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Women corporate counsel stood out for being exceptionally satisfied with their jobs last year. No more. Satisfaction plunged over the last 12 months. And job satisfaction for men is no better.

This is the first sign of the great resignation among corporate counsel. The numbers look like this:

Only 33% of women corporate counsel currently report exceptionally high job satisfaction, down from 58% last year. This compares to 39% for men, virtually unchanged from last year. The primary reasons include:

Elusive Opportunity
While most women see an opportunity for their career — only 25% see a clear and excellent career path at their current company. The same is true for 35% of men. The clients who see a career path at their own company tend to be in high-growth industries — tech, life sciences, segments of financial services, and disruptive companies.

Increased workload, longer hours, and pandemic fatigue are taking their toll.

Work-life Balance
Demands in the office keep ramping up while demands at home do the same. Top legal decision makers say there is just not enough time to go around.

Remote Work Conflict
The hybrid model provides flexibility but some feel they pay the price in lack of opportunity by not being visible — and the workdays somehow become longer.

Peer Support Challenges
Last year these top legal decision makers valued their ability to provide counsel and support to peers — but increased family needs and commitments make this harder to give.

Never-ending Workstream
These corporate counsel are up for a challenge but the continued deluge doesn’t have a visible endpoint. It can look ominous — especially if your law firms aren’t performing at peak client service levels.

The unintended impact on law firms is enormous. Every ounce of patience a client loses for their job costs law firms 2 ounces of patience — if not more. Plunging (and already low) job satisfaction puts law firm behavior on display like an IMAX movie — one oversight takes on enormous proportional impact on service and the relationship.

We recommend the following to make your client’s life easier:

More Voice-to-Voice Communication
Listen twice as hard and filter out the things you can do to lighten your client’s load. We know outside counsel are busier too — but this is all about keeping clients. Almost everyone can find the time — skip 4 emails to make time for a call.

Be Streamlined in Your Approach
Highlight the crucial decision a client may need to make, bullet point the key issues.

Be Timely With all Matter-Related Communications
Clients chasing attorneys only add to the frustration.

Client Feedback
You can easily find out how happy your clients are in their jobs in a 7-minute online survey. You can pinpoint clients who need help or just check on their status. Either way — you will know who needs special attention and where you can help.

Become the Antidote
Prioritize client service. This is the value-add which makes your client’s life easier and makes you an ally.

You can make your client’s job more rewarding by:

    • Asking how they are doing — and make clear your question is more than a greeting
    • Engaging in meaningful conversation to provide intellectual challenge
    • Sharing how you see corporate counsel career opportunities develop over time
    • Convening a corporate counsel development workshop — including setting personal and career goals

Focus on clients where you have a relationship. You have a chance to build a stronger relationship, help clients enjoy their job more, and increase the chances you will join them on whatever career journey they may take. And if they stay, you will be the confidant and enjoy access to the best work.

Best in the market ahead.

The Mad Clientist

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