Madrid-based SSQ consultant, Diego Saavedra, talked to Iberian Lawyer magazine recently about combatting the challenges of attracting young talent to the law, in an interview published in their October 2023 issue.
Saavedra specialises in placing lawyers of all levels into both law firms and in-house positions, having himself practised as a lawyer at several leading law firms in Spain, as well as working as in-house counsel, prior to joining SSQ in 2022.
In the interview with Iberian Lawyer, he pinpoints the core reason fewer young lawyers are choosing to work for large law firms.
“In the past, upon entering a law firm, young people temporarily sacrificed aspects of their lives, such as family, friends or free time, for the idea of solidifying a professional career, with the carrot that years later they could take their foot off the accelerator” – an idea that is no longer appealing to young professionals, Saavedra says.
“Their priorities have changed. Or rather, they have broadened. Now, in addition to professional success, they seek to embrace other aspects of life. They have a wider ambition. It’s not just about money.”
The decrease in numbers of young legal professionals seen in Spain is not only an immediate issue, impacting firms that need junior lawyers to carry out simpler, lower-charging tasks, but also has longer term implications, Saavedra points out. “Young talent is responsible for nurturing the stability and continuity of projects. All firms seek to maintain an adequate pipeline of lawyers who can acquire the culture and way of working of each firm, and who can provide depth in their service offering.” Otherwise, he warns, they risk ending up with a generation gap that may prove an impediment to future growth.
While there are challenges in attracting professionals of all levels to firms today, Saavedra suggests ways firms can address the issue, emphasising that it should be viewed as an opportunity to modernise the profession and its working conditions.
“I don’t think the problem is with the offices or the partners, on the contrary, I have always thought that it is a hard profession, sacrificial, and the level of demand emanates from the profession itself,” says Saavedra. “For this reason, I consider the current talent issue a very good opportunity to contribute to improving conditions, which is what young people are asking for.”
With more flexible schedules and better work-life balance, aided by technology that makes it possible to coordinate across borders and time zones, firms can offer a more enticing working environment.
Change works both ways though, and Saavedra adds that young legal talent must also offer their own added value.
“A good lawyer is not only a good technician, but must be increasingly commercial and managerial. They don’t tell you that when you start, but it’s good to keep it in mind and not forget to develop these skills.”
To read the full Spanish interview in Iberian Lawyer, click here.