obtainable prescience of business demands and economic conditions.  The result is that students are being recruited in the confines of a completely “broken” system.  I describe below some radical proposals for change initially proposed by important leaders of the profession and expand on these novel approaches.


            In addition to looking at extant recruiting models adopted by law firms given the continued use of antiquated procedures, the importance of associate retention and methods which should be employed for such retention is also discussed. I also address foreseeable issues which the profession will need to address as firms continue to hunker down, recruit smaller numbers of graduates and then compete for a diminished pool of well trained lawyers.


            With clients now purchasing legal services through the prism of corporate purchasing agents and price becoming significantly more important factors than prior relationships or name branded law firms, new opportunities for smaller and middle market firms are ballooning.  The shifting dynamics of the current revolution within the profession also are creating new opportunities for these firms which should be further explored by these firms.


            These shifting sands also require a review of associate utilization and compensation methods, as well as increased reliance on outsourcing of legal work and escalating use of temporary staff lawyers. These issues are also addressed.


            In short, I have endeavored to address pressing intermediate and long term issues regarding hiring, training and retention of associates, the changing landscape of billing demanded by newly empowered clients as well as new opportunities and pitfalls. I hope I have added productively to the public discourse of the needs for change which lay ahead.

The book can be ordered through , by calling Daniel Smallwood at – t: (+1) 309 495 2853 f: (+1) 309 495 2858 e: , or Amazon. Through August 10, Quoting the order code LOR-RTR1, place your order through Ark or through Mr. Smallwood you will receive a $200 pre-publication discount.

(c) Jerome Kowalski, July 2010.  All Rights Reserved


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