3 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Legal Job Counteroffers

Research Robert Half Legal conducted for its 2014 Salary Guide shows that opportunities are growing for the most in-demand legal professionals. As a result, some legal organizations are experiencing turnover when valued team members are attracted by job offers from other firms or corporate legal departments. When this happens, legal managers often go into reactive mode, presenting these employees with a counteroffer.

However, this strategy rarely works and here are three reasons why:

  1. Making a counteroffer is a temporary fix, not a long-term solution. While losing a critical component of your team may be a setback, making a legal job counteroffer is unikely to accomplish your goal of keeping the person over the long term. Individuals who are motivated to job-hunt often have reasons that go well beyond salary. Even if they decide to stay, they may remain unhappy in the position and ultimately leave.
  2. Let's face it. People don’t quit jobs they love. If the employee was completely satisfied working for you, you wouldn’t have to discuss counteroffers. Professionals who accept your offer may begin to question why it took the threat of departure for the firm or department to recognize their value and make improvements to the job. There also may be additional considerations that can’t be resolved such as old conflicts with other staff members or incompatibility with the firm or corporate culture that may cause the person to rethink his decision and leave. 
  3. You will question the employee's loyalty. The reverse also holds true. No matter how much you want to retain a key member of your team, you may have lingering doubts about the employee’s loyalty and motivation as well, since the person has admitted to being open to leaving for a better opportunity. Also, if the individual agrees to your counteroffer, he or she would be putting the manager at the other company in a difficult position by backing out of an employment agreement. Ask yourself: Is this the type of person you really want in your group? You should strive to maintain a team of employees who are not just committed to your company but who are also honorable and trustworthy. 

While losing a critical employee can be difficult, it also presents an opportunity to make improvements. Take note of the factors that prompted the person to leave your organization. Compare the reasons given with those provided by other individuals who have quit in the past year or two. You may discover that there is some consistency in the responses, helping you identify a broader problem. If exiting staff members have complained about a lack of learning or training opportunities, for example, this may prompt you to make greater investments in professional development, CLE and mentoring programs.

You also may uncover new stars on your team who step in and shine by assuming the job responsibilities of the employee who left. What appears to be a devastating situation may turn out to be far less disruptive than anticipated – maybe even beneficial.

Download your complimentary copy of the Robert Half Legal 2014 Salary Guide to learn more about the latest legal hiring and compensation trends.